The Streak ends at 26; no bowl game for Vols

Tennessee players leave the field after the 10-7 loss to Kentucky at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011. UT lost to UK for the first time since 1984. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS/2011

Tennessee players leave the field after the 10-7 loss to Kentucky at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011. UT lost to UK for the first time since 1984. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

It's a real bad end to a real bad season ... Our biggest fears were realized.''

UT coach Derek Dooley

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A team teetering toward a train wreck found one Saturday. Given the state of Tennessee football, maybe it was inevitable.

"It's a real bad end to a real bad season,'' UT coach Derek Dooley said in the bowels of Commonwealth Stadium.

Game recap: Kentucky 10, Tennessee 7

"Our biggest fears were realized.''

Outside, thousands of Kentucky fans were on the field, celebrating a 10-7 victory over the Vols.

But they were really celebrating so much more than that.

The longest annual rivalry winning streak — or losing streak from Kentucky's standpoint — in college football is over.

Since 1984, it's taken on its own uppercase title: The Streak. For whatever else turns out to be the legacy of the 2011 Vols, they are the team that let the 26-year domination of Kentucky end.

"It's tough,'' said senior linebacker Austin Johnson, fighting back tears. "I didn't want to go out like this.''

For the seniors like Johnson, Saturday was indeed their exit. At 5-7, 1-7 SEC, there will be no bowl game for the third time in seven years.

"You don't always get what you want,'' Dooley said, "but sometimes you get what you deserve.

"We're not a good football team. We don't deserve to get rewarded.''

An unlikely hero led the upset as an announced crowd of 59,855 watched in growing disbelief.

Receiver Matt Roark, who hadn't played quarterback since high school, went the distance for the Wildcats (5-7, 2-6). He rushed for 124 yards and attempted only six passes.

But it was enough. Kentucky led 10-0 until Tennessee finally got on the scoreboard via Tyler Bray's 53-yard pass to Rajion Neal with 12:52 to play.

The Vols got three more possessions but couldn't mount another threat. The final nail in The Streak's coffin was Bray throwing an interception to Taiedo Smith with 1:27 to play.

Bray, in his second game back from a five-game hiatus to heal a fractured thumb, was 15-of-38 passing for 215 yards. He was intercepted twice and sacked twice (once due to an intentional-grounding penalty).

"I played terrible,'' he said.

Bray was off-target on a number of throws. His first interception didn't prove costly.

It was, rather, a fumble and a non-fumble on which the game turned.

Kentucky was protecting a 3-0 lead well into the third quarter. Finally, Bray hit Neal for a 44-yard strike to the Kentucky 8.

But two plays later, a shotgun snap escaped Neal, who was lined up to take the direct snap, and Kentucky recovered at the 23.

From there, the Wildcats staged an eight-play drive for their only touchdown.

Twice Roark ran sweeps, once for 24 yards, then, on third-and-12, for 26 yards to the Tennessee 7.

On the latter, he lost the ball as he was tackled and UT's Ben Martin came up with it.

The official ruling was that Roark was down before the fumble, but Dooley challenged the call.

Replays appeared favorable to Dooley's challenge but the original ruling was confirmed. No fumble.

Two plays later, CoShik Williams scored on a 6-yard run and it was 10-0.

Tennessee needed only three plays to make it 10-7 but they couldn't get anything going on their subsequent three possessions.

UT managed only 276 yards of offense, including 61 from another underwhelming rushing attack.

"We just never really put it together,'' Dooley said. "The result was a losing season and no bowl bid.

"It's something that shouldn't happen at Tennessee and, hopefully, it won't happen again for a long time.''

Kentucky, which went into the week with quarterbacks Maxwell Smith and Morgan Newton battling injuries, ended up with 217 yards of offense and only 10 first downs.

Roark, a senior receiver from Acworth, Ga., didn't even warm up at quarterback before the game. But he came out for the first snap and led Kentucky into position for a 24-yard Craig McIntosh field goal that would prove to be crucial.

"I never expected to do anything like that,'' said Roark. "Not the part of beating Tennessee, but the me quarterbacking part.''

Tennessee's only threat in the first half reached the Kentucky 28 but ended when Michael Palardy's 45-yard field goal try was blocked.

"What an amazing game,'' said Kentucky coach Joker Phillips. "How many — if we lined up the last 26 years — how many quarterbacks have we had, probably 15?

"Who would pick out Matt Roark as the guy who broke the streak?''

Tennessee will remember Roark's name for a long time to come.

"You certainly don't want it (to end) on your watch,'' Dooley said. "But it happened and the only thing we can do is start another one.''

Dooley credited Kentucky for playing "a lot more inspired football" than Tennessee did.

At least one Vol said it had not been an inspired week of practice since Tennessee squeaked by Vanderbilt in overtime last week for its first SEC win of the season.

"We're not very good, guys,'' Dooley said, "and I've been saying that all year.

"We were kind of headed this direction all along and just couldn't avoid it.''

Now they can't avoid thinking about it all the way until September.

Follow Mike Strange at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange

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Comments » 263

GloryDays writes:

Dooley is right they are not very good. Dooley is not vey good, he has done nothing with what he has, that is a bad coach.

snoopbob87 writes:

quiters

jack_2222#231746 writes:

Lost is right. A shambles. 1-7 for goodness sakes.

Willis writes:

Phillip Fulmer would have never lead us down this dark street.

bUTchVFL writes:

How can he say there was nothing he could do about it? He's the head coach.

jsnewman writes:

Well as far as I am concerned, Barbra can come get her boy and take him back home.

foosh2369 writes:

The play calling has been terrible all season. The TEAM only proceeded to get worse as the season went on, which falls on CDD. He will have NO excuses for 2012. If CDD doesn't win at least nine games, its time for a change.

thevoice writes:

I just want to know where Tommyjack is. I'm concerned.

EastTNvolfan writes:

I have supported Dooley and this team through the thick and thin this year. I am not a fair weather fan by any means. This loss cannot be blamed on inexperience or lack of depth or injury or any other that has been attributed to our other losses. We simply didn't show up at all today to a game that we should have easily won. I can accept losses to Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, Arkansas, Florida because they were all ranked or are ranked and are better teams. I cannot accept a loss to an inferior Kentucky team. This team did what no other team in 26 years has done..lost to Kentucky. I still look forward to next year but this hurts

graphpro#231211 writes:

May the UT football program

R . I . P .

thevoice writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We get 15 more practices with a bowl, any bowl, supposedly helping our team.

knoxchatter writes:

As recently as Thursday, Dooley was saying that Bray was still 'very rusty...not even close to 100%"...it was obvious very early in the game today that this was true. Would it not have been a smart coaching move to put in Simms or Worley, with his blown redshirt, at least while the game may have still been attainable early just to see if it would have made any difference? After the game, Dooley described Bray as 'lethargic' the whole game? What was the rationale of continuing to play him? Of course, the outcome was not solely on Bray's shoulders...but...but, it was another example of poor coaching decisions and management, which has been prevalent all season!

goob_21#356041 writes:

Can someone please tell me why the big wigs in Knoxville and surrounding boosters have let us get in this bad of shape? When will they step in and change things. We need a saben type coach at UT. Dooley can't get it done!

Willis writes:

in response to thevoice:

I just want to know where Tommyjack is. I'm concerned.

He and John Adams are are at a Fulmer bashing rally.

Vol4Life03 writes:

in response to Willis:

Phillip Fulmer would have never lead us down this dark street.

im gonna agree with you people didnt like him but he would not of lost to ky and im tired of hearing about youth he won his last year with less talent than dooley has now ....

Willis writes:

in response to knoxchatter:

As recently as Thursday, Dooley was saying that Bray was still 'very rusty...not even close to 100%"...it was obvious very early in the game today that this was true. Would it not have been a smart coaching move to put in Simms or Worley, with his blown redshirt, at least while the game may have still been attainable early just to see if it would have made any difference? After the game, Dooley described Bray as 'lethargic' the whole game? What was the rationale of continuing to play him? Of course, the outcome was not solely on Bray's shoulders...but...but, it was another example of poor coaching decisions and management, which has been prevalent all season!

LOTS OF DROPPED PASSES

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

in response to Willis:

Phillip Fulmer would have never lead us down this dark street.

Nope. You're right. He wouldn't have found the flashlight. Get over it! Fulmer football died off. Once he was passed by, he quit trying. End of story.

thevoice writes:

in response to goob_21#356041:

Can someone please tell me why the big wigs in Knoxville and surrounding boosters have let us get in this bad of shape? When will they step in and change things. We need a saben type coach at UT. Dooley can't get it done!

In due process. After 2012.

knoxchatter writes:

in response to Willis:

LOTS OF DROPPED PASSES

I totally agree. A lot of passes that only 'stretch armstrong' could catch too! Not a pretty picture today.....on to basketball! Maybe we will beat them at the hoops.....not!!

ssgdebity writes:

Although I am trying to get over this, This loss stings. We just do not lose to those KITTY cats. Dooley your tenure is up but you have to go. This is the worse team in Vols history. Even the loss to Wyoming does not compare to this one. As I stated earlier, I just cannot watch this sorry football team anymore until we get a more competant coaching staff. There needs to be some major changes and get a more qualified coaching staff in here. There are several coaches out there IE "Reluctantly Urban Myer" that would be much better than this phooey we have now. BUT WE DO NOT LOSE TO KENTUCKY

scott_m99 writes:

Never underestimate the importance of terrible coaching...

Cobb_Webb_Attack writes:

The temperature of Dooley's seat just went from "uncomfortable" to "Alabama crimson". Rebuilding jobs require patience and fortitude, but good coaches don't lose to teams with less talent...

volstn1#534911 writes:

The offensive line should be embarrassed and ashamed. Didn't they brag about getting Poole 2,000 rushing yards? Worst line I have ever seen. The next time a Vol football player opens his mouth about how good they're going to be, they should be dismissed from the team. Shut up and play fundamental football. Quitters all. And the O-line couch should be fired as well.

thevoice writes:

Wish we all could stop mentioning Fulmer and Kiffin. THEY'RE IN THE PAST!!!! Can we please look at the current state of the Vols and present suggestions for the future? Please people, if you have ANY business sense, you know that critiquing is okay, as long as you provide a solution.

Solution: fire DD ASAP and go after a top 10 BCS coach. Otherwise, you're just delaying the inevitable.

CityVol1 writes:

in response to EastTNvolfan:

I have supported Dooley and this team through the thick and thin this year. I am not a fair weather fan by any means. This loss cannot be blamed on inexperience or lack of depth or injury or any other that has been attributed to our other losses. We simply didn't show up at all today to a game that we should have easily won. I can accept losses to Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, Arkansas, Florida because they were all ranked or are ranked and are better teams. I cannot accept a loss to an inferior Kentucky team. This team did what no other team in 26 years has done..lost to Kentucky. I still look forward to next year but this hurts

Should have beat SoCar and maybe UGA but at least a split. Since when does USC show up at Neyland and because their jerseys say CAROLINA they get a win. Dooley seems to have a motivation issue with his players...

volstn1#534911 writes:

in response to volstn1#534911:

The offensive line should be embarrassed and ashamed. Didn't they brag about getting Poole 2,000 rushing yards? Worst line I have ever seen. The next time a Vol football player opens his mouth about how good they're going to be, they should be dismissed from the team. Shut up and play fundamental football. Quitters all. And the O-line couch should be fired as well.

Sorry ,... "coach".

clvolfan writes:

in response to Willis:

Phillip Fulmer would have never lead us down this dark street.

OH never! Like losing to Wyoming 0-13 on homecoming.How much more embarrassed can you get? And another thing,I believe CPF is responsible for this downfall.Maybe he could loan us a few dollars to get into the games,since he is getting his last 2 million before years end.

CityVol1 writes:

in response to thevoice:

Wish we all could stop mentioning Fulmer and Kiffin. THEY'RE IN THE PAST!!!! Can we please look at the current state of the Vols and present suggestions for the future? Please people, if you have ANY business sense, you know that critiquing is okay, as long as you provide a solution.

Solution: fire DD ASAP and go after a top 10 BCS coach. Otherwise, you're just delaying the inevitable.

I don't think this team is, from a talent perspective, that far away. There are lots of good young players that got a ton of playing in 2011. I ask the question again: If you fire Dooley is that worse than the alternative of (potentially) averaging 80,000+ at home next year? UT is backed in a corner...

clvolfan writes:

in response to Cobb_Webb_Attack:

The temperature of Dooley's seat just went from "uncomfortable" to "Alabama crimson". Rebuilding jobs require patience and fortitude, but good coaches don't lose to teams with less talent...

I just have to respond to this post. Ask Coach Spurrier how many times he beat UT with less talent.

FireJohnAdams writes:

I like Dooley, have supported him and continue to support him, but I cannot believe where our program is today - and I truly hope all the Phillip Fulmer haters out there are happy. Now, when Alabama went out and paid $4 million annually for Saban, the return was kids running over each other to get to Alabama and play for Saban, that's what it takes, that's what they have. With the mess we have now, it will take a Jon Gruden to turn Tennessee around - a great coach who will literally draw the best of the best beating a path to play for Gruden. Again, I'm not faulting Dooley, I still like him and he certainly has not had enough time, but this trainwreck our program is in has a lot to do with Hammy and I'm certainly not the only Vol Fan who is shocked at where we're at.

florida-volfan writes:

120 yards rushing with 5 passes thrown from a damm wide reciever turned QB, running the freakin option read sweep. 3 or 4 teams have done that on us this year, do you think Kentucky looked at the tapes? Thats exactly what they came out with. AJ johnson, Curt Maggitt and Austin johnson are great players, but they are too slow. We have been getting killed on the perimeter all year. This coaching staff cannott figure that out. John chavis's defenses always had not only physical but fast players. I certainly do not see this now

mytrifecta writes:

For you Dooley supporters, we just got beat by one of the worst teams in college football with a WR playing QB. How you can say this is anything other than poor coaching is just being ignorant or naive. The good news is he will be gone by the end of next year and hopefully we can find someone that can at least get us back to the middle of the pack in the SEC.

CityVol1 writes:

in response to florida-volfan:

120 yards rushing with 5 passes thrown from a damm wide reciever turned QB, running the freakin option read sweep. 3 or 4 teams have done that on us this year, do you think Kentucky looked at the tapes? Thats exactly what they came out with. AJ johnson, Curt Maggitt and Austin johnson are great players, but they are too slow. We have been getting killed on the perimeter all year. This coaching staff cannott figure that out. John chavis's defenses always had not only physical but fast players. I certainly do not see this now

Of the two freshman, Maggit looks to be quicker and better at taking angles but I'm nothing but a casual fan so I could be wrong on that...I would guess they'll look quicker on tape as they mature.

pcorange writes:

Dooley and Co. have gotta go, but for those pushing Urban Meyer, Ohio State has already bought him. Besides, Meyer is a candy butt. He quit UF after Tebow left because he knew his winning was over. He is only taking Ohio St. because he knows the talent is there. He wouldn't take a team in the shape Tennessee's in because he is not into program building. I'd like to see Fulmer re-hired. He's a good, solid coach and he knows how to recruit. If Hammy had given him the budget to hire assistants that Kiffin had we might have never had the nut for OC in 2008. Bring Phil back and give him the money for a top-notch staff.

rbut5252#220065 writes:

I say again...I'll say it till my dying day...this is exactly what we deserve for firing Fulmer.

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to Vol4Life03:

im gonna agree with you people didnt like him but he would not of lost to ky and im tired of hearing about youth he won his last year with less talent than dooley has now ....

If Fulmer had less talent his last year than we have this year, then it was Fulmer's fault. he was supposedly such a great coach and recruiter. And i do believe his record his last year was also 5-7. Lost to Wyoming. Fulmer was a washed up has been , and Dooley is a never been

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to pcorange:

Dooley and Co. have gotta go, but for those pushing Urban Meyer, Ohio State has already bought him. Besides, Meyer is a candy butt. He quit UF after Tebow left because he knew his winning was over. He is only taking Ohio St. because he knows the talent is there. He wouldn't take a team in the shape Tennessee's in because he is not into program building. I'd like to see Fulmer re-hired. He's a good, solid coach and he knows how to recruit. If Hammy had given him the budget to hire assistants that Kiffin had we might have never had the nut for OC in 2008. Bring Phil back and give him the money for a top-notch staff.

You are an idiot who knows not of which he speaks. Fulmer was given money for assistants but chose to help himself to a little extra and pay them less. Fulmer's mess was of his own greedy doing. And good riddance to him

pcorange writes:

I like the idea of Gruden, too. Problem is it will take a LOT of jack to get somebody like that to put their reputation on the line to take over a program in the mess that UT is in right now. I still think Fulmer is the best coach out there that might actually take on the challenge. I wouldn't mind Chavis, either, although he's never been a head coach as far as I know.

markc2 writes:

I am sick, tired and fed up with all the Dooley supporters and their excuses. This team not only has shown no sign of improvement, it has gotten worse as the season has progressed. Wake up folks... That's bad coaching. I like Dooley and I wanted the best for him, but he has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is in way over his head. Good guy... Sorry coach. Unless we want to wallow in the basement of the SEC forever, it's time to get off the pocketbook and go find a quality coach. Does anyone have Hart's phone number or email address?

vol_oldhickory writes:

It's time to stop the misery and pay the bucks a hire new coach. Young players today will flock to a coach with NFL experience (even if mediocre like Kiffin).

A. Jeff Fisher
B. Greg Williams
C. Jack Del Rio
D. Eric Mangini
E. Jim Mora Jr.
F. Anybody

mtthw741 writes:

Shame on Dooley for impersonating a football coach and taking millions of dollars from such a prestigious university.

OLROCKYTOP writes:

I was at the game today, the defense played great, the problems were on offense. It was evident in the way Bray threw the ball that the thumb was hurting, the running game is horrendous, and Palardy has a lot of work to do. I couldn't help to wonder though how the season would have turned out if Bray would have not got injured and if UT had any depth on both sides of the ball.

CityVol1 writes:

in response to markc2:

I am sick, tired and fed up with all the Dooley supporters and their excuses. This team not only has shown no sign of improvement, it has gotten worse as the season has progressed. Wake up folks... That's bad coaching. I like Dooley and I wanted the best for him, but he has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is in way over his head. Good guy... Sorry coach. Unless we want to wallow in the basement of the SEC forever, it's time to get off the pocketbook and go find a quality coach. Does anyone have Hart's phone number or email address?

The thing Dooley has to stop is all the negativity. It's just grandstanding and it is either his actuall disposition or he's covering up being a sorry coach. At first I understood with all the "Year Zero" stuff but enough is enough. If UT sucks and is horrible at this point there is only one person to blame--Derek Dooley. You are right, the Vols are a lot worse now than in September.

richvol writes:

in response to EastTNvolfan:

I have supported Dooley and this team through the thick and thin this year. I am not a fair weather fan by any means. This loss cannot be blamed on inexperience or lack of depth or injury or any other that has been attributed to our other losses. We simply didn't show up at all today to a game that we should have easily won. I can accept losses to Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, Arkansas, Florida because they were all ranked or are ranked and are better teams. I cannot accept a loss to an inferior Kentucky team. This team did what no other team in 26 years has done..lost to Kentucky. I still look forward to next year but this hurts

Dooley needs to accept responsibility for this loss...he did not have his "better" team motivated and ready to play.

mytrifecta writes:

"our biggest fears were realized". This is another fundamental problem with Dooley...he plays scared. This filters down to the players. You can tell by the way they play, the stupid penalties, poor execution. Our PK can barely kick an extra point for christ sakes. This is abslutely a coaching issue. If Dooley doesn't go, a few of his coaches should be sent packing now.

thevoice writes:

in response to pcorange:

I like the idea of Gruden, too. Problem is it will take a LOT of jack to get somebody like that to put their reputation on the line to take over a program in the mess that UT is in right now. I still think Fulmer is the best coach out there that might actually take on the challenge. I wouldn't mind Chavis, either, although he's never been a head coach as far as I know.

Chavis is not head coaching material. He's stated as much in years past. Fulmer? Well, you're only as good as your recent experience.

holleyab writes:

Umm, don't look now.... But La Tech just went 8-5 and accepted a poinsettia bowl invite.... Ummmm.... i wonder if they would trade head coaches?

markc2 writes:

tartarsauce- the arm tackling thing has been going on for way too many years. It was there when Fulmer was the coach. Ask my son how many times I have screamed at the TV about our lack of ability to tackle. And here's the deal- that is one of the most basic fundamentals of football. That lies squarely on the shoulders of the coaches. Same goes for the offensive line (or lack there of) and their ability to block. Coaching plain and simple. If you can't coach fundamentals, then you can't coach anything.

pcorange writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

You are an idiot who knows not of which he speaks. Fulmer was given money for assistants but chose to help himself to a little extra and pay them less. Fulmer's mess was of his own greedy doing. And good riddance to him

Bless your heart.

florida-volfan writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yea a lot of diving at peoples feet and hitting nothing. GEEZ, and that was a lightweight QB not a fullback, cying out loud

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