Adams: RBs won't be sideshow for Dooley

John Adams

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The questions have become increasingly predictable in the public gatherings leading up to Derek Dooley's first game as Tennessee's head football coach.

In a fan-based get-together, he can count on a preponderance of questions about his famous parents - Vince, the former University of Georgia football coach, and Barbara, who makes regular appearances on Paul Finebaum's syndicated sports-talk show. If his audience is limited to local media, the ongoing soap opera of enigmatic UT running back Bryce Brown is a recurring theme.

As weary as Dooley might be from the queries about Brown, who didn't take part in spring practice and has never given any indication he will return for his sophomore season, both topics are appropriate.

Dooley's SEC roots contribute significantly to his appeal at a program as steeped in southern tradition as UT's. And you can't ignore the role running backs have had in shaping Dooley's football philosophy.

So it's only fitting that Brown, who was billed as the nation's No. 1 running back in the 2009 recruiting class, has provided an early sideshow to the beginning of the Dooley era at UT. By now, virtually anyone who has a tweet's worth of education on the subject expects him to transfer.

But no matter who is doing the running for the Vols, he can expect plenty of support from upper-level management. How could the coach who watched Herschel Walker carry his father's program to the pinnacle of college football ever discount the value of an exceptional running back?

You got your answer in the spring when Dooley was repeatedly asked about the challenge of mounting a running game with an all-new offensive line. He talked more about what a good running back could do for an offensive line than vice-versa.

"I've seen it everywhere I've been," Dooley said at last week's SEC football media days. "It's also a little bit like evaluating high school runners.

"I love it when (high school) coaches say, 'We don't have a good offensive line.' Good runners make yards. It doesn't matter who they run behind. They just have an ability to make people miss."

Or, in Walker's case, make defenders wish they had never got in his way. He led Georgia to a national championship, won a Heisman Trophy and ended his college career in 1982 with 10 NCAA rushing records.

"He set the standard," Dooley said. "I believe to this day he's the greatest college running back to ever play the game."

Walker didn't just lift Georgia to new heights. He started a trend. From the mid-1980s all the way to the late-1990s, the Bulldogs handed the ball to the likes of Keith Henderson, Tim Worley, Lars Tate, Rodney Hampton, Garrison Hearst, Terrell Davis and Robert Edwards.

Dooley's brief head-coaching career also reflects his belief in running backs. In his three seasons at Louisiana Tech, the team's leading rusher never finished lower than sixth in the WAC; he had 1,000 yard-rushers in two of those three years.

UT's running backs have a noteworthy track record as well. That was extended last season when Montario Hardesty put his injury-plagued past behind him and blossomed as a fifth-year senior. Before former UT coach Lane Kiffin left for Southern California, Brown was expected to pick up where Hardesty left off. It hasn't worked that way.

Now, Georgia native Tauren Poole, who played sparingly the last two years, is the most likely candidate to carry the rushing load. But given UT's and Dooley's history, there should be more good runners on the way.

John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 36

voloffaith writes:

It is this article that might help to dispel the thoughts that all coach Dooley wants is 65 tight ends to throw to.
Apologies to all the attacks on those that put the word FIRST in when they hit their jackpot. Look above share your thoughts and it says"Be the FIRST to post a comment." However in hindsight FIRST is OFF TOPIC anyway. Now what a quandry we have now.

nocleats writes:

If you can run, you can win! Dooley wants to run the ball.

vol98champ writes:

This has been a mystery to me from the beginning. Why did he chose UT? Why was he so highly regarded? Does he have a concussion problem? Does he need rest from contact? Can he carry the ball 20 times a game and survive? Does he really want to play football? No matter what he tells DD he wants to do, DD should get these questions answered. If I were the coach at K State I would ask the same questions. I think his best option is to take a year off, stay at UT, get in great shape, see what he can do as a third year Sophomore, and if he is great go Pro. If he gets hurt get a degree and make something out of his life.

Observer43 writes:

Jeeeeze... Adams write someting relevant for a change! KNS is really slipping. Writing has been been really pitiful lately.

pickinhick writes:

Somehow this sounds as if Poole is not a good runner. I think Poole will surprise many this fall. GBO

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

Poole and Toney Williams. Oku and Raijon Neal.

Forget Bryce.....

thevoice writes:

Sounds like a case of Ricky Williams to me. Guess we know how that ended.

DannyVol writes:

in response to Observer43:

Jeeeeze... Adams write someting relevant for a change! KNS is really slipping. Writing has been been really pitiful lately.

I could not agree more. The fact that the editor is the worst writer on staff doesn't bode well for the entire sports section.

DannyVol writes:

Why does Adams continually give us history lessons about other SEC programs? Walker was indeed fun to watch, but it was even more fun watching UT's defense do something no other team was able to do: hold Walker well under 100 yards. Write a story about that, Adams - I'm sure Dooley remembers that.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to pickinhick:

Somehow this sounds as if Poole is not a good runner. I think Poole will surprise many this fall. GBO

I got that feeling too...but what can you expect from a ja article.

I'm excited as heck that Poole is gettin his chance.Thought he should've gotten Brown's reps last year.

He earned em.

leedsvol2007 writes:

Running and passing go hand in hand.

When you have an outstanding running game you force defenses to play a lot of man to man which usually results in open receivers because any defensive coordinator will tell that you have stop the run first.

When you cannot pass it they put 8 in the box and dare you to throw choking off the run.

Majors and Fulmer believed in balance and won a lot of games as a result.

As for Brown, assuming he wants to play it would be great to have him back. My hunch is that Poole is as talented and got short shrift last year because Hardesty was so good and Kiffin wanted to use Brown to show that he would play talented freshmen. Poole got left out in the balance but showed very well when he got his chance.

GoVols!

TommyJack writes:

Each time I read what I think is the most ridiculous Duke DeLuca post ever, he tops it.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Each time I read what I think is the most ridiculous Duke DeLuca post ever, he tops it.

Hehe.

Atleast some of the others(trols,kns staffers,ect..) have some entertainment value.

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Each time I read what I think is the most ridiculous Duke DeLuca post ever, he tops it.

WEAREBETTERTHANVANDY is getting there as well.

GreerVol22 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Each time I read what I think is the most ridiculous Duke DeLuca post ever, he tops it.

amen brother..

gnm53108 writes:

in response to orangeluvr:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Reminds me of a saying ...get a hat on a hat.

We're gonna have some trials early in the season but by mid-season our o-line will have enough exp to show their tallent.

It wouldn't shock me if we run the table al on.

scvols writes:

Back to the days of 3 yards and a cloud of dust??? Of course I am ok with it if it is 4 yards and a cloud of dust. :-)

crimsonviper writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Each time I read what I think is the most ridiculous Duke DeLuca post ever, he tops it.

He separates himself from the rest of the pack with ease.

rbhobbs73#226545 writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I see Duke Delusional is back with his same tired drivel....

Volunatic writes:

in response to Mule_Days_King:

WEAREBETTERTHANVANDY is getting there as well.

I'm pretty sure "WABTV" is just the poster formerly known as "tsaECESehTnItseBhtruoF".
I'm not sure if that is Dave Hooker's trolling personality or not. (Granted, Dave Hooker's articles often make him seem like a troll, anyway.)

DaddyVol writes:

I'm declaring today as National Duke DeLuca Day.

Come on everyone...write your favorite Duke DeLuca moments below.

I remember the time...

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

I don't recall how much we used a FB last year but a good blocking FB can work wonders..A good example is Williams and Ronnie Brown at Auburn..Tuberville had a great FB he used on 65% of his runs..This FB who nobody remembers was a master at sealing the whole off tackle and turning 2 yard gains into 15 yard runs..Everyone always believed that it was the shear talent of the 2 RB's but I watched their FB take out DE;LB and corners that sprung the RB for first downs more times than I could count...I don't think Dooley is overly worried about Brown..Poole and Williams have enough talent but Hardesty's great spin moves and total determination will be missed..Iam also excited to see what Neal brings to the group; his north south running and vision is exceptional.

givehim6 writes:

in response to AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons:

Poole and Toney Williams. Oku and Raijon Neal.

Forget Bryce.....

I second that, let Brown go. To me he was that good anyway.

VOLliven2it writes:

The only way UT would NEED Bryce Brown, except for his experience would be if Poole went down and the others behind him just could not get the job done with our inexperienced OL. I am a)hoping that does not happen, b)feeling if it did, we have the guys to get it done without Brown. We will wait and see.

DaddyVol writes:

We will be getting a big named RB to commit soon.

He will put Bryce to shame.

And speaking of Bryce, high school football out in Kansas IS NOT anywhere near the caliber we play here in the south.

In fact, there are places in western kansas that can only play 7 on 7.

I believe that the average running back here at any high school in Tennessee would be as good or better than Bryce.

So, as many of you have stated...he may just not be that good. And now, it is up to him to prove us wrong as in "put up or shut up."

volboy81 writes:

except for the writer getting the est. date of the SEC wrong, this is a pretty good article on getting rid of Vandy!
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports...

Orangeyouavol writes:

I believe Tauren Poole will be one of the best running backs we have ever seen. I was at the orange and white game and this guy has it all. Bryce Brown didn't show me a darn thing last year. I believe if he would have been played a little more, we would have won more games.

Volunatic writes:

in response to DaddyVol:

I'm declaring today as National Duke DeLuca Day.

Come on everyone...write your favorite Duke DeLuca moments below.

I remember the time...

I remember one time when he claimed that Fulmer's winning percentage was 80%, when it was actually just shy of 75%.
Oh wait, that was today.

Volunatic writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm pretty sure Big'unzz is really just a florida fan (I believe it is actually the current posting name for gatorzz). However, a lot of uf fans really did like Fulmer, for obvious reasons.

Volunatic writes:

in response to orangeluvr:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yes, but they help a lot in perpetuating the myth of CFB being all about the "student-athletes".

murrayvol writes:

in response to voloffaith:

It is this article that might help to dispel the thoughts that all coach Dooley wants is 65 tight ends to throw to.
Apologies to all the attacks on those that put the word FIRST in when they hit their jackpot. Look above share your thoughts and it says"Be the FIRST to post a comment." However in hindsight FIRST is OFF TOPIC anyway. Now what a quandry we have now.

You need to pray about this.

murrayvol writes:

in response to thevoice:

Sounds like a case of Ricky Williams to me. Guess we know how that ended.

The only problem Ricky had at Texas was keeping track of his yardage.

Ironcity writes:

in response to DaddyVol:

We will be getting a big named RB to commit soon.

He will put Bryce to shame.

And speaking of Bryce, high school football out in Kansas IS NOT anywhere near the caliber we play here in the south.

In fact, there are places in western kansas that can only play 7 on 7.

I believe that the average running back here at any high school in Tennessee would be as good or better than Bryce.

So, as many of you have stated...he may just not be that good. And now, it is up to him to prove us wrong as in "put up or shut up."

Daddy I guess every reporter and Johnny Majors who saw Brown at practice and in the scrimmages at UT last year can't judge talent. The kid can play, the question is does he want to. I agree with everyone who say he has to be 100% committed or he should find somewhere else to go. Please don't make foolish statements about the average RB in the state of Tennessee being as good as Brown. It makes me disregard every other word of your post. Just an FYI to all, Williams is not fully recovered from his knee injury, Oku hasn't shown the ability to break tackles yet and Neal has not had his first practice. If Poole were to go down we would be further up the creek then we already are. Bryce, I hope to see you in Orange this year but if you can't be all in, then go away.

murrayvol writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Amazing.

Lizardgrad89 writes:

in response to bigorangegoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

When everyone commits to the run that way, you end up with the Big Ten. Since everybody is committed to the run you build defense to stop the run. Then you get into a game against team with a passing offense and get abused.

You make it sound really easy, but in truth, it really isn't.

blewissmith writes:

Poole will be a man among boys!! I believe he should have been playing alot more.

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