Sting of LSU game lingered, but Vols grew

Dooley: 'it was hard to get over that'

Tennesse head coach Derek Dooley reacts to the penalty against his team at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010. UT lost the game 16-14 after a defensive penalty in the final play of the game.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennesse head coach Derek Dooley reacts to the penalty against his team at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010. UT lost the game 16-14 after a defensive penalty in the final play of the game.

Dooley explains the final moments of the LSU game

Derek Dooley has no problem identifying the one moment he would do over.

The Tennessee coach seems to have a much tougher time coming up with exactly how to change it.

A brutal last-second loss at LSU marred by a penalty for having 13 players on the field during what would have been a game-clinching snap clearly stands out in Dooley's mind as the one that got away, and even with a bowl trip locked up and set to be announced tonight, there may be a part of him that never truly gets over it.

So when he was offered a mulligan on anything from his first year with the Vols on or off the field, Dooley barely even hesitated and flashed back to the first week of October.

"Yeah, I'd find a way to get two guys off the field at LSU," he said early last week. "I really believe that - it lingered a little bit longer than we all think.

"It did for me personally. You know, it was hard to get over that. As much as I had to say, 'We've got to move on, we've got to move on,' it was hard. I'm not sure it didn't affect us a little bit."

The Vols certainly showed signs of an emotional hangover a week later in a blowout loss at Georgia, arguably the only game this season in which they never seriously competed. And in terms of getting back to the postseason, UT (6-6, 3-5 SEC) might not have been under so much pressure down the stretch if it had snuck out of Tiger Stadium with the upset and a signature victory for Dooley.

Through all the second-guessing and heartache, though, the situation the Vols faced with the Tigers surprisingly allowing the clock to tick away with the ball just short of the goal line trailing by four points was virtually unprecedented - and therefore hard to prepare for as well.

With hindsight and a second chance, Dooley might have avoided some of that the lingering pain. But once the Vols were able to finally move on, out of that disappointment came a team perhaps better equipped to dealing with unusual circumstances in the future. Those final hectic seconds at Tiger Stadium might have been difficult regardless given the unorthodox decision-making, but it's the part UT controlled that Dooley dwells on now.

"Well, you would just go back and practice them running in and you running in, you would have to do something," he said. "It's really just about making every player on your team responsible to be aware of what's happening. You know, not leaning on other people.

"I think that's probably the biggest thing, and that's why you see veteran teams always playing so well because they just have so much experience and they're so aware out there."

That lends itself to better reactions in those moments of pressure, including an ability to adapt when they don't play out as anticipated.

Dooley tried to make that point about his inexperienced team a couple weeks after that loss with an analogy to the Germans in World War II, though the message was somewhat lost in the laughter of his bunker re-enactment, complete with imaginary binoculars and a radio. It was no joking matter for the Vols, though, and during their four-game winning streak to close the season, they actually looked like they had switched sides.

"When you get out there and when you're playing well, you have a framework, you have a structure, but then you use initiative and creativity to perform," Dooley said. "Our team really started doing that in the second half, on both sides of the ball. We got out of the, 'Coach told me to do this.' We got out of the, 'Well, he didn't make the call.' And we got into, 'I know what I'm supposed to do, and now I've got to go play.'

"Play the play on principle, react to what's happening in the game and don't be afraid to trigger if you see something. I think that moment defines what that analogy was about."

Dooley would clearly still prefer to change that outcome. But if it helped alter the course of the season in November, that mulligan might be better off in his pocket.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 61

Rocky_Top_1 writes:

first

FWBVol writes:

OK, before anyone goes and tries to figure out when tonight (Saturday) the bowl announcement is coming out, it actually means Sunday night as the story was written for Sunday's paper and made it online first.

That said, I like CDD's frankness about something I believe most fans saw and felt all along about the let down after the LSU game. The team might have had the hangover, but they did bounce back down the stretch.

I think there were a lot of learning experiences by the coaches as well as the players this season. As the year progressed there seemed to be a lot less mental mistakes such as the substitution situations.

It will be interesting to find out where we are going bowling. It should be fun to follow how CDD prepares for the bowl game and uses it in building on future seasons.

And finally, it will be a great way to see our senior class go out, hopefully with one last win to the tune of Rocky Top.

bnakk#240693 writes:

I hope Spurrier has a good supply of visors......

tnsportsman writes:

The LSU loss ranks as one of the worst in BIG ORANGE History! Maybe TOP 3 but OUR VOLS bounced back and regrouped!

VOLS, focus and Protect The Damn Ball in the Bowl Game and WE will be just fine!

Great job VOLS in getting back to 6 & 6 and a Bowl Game!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

asleep#212036 writes:

Me too. But it is worth noting that LSU, a supposedly veteran team worthy of national championship consideration, looked just as lost and just as inept. At least our youth and inexperience, both on the field and on the sidelines, gave us a bit of an excuse. I saw fewer and fewer brain fa*ts as the season went on - next year looks pretty bright at this point. Go Vols!!!

DennisVols writes:

We saw a young and inexperienced group of players become a team during this year. Their collective experience during the 4 game losing streak and the 4 game winning streak will help form the foundation that will become rebuilding of UT football.
Dooley impressed me the most this year by keeping this team together during what had to be the toughest times in UT history. It would have been tough to hold a veteran team together and he did it with a team that average age was not even 19 yrs old. I seriously doubt any member of this team has ever played on a team that lost 4 straight games in one season.
Next year there will be fewer scholarship positions left empty, the young and inexperienced will be replaced with experience. CDD and staff have shown their abilities bring this team together and make the tough decisions.
It is great to be able to look forward to the next season again.
Keeping it Real
GoVols!!!

LaneBrains writes:

in response to tnsportsman:

The LSU loss ranks as one of the worst in BIG ORANGE History! Maybe TOP 3 but OUR VOLS bounced back and regrouped!

VOLS, focus and Protect The Damn Ball in the Bowl Game and WE will be just fine!

Great job VOLS in getting back to 6 & 6 and a Bowl Game!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

You must have missed the Georgia and USC back-to-back butt kickings in 1981(?)with a combined score of 64 -7 (I think). Losing to Rutgers at home coming would be another. How about ARMY -- didn't the big orange lose to ARMY?('86)...or UCLA 2009, 2008?...Any loss to UCLA is a big step back !

CLK, Monte and ED

james#216392 writes:

That's the one thing that bothers me. why even attempt defensive changes with a few ticks left. Poor coaching decision. Should bother him enough that it doesn't happen again.

Over all, good season with what he had to work with.

nocleats writes:

Keep Recruiting! Keep Improving, Outwork everyone!

james#216392 writes:

Pearl wanted something to get his name off the headlines. The Newton ruling and Kentucky's re-filing on the Kanter case is covering the headlines in KY. It was Pearl's problems.

Win the Bowl game and have a winning season. Go Vols.

jerseydevilvol writes:

I put a hole in my wall and broke my dartboard that day. I dont think I was ever so happy, and in one second so angry. All in all im proud of this team and it was great to see some of these young guys gain experience over the season

tnsportsman writes:

in response to LaneBrains:

You must have missed the Georgia and USC back-to-back butt kickings in 1981(?)with a combined score of 64 -7 (I think). Losing to Rutgers at home coming would be another. How about ARMY -- didn't the big orange lose to ARMY?('86)...or UCLA 2009, 2008?...Any loss to UCLA is a big step back !

CLK, Monte and ED

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

77VolFS writes:

in response to james#216392:

That's the one thing that bothers me. why even attempt defensive changes with a few ticks left. Poor coaching decision. Should bother him enough that it doesn't happen again.

Over all, good season with what he had to work with.

Because your job as a defensive coach is to adjust to the offensive personnel - if you recall what Dooley was so upset about was that the officials are supposed to give the defense time to react and they didn't. Yes, in hindsight it would have been better to not do anything to counter utter chaos served up by Lucky Les, but as TV commentator Gary Danielson remarked, "Tennessee was trying to be rational with the irrational".

brauhuff#295403 (Inactive) writes:

That was a bummer. The LSU game was on my 56th birthday. Talk about a emotional roller coaster

mountainbrook writes:

in response to LaneBrains:

You must have missed the Georgia and USC back-to-back butt kickings in 1981(?)with a combined score of 64 -7 (I think). Losing to Rutgers at home coming would be another. How about ARMY -- didn't the big orange lose to ARMY?('86)...or UCLA 2009, 2008?...Any loss to UCLA is a big step back !

CLK, Monte and ED

Tennessee's best "loss" ever was when CLK, Monte and ED left.

Vol737 writes:

Not throwin' stones, but the coaches or someone on D must learn to count before the ball is snapped in such a critical situation. If we win the LSU game, wouldn't be surprised if we had ended up 8-4. That could have been the game where we turned the corner. But those things happen. We'll be fine with Dooley and UT will have a great season next year.......9-3. GBO!

OLROCKYTOP writes:

Let it go, sure it hurt when it happened, but thats all in the past now. I am excited about the future of Tennessee football.

wigmeister writes:

Too much negativity!!!! We are getting better with a lot of good recruits coming in. Have any of you been watching the TN HS championships. We have some amazing local talent that I have heard very little about in the recruiting front. I hope coach and his staff have noticed and don't wait too long like Fulmer did. Too much emphasis on star recruits. Look for some great local kids that would bleed orange. Many have been following TN for years. Two local teams undefeated and state champions. Alcoa seven years in a row! Maryville, once defeated by Alcoa, and playing for the state title as I write. There is an awful lot of good talent right in our backyard. TN coaches should take notice and act quickly before we lose the best!

SummerfieldVol writes:

The official cost Tennessee the Game. Tennessee should have been pentilized 5 yards for to many men on the field, this would have put the ball at the two yard line. Then LSU should have been pentilized 15 yard for unsportmanship. This would be because the LSU player took his helment off and throwed it to the ground before the clock ran out. The ball would have been at the 17 yard line with 4 seconds to play. Just alittle home cooking I think. I have been complaining about the officiating this year and this just a example of it.

rdrgtr writes:

I am surprised we are still talking about it. If we win that game we are 7-5 and waiting for a Music City Bowl trip. By this we can see that CDD is a young coach. I am sure that later in his coaching career he will be dwelling on losses that kept the vols from winning championships. I look at that loss like I look at an old girl that I really liked. It hurt for a week until I found something else.

rdrgtr writes:

in response to SummerfieldVol:

The official cost Tennessee the Game. Tennessee should have been pentilized 5 yards for to many men on the field, this would have put the ball at the two yard line. Then LSU should have been pentilized 15 yard for unsportmanship. This would be because the LSU player took his helment off and throwed it to the ground before the clock ran out. The ball would have been at the 17 yard line with 4 seconds to play. Just alittle home cooking I think. I have been complaining about the officiating this year and this just a example of it.

The sec office of officials said that they will not call a penalty on a team for removing there helmet if it appears to be the last play of the game...just like Cody last year. Why are we still trying to blame somebody for that loss. We lost because we cannot count. Period.

silicon28 writes:

in response to steviejanowski:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You and me both. I'm looking down the road to a repeat of '98. Do it with class Dooley.

PUL4VOLS writes:

Hey the LSU game was one I'd love to have won. We lost and in a bad way. But we MOVE ON. The team did and now will be playing for a 7-6 season. I can live with that. We get over things like this best when we do all we can so that it never happens again. I figure the coaches will be taking that posture. With all I have seen in the past month, I can confidently say we will be pleased with our team next year. 8 or 9 wins may be a real possibility. I for one would prefer 9.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Some players came off the field, some came on the field. All 13 on the field was set at the snap of the ball. Hard to argue that they didn't have enough time to make substitutions when no one was racing on or off the field.

I don't blame the coaches. The coaches are allowed past the 25. Players are sent on and off the field in packages and react immediately when seeing the other team switching. If a player doesn't get the word or refuses to get off, not much the coaches can do with no time outs left. There should be someone on the field that is responsible every play to make sure every one is there that is supposed to be... the defensive captain. If anyone, he blew his assignment.

UTByrd writes:

in response to mountainbrook:

Tennessee's best "loss" ever was when CLK, Monte and ED left.

HaHaHaHAHa! Can I get an Amen?! I guess that could be considered a "loss" to USC.
Go VOLS!!!!!

newtonrail writes:

I would have been sick at the end of the LSU game that day, or any other day I've been to or watched games personally since 1956. However my Mother passed away quietly in a Hospice unit 15 minutes before the game started. We were in a nice facility and watched the game off and on until time to go to funeral home. Not trying to be morbid, but it put a different perspective on Tennessee losses to me. One of the big reasons I kept my season tickets to FB and BB was to take kids and grand kids to see Mother on way to game, since I lived out of town. That's the Circle of Life.

UTByrd writes:

in response to rdrgtr:

The sec office of officials said that they will not call a penalty on a team for removing there helmet if it appears to be the last play of the game...just like Cody last year. Why are we still trying to blame somebody for that loss. We lost because we cannot count. Period.

I'm not crying over spilt milk, but , when Cody took his helmet off, the play was still ongoing. The ball was rolling around on the ground and the play could not be blown dead until someone touched it.
Go VOLS!!!!!

crutch1966 writes:

in response to Rocky_Top_1:

first

first stupid azz that is, Go Vols!

murrayvol writes:

in response to bnakk#240693:

I hope Spurrier has a good supply of visors......

And a couple tubes of Preparation-H.

UTByrd writes:

in response to newtonrail:

I would have been sick at the end of the LSU game that day, or any other day I've been to or watched games personally since 1956. However my Mother passed away quietly in a Hospice unit 15 minutes before the game started. We were in a nice facility and watched the game off and on until time to go to funeral home. Not trying to be morbid, but it put a different perspective on Tennessee losses to me. One of the big reasons I kept my season tickets to FB and BB was to take kids and grand kids to see Mother on way to game, since I lived out of town. That's the Circle of Life.

I'm very sorry for your loss. As Shakespeare said, "It's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all."
I am my 93 year young Mother's caregiver and it is my goal to keep her as happy and healthy as possible until her passing. In the mean time, I love keeping up with UT sports. The triumphs make me feel good but the losses don't ruin my day.
Like you said, there are much more important things in life than ball games. If a person want's to be obsessed with something (rabid fans), that person should be totally into family more so than games.
Go VOLS!!!!!

UTByrd writes:

Talk about perspective. The LSU loss was a victory to me. UT went into hostile territory against a top 10 ten and had a chance to win it. Not bad for a baby team with no depth.
Go VOLS!!!!!

beaus27 writes:

Payback next year in Neyland Staduim for the Tigers!

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to tnsportsman:

The LSU loss ranks as one of the worst in BIG ORANGE History! Maybe TOP 3 but OUR VOLS bounced back and regrouped!

VOLS, focus and Protect The Damn Ball in the Bowl Game and WE will be just fine!

Great job VOLS in getting back to 6 & 6 and a Bowl Game!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

Sportsman,I was wondering about something.Why must you use the d word everytime you post? Surely your vocabulary is better than that.

SummerfieldVol writes:

in response to rdrgtr:

The sec office of officials said that they will not call a penalty on a team for removing there helmet if it appears to be the last play of the game...just like Cody last year. Why are we still trying to blame somebody for that loss. We lost because we cannot count. Period.

What I read the interview with the chief of the sec officials called it just like I said. The penility would be for throwing the helment to the ground not for taking it off. You can take your helment off but you can not throw it to the ground, it is just like when a player spikes the football on a touchdown the team is penalized for unsportsman conduct. Rules are rules, either they are inforced or you can turn your head and latter after the game admit you made a mistake but that is to late and nothing can or will be done to change the out come. I believe it was Oklahoma that was denied a win because of poor or terrible officiating.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to tnsportsman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Do you really think language like that helps or increases your popularity? No.That is plain useless and should not be allowed.Think of the stupidity you show.

everydayisorange writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

Do you really think language like that helps or increases your popularity? No.That is plain useless and should not be allowed.Think of the stupidity you show.

Why is it important for people such as yourself to condemn others for their choice of language. If I saw something or someone that I didn"t like, I just ignore it or them and go on to another comment. This person didn"t direct his comment towards you or anyone else. When I see trolls comment [ he is NOT one] I just go on. I say this in defense because this is a free country and this is a sports link with all kinds responding. It does not and should not prevent you from commenting about it, but leave the speach stuff alone. This along with people that correct other's typing goofs is a little pet peave of mine. Relax and enjoy the season past and BB season ahead, you will certainly fill better. GBO!!!

everydayisorange writes:

Actually, he did direct it to an alabubba troll

runninbroke writes:

I would give you five other losses to LSU if we could've beat them in the SEC Championship in 2001. That one really stung! I was there and I remember the orange roses being passed out at halftime. Yuck... Bad memory... Let's go Coach Dooley, start creating us some good memories. Your off to a good start.

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

LSu, this year and in 2001...UGA in 2001; last year at Bama. All rank up three.

The LSU loss in 01 was just a killer, one that haunts me. We had a National Championship team, because I think Big John Henderson would have single-handedly smoked the Miami offense against that bit OT who won the Outland that year.

brokebackvol writes:

I think that this is a different story, "What are the top three losses in Vol History." My dad, I'm sure he would list the upset to Chattanooga back in the 50's, with a near riot on the field. For me, the buttkicking from Bama in 1986 was real painful, plus the 0-6 start in '88 was awful - each loss seemed worse than the one before.

This LSU loss was very painful, too.

But balance it with the thrilling wins over the years we've enjoyed, and we've been richer for wins much more than your average team.

Almost forgot - Loss to Memphis State was HARD to accept.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Early wish for you all for a Merry Christmas.

As for Lamebrain, this one will pick and choose.......
whatever team he chooses.........he just jumps on the bandwagon. Sadly, like most of the trolls.

tnsportsman writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

Sportsman,I was wondering about something.Why must you use the d word everytime you post? Surely your vocabulary is better than that.

I'm ole school Rex Ryan type, its how we played football and grew up. I hate Political Correct and Kumbayah! OH and I like helmet to helmet!

Superstitious too, after the turn-overs and fumbles in the SC Game, started using the "focus and protect the damn ball" and we are 4 & 0, LOL!

You post something in here and TROLLS, English Majors or Political Correct People want to judge! Football is TOUGH, BRING IT and I will Fire Back!

You never see me in here HIT anyone but TROLLS! But each to their own, have a Merry Christmas!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

iowavol writes:

in response to LaneBrains:

You must have missed the Georgia and USC back-to-back butt kickings in 1981(?)with a combined score of 64 -7 (I think). Losing to Rutgers at home coming would be another. How about ARMY -- didn't the big orange lose to ARMY?('86)...or UCLA 2009, 2008?...Any loss to UCLA is a big step back !

CLK, Monte and ED

Good ones and I would add these two: the SEC CG loss to LSU with backups in at QB and RB for the second half. The Memphis loss with Peyton at the helm is undoubtedly the most inexplicable.

OrangePride writes:

in response to mountainbrook:

Tennessee's best "loss" ever was when CLK, Monte and ED left.

Now there is something on which can ALL agree!!

gvegasvol writes:

Sorry if someone else has mentioned this BUT if UT had won that game and maybe had beaten uga or sc - would Tyler Bray be quarterbacking at this point? Even though the loss was terribly hard to swallow - things sorta worked out ok - at least from my viewpoint!

TommyJack writes:

in response to everydayisorange:

Why is it important for people such as yourself to condemn others for their choice of language. If I saw something or someone that I didn"t like, I just ignore it or them and go on to another comment. This person didn"t direct his comment towards you or anyone else. When I see trolls comment [ he is NOT one] I just go on. I say this in defense because this is a free country and this is a sports link with all kinds responding. It does not and should not prevent you from commenting about it, but leave the speach stuff alone. This along with people that correct other's typing goofs is a little pet peave of mine. Relax and enjoy the season past and BB season ahead, you will certainly fill better. GBO!!!

Disagree. Free speech doesn't give one the right to be a rear-end. As for spelling errors, corrections, etc., people on this board need help. Ignoring errors is another sign of the decline in the culture. BTW, you misspelled speech.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to gvegasvol:

Sorry if someone else has mentioned this BUT if UT had won that game and maybe had beaten uga or sc - would Tyler Bray be quarterbacking at this point? Even though the loss was terribly hard to swallow - things sorta worked out ok - at least from my viewpoint!

Witch Doctor also believe life auspicious. Witch Doctor say things worked out...if Simm wins he is our starter..kinda bad situation for him but Bray came in and sure didnt play like a Freshman.
Go Vols!
Bones never lie.

psychovol2 writes:

in response to SummerfieldVol:

The official cost Tennessee the Game. Tennessee should have been pentilized 5 yards for to many men on the field, this would have put the ball at the two yard line. Then LSU should have been pentilized 15 yard for unsportmanship. This would be because the LSU player took his helment off and throwed it to the ground before the clock ran out. The ball would have been at the 17 yard line with 4 seconds to play. Just alittle home cooking I think. I have been complaining about the officiating this year and this just a example of it.

Actually if the official had stood over the ball according to the rules, the clock would have run out on LSU and Miles would have been the goat once again. UT wins!

CoverOrange writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'll agree that there is a tremendous amount of gray area and variation among refs on how to enforce sub allowance time and that it needs to be clarified. Also needs to be clarified is how and when the play clock is reset. Seems like there were a tremendous number of delay of game penalties this year.

vol75 writes:

in response to LaneBrains:

You must have missed the Georgia and USC back-to-back butt kickings in 1981(?)with a combined score of 64 -7 (I think). Losing to Rutgers at home coming would be another. How about ARMY -- didn't the big orange lose to ARMY?('86)...or UCLA 2009, 2008?...Any loss to UCLA is a big step back !

CLK, Monte and ED

Two words. North Texas.

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