Adams: Don’t overlook UAB

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Tennessee coach Derek Dooley lay awake Sunday night counting Blazers — not the ones he will see Saturday afternoon at Neyland Stadium, but the ones that haunt him from his first season at LSU.

In 2000, Nick Saban was just four games into his five-year run at LSU, and Dooley in his fifth year as an assistant coach when UAB embarrassed the Tigers in front of 85,000 witnesses. The anger and frustration were palpable on local talk shows, which raised the question: “What did Saban ever win at Michigan State, anyway?”

A few days later, the Tigers beat the Vols in overtime. Four years later, they won a national championship.

Since then, no one has asked: “What did Saban ever win at Michigan State, anyway?”

While the Saban doubters have long since been dismissed, the loss to UAB is paramount with Dooley this week.

“I think about it every minute,” he said.

The turnover-driven loss to UAB at LSU is a vivid reminder of all that can go awry in a game. Saturday’s 31-17 loss to Florida is another reminder.

Dooley’s Monday press luncheons have become a shooting gallery of sorts. The entire offense got blasted this time. In fact, Dooley was so expansive in his scathing assessment, you wonder how the Vols even gained a yard, much less scored a touchdown, against the Gators. Just lining up correctly was a challenge at times, the coach pointed out.

When you combine that critique and Dooley’s troublesome past with the Blazers, you can appreciate why he not only deems UAB capable of upsetting the Vols, he believes they don’t have to be at their best to do so.

If you have been paying attention, you don’t roll your eyes at such appraisals. That’s not pregame motivation, so much as an accounting of what’s going on with the Vols.

A thin team is getting thinner. Two starting offensive linemen, JerQuari Schofield and Cody Pope, are out with injuries. So is starting wide receiver Gerald Jones.

A post-spring depth chart is illuminating. Six starters from then won’t play against UAB. As the injuries mount, Dooley and his staff are scrambling to fill out their offensive and defensive lines. The scramble won’t get any easier when the schedule takes a hard turn with back-to-back road games at LSU and Georgia.

For now, UAB seems hard enough. While the Vols were losing to Florida, the Blazers were rallying from a 23-0 deficit to knock off Troy State.

Tennessee fans once overlooked games like this. In fact, they might have become so consumed with tailgating that they forgot to go inside.

Such oversights aren’t as likely in these less prosperous days of UT football. Fans realize a BCS pedigree is no longer a requirement for bringing suspense to Neyland Stadium.

UT Martin, a 50-0 loser in the season opener, was an exception. So was Western Kentucky, a 63-7 loser in the 2009 season opener.

But a number of other non-BCS ventures have convinced UT fans not to dismiss opponents based on name recognition.

In four of the last five years, at least one non-BCS opponent has played UT a competitive game, the most noteworthy of which was Wyoming’s upset victory in 2008.

Last year, Ohio University was within four points of the Vols until the last few minutes of the third quarter. In 2006, UT needed to turn back Air Force on a two-point conversion try for a 31-30 victory. The year before, the Vols couldn’t shake UAB in a 17-10 victory.

But, as Dooley will tell you, a close call is a lot easier to forget

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Comments » 17

nocleats writes:

Right here, right now, all things weighed evenly, UAB is probably deeper and better than Tenn is right at this moment.

rockytopatl writes:

It's time for the boys to become men. Before this season ends, we'll be back to playing walk-ons and maybe having tryouts from the student body.

whistlinwingman writes:

I've said it before:

A nother

D umb

A nd

M oronic

S tory

=

ADAMS

Halls3 writes:

in response to bigorangegoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'll right that on your tombstone if UT loses. 3 reasons I believe UT could struggle, not that they will but could...
1. LSU is next week (though I doubt Dooley lets them overlook anyone)

2. UAB's defense only gave up 28 to June Jones high powered offense at SMU, you know the same offense Hawaii thrived off of.

3. UAB is coming off a win against a pretty good team in Troy.

Remember, this is a UT team that has lost to Wyoming & Vandy in the last 5 years. Don't ever count on anything. Not this year & not with this team.

movol77 writes:

CDD leaves no room for his players to lose focus for this week. He is a smart head coach!

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

I agree with the concept of not overlooking anybody.
They will show up and they will play to win.
Just as we will at Red Stick next week.

orangecountyvols writes:

Would agree with J A about not overlooking UAB.

Of course, Big John had to of course use the LSU conversation as much as possible to reference his point. When we do play the LSU game, Adams will be in his element writing about that one.

Ayres_Hall writes:

BREAKING NEWS: Phillip Fulmer is NO LONGER leading this football program.

I suspect we'll be vanilla in our schemes but the vanilla will be better prepared and better executed to the delight of everyone. Dooley wants simple executed perfectly and this is a must win game. It will NOT be overlooked by the staff.

CroKev writes:

I thought it interesting to read how the LSU fans were upset with Saban after losing in his first season to UAB. Sure hope UAB doesn't do the same to Dooley in his first year. What I did take from this article, though, is that we have a coach like Saban, who will struggle early but has the "right stuff" to turn it around and get us in contention again.

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

BREAKING NEWS: Phillip Fulmer is NO LONGER leading this football program.

I suspect we'll be vanilla in our schemes but the vanilla will be better prepared and better executed to the delight of everyone. Dooley wants simple executed perfectly and this is a must win game. It will NOT be overlooked by the staff.

Perfect vanilla is much better than neopolitan ala 'Chinese Fire Drill'.

gnm53108 writes:

Never overlook any bammer.

Thats what I tell my son when I'm changing his diaper...No bammer on my boy.

dvol writes:

John, Its time for you to bring out your Big Gun. Write about Hamilton and how he's got to go. Tell everyone that it would be a big mistake to hire Fulmer as the new A.D. after all this is what Big Phil wants, just listen to him when he talks. Tell us about the NCAA investigstion into Football,B.B.,and B.B. they grouped them all together so, look out I see sanctions comming down like Southern Cal got. Something is very wrong at our beloved Tennessee and we need someone to tell us the facts. We can't Fire Pearl because of the way his contract is written. Fulmer got a new contract with a 6 million dollar byout while everyone was talking about him being fired. Do us all a favor and tell us what else they are hiding from us the fans.

Ayres_Hall writes:

in response to CroKev:

I thought it interesting to read how the LSU fans were upset with Saban after losing in his first season to UAB. Sure hope UAB doesn't do the same to Dooley in his first year. What I did take from this article, though, is that we have a coach like Saban, who will struggle early but has the "right stuff" to turn it around and get us in contention again.

Much like Saban did in his first years at both LSU and Bama, Dooley will play those who earn their playing time. Dedication, focus, and hard work will be rewarded. Walk-on Joseph Ayres is NOT a SEC-caliber player yet Dooley played him above several who are on scholly.

That's the standard and the expectation that has to be set now even if comes with a loss to UAB or LA-Monroe as happended to Saban.

Be patient guys.

VOLliven2it writes:

In the end, it will not matter how much deeper or experienced UAB is or other teams to come. What will be most vital is that our guys go out and play their best. I believe we will see improvement even if this usual sleeper keeps everyone awake for 60 minutes or most of it. We cannot keep focusing on what we currently do not have. We have to make the most of what we have.
Who cares that Adams is an LSU lover? Let's hope our guys go out and show them we can play when the time comes. Meanwhile, bring on those Blazers. We will be ready! GO BIG ORANGE!

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

If UT overlooks anyone this year, they lose. With the exception of Alabama, I think this team is capable of beating or losing to any team left on the schedule.

Lizardgrad89 writes:

This game is interesting to me because this is the first time this year that UT will be the "hunted" in a game. You guys were definitely the 'hunters" against Oregon and Florida.

Well, I suppose you were the hunted against UT-Martin, but they were a junior high jv team compared to you guys.

UAB, on the other hand, while not as good as you guys, is at least a halfway decent 1-A team.

I'm just saying it'll be interesting to see how your team responds to somebody else being the feisty underdog looking to pull the upset.

JACK8254 writes:

The fact are 1. UT is not very good this year 2. UAB has nothing to lose and much to gain. 3.If the Vols look past this game to the killer 4 game stretch looming: LSU, GA, SC,and Bama, they will lose this game. 4. The person most responsible for this situation is Mike Hamilton and he has not been held accountable.

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