John Adams: Vols, Derek Dooley overdue for upset

John Adams

Coach Derek Dooley on the first practice of fall camp

Preseason football is predictable. It's hot, grueling and sometimes sufficiently oppressive to make all-around athletes second guess themselves for not focusing more on baseball or basketball.

Regular-season football also was predictable the last two years if Derek Dooley coached your team, whether it was at Louisiana Tech or Tennessee. His teams won as favorites and lost as underdogs.

That's one reason I doubt this season will go according to form. The other reason? The Vols.

They're as overdue as their coach for an upset. Both have the near upsets to prove it.

In 2009, Dooley's last year at Louisiana Tech, his team won only four of 12 games. But for three consecutive games, against some of the best teams on their schedule, the Bulldogs almost overcame the odds.

As a 20-point underdog to fifth-ranked Boise State, they lost by only 10. A week later in Tiger Stadium, they came within eight points of LSU, which was a 22-point favorite. The next week, they lost 30-28 on the road against Fresno State, a nine-point favorite.

There's more evidence of Dooley's teams excelling in an underdog role. In 2008, Louisiana Tech went 8-5, thanks to back-to-back upset victories over Fresno State and San Jose State, and another upset victory in the season opener against Mississippi State.

None of Dooley's teams over-achieved more than his first Louisiana Tech team did in its second game. Oddsmakers favored Hawaii to win by 28 points. They were 27 points off.

Hawaii escaped with a 45-44 overtime victory, its closest call in a 12-0 regular season. Louisiana Tech finished 5-7.

The Vols have gone about as long as Dooley without an upset. Their last upset victory was a 20-10 victory over Vanderbilt, which was a three-point favorite in the second-to-last game of the 2008 season.

But like Dooley, the Vols have come tantalizingly close. In 2009, Lane Kiffin's only season as coach, UT lost 12-10 to eventual national champion Alabama.

As close as the Vols came in that near upset, they came even closer last year against LSU.

The Alabama game ended on the last play. The LSU game ended after the last play. The Tigers, who were favored by 16 points, scored following a penalty for a 16-14 victory.

If you're looking for another reason to believe UT will upset someone, check the schedule. It will provide plenty of opportunities. The Vols likely will be underdogs in half of their games — against Florida, Georgia, LSU, Alabama, South Carolina and Arkansas.

They're due to win at least one of them.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 40

VolzsFan writes:

Which sport has the most players participating on a college campus? Football....by definition it is not exclusive and therefore not nearly the hardest to play, or it would not be so well suited for the non-athletic not aerobic obese kids that could not play anything else to have a sports home.

Upset? Please

Classof72 writes:

I'm proud to have CDD. However, we lost two big games last year to coaching errors. We're bound to win in an upset someday, if we're underdogs in every game. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. The only people really expected to be upset by the Vols this year are the Vols' fans. Oh, well, GBO!

Jakevol writes:

We are all due an upset. Not just Dooley.

born2ride writes:

So per Adams, we should be pleased Dooley went 4-8 at LA Tech but beat the spread in losses against Boise, Fresno and LSU?

nwcs writes:

in response to born2ride:

So per Adams, we should be pleased Dooley went 4-8 at LA Tech but beat the spread in losses against Boise, Fresno and LSU?

More like Dooley has been knocking on the door for big games and maybe the time is finally here.

VolinCalif writes:

All six of those teams are tough. But sense we are fantasizing , I would say the almost sure lost is to Ala. We have a pretty good chance against Ga, SC, and LSU. I think that the past pretty much says that is true. Fl could well be a romp either way, don't know how their new coaches will put things together in their first year, but I think we would have a great chance if the game were played in Knoxville. Ark? I just think that Ark is due to have a great year. In short I think 8 wins and a bowl is possible.

VOLliven2it writes:

We really do not know how our team responds this year, especially in road games. This means FL, AL, and ARK will be very tough to win. The others just depend on how well we develop. For example, we need to score easier this year than last year in the tough games. Also, we need to hold down mistakes. The Florida away game will be a big indicator of how we do in conference play. I have to say, I am hoping we win it but have a lot of uncertainty. The good thing is this year we have players who, though are still young, have played in the big games. That will help in many ways. Who all will we beat? I cannot say for sure but I expect we will have opportunities to win games many think we lose handily.

Volunatic writes:

Did I just read a John Adams article that attempted to give Vol fans hope for this season?
Weird.
I agree with Mr. Adams, though. I think this coaching staff is excellent, and they have a lot more depth to work with at key positions than they did last season. This should help with preventing the 2nd-half letdowns that plagued UT last season.
I'm sticking to my earlier prediction: the Vols will win at least 4 of the first 6 games, and then at least 2 of the next 4, and finish with the customary wins over Vandy and Kentucky.

UTKin1992 writes:

You get what you pay for...we have a lawyer as head football coach. He's as predictable as they come, and we'll be extraordinarily lucky not to lose 6 games this season.

WV_Vol writes:

in response to UTKin1992:

You get what you pay for...we have a lawyer as head football coach. He's as predictable as they come, and we'll be extraordinarily lucky not to lose 6 games this season.

I disagree. We have a football coach as Head Football Coach. Plenty of people are trained in unrelated fields before finding their niche in life. Dooley is a football coach who happens to be trained as an attorney. The fact that he went to law school doesn't make him any more or any less qualified to be the head coach. Sometimes, you get more than you paid for...

UTKin1992 writes:

in response to WV_Vol:

I disagree. We have a football coach as Head Football Coach. Plenty of people are trained in unrelated fields before finding their niche in life. Dooley is a football coach who happens to be trained as an attorney. The fact that he went to law school doesn't make him any more or any less qualified to be the head coach. Sometimes, you get more than you paid for...

Point taken. BTW, thank you for having tact when rebutting my comment. GVX is full of "fans" who resort to name calling and insults when they disagree...

FWBVol writes:

in response to UTKin1992:

You get what you pay for...we have a lawyer as head football coach. He's as predictable as they come, and we'll be extraordinarily lucky not to lose 6 games this season.

Have you ever considered that CDD was predictable last season because he often had as many as six or seven freshmen starting on offense? Have you considered the fact that veteran players were playing for their third head coach in three years and learning their third offense and third defense in as many years?

Peyton Manning is starting his 14th season in the NFL and he has, to the best of my knowledge, played in three systems in the last 20 something years. He played in the same system all through high school, a second system at UT and finally a third system with the Colts.

I believe we will see more of the offense this year and it will probably grow even more next year when Bray and many of the other key players are juniors.

murrayvol writes:

in response to UTKin1992:

Point taken. BTW, thank you for having tact when rebutting my comment. GVX is full of "fans" who resort to name calling and insults when they disagree...

Dontcha just hate those guys?

murrayvol writes:

in response to UTKin1992:

You get what you pay for...we have a lawyer as head football coach. He's as predictable as they come, and we'll be extraordinarily lucky not to lose 6 games this season.

Knute Rockne's degree was in chemistry. He did alright.

oskie_score writes:

Due for an upset? Really?!? Unreal.
I could careless about upsets...my focus, as I'm confident CDD's too, is on progress. Building team chemistry, showing improvement with each game, recruiting, staying healthy, come to mind...not upsets. Seriously.

volnark writes:

For anyone suggesting that a lawyer is not a good choice as a head coach, please remember that Tony Larussa is a lawyer coaching the St. Louis Cardinals. It has not worked out too badly for those teams he has coached. Sure hope CDD has as much success as Coach Larussa.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to UTKin1992:

You get what you pay for...we have a lawyer as head football coach. He's as predictable as they come, and we'll be extraordinarily lucky not to lose 6 games this season.

Wasn't Mike Leach a lawyer before getting into coaching? then took a practically non-existent football program into the top ten.

Albert Einstein was a mail clerk. You never know.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to murrayvol:

Dontcha just hate those guys?

I have observed that there are four types of posters here.
1. Vol Fans that come to give and get information on the Vols.
2. Football Fans that come to give and get information on rival teams.
3. Trolls whose sole purpose in life is to taunt and tick off #1 and #2.
4. Troll-hunters whose sole purpose in life is to call other people names because they have nothing else to offer society.

SummittsCourt writes:

If the field umpire had done their jobs in the LSU and UNC games the Vols would've ended last season at 8-5 and a lot of this talk wouldn't be going on.

In both games the field umpire's job was to hold the ball until both teams had time to substitute players. In both games the field umpire failed to do this allowing the chaos that ensued in both games which led to the incorrect call against the Vols for having too many men on the field. The right call would have been to hold the ball and allow both teams to set.

In the Bowl game, again, the same thing except in this case had the official done his job like he was supposed to time would have ran out. As soon as the UNC field goal team starting running onto the field the umpire is supposed to hold the ball allowing both teams time to get the right players on the field.

I get this information straight from the head of officials of the SEC, not just my own opinion or what I thought the rules were.

Well, at least in the case of the bowl game a rule is now in effect to keep that kind of thing from happening again.

Volunatic writes:

in response to FLVOL79:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You forgot to mention Oregon and Stanford.

Ayres_Hall writes:

I long for the day when we are the favorites - never ever talking about an upset.

buzz29 writes:

If UT has few injuries, and if the defensive front seven perform well above expectations, then UT should achieve at least one or two upsets this coming season. Next year, the wins won't (and shouldn't) be considered upsets.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

If the field umpire had done their jobs in the LSU and UNC games the Vols would've ended last season at 8-5 and a lot of this talk wouldn't be going on.

In both games the field umpire's job was to hold the ball until both teams had time to substitute players. In both games the field umpire failed to do this allowing the chaos that ensued in both games which led to the incorrect call against the Vols for having too many men on the field. The right call would have been to hold the ball and allow both teams to set.

In the Bowl game, again, the same thing except in this case had the official done his job like he was supposed to time would have ran out. As soon as the UNC field goal team starting running onto the field the umpire is supposed to hold the ball allowing both teams time to get the right players on the field.

I get this information straight from the head of officials of the SEC, not just my own opinion or what I thought the rules were.

Well, at least in the case of the bowl game a rule is now in effect to keep that kind of thing from happening again.

Not to be the fly in your ointment but in the LSU game UT had the time. Players came on, everybody was lined up and set, the ball was snapped with 3 seconds still on the clock. In the UNC game, UT didn't attempt any substitutions thus no reason for the ref to step in to hold the ball. Substituting cost Dooley in one game which led him to not substitute in the second game which cost him.

Colliervol writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Learn something new every day. I had no idea they kept track of yards when considering wins and losses. No wonder Vandy has such a derelict program. Their fans think you win games by yards and not by points. Must be pretty confusing for their fans. Oh wait, one must have fans to qualify for that statement. Never mind.

Colliervol writes:

in response to GhostOFLaneKiffinFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ghost of a KNS Employee. Not even a reasonable facsimile of a troll. Try again fellas.

Colliervol writes:

in response to buzz29:

If UT has few injuries, and if the defensive front seven perform well above expectations, then UT should achieve at least one or two upsets this coming season. Next year, the wins won't (and shouldn't) be considered upsets.

I agree buzz. Hold down key injuries and we get one or two upsets this year. Best chances against Georgia (no running game), LSU (Les Miles) or South Carolina (lucked up big time last year with GA, FL and TN all down. Won't happen again.)

FLORIDAGATORHATER writes:

I like Dooley, but he should get zero credit for "almost" beating superior teams. I am a Louisiana Tech graduate (law degree from UT) and was there when we beat 'Bama twice in Tuscaloosa in two years. Gary Crowton (LSU's offensive coordinator now) was our coach and we went 9-2 in one of those years. In two years we beat Alabama twice, Cal, and Oklahoma St., all of which had superior talent. Crowton was a great coach at Tech. Dooley was mediocre. Let's hope he can turn our Vols around. I remain optimistic, but I think the reason he isn't getting recruits is because he's not coming across as a "player's coach." I admire his ostensible integrity, but he may be too "square" around recruits, and may not be telling them what they want or need to hear. Just a thought.

kcbigorngX writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

I have observed that there are four types of posters here.
1. Vol Fans that come to give and get information on the Vols.
2. Football Fans that come to give and get information on rival teams.
3. Trolls whose sole purpose in life is to taunt and tick off #1 and #2.
4. Troll-hunters whose sole purpose in life is to call other people names because they have nothing else to offer society.

You left out type 5.

This is the type of poster who gets his little jollies by trying to belittle the opinions of others.

Puff up and preen your feathers to your heart's content. As Fat Albert would say, "Hey, Hey, Hey! You got 'No Class', man."

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

A suggestion to KNS. Limit remarks to 50 words or less. Most of the dissertations and short novels are skipped by most of us. Makes the reading more enjoyable when the comments are short and sweet.

mytrifecta writes:

Boys, I bleed orange and I'm completely behind Dooley...but this story about his tech teams covering the spread and making him out as a freak-of-nature coach is comical. The reality is we should have had a monumental upset against lsu last year but the coaching staff f'd it up. Plus we lost in a complete fluke to NC in the bowl game. It just seems luck is not on his side. Again, I really am completely behind dooley but history just doesn't give me a lot of optimism that he's going to be a success.

Theo writes:

in response to GhostOFLaneKiffinFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Huh....., I didn't know Alabama wasn't allowed to play in a bowl this year.

kabulvol writes:

"As close as the Vols came in that near upset, they came even closer last year against LSU.

The Alabama game ended on the last play."

-----

We lost to Bama 41-0 last year. Yeah, I guess the game did end on the final play - like all games. Come on, KNS, lets do some proofreading and crank out some decent articles. Its FTIT!

orangeman1 writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You just cant leave Fulmer out of it can you Naval. Fulmer never lost 8 games in his 17 year career. His last year he had to install a whole new offense and if he hadnt been fired before the Wyoming game wouldve still made a bowl. Maybe this year Dooley can get us back to 8 wins like Fulmer met or exceeded for 15 years of his career though. I know the last 6 years were the worst of his career as you stated in another post, but during those terrible years UT had won the SEC East 2x and finished top 25 4x. Also finishing tied for the best reg season record in the SEC less than a year before he was fired. So when are you going to start holding Dooley to the same expectations you did Fulmer? 2012 2013? You really must like talking about Fulmer to keep insulting him 3 years after he's gone.

mdvol writes:

The key game for the SEC EAST will be Tennessee versus South Carolina on Oct 31. Winner has a tight hold on a trip to Atlanta.

Vols start the season 4-0.

cooper65#432178 writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

OK, we lost to UAB. If that's the case, we won at LSU and beat UNC in the bowl game. We finished strong.

trubleoj#657755 writes:

"F" some close. I want cigars.

keviningeorgia writes:

in response to orangeman1:

You just cant leave Fulmer out of it can you Naval. Fulmer never lost 8 games in his 17 year career. His last year he had to install a whole new offense and if he hadnt been fired before the Wyoming game wouldve still made a bowl. Maybe this year Dooley can get us back to 8 wins like Fulmer met or exceeded for 15 years of his career though. I know the last 6 years were the worst of his career as you stated in another post, but during those terrible years UT had won the SEC East 2x and finished top 25 4x. Also finishing tied for the best reg season record in the SEC less than a year before he was fired. So when are you going to start holding Dooley to the same expectations you did Fulmer? 2012 2013? You really must like talking about Fulmer to keep insulting him 3 years after he's gone.

I don't get all the residual ugliness towards Fulmer, either. He did a GREAT job for about 8 years and even as things began to slide he was still above average. I was in Gainesville in 2001 when we won that Fla game. My recollection was they went in there 22 point underdogs. I remember all the Florida female coeds with those roses between their teeth (Rose Bowl, nat champ game) before the game. I remember walking on hundreds of discarded roses after the game, too. Anybody who watched that game and didn't see Fulmer outcoach Fla and Spurrier wasn't watching closely. There were many others too. But, as I've said before, Fulmer gradually started to allow the inmates to take over the asylum after that season. From the 2002 season on, he slowly lost control of his team to a number of selfish recruits. By the time the deed was done it was time for a change at Tennessee. All that said, I admire, respect and appreciate Phillip Fulmer for what he did for Tennessee football during his first 8 years.

keviningeorgia writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree with what you are saying, too. I believe Dooley did as good a job as anyone could last year with what he had to work with. It is completely unfair to compare Dooley's first 2 to 3 years here to Fulmer's first 2 to 3 years here. We know Fulmer started off hot and Dooley may get there early yet, the jury is still out on that now. But, Fulmer had a huge advantage here his first 2 years that Dooley doesn't have. Fulmer recruited alot of as well as coached ALL of the players he started his head coaching career with here. In year one of the Fulmer regine every player on the team had been coached by Fulmer on offense or the line for their whole UT career. So, comparing Dooley's win total the first 2 or possibly 3 years to Fulmer's same here is comparing apples to oranges. It isn't a fair comparison. I truly believe Derek Dooley will be a good head coach here. I don't know if he will match Fulmer's early winning percentages but I like what I see so far. Discipline is being reinstalled here now(from an outsider looking in) and it was at a low ebb in 2009. I know these naysayers look at Dooley's La. Tech record as a negative but it certainly wasn't. Anybody who can do what Dooley did at La. Tech in 3 years while similtaneously wearing the A.D. hat is a good coach period! He's a much better fit at Tennessee than that idiot (the boy, not the daddy) that camped here in 2009.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I dont have as high as expectations as other UT fans for UT coaches apparantley. I also realize that Dooley will need some time before fans can hold him to the same expectations as they did Fulmer. My question to you is how much time? How long before Dooley will be expected to not only compete for the SEC by winning the East , but to actually win the SEC like was expected of Fulmer?

tenecvol4 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Not to be the fly in your ointment but in the LSU game UT had the time. Players came on, everybody was lined up and set, the ball was snapped with 3 seconds still on the clock. In the UNC game, UT didn't attempt any substitutions thus no reason for the ref to step in to hold the ball. Substituting cost Dooley in one game which led him to not substitute in the second game which cost him.

Maybe you are right fly and UT didnt make any substitutions but ref still blew the call -UNC ran a play with too many players on the field like UT did against LSU and the call should have been Illegal Participation and 15 yds penalty and not Illegal subsitution and 5 yds as they called it- In LSU game the yardage didnt matter - In UNC game 15 yd penalty would have put them out of field goal range

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