Dooley's use of tight ends inspired by Saban

One of Derek Dooley’s most core offensive philosophies wasn’t born where one might expect.

The more-tight-ends-the-merrier approach didn’t come from the practice field as Dooley looked over one of the handful of teams he’s coached in his career. And it didn’t even come in an offensive meeting.

The new Tennessee coach’s theory of tight ends first came from watching his mentor, Alabama coach Nick Saban, prepare for opposing teams that relied heavily on tight ends.

“It stems from sitting there for seven years in so many defensive meetings with Nick,” Dooley said Tuesday. “You kind of listen to what gives defenses problems. Whenever you have an offense with two tight ends, you can do a lot of things.”

With Saban at LSU, Dooley learned that more tight ends mean more versatility. In the NFL, Dooley refined the craft of coaching tight ends, the position he played in high school before moving to receiver in college.

“You kind of get your Ph.D. in the X’s and O’s when you go to the NFL,” Dooley said. “That really kind of took it up another level.”

That education also taught Dooley the limitations of using a second tight end over having a fullback on the field.

“A good second tight end is never going to be as good as a great fullback on certain plays,” Dooley said. “But you’re talking about really two or three runs (where the fullback is the better option).

“But what (the second tight end) brings is a whole other dimension of plays you can run that you cannot run with a fullback. When a fullback goes in a game, there are a certain number of plays that the defense knows you’re going to run.”

Not so with a second tight end. In the blink of an audible, Dooley’s Vols will eventually be able to shift two tight ends outside creating a four-receiver package or shift one tight end into the backfield creating a two running back look.

“It creates some mismatch problems for the defense,” Dooley said. “They’ve got to make a decision on what they’re defending.

“… When you’re calling a defense, what do you call? And also who do you put in?”

Those pre-snap mismatches will be key for UT’s play calling, which will likely be handled by second-year offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who is also a proponent of multiple tight ends.

If a defense sends extra defensive backs in the game, UT can lean on the run. If a defense stays base, a pass may be the better option.

Those hypothetical situations might not arise in 2010. The Vols have only one proven tight end, Luke Stocker. Behind him, there’s junior Ben Bartholomew, transfer Daniel Adderley from Miami and a host of walk-ons.

“I think you’re going to see we’re always going to play to our personnel,” Dooley said. “If we end up having three first-round wideouts, we’re probably going to be in three wideout a lot. Who’s our quarterback? Is he a mobile guy? Is he a drop-back guy?

“We’re always going to play to our personnel, but I do think you have a general philosophy you want to get to.”

The philosophy was in full effect when UT moved Austin Johnson from fullback to linebacker in January. That move, however, doesn’t mean the roster will be devoid of fullbacks under Dooley.

“You’ve always got to have a fullback,” Dooley said. “There’s a place for him. You’ve always got to have the ability to go four wideouts (too), being good at everything.

“But those every down plays, the multiples that two tight ends bring are greater than any other grouping you can have.”

Senior Kevin Cooper is the only fullback on UT’s roster with any experience. Freshman Channing Fugate is listed at fullback but could play a number of positions. Walk-on junior Sam Edgmon could provide depth if needed.

Dooley said he’s been pleased with Cooper, the player that looks to be the best — if not the only — option at fullback this fall.

“He’s doing great,” Dooley said. “He did a great job last year. He’s going to have a critical role for us next year.”

If something were to happen to Cooper, UT could use a tight end as an H-back, shifting into the backfield to become a lead blocker.

Bartholomew said there’s some carryover between the two positions, but the differences are significant.

“It’s a different kind of blocking,” he said. “Fullback is hard, but you also get a running start. Tight end is hard, but at the same time you’re already on him, so it’s hard to miss him.”

As much as any position on the field, a lead-blocking fullback embodies toughness. Bartholomew said no one need worry that UT will be less physical without a fullback in the game.

“The tight ends have to be as tough as the fullback or tougher,” he said. “You definitely can be as physical — or more physical — with two tights.”

That’s what the Vols will be working on Thursday in their second practice in full pads.

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Comments » 44

punkin writes:

Part two of the article tommorrow, Saban shows Dooley what type of toilet paper to use.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

I hope this doesn't mean that the UT players will have to wear mullets and quit speaking in complete sentences. Surely he won't have them selling text books.

tnsportsman writes:

LOVE IT! Think several of us have been predicting what CDD's 2 & 3 TE system would be in the Pro-Style Offense. The Pros use it and this is going to be a totally different UT offense than the VolNation has seen in the past!

GO CDD! GO VOLS!

tnsportsman writes:

People, has bad as I HATE Alabubba and Nick Satan, he is a great coach. If CDD can emulate and take good traits from his years with Satan to make him have sleepless nights, I'm all for it!

GO VOLS!

TommyJack writes:

Like it. Good piece, Hooker.

vol94 writes:

I guess the Kembrell Thompkins kid was given a release from Coach Dooley or AD Hamilton after all. Hamilton stated a while back he would NOT release Thompkins from his Letter of Intent.
Howver, it is being reported Thompkins signed with Cincin. today. Go to volnation.com for details.

bnakk#240693 writes:

You Chuckleheads need to ask yourselves two questions:

1. Did this approach work for Saban or not?

2. Was Dooley smart enough to see that it worked?

tnsportsman writes:

in response to bnakk#240693:

You Chuckleheads need to ask yourselves two questions:

1. Did this approach work for Saban or not?

2. Was Dooley smart enough to see that it worked?

LOL well it works for the Colts, Titans and Cowboys! Bet it will work for UT in the SEC!

GO VOLS!

CLEMSONVOL716WASBANNED writes:

While I agree that multiple tight end formations can pose problems for a defense, I have to wonder what the UT offense will look like in this formation, given the lack of true tight ends on the current roster.

With the wide-outs returning and the new class coming in, I would think we would see a lot of 3 receiver sets or the use of them in the slot.

tnsportsman writes:

in response to CLEMSONVOL716WASBANNED:

While I agree that multiple tight end formations can pose problems for a defense, I have to wonder what the UT offense will look like in this formation, given the lack of true tight ends on the current roster.

With the wide-outs returning and the new class coming in, I would think we would see a lot of 3 receiver sets or the use of them in the slot.

Agree, it's a building process until we have enough TE's. But the system works with TE's! I so love the fact CDD uses TE's. Yeah as a former TE and LB in Iron Man Football I'm biased, but it does work in the Pro-style. I'm so HAPPY, LOL.

GO VOLS!

tnsportsman writes:

in response to Biggunzz44:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You're on drugs, LOL. CDD is his own man, just had a good teacher! We HATE Alabubba and Florida! Meyer is a wennie boi about to die!

GO VOLS!

CoverOrange writes:

in response to bnakk#240693:

You Chuckleheads need to ask yourselves two questions:

1. Did this approach work for Saban or not?

2. Was Dooley smart enough to see that it worked?

1. Saban didn't have this approach, Dooley got it from watching Saban try to DEFEND this approach.

2. We'll see in about 7 months.

TennesseeTuxedo writes:

Double tight sets force defenses to play a more straight up defense and allows the offense to dictate to the defense.

Caspian writes:

in response to tnsportsman:

People, has bad as I HATE Alabubba and Nick Satan, he is a great coach. If CDD can emulate and take good traits from his years with Satan to make him have sleepless nights, I'm all for it!

GO VOLS!

The article actually says that Dooley discovered 2 TE's gave the defense problems while sitting in DEFENSIVE meetings with SABAN. It doesn't say anthing about BORROWING the multiple TE philosophy from Saban.

Not that we should let the facts of the article get in the way of an opinion or anything. Just sayin'...

gatorstomper writes:

sounds like it would have worked last year. we're a little light on TE this year, but I think its a good philosophy! GBO!!!

FearThisElephant writes:

in response to Biggunzz44:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ok Daisy BB. I'll bite. LM & Sly won BEFORE the defense was rebuilt. Outstatted? Uh, the only stat that matters is the score when the clock shows zero and a 4 is present. 4 times by pure luck? Just pure luck? You sure? You are right though about the offense. It doesn't matter. Florida won because of its defense. Look at the games T Man played in vs points allowed. 10 points would have won most of them.

LSWhoo & Bama. The head man with the plan was Saban. You may be the only one around who doesn't think the man is a college coaching guru. You don't have to like him but you would be wise to acknowledge his system is producing results. By the way. We do really need 2 more tickets to go along with the 4 we have since you are ridding yourself of those nasty things. Name your price. Seriously. As the keyboard turns....

AtlantaTide writes:

in response to civilianvol_formerly_marinevol:

I hope this doesn't mean that the UT players will have to wear mullets and quit speaking in complete sentences. Surely he won't have them selling text books.

Beyond that...surely they won't be shoplifting, or even involved in armed robbery at the local gas station. Sheesh, what a bunch of goobs, be happy the man has got an excellent Daddy for a mentor.

A'ight?

AtlantaTide writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

1. Saban didn't have this approach, Dooley got it from watching Saban try to DEFEND this approach.

2. We'll see in about 7 months.

Bingo. Finally, a fan who actually reads the column.

CDD impresses me by the week. I hope you guys give him some time; he is the real deal.

FearThisElephant writes:

in response to AtlantaTide:

Bingo. Finally, a fan who actually reads the column.

CDD impresses me by the week. I hope you guys give him some time; he is the real deal.

Same here Hotlanta. UT will have a LM out there and I think the old ball coach will be their Sly. If the single phase ones will give him time he will win consistently. I believe him to be a student of the game. Good students only get better. As the keyboard turns....

steamboatticket#484773 writes:

Interesting piece, Hook. But Mychal Rivera(JUCO TE, 2010) might plan on seeing action this year.

NeylandWest writes:

in response to CLEMSONVOL716WASBANNED:

While I agree that multiple tight end formations can pose problems for a defense, I have to wonder what the UT offense will look like in this formation, given the lack of true tight ends on the current roster.

With the wide-outs returning and the new class coming in, I would think we would see a lot of 3 receiver sets or the use of them in the slot.

I have a feeling we'll see a mix. He's buying time in the first two seasons to load the deck. Year 3, should be intriguing.

There are many good articles that I've found and posted on 3 & 4 TE sets. You have to think outside the box on this offense. It's not a veer or a wing by any stretch.

And the TE's that fit the pro scheme has to be fast, versatile, athletic and possess good hands. Think Jason Whitten, Dallas Clark and throw in a long speed guy to keep teams guessing.

Lots of play action and lots of misdirection. The Broncos and the Steelers run it as good as anyone in the biz...

VOL03_NC writes:

There is an article on every great coach and the TE position. It is a critical position for any team. I would like to know more about the people and how they fit those positions. That would be a story.

bigfogg writes:

I was wondering if anyone knew of any players that have been told their services were no longer needed. Scholarship or Non scholarship players.

bigorange61 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

1. Saban didn't have this approach, Dooley got it from watching Saban try to DEFEND this approach.

2. We'll see in about 7 months.

Thank you, Turbo. As I read the posts I was wondering if anyone actually read the article or just went off the second they saw "Saban".

bballvol1234 writes:

Hooker,
Yet another story about a coach that doesnt coach at Tenn. Way To Go!!!!!!!!!!!!

flatrock writes:

1. Tennessee Tuxedo is spot-on: 2 TEs make the defense play straight up (we will be able to find them- but can we block 'em?);
2. What's-His-Name at USC got it right: Florida
has the players- 'Bama has the coach (although
the difference in player talent is a lot closer than the difference in coaching talent!);
3. Who is dirtier- DuBose or Calipari ?

VolAlum2003 (Inactive) writes:

in response to vol94:

I guess the Kembrell Thompkins kid was given a release from Coach Dooley or AD Hamilton after all. Hamilton stated a while back he would NOT release Thompkins from his Letter of Intent.
Howver, it is being reported Thompkins signed with Cincin. today. Go to volnation.com for details.

http://www.bearcatlair.com/home-news/...

Yep...apparently not everyone is excited about Dooley's new offensive philosophy.

richvol writes:

Some people wouldn't be happy if Jesus was coaching UT...they would want Barrabas. Sheese,give it a rest.

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

in response to tnsportsman:

LOL well it works for the Colts, Titans and Cowboys! Bet it will work for UT in the SEC!

GO VOLS!

Ditto all your posts and TurboFan and TenneseeTux
Gun44 and Faragubutt will NEVER have anything nice to say about CDD period...but I know they still have a right to voice their opinions, but IMHO....they are DEAD WRONG!

BTW, I LOVE me some TE's! Clark, Witten and Winslow to name a few. GBO!!!!

CoodyJohnson writes:

I think the key sentence in the article is “I think you’re going to see we’re always going to play to our personnel,” If the o-line can overachieve we got the personnel to play any brand of football we want.

I also believe Wilcox & Chuck Smith are gonna have the defense swarming.

Go Vols & beat the Buckeyes

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

in response to FARRAGUT0406:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

22 had their degree in hand because the univ. provided textbooks their schollys didn'y cover. TN's troubles are individual related, Bama's are institutional related and ALWAYS are. Thats why they are once again, repeat, ONCE AGAIN on a 3 year probation. Don't worry, before this 3 years are up, something else the school/crazy 'neck boosters did will surface yet again.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

Just judging by the name of this article, you would think both coaches "swung that way"

Hickmc writes:

in response to bballvol1234:

Hooker,
Yet another story about a coach that doesnt coach at Tenn. Way To Go!!!!!!!!!!!!

Know your enemies/opponents. Keep your friends close keep your enemies/opponents closer.

I personally prefer to know what I'm up against other than burying my head in the sand thinking this too will pass......

nola_vol writes:

As for what Dooley learned from Saban:

In any field, the success you achieve, you achieve standing on the shoulders of the mentors you followed. In coaching, standing on their shoulders also puts you in a good position to kick them in the head!

I think in 3 years we will beat Bama. As for whether Saban will still be there in 3 years...

Bloodrunzorange writes:

in response to VolAlum2003:

http://www.bearcatlair.com/home-news/...

Yep...apparently not everyone is excited about Dooley's new offensive philosophy.

Too much competition at receiver and I do not think his grades were in order. It is normal for a few kids to bail when a new coach comes in. Lame ran off a bunch last year. CPF even had kids leave due to "coaching philosophy". No big loss... GBO!!

navyVOLguy writes:

in response to Biggunzz44:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

hey since you are so high on meyer. why dont you find a florida fan board where he is God and Tebow is Jesus

tnsportsman writes:

in response to Caspian:

The article actually says that Dooley discovered 2 TE's gave the defense problems while sitting in DEFENSIVE meetings with SABAN. It doesn't say anthing about BORROWING the multiple TE philosophy from Saban.

Not that we should let the facts of the article get in the way of an opinion or anything. Just sayin'...

Point good after reading again. Still HATE Alabbuba and Satan, LOL.

Even better now, CDD knows how Satan didn't defend the TE system!

GO VOLS!

VOLinAthensGA writes:

Beat Bama.

Gumby#1381110 writes:

I say lets run an 11 tight end system. According to some, tight end is the most important position, so lets just play 11 tight ends, who needs a qb and rb and wr's with speed when you've got tight ends. Oh please give me a break! Lets get off the tight end thing, speed will win ball games, not slow tight ends. Sure tight ends have their place, but playing 2 to 3 tight ends at a time is STUPID!

Caspian writes:

in response to orangeluvr:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

All *true* Narnians are Vol fans. Of course, there are always the occasional interlopers and malcontents. But we have our ways of dealing with them here.

jakethevolguy writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

1. Saban didn't have this approach, Dooley got it from watching Saban try to DEFEND this approach.

2. We'll see in about 7 months.

Exactly, Turbo. Some times I wonder if anyone really reads the articles or not. LOL Go Vols!!

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to Biggunzz44:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Florida was supposed to be the greatest football team in history last year. They got beat by Bama... what does that tell you?!?! I'm sorry, allow me to re-phrase... Florida didn't get beat... they got spanked!

Gumby#1381110 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

manoffewwords writes:

in response to steamboatticket#484773:

Interesting piece, Hook. But Mychal Rivera(JUCO TE, 2010) might plan on seeing action this year.

You are correct Sir.

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