Derek Dooley on UT turnaround: 'How quickly that will happen, I can’t speak on that.'

Tennessee Coach Derek Dooley sings autographs during the Southeastern Conference football media days in Hoover, Ala., Thursday July 21, 2011. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Linda Stelter)

Photo by Linda Stelter

Tennessee Coach Derek Dooley sings autographs during the Southeastern Conference football media days in Hoover, Ala., Thursday July 21, 2011. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Linda Stelter)

Tennessee OT Dallas Thomas at SEC Media Days

HOOVER, Ala. — Derek Dooley again didn’t make any predictions.

The Tennessee coach definitely wasn’t interested in bold proclamations about his team, either.

But when pressed about his progress with the Vols while appearing at his second SEC Football Media Days on Thursday, Dooley also didn’t shy away from high expectations. UT might not win its division or a championship this fall, but that doesn’t mean Dooley isn’t expecting to be in the mix for some trophies.

“I don’t go into any year not thinking we can contend,” Dooley said. “We certainly have some more challenges than some of the other teams, but I like the guys that we’re coaching, I do. I think they’re going to develop into something that’s going to bring Tennessee back to what its standard was.

“How quickly that will happen, I can’t speak on that.”

While Dooley had no interest in projecting win totals for his young roster, he did have plenty to offer about the Vols during his numerous interviews with a media pool that included 900 credentialed members at The Wynfrey Hotel.

Dooley indicated he felt better about the talent level heading into his second season with the Vols, particularly with 20 more bodies to add to the roster when camp opens in early August. He talked about the progress sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray has made this summer, praised running back Tauren Poole and was even able to crack a few of his jokes about the winning record he had in post-game handshakes last year.

In all, Dooley came across as a guy much more comfortable with the situation at UT than he did during his debut a year ago — perhaps even more so than during spring practice as well.

“I don’t think it’s changed as much as you guys have indicated it has,” Dooley said. “I don’t remember being so negative after spring. I left spring feeling pretty good about what we accomplished as a team, knowing that we have a long way to go and knowing that we were going to need help from the 20-something guys coming in this fall. I hadn’t seen any of these young freshmen coming in, still really haven’t other than looking at them. There’s a lot of unknown.

“I feel good about the talent that we have, I think the continuity with our coaching staff is going to help. I do think we’re going to be a little better football team, but whether or not we’ll win more or not, that remains to be seen.”

The Vols clearly have every intention of doing it as soon as possible, though Dooley was up front about the issues that could trip them up this fall — starting with the inexperience of a roster dominated by freshmen and sophomores.

But during several hours, the UT contingent led by Dooley, Poole, defensive tackle Malik Jackson and offensive tackle Dallas Thomas all refused to accept youth as a possible excuse this season. And they all recounted a conversation before spring practice even began that hinted at a more confident team and coach than what has seemingly been portrayed publicly.

“Everybody wants to win a championship, but nobody wants to go through the pain and struggle it takes to get to one,” Poole said. “Talking aboutit is not going to get us anywhere. We’ve got to have the work ethic and attitude, and that’s what we’ve been doing this offseason.

“Coach Dooley asked us what we wanted to accomplish, what we wanted to be remembered for, and he challenged all the seniors to step up to the plate and offer an opinion — and we said a lot of things about the SEC, the national (championship). That all sounds good, but it doesn’t mean anything until you prove it.”

Regardless of whether or not the Vols are able to live up to that kind of title talk, they at least plan to be in the conversation.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 88

volmania97 writes:

Never let your enemies know what you are bringing to the fight. Tennessee will surprise a lot of people this year and we want to remain under the radar.

The_Real_Orange writes:

in response to volmania97:

Never let your enemies know what you are bringing to the fight. Tennessee will surprise a lot of people this year and we want to remain under the radar.

I heard from several posters that UT was gonna surprise some teams last year. They didn't beat anybody they weren't supposed to last year, nothing is guaranteed that they will this year. Can't wait to see how Bray holds up playing against the better teams on the schedule this year. Its almost football time again!

Volunatic writes:

I think the Vols will win 4 out of their first 6 games, and 2 out of the next 4 games, and then do "the usual" against Vandy and Kentucky.

volmania97 writes:

in response to The_Real_Orange:

I heard from several posters that UT was gonna surprise some teams last year. They didn't beat anybody they weren't supposed to last year, nothing is guaranteed that they will this year. Can't wait to see how Bray holds up playing against the better teams on the schedule this year. Its almost football time again!

More talent this year, more experience and the coaches have been together longer. I see a lot better year than last year.

NashvillePreds writes:

“How quickly that will happen, I can’t speak on that.”

CD2, you might not, "want" to speak on that, but I assure you, you need to have a general idea, in house.

VolzsFan writes:

You can have all the parts and no QB and your sunk. Tenn does not have all the parts. Kiffin saw to it that they all went elsewhere while he was napalming the program. Tenn is a 4-5 win team because they have a QB that was ranked 11th in game averages last year playing the worst teams in D1. Than he choked against a 500 ACC team. Going to be a long year...or 20.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Haagen Daaz and Burgers for Ty.......That's the key...And a couple of surprise linebackers and defensive linemen wouldn't hurt either......

volmania97 writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

You can have all the parts and no QB and your sunk. Tenn does not have all the parts. Kiffin saw to it that they all went elsewhere while he was napalming the program. Tenn is a 4-5 win team because they have a QB that was ranked 11th in game averages last year playing the worst teams in D1. Than he choked against a 500 ACC team. Going to be a long year...or 20.

You need to change your screen name because you show a lot of love for the Big Orange. We don't need a band wagon fan and we don't need your negative remarks on here.

volsfan74 writes:

Dooley may want to make a quick trip back down to Cleveland, TN. Chad Voytik seems to be getting a lot of attention and respect and I would hate to see a top talent player like him leave BIG ORANGE COUNTRY.
http://clevelandbanner.com/view/full_...

Volunatic writes:

in response to Volunatic:

I think the Vols will win 4 out of their first 6 games, and 2 out of the next 4 games, and then do "the usual" against Vandy and Kentucky.

By the way, this was my best attempt at being pessimistic. I wanted to say "5 out of the first 6, and then 3 out of the next 4".
I am trying to temper my expectations, but I really like the core of talent on this team.

Volunatic writes:

in response to volmania97:

You need to change your screen name because you show a lot of love for the Big Orange. We don't need a band wagon fan and we don't need your negative remarks on here.

The "z" in his posting moniker gives him away.

givehim6 writes:

Yes I hope that the disrespect the SEC is showing UT comes back to haunt them. Imagine the look on many peopls faces if UT won the SEC east.

hikerdude writes:

We're at least a year away from being able to compete with the good teams in the SEC. I see 6-6; maybe 7-5.

Volunatic writes:

Nice to see that OLB Otha Peters committed to Tennessee. Solid player in a position of need.

kevin151 writes:

in response to givehim6:

Yes I hope that the disrespect the SEC is showing UT comes back to haunt them. Imagine the look on many peopls faces if UT won the SEC east.

What disrespect? Do you expect people to really think that UT has greatly improved already?

GoVolsReally writes:

I don't know about most of you, but I go into every season expecting wins. And a lot of them. I know that we are young but I also think we have a great core and a great coaching staff. I look at this schedule and see us at 7 - 5. Maybe big expectations, but it is possible. Look at the SC game last year. Not a win, but a good start to future wins. Just my thoughts.

jjsteel writes:

in response to NashvillePreds:

“How quickly that will happen, I can’t speak on that.”

CD2, you might not, "want" to speak on that, but I assure you, you need to have a general idea, in house.

What Coach doesn't say is important. He's holding the cards close, and that's good. The Bear did it that way all of the time. His comments on his team were guarded, then when the season began they pounded other teams.

GoVolsReally writes:

in response to FLVOL79:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree completely. Wins breed wins. Tallent brings tallent. I really don't think anyone going in to the 1998 season thought that team was of championship grade. But they were. That is what makes college football so great. Anything can happen. This team will be good. Not great, but good. No excuses, but Tennessee has been though a lot. We will be back. Sooner rather than later.

agentorange writes:

I know two things: 1) we're young and thin but talented enough at the starting positions; 2)anything can happen in college football. Go Big Orange!

givehim6 writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

You can have all the parts and no QB and your sunk. Tenn does not have all the parts. Kiffin saw to it that they all went elsewhere while he was napalming the program. Tenn is a 4-5 win team because they have a QB that was ranked 11th in game averages last year playing the worst teams in D1. Than he choked against a 500 ACC team. Going to be a long year...or 20.

You know I read these post and think do people really believe there will be no growth at UT from last year? Last year was CDD first year, and first in the SEC might I add, with many new faces on the team plus UT was still trying to find out who they were. This years Vols have 1 year under there belts and have more confidence in who they are of corse there will an inproved UT on the gridiron this year.

NO_DIGGITY writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What's up Turncoat? Nothing like a disgruntled ex UT Fan playing Nostradumbazz and predicting a Soph Jinx for Bray. How do you know Caparnicus? The most pathetic UT fans I know are ex-UT fans who worshiped a Coach more than they do their University. You sound like the type that would have followed Jim Jones into the Jungle and drank his Kool-Aid. You certainlly drank Fulmer's when he was leading us to a 57 and 32 record his last 7 years ( 4-10 against Bama and FL). The most pathetic thing about you is lying on here for 3 years about being a Vandy fan. Change your screen name to Benedict Arnold, suits you better Turncoat.

On Subject, I don't think any coach will Comment on how thier team will peform this year. Not a good question to ask a Coach.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

You can have all the parts and no QB and your sunk. Tenn does not have all the parts. Kiffin saw to it that they all went elsewhere while he was napalming the program. Tenn is a 4-5 win team because they have a QB that was ranked 11th in game averages last year playing the worst teams in D1. Than he choked against a 500 ACC team. Going to be a long year...or 20.

Now, that's the good ol' troll way to spin stats! It would seem from the way you worded your argument that you are including either ALL games the TEAM played or all games Bray may have had a couple of snaps in. Otherwise, there is NO WAY your comment makes sense. I assure you that for the number of games Bray started, he was WAY higher than 11th in the conference. Still, nice try, in your normal trollish way.

givehim6 writes:

in response to kevin151:

What disrespect? Do you expect people to really think that UT has greatly improved already?

No bubby that statement was just wishful thinking, this is why I said " I hope ". I do think UT will have a bit better record then last year, and maybe at least 1 surprise win.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Volunatic:

The "z" in his posting moniker gives him away.

To elucidate further for volmania97, this board has been plagued for years by a Florida troll who has been banned many times for general cloddy doltishness but always returns with one or more "z's" in his screen name, which is the sound most of us Vol fans make when his posts appear.

Prostar writes:

I too look for improvement from this team. Yes the refs screwed up and we weren't good enough to overcome them. Whatever you think we played LSU to a standstill in Baton Rouge and we were good enough to beat UNC. So the breaks didn't go our way, good teams find a way to overcome and adapt. Our OL returns almost intact with at least 2 real good additions. Our secondary is strong, LB will be challenging but DL has 2 very good tackles and 2 quality replacements. I like our chances a whole lot better than Georgia. I think we can be 3rd in the SEC East and with a little help we can be 2nd.

CheeseDonkey writes:

Why does everyone always feed the trolls? They post that phooey so you will get angry and reply to them. Then they feel a sense of accomplishment and troll even more, since they have nothing better to do.

If you simply ignore them, then their comments fall meaninglessly to the wayside and actual intelligent discussions can take place.

Volunatic writes:

in response to johnlg00:

To elucidate further for volmania97, this board has been plagued for years by a Florida troll who has been banned many times for general cloddy doltishness but always returns with one or more "z's" in his screen name, which is the sound most of us Vol fans make when his posts appear.

Good work, sir.

Volunatic writes:

in response to CroatianVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I've been saying for a while now-- CSS is a Memphis dropout, not a Vandy grad.

Volunatic writes:

in response to CroatianVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

As much as I dislike lane kiffin, I don't think he is a terrible coach.
His worst fault is nepotism, IMO-- Monte doesn't seem to have any idea about how to stop a well-executed option offense.

vol49 writes:

in response to volsfan74:

Dooley may want to make a quick trip back down to Cleveland, TN. Chad Voytik seems to be getting a lot of attention and respect and I would hate to see a top talent player like him leave BIG ORANGE COUNTRY.
http://clevelandbanner.com/view/full_...

Good link. Thanks for the post.

ReVolver writes:

I think Dooley is the man for the job.

I hope he is given the time needed to get the Vols back to the SEC title game.

And I hope the people pulling the strings aren't suckered into listening to the short-sighted gripers in the fanbase.

VolGrad writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

You can have all the parts and no QB and your sunk. Tenn does not have all the parts. Kiffin saw to it that they all went elsewhere while he was napalming the program. Tenn is a 4-5 win team because they have a QB that was ranked 11th in game averages last year playing the worst teams in D1. Than he choked against a 500 ACC team. Going to be a long year...or 20.

So you are saying our Vols are worse off this year than last year, or that the rest of the conference is suddenly that much better. Your fatuity knows no bounds.

Go Big Orange!

Volunatic writes:

Actually, Dooley had a winning WAC record.
The OOC "money" games dragged his overall record at LA Tech below .500.
http://www.cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/...
I doubt spurrier/saban/meyer/miles would have done much better in the same situation.

VolGrad writes:

in response to SmokeyTheBlueTickHoundDog:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The only obstacles here are the ones preventing the neurons in your brain from arriving unscathed at each synapse.

Speak again and prove my point.

orangeinbama writes:

in response to CheeseDonkey:

Why does everyone always feed the trolls? They post that phooey so you will get angry and reply to them. Then they feel a sense of accomplishment and troll even more, since they have nothing better to do.

If you simply ignore them, then their comments fall meaninglessly to the wayside and actual intelligent discussions can take place.

Ditto...

CoverOrange writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Now, that's the good ol' troll way to spin stats! It would seem from the way you worded your argument that you are including either ALL games the TEAM played or all games Bray may have had a couple of snaps in. Otherwise, there is NO WAY your comment makes sense. I assure you that for the number of games Bray started, he was WAY higher than 11th in the conference. Still, nice try, in your normal trollish way.

Saw a tweet the other day from Griff that indicated that Bray had a higher QB rating than Garcia.

I do worry that Bray will struggle like Clausen did after losing his star receivers.

Theo writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"I bet Florida dont make excuses" Really? I've known you didn't graduate from Vanderbilt. Now I'm beginning to wonder if you made it out of high school. Pathetic.

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to The_Real_Orange:

I heard from several posters that UT was gonna surprise some teams last year. They didn't beat anybody they weren't supposed to last year, nothing is guaranteed that they will this year. Can't wait to see how Bray holds up playing against the better teams on the schedule this year. Its almost football time again!

name one quality win the flar-duh gaturds had last year in the regular season. there wasn't one. they finally got one in the bowl game, but nearly choked it away.

in the regular season flar-duh didn't beat any quality team with a winning record. this is surprising to me being that the gaturds had 5* athletes on red shirt in the stands.

UT was without....what....14-17 scholorships and still managed a 6-6 record with a bowl game.

bottom line..UT overachieved and Flar-duh underachieved....2011 to be determined.

The_Mayor writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

SmokeDog1972 writes:

I hate to say it, but I am not expecting any more wins than last year. Hope I am wrong. I think 2012 and 2013 will be greener pastures. Will play for the SEC Championship one of those two years.

mbain13 writes:

in response to Volunatic:

By the way, this was my best attempt at being pessimistic. I wanted to say "5 out of the first 6, and then 3 out of the next 4".
I am trying to temper my expectations, but I really like the core of talent on this team.

I like how you think. I believe the guys are coachable, still very young. But alot of talented young players.

Volunatic writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Saw a tweet the other day from Griff that indicated that Bray had a higher QB rating than Garcia.

I do worry that Bray will struggle like Clausen did after losing his star receivers.

Let's hope Bray has a better sophomore season than Erik Ainge did.

hueypilot writes:

Once again, I implore you guys, when you see these idiots posting here trying to irritate you, and you know who they are, just skip their post, don't respond and they will tire of their little game. DO NOT RESPOND and you will have a much nicer day.

ThirdSaturdayInOctober writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Do you care to wager real cash on your six win prediction? You are the great prognosticator so I cannot imagine your passing on this generous offer. Talk is cheap. Got the fortitude to anty up with real cash? What if I give you 2 to 1 odds- will that help? Three to one.....four to one?

lomas98 writes:

in response to givehim6:

Yes I hope that the disrespect the SEC is showing UT comes back to haunt them. Imagine the look on many peopls faces if UT won the SEC east.

The look on the faces of most realistic TN fans would be the same as the people you speak of. Not sure why you think they are being disrespected when there are just better players making the preseason teams. That is the best part about preseason, most of the time predictions are wrong because they are based just on the previous season. That is why TN isn't predicted to do well and I must agree. 7-5. Would love to have that look on my face at the end of the year you mention.

SEC1 writes:

BRAYCROW WILL CHOKE AT THE SWAMP

montana=w
cinny=pick em
gators=l
buff=w
ga=l
lsu=l
bama=l
sc=l
mtsu=w
vandy= pick em
kentucky=pick em

write it down... if not 90 percent correct i leave this site forever

Volunatic writes:

You forgot to put an Arkansas game prediction in.

SEC1 writes:

pigs=l the real "tyler" wilson will have a field day

volmania97 writes:

in response to SEC1:

BRAYCROW WILL CHOKE AT THE SWAMP

montana=w
cinny=pick em
gators=l
buff=w
ga=l
lsu=l
bama=l
sc=l
mtsu=w
vandy= pick em
kentucky=pick em

write it down... if not 90 percent correct i leave this site forever

Might as well leave now and don't let the door hit you on the a** on the way out.

Volunatic writes:

I highly doubt you will leave the site forever when at least two of the Vol losses you predict turn out to be incorrect, but it is a nice thought, anyway.

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