Banged-up Vols get extra day off from practice

UT defense plagued by missed tackles

UT offense: Dropped balls, penalties and 3-and-outs

Dooley explains missing man on field

With low numbers and the bumps and bruises mounting, Derek Dooley decided to give his football team Monday off from practice.

But don’t expect the Tennessee coach to take the easy approach when UT does return to practice today.

“It’s going to be hard for me to compromise being physical and tackling (in practice), and if that means guys are going to get hurt, I’m going to have to live with it,” Dooley said at his weekly news conference Monday.

The Vols (2-2, 0-1 SEC) missed tackles all over the field against UAB en route to allowing the Blazers to pile up 544 yards of offense.

But with a couple more starters banged up and low scholarship numbers, Dooley doesn’t intend to limit how much the Vols tackle in practices this week in preparations for Saturday’s trip to LSU (TV: WVLT, 3:30 p.m.).

“What I can’t live with is watching a team that doesn’t tackle well,” Dooley said, “so I’d rather have the worst players in college football who are going to go tackle than have good players that won’t tackle.

“I’m sorry — we’re going to be physical in practice, and we’re going to tackle. I may be kicking myself in three weeks, but, man, I don’t know what’s worse. It’s hard to look at a team that doesn’t tackle very well, and we didn’t do it (against UAB).”

While LSU, with bruising 235-pound tailback Stevan Ridley and the elusive Russell Shepard, certainly presents a stiffer challenge than UAB, the Vols tackled well against Florida’s talented skill players two weeks ago, leading Dooley to believe the tackling struggles were due to lacking “mental energy.”

“I was a little concerned with how we were from Thursday night to game time mentally,” he said. “As much as you beat it in ‘em, I’m not sure how locked in we were because the evidence suggests that we weren’t locked in the way we needed to be.”

Holy Undershirt, Batman!: Matt Simms’ secret is out.

Receiver Denarius Moore posted a picture on his Twitter account of the Vols’ quarterback putting his shoulder pads on before the UAB game, revealing Simms’ black Batman undershirt.

“I can’t believe he (did) that,” Simms said.

“I didn’t know he was going to post it on Twitter, I just thought he thought it was funny. I’m happy that he was focused and prepared for the game.”

Simms said he wore the shirt during his successful junior and senior years of high school and brought it back for the Florida game.

“We won this week, so I’m going to continue to wear it,” he said.

“I’m kind of superstitious.”

Illegal Substitutions: UT had just 10 players on the field on a third down and a field-goal attempt during one of the overtimes against UAB.

Dooley called it a “substitution error,” adding that different coaches are responsible for various situational substitutions.

“We’re going to correct that,” he said. “That’s 100 percent coaching.”

Ironically, UT’s defense stopped UAB on third down with just 10 players after struggling to do so throughout the game.

“We might put that defense in in the future,” Dooley joked. “It confused the offense so much.”

Returners Wanted: Dooley said UT’s coverage units were “awesome” against UAB, though he voiced his frustrations with the return game Monday.

“We’re still searching at both returners,” he said. “I felt like we left a lot yards out there. We had some big windows to hit, and we’re not hitting them.”

The Vols are last and 11th in the SEC on kickoff and punt returns, respectively.

Status Update: Receiver Gerald Jones has been cleared to return to practice, but his status for LSU is still unknown.

Jones, who’s missed the past three games, will still be wearing a protective splint on the hand in which he broke a bone against UT Martin.

Like Jones, tailback Tauren Poole (thigh), cornerback Art Evans (knee) and linebacker Herman Lathers (leg) are all day-to-day, though Dooley said it’s possible all four could play.

Center Cody Pope (stinger) and guard JerQuari Schofield (foot) will not play.

Patrick Brown is a freelance contributor.

© 2010 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 10

Digital5000 writes:

Seems like there is more to Pope than a stinger. Usually a stinger is good after a day, if not 30 mins. I guess it could possibly be the worst stinger ever???

Get better Mr. Pope, we need you.

-Enjoy Yourselves

CoverOrange writes:

Who is the back up center to Darin Gooch? Did Gooch play every offensive down?

pms151 writes:

in response to Digital5000:

Seems like there is more to Pope than a stinger. Usually a stinger is good after a day, if not 30 mins. I guess it could possibly be the worst stinger ever???

Get better Mr. Pope, we need you.

-Enjoy Yourselves

There is probably more to the concussion thing than we all know. That's good for Cody, but bad for the team.

Colliervol writes:

in response to steviejanowski:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Or one of those 72 ounce t-bones out in Amarillo.

Colliervol writes:

I'm hoping our issues Saturday were more of the mental variety. Coming off two games like Oregon and Florida, I imagine it would be difficult to maintain a mental edge against a UAB especially after jumping up to a big lead. Combine that with a lack of depth and you get what you saw in the second half. Better not happen over the next 4 games or the Vols have no shot.

That kickoff return thing is a pet peeve of mine. Surely there is somebody on that team that knows how to take a kick-off and run full speed upfield. Obviously, David Oku cannot forget his running back skills and quit juking and hesitating on a return. If you hesitate on a kick-off return, you have no chance and Oku does it every time he catches one.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Colliervol:

I'm hoping our issues Saturday were more of the mental variety. Coming off two games like Oregon and Florida, I imagine it would be difficult to maintain a mental edge against a UAB especially after jumping up to a big lead. Combine that with a lack of depth and you get what you saw in the second half. Better not happen over the next 4 games or the Vols have no shot.

That kickoff return thing is a pet peeve of mine. Surely there is somebody on that team that knows how to take a kick-off and run full speed upfield. Obviously, David Oku cannot forget his running back skills and quit juking and hesitating on a return. If you hesitate on a kick-off return, you have no chance and Oku does it every time he catches one.

I've noticed the same thing. All the really good returners I've seen, even little skinny ones, just have a way of seeing a crease and BURSTING through it, slipping the arm tackles. They have a way of shifting gears that somehow doesn't translate into "dancing". In that regard, it is usually best NOT to take off running at full speed with your head down. It is usually best, IMHO, to go three-quarters speed while sizing up the field, then identifying a crack, and then exploding through it. No question that this is a rare knack that not every aspiring return man has, sheer speed aside.

NashVol1 writes:

A win's a win. Way to hang in there. Now let's go out and beat some people we're not supposed to beat.

Rookie2 writes:

in response to Digital5000:

Seems like there is more to Pope than a stinger. Usually a stinger is good after a day, if not 30 mins. I guess it could possibly be the worst stinger ever???

Get better Mr. Pope, we need you.

-Enjoy Yourselves

Reading between the lines, there is more to it. The problem is it can't be best define in the since of a medical condition or term, but rather by reference to a certain part of the female anatomy, and that term can't be used in your weekly news conference. If they were holding him out because of a concussion, they would call it that and there would be no more question. Dooley's not going to cater to all the drama and lack of thoughness Pope brings. If Gooch can provide anywhere near the level of play, you will not see Pope again.

movinonup writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

How did we lose the game with Alabama last year? I know...a missed field goal. And just like that was a loss, this one was a win. We better take them any way we can get them this year.

OhioValleyVol writes:

GO Vols!

I think that Coach Dooley is going to have this team running the the right direction, but as fans, we're going to have to give him some time before we see any significant results, but it may be a long season in Knoxville, but I bleed orange regardless!!!

GO UT - BEAT LSU

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