Dooley, Simms recap UT Martin
I wish I had kept track Monday of how many times the words "speed" or "fast" were used to describe Oregon at Tennessee's media session.
It was at least 72, equalling the number of points the Ducks scored against New Mexico.
It might have been 720, matching Oregon's yardage against the Lobos.
"Speed, speed and more speed,'' was what quarterback Matt Simms saw.
"Their speed. They're really fast,'' was what impressed linebacker Austin Johnson.
Derek Dooley gets the final word:
"They are a fast, fast football team.''
You've got to be fast to gain 720 yards on anyone. The Ducks topped the nation on opening weekend by a whopping margin of 104 yards over runner-up Air Force's 616.
But the Ducks don't just run fast. They play fast.
"When they go on a 10-play drive it takes 'em about two minutes,'' said Dooley. "It's the fastest offense you'll see.''
"If we go on a 10-play drive, it may take us a quarter to get it done, which is fine with me.''
Dooley is a self-professed old-school coach to a large extent. Field position and clock management weigh heavily in his game management.
"This throws all that out the window,'' he said.
So what should fans at Neyland Stadium and an ESPN2 national audience expect Saturday night?
A track meet or a battle of wills?
Oregon's rich track tradition is more known for distance aces like Steve Prefontaine or Alberto Salazar. But on the gridiron, the Ducks can sprint.
Cliff Harris returned punts 61 and 64 yards for touchdowns on consecutive touches against New Mexico. That isn't even included in the 720 yards of total offense.
Furthermore, Harris isn't even the No. 1 return guy. He was subbing for Kenjon Barner, who was subbing at tailback for LaMichael James. After rushing for 147 yards and scoring five touchdowns, I can see why Barner needed a blow on special teams.
Now James is back from a one-game suspension and ready to run on fresh legs against the Vols.
"Probably them and Alabama are the two best running-back combinations you'll see in the country,'' said Dooley.
If nothing else, chasing James and the other Ducks should be good preparation for the following week's visit from Florida's Jeff Demps, a for-real NCAA sprint champion.
The Vols, meanwhile, have several cards they hope to play.
One, their new defensive coordinator, Justin Wilcox, comes from Boise State where he coached against Oregon twice.
Two, UT's offense was fairly prolific in the opener. Granted, against an overmatched defense, but the same was true for Oregon.
"We need to help our defense out as much as we can,'' said tailback Tauren Poole.
Three, playing in the SEC means speed is on the menu every week.
"It's not like we haven't seen this speed before,'' said Johnson. "We're a fast team, an extremely fast team, so we should be able to match their speed.''
There. Fast and fast. Anybody want to make it three references to Tennessee's speed?
Not Dooley. Not yet:
"I want to see it against the Oregons of the world, and in our league, before I give an answer to that.''
Mike Strange may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865-342-6726.