Vols, MTSU hope to salvage 2011 with November wins

Derek Dooley looks ahead to MTSU

For Tennessee and Middle Tennessee State, there’s no time like November.

The Volunteers (3-5) and Blue Raiders (2-5) have had less-than-stellar seasons but still have a chance to salvage 2011 somewhat by becoming bowl eligible during November, a month that traditionally has been kind to both teams. That quest starts when the teams meet Saturday night in Knoxville.

“Coach (Derek) Dooley says we’ve got four more games and we can change our whole season with these four,” Tennessee defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “We’re just going to go out there and have one-game seasons and try to win them.”

Tennessee needs to win three out of its last four games to become bowl eligible for the third straight time. If history is any indication, it shouldn’t be too hard for the Vols, who have only lost 12 regular season games played in November or December since 1990.

The Vols won all four of their November games last year — Dooley’s first season at Tennessee — but they’re also in a little bit worse shape these days. After losing both starting quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receiver Justin Hunter, they’ve stumbled through a gauntlet of four straight tough Southeastern Conference losses having scored just two touchdowns total and averaged 212.5 yards per game.

“They have done a nice job defensively,” Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said. “Offensively, they have struggled. They have had a couple of guys injured with their quarterback and their receiver, so they have been breaking in a new quarterback the last two weeks. But they are still a very dangerous offense. It will be a great challenge for our defense.”

Dooley is opting to start quarterback Justin Worley for a second straight game in hopes of finding some rhythm in the passing game, even though the true freshman never quite got his footing in last week’s loss to South Carolina. The coach knows if Worley doesn’t improve against the Blue Raiders, the outcome may be the same.

“They certainly are more than capable of beating our tails, especially if we don’t figure out a way to score some points,” Dooley said. “We have to carry on. It’s a tough month we had, and we have to put it aside and keep working on the things that we are showing some progress on. There are some good things and we have to find some solutions on how to score some points.”

The evidence of Middle Tennessee’s potential is in its offensive production this season. Though the Blue Raiders have struggled to stop their opponents, they lead the Sun Belt Conference with an average 462.4 yards per game, 290.4 yards passing and 172 yards rushing.

Sophomore quarterback Logan Kilgore is at the heart of that offensive attack and has thrown for 14 touchdowns over his last five games and completed 19 consecutive passes two weeks ago in a win against Florida Atlantic.

“They’ve moved the ball on everybody and scored on everybody,” Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. “They get about 90 plays a game, they run a play about every 16 seconds. They don’t wait for anybody. They went down in their first game of the year against Purdue and moved the ball up and down the field. They have good speed outside, they can beat you deep and their quarterback is a playmaker. There is plenty to worry about.”

Middle Tennessee, which was 9-2 in the past three Novembers, needs to win four of its last five games this season to become eligible for a third straight bowl game. The Blue Raiders have no reason to be intimidated by the pedigree of their opponent or the homecoming atmosphere at Neyland Stadium.

Middle Tennessee’s nonconference schedule this season has included a 3-point loss at Purdue and a visit by Georgia Tech to Murfreesboro. The Blue Raiders have also played 11 of the 12 SEC teams in their history and have logged three wins — all against Vanderbilt — in 32 games against the league.

“The caliber of opponent and the environment we’ll play in heightens the game a little bit, but I think it’s just another game,” Kilgore said. “We felt the same thing when we went to Memphis last year. I think the environment will be live but we’ll be ready to go.”

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Comments » 48

jobrando#216494 writes:

VOLS --60 MTSU----0(zero)

tomkats3242 writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

VOLS --60 MTSU----0(zero)

This person has not been to a game or seen a game or they would not make a score like this. IF Tennessee was to win it will be a hard fought game with the one making the less mistakes being the winner. This is not a push over team but Tennessee might be. GO BIG ORANGE

wmainhotrods writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

VOLS --60 MTSU----0(zero)

sorry never happen!

ghost_of_which_doctor (Inactive) writes:

Go Beth! Great story!!! And here's the kicker...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_JKwg...

EastTNvolfan writes:

All I want for Christmas is a bowl game for the VOLS. That isn't too much to ask for is it Santa?

MemphisHog writes:

in response to EastTNvolfan:

All I want for Christmas is a bowl game for the VOLS. That isn't too much to ask for is it Santa?

You'll go to a bowl because you have the same soft finishing schedule you seem to get every year (TGF Vandy, Ky, MTSU).

Nashville and Memphis are wonderful places to visit in the wintertime.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to tomkats3242:

This person has not been to a game or seen a game or they would not make a score like this. IF Tennessee was to win it will be a hard fought game with the one making the less mistakes being the winner. This is not a push over team but Tennessee might be. GO BIG ORANGE

This is the weakest team faced. They have been riddled with injuries. They will never score. It will be 42-0 by half. Unless Dooley calls off the whipping 60 will be reached. Book it or cook it. I've watched every game and realize the VOLS were crippled without Tyler and no run game. The passing will be back Saturday.

Volunatic writes:

in response to tomkats3242:

This person has not been to a game or seen a game or they would not make a score like this. IF Tennessee was to win it will be a hard fought game with the one making the less mistakes being the winner. This is not a push over team but Tennessee might be. GO BIG ORANGE

Maybe you haven't seen MTSU this season.

Volunatic writes:

in response to MemphisHog:

You'll go to a bowl because you have the same soft finishing schedule you seem to get every year (TGF Vandy, Ky, MTSU).

Nashville and Memphis are wonderful places to visit in the wintertime.

Going to a bowl game in Memphis/Nashville/Birmingham beats staying at home on the sofa by a longshot.

Jovol642 writes:

Hate to say it but this will be the worst season in Tennessee modern history. We have no offence and on defence we are good for a half. Middle TN will hang around until the end and will with the biggest upset this year and to the shame of the Big Orange. We are at our lowest. May not win another game this year. It will take 2 coaches and 6 years to turn this train around.

John_10065 writes:

in response to tomkats3242:

This person has not been to a game or seen a game or they would not make a score like this. IF Tennessee was to win it will be a hard fought game with the one making the less mistakes being the winner. This is not a push over team but Tennessee might be. GO BIG ORANGE

MTSU has a long history of a decent offense and absolutely no defense. This year they don't even have a decent offense. They weren't ready for the Sunbelt and the last I heard is that they are struggling to stay D-1.

I like the Blue Raiders, they're like a hometown team to me growing up in Coffee County but if this is even competitive it would be a suprise.

givehim6 writes:

in response to MemphisHog:

You'll go to a bowl because you have the same soft finishing schedule you seem to get every year (TGF Vandy, Ky, MTSU).

Nashville and Memphis are wonderful places to visit in the wintertime.

Not sure about Nashville they my not want us back. If we get past Vandy maybe Memphis or the Papa Johns Bowl in Bama.

EastTNvolfan writes:

in response to MemphisHog:

You'll go to a bowl because you have the same soft finishing schedule you seem to get every year (TGF Vandy, Ky, MTSU).

Nashville and Memphis are wonderful places to visit in the wintertime.

Vandy will not be soft this year, they've been keeping it close with a lot of good teams. I think that the "soft" teams are deserved considering the tough ranked teams we have played this year, plus we still have Arkansas to deal with.

Volunatic writes:

in response to Jovol642:

Hate to say it but this will be the worst season in Tennessee modern history. We have no offence and on defence we are good for a half. Middle TN will hang around until the end and will with the biggest upset this year and to the shame of the Big Orange. We are at our lowest. May not win another game this year. It will take 2 coaches and 6 years to turn this train around.

You apparently didn't see the 2008 season, then.

CrankE writes:

in response to Jovol642:

Hate to say it but this will be the worst season in Tennessee modern history. We have no offence and on defence we are good for a half. Middle TN will hang around until the end and will with the biggest upset this year and to the shame of the Big Orange. We are at our lowest. May not win another game this year. It will take 2 coaches and 6 years to turn this train around.

Trudat.

It's funny that you say that it will 6 years to turn this around. I thought I heard the same thing in 2008. Strange that UT seems no closer now than they did in 2008.

Could MTSU beat UT? Yes. It's just that bad. 3 of the remaining 4 opponents on UT's schedule can make their seasons with wins over UT. If they don't get UT now, when will they? And right now, all that an oppnent needs against UT is a couple of touchdowns.

If the Vol Nation thought going 0-for-October was bad, I wonder how we'll handle 0-for-November? If Tennessee loses to MTSU it's a very real possibility.

And quite frankly, if UT goes 3-9 and Dooley isn't fired, then UT no longer has any respect for themselves, neither will their opponents, and neither will I.

ghost_of_which_doctor (Inactive) writes:

in response to John_10065:

MTSU has a long history of a decent offense and absolutely no defense. This year they don't even have a decent offense. They weren't ready for the Sunbelt and the last I heard is that they are struggling to stay D-1.

I like the Blue Raiders, they're like a hometown team to me growing up in Coffee County but if this is even competitive it would be a suprise.

I hope you guys (Coffee County) punch Riverdale's lights out tonight!

Gooooooo Red Raiders

Volunatic writes:

in response to CrankE:

Trudat.

It's funny that you say that it will 6 years to turn this around. I thought I heard the same thing in 2008. Strange that UT seems no closer now than they did in 2008.

Could MTSU beat UT? Yes. It's just that bad. 3 of the remaining 4 opponents on UT's schedule can make their seasons with wins over UT. If they don't get UT now, when will they? And right now, all that an oppnent needs against UT is a couple of touchdowns.

If the Vol Nation thought going 0-for-October was bad, I wonder how we'll handle 0-for-November? If Tennessee loses to MTSU it's a very real possibility.

And quite frankly, if UT goes 3-9 and Dooley isn't fired, then UT no longer has any respect for themselves, neither will their opponents, and neither will I.

Moronic comment. Going 0-for-November is NOT a even a remote possibility.
There is no way that Tennessee will lose to MTSU, and there is no way that Tennessee will lose to Kentucky. Vandy will be tougher than those two, but the Vols can and will beat them.
Arkansas is by far the best remaining team on the schedule, of course, but there's no reason to write that one off yet. They have a terrible defense-- if you think that Tennessee's offense will do no better against them than it did against SCar/bama/LSU, then you haven't seen any Arkansas games.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

MTSU doesn't worry me at all. What worries me is that UT will add another injury to the already staggering total. Go Vols!!

gbrown2 writes:

I JUST WANTED TO TAKE TIME AND WISH MY ALMA MATER!!!! A GREAT HOMECOMING 2011 GO VOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ALSO, HAPPY 25TH ANNIVERSARY TO BETA PHI/MU RHO CHAPTER of THE GREATEST FRATERNITY ON PLANET EARTH....TO ALL OF MY BROTHERS OF KAPPA ALPHA PSI, INC YO YO......

CrankE writes:

in response to Volunatic:

Moronic comment. Going 0-for-November is NOT a even a remote possibility.
There is no way that Tennessee will lose to MTSU, and there is no way that Tennessee will lose to Kentucky. Vandy will be tougher than those two, but the Vols can and will beat them.
Arkansas is by far the best remaining team on the schedule, of course, but there's no reason to write that one off yet. They have a terrible defense-- if you think that Tennessee's offense will do no better against them than it did against SCar/bama/LSU, then you haven't seen any Arkansas games.

Memphis, 1996.

Volunatic writes:

in response to CrankE:

Memphis, 1996.

So you're saying that the Vols are going to have a historically significant loss on Saturday, then?
I think the Vols will win by 3 TDs MINIMUM.

Voloyalty writes:

They need to change the name of the "comments" portion on these sites to, "Babbling Babies." All you people do during the day is read an article and find a way to spin it to post a negative comment. "Dooley needs to be fired, Simms sucks, Why did Dooley burn Worley's red shirt, Our O Line is terrible, Da'Rick can't catch, Palardy can't kick, fire the entire staff, etc.etc.etc." You guys sound like my 17 month old...whaaaaa, whaaaaa, whaaaaa. Do yourself a favor and go buy a pacifier...bunch of babies. If you don't understand what happens when 80% of your team is Freshman and Sophmores and your starting QB, best WR, and best LB have been out most of the year...then guess what, you have never played and organized sport in your life and you hide behind a computer screen to talk trash. We will be good next year and all you babbling babies on this site will be praising Dooley posting that you knew it would take time to rebuild and that injuries and inexperience were the main contributors for the issues last year. Nothin but a bunch of babies. I'm out.

MemphisHog writes:

in response to Volunatic:

Going to a bowl game in Memphis/Nashville/Birmingham beats staying at home on the sofa by a longshot.

Two years ago, sitting in the stands at the Liberty Bowl in single digit wind chill, watching us luck out against an East Carolina team that outplayed us badly, I would have argued that with you.

ghost_of_which_doctor (Inactive) writes:

in response to Voloyalty:

They need to change the name of the "comments" portion on these sites to, "Babbling Babies." All you people do during the day is read an article and find a way to spin it to post a negative comment. "Dooley needs to be fired, Simms sucks, Why did Dooley burn Worley's red shirt, Our O Line is terrible, Da'Rick can't catch, Palardy can't kick, fire the entire staff, etc.etc.etc." You guys sound like my 17 month old...whaaaaa, whaaaaa, whaaaaa. Do yourself a favor and go buy a pacifier...bunch of babies. If you don't understand what happens when 80% of your team is Freshman and Sophmores and your starting QB, best WR, and best LB have been out most of the year...then guess what, you have never played and organized sport in your life and you hide behind a computer screen to talk trash. We will be good next year and all you babbling babies on this site will be praising Dooley posting that you knew it would take time to rebuild and that injuries and inexperience were the main contributors for the issues last year. Nothin but a bunch of babies. I'm out.

That a way to tell them giiiiiiiirrrrrrrl!!!!!!!!

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm surprised you pick the Vols to win as much as you hate them

MemphisHog writes:

in response to EastTNvolfan:

Vandy will not be soft this year, they've been keeping it close with a lot of good teams. I think that the "soft" teams are deserved considering the tough ranked teams we have played this year, plus we still have Arkansas to deal with.

I agree Vandy doesn't need to be overlooked, but having them at Neyland you should beat them. Kentucky is awful though; probably the worst Kentucky team since the pre-Couch days. As long as the Vols get Vandy and Kentucky to end the season, you'll be ending the season on a high note. Us? We get to end it with LSU every stinking season..

Volunatic writes:

in response to MemphisHog:

You'll go to a bowl because you have the same soft finishing schedule you seem to get every year (TGF Vandy, Ky, MTSU).

Nashville and Memphis are wonderful places to visit in the wintertime.

Speaking of soft schedules-- I see the Razorbacks 2011 football schedule includes Missouri State, New Mexico, Troy, Vanderbilt, Mississippi, and Mississippi State. Glass houses...

Volunatic writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He was flagging Tennessee for playing Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Fair is fair.

RaineyVol writes:

Everyone says MTSU could pull an upset oon UT. It could happen but I go to MTSU and our football team is the worst football team I think I have ever seen. MTSU is going to make Poole look like a heisman winner. OH and devrin Young will get his first kick off return in this game if not 2 kick off returns.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

I would almost(but not quite) agree with Merlot for a change on his prediction..so here's mine:

Vols 42
MTSU 14

Smokey says this is a sure win..

MemphisHog writes:

in response to Volunatic:

He was flagging Tennessee for playing Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Fair is fair.

Volunatic: I totally agree we have our share of cupcakes and it irritates me to High Heaven that we always seem to open our season with three patsies. Then when we play Bama to open the conference season - they've been tested and we haven't. But, my point in my post is not that Tennessee plays a soft schedule - it definitely doesn't - it's that having those two as the last two every year is nice. Our easy part of the schedule is at the beginning; yours normally is at the end.

Vol43 writes:

in response to Jovol642:

Hate to say it but this will be the worst season in Tennessee modern history. We have no offence and on defence we are good for a half. Middle TN will hang around until the end and will with the biggest upset this year and to the shame of the Big Orange. We are at our lowest. May not win another game this year. It will take 2 coaches and 6 years to turn this train around.

Somebody call the suicide squad for this man before it's too late!

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to tomkats3242:

This person has not been to a game or seen a game or they would not make a score like this. IF Tennessee was to win it will be a hard fought game with the one making the less mistakes being the winner. This is not a push over team but Tennessee might be. GO BIG ORANGE

So you're saying the Vols are a bigger push over than MTSU?

volfan8#549730 writes:

in response to Voloyalty:

They need to change the name of the "comments" portion on these sites to, "Babbling Babies." All you people do during the day is read an article and find a way to spin it to post a negative comment. "Dooley needs to be fired, Simms sucks, Why did Dooley burn Worley's red shirt, Our O Line is terrible, Da'Rick can't catch, Palardy can't kick, fire the entire staff, etc.etc.etc." You guys sound like my 17 month old...whaaaaa, whaaaaa, whaaaaa. Do yourself a favor and go buy a pacifier...bunch of babies. If you don't understand what happens when 80% of your team is Freshman and Sophmores and your starting QB, best WR, and best LB have been out most of the year...then guess what, you have never played and organized sport in your life and you hide behind a computer screen to talk trash. We will be good next year and all you babbling babies on this site will be praising Dooley posting that you knew it would take time to rebuild and that injuries and inexperience were the main contributors for the issues last year. Nothin but a bunch of babies. I'm out.

Good post; except I think they are babbling bubbleheads as well;)

ghost_of_which_doctor (Inactive) writes:

in response to Vol43:

Somebody call the suicide squad for this man before it's too late!

I called..when I told them it was for Jovol, they put me on hold...

wbsmd1 writes:

in response to volfan8#549730:

Good post; except I think they are babbling bubbleheads as well;)

Lack of speed especially at linebacker and defensive back, no talent at running back and a passive offensive line will not improve with time.Tennesee will be better with the return of Bray and Hunter but because Dooley does not have the status to recruit the elite difference makers it is naive to exspect anything better than 4 and 4 in the SEC.Bray is at UT because of his idol Manning.

cyclonevol87 writes:

in response to Jovol642:

Hate to say it but this will be the worst season in Tennessee modern history. We have no offence and on defence we are good for a half. Middle TN will hang around until the end and will with the biggest upset this year and to the shame of the Big Orange. We are at our lowest. May not win another game this year. It will take 2 coaches and 6 years to turn this train around.

Are you always this positive?

CoverOrange writes:

We'll play ball control, run the ball and eat the clock. 3 drives in the first half and 3 drives in the second. A screw up will stop one or two (fumble/interception/penalty/dropped pass), scoring on the other 4 or 5. Secondary will blow another coverage for a score. Predict 24-7. I've been wrong often but at least I include my reasoning.

cyclonevol87 writes:

in response to Voloyalty:

They need to change the name of the "comments" portion on these sites to, "Babbling Babies." All you people do during the day is read an article and find a way to spin it to post a negative comment. "Dooley needs to be fired, Simms sucks, Why did Dooley burn Worley's red shirt, Our O Line is terrible, Da'Rick can't catch, Palardy can't kick, fire the entire staff, etc.etc.etc." You guys sound like my 17 month old...whaaaaa, whaaaaa, whaaaaa. Do yourself a favor and go buy a pacifier...bunch of babies. If you don't understand what happens when 80% of your team is Freshman and Sophmores and your starting QB, best WR, and best LB have been out most of the year...then guess what, you have never played and organized sport in your life and you hide behind a computer screen to talk trash. We will be good next year and all you babbling babies on this site will be praising Dooley posting that you knew it would take time to rebuild and that injuries and inexperience were the main contributors for the issues last year. Nothin but a bunch of babies. I'm out.

Amen,Great comment!

CrankE writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I thought about that one too.

Gene Stallings was fielding criticism of his 1992 Alabama team for playing a weak schedule and he replied that it didn't matter if you were playing Tennessee or Toooolane. The message was that if you're playing the game at the top of the game then the competition doesn't matter. Every game is winnable.

The mirror image is also true.

When you are playing at the bottom of your game, then the level of the competition doesn't matter. Every game is losable.

Thus for me, "Memphis, 1996" says it all. When good teams play their worst, they can lose to anybody. How much more true is this for a bad team that seems to get no better as the season progresses?

I'd love to have Volunatic's 2-2 November optimism. But the truth is that if they go 0-1 this weekend, then they not only CAN lose to every team remaining on the schedule, but likely will.

thevoice writes:

in response to MemphisHog:

You'll go to a bowl because you have the same soft finishing schedule you seem to get every year (TGF Vandy, Ky, MTSU).

Nashville and Memphis are wonderful places to visit in the wintertime.

I think you're forgetting the rest of the schedule, which is the toughest in the SEC, which of course is the toughest conference in the country.

thevoice writes:

We're favored by +/-20. Wonder what would happen to the Vol Nation is we lose or win by less than 10 points? Does it validate DD is in over his head or the same excuses: no depth, youth, hurt players.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to thevoice:

We're favored by +/-20. Wonder what would happen to the Vol Nation is we lose or win by less than 10 points? Does it validate DD is in over his head or the same excuses: no depth, youth, hurt players.

all them plus no senior leadership.....Middle has a very large senior bunch but the VOLS will slip by either 42-0 or 60-0...all you Dooley haters will have to wait until the Vandy game to crow.

VolGrad writes:

I'm hoping there won't be anything left to salvage of MTSU after Saturday's grilling.

GBO!

AlpharettaVol writes:

in response to MemphisHog:

Volunatic: I totally agree we have our share of cupcakes and it irritates me to High Heaven that we always seem to open our season with three patsies. Then when we play Bama to open the conference season - they've been tested and we haven't. But, my point in my post is not that Tennessee plays a soft schedule - it definitely doesn't - it's that having those two as the last two every year is nice. Our easy part of the schedule is at the beginning; yours normally is at the end.

You are correct. Unfortunately, the scheduling Gods were against us this year. Our toughest schedule in years (Bama, LSU and Arkansas from the West) comes at a time when we have one of our weakest teams in years. That combination is a recipe for disaster. As a half-century Vol fan, I have to believe things will be better next year.

GloryDays writes:

This is the worst Tennessee team in 30 years! They are very difficult to watch. Poor coaching, not getting any batter leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.

VolGrad writes:

in response to GloryDays:

This is the worst Tennessee team in 30 years! They are very difficult to watch. Poor coaching, not getting any batter leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.

It's probably the youngest Tennessee team in forever, but I think you just need to switch beers.

Hold on; the night will not last forever.

This is Big Orange Country!!!

chuckfromwoodbury writes:

I lived in murfreesboro for a time and I love the fact that everyone is refering to them as mtsu. They, like tiger high, changed their name. They want to be called middle tn university. They are always pushing the fact that mtsWho has a larger underclassman enrollment than UT. My retort, quantity not quality.

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