John Adams: Georgia game is Derek Dooley's biggest yet

John Adams

Former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin didn't have to stay on the job long to figure out the significance of beating Georgia.

Before the teams played in 2009, Kiffin stressed to his Vols the recruiting value of Georgia. He vowed that he would never lose to the Bulldogs.

He didn't. The Vols routed the Bulldogs 45-19 in what turned out to be Kiffin's one-night stand against Georgia.

As important as that game was to Kiffin, Saturday's UT-Georgia matchup might be even more important to his successor, Derek Dooley.

If Tennessee hopes to better last year's 6-6 regular-season record, this is the game it must win. Up next are LSU, Alabama and South Carolina in succession. In mid-November, there's a challenging trip to Arkansas.

All of those opponents are more formidable than the Bulldogs. Moreover, UT gets Georgia at home.

The long-term advantage also is as evident under Dooley as it was in Kiffin's fling with the Vols and Phillip Fulmer's 16-year run as UT's head coach. Tennessee needs to recruit well in Georgia. Its chances will be enhanced by what it does on the field.

If the Vols win Saturday, that would give them four victories in their last six games with the Bulldogs. And it would send a clear message to recruits, especially when you consider the recent overall track records of the programs.

Basically, the Vols have beaten Georgia — as their former quarterback Casey Clausen might say — with one hand tied behind their back. They have changed coaches twice and have had six or more losses three times in the last five years, yet they're 3-2 against Georgia, which finished No. 3 nationally in 2007 — and still lost to Tennessee by 21 points.

Since the end of their disastrous 2008 season, the Vols — despite all their coaching turmoil — have almost the same record as Georgia. In the last two-plus seasons, UT is 16-14 following Saturday's victory over Buffalo; Georgia is 17-14 after beating Mississippi State.

There's not much difference in their current recruiting status, either. ESPN ranks Georgia 16th and UT 17th.

Recruits would be foolish to base recruiting decisions on the outcome of a single game. But a UT victory Saturday would resonate beyond one game. It would reinforce a perception: that the Vols are gradually making progress; the Bulldogs are losing ground.

There's a more immediate factor, too. Although the Vols have a winning record against Georgia over the last five years, Dooley's one game against the Bulldogs was a 41-14 defeat.

A year later, a victory would signal progress. But a defeat would leave the Vols 0-2 in SEC play and likely make them underdogs for their next four conference games.

Those extreme possibilities make this Dooley's biggest game as a Vol.

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 » 94

imw8n4u writes:

They're all big for us from here on out. Come on fans, we need to get our home field advantage back starting this Saturday. I realize the home games so far haven't been worth cheering for, but we really need to make it difficult on the visitors for the rest of the season.

orangecountyvols writes:

WaitingforU............

Agree !

volcycle writes:

I'm just not concerned about us losing to GA. They haven't shown anything yet this year. They are just not a strong team. UT should win easy...something like 38-10. I fully realize we are young and could fall apart, but it would have to be some major disruption to UT for that to happen. Something akin to losing Hunter and us losing our focus. It could happen, but barring that... I just don't see us losing.

OrangeinCarolina2 writes:

Let's hope this tune up game played Saturday truly helped the Vols get prepared for the challenging games ahead. The run game reappeared and some receivers stepped up. Did we learn something we can use against the SEC opponents? One thing for sure, got to eliminate mistakes on special teams. We've got a solid passing game(Bray is something special) and if we can run the ball with only moderate success Bray can make 'em pay. A good defensive effort coupled with these factors could equal a couple of big SEC wins in October. Will be at Neyland when the chickens come to town. So here's my good luck offering to Coach Dooley and the Vols against the poodles. Let's start this stretch with a win and just keep improving each week. Love ya Big Orange. GO VOLS!

murrayvol writes:

in response to volcycle:

I'm just not concerned about us losing to GA. They haven't shown anything yet this year. They are just not a strong team. UT should win easy...something like 38-10. I fully realize we are young and could fall apart, but it would have to be some major disruption to UT for that to happen. Something akin to losing Hunter and us losing our focus. It could happen, but barring that... I just don't see us losing.

Watch much football?

We may beat em but it sure won't be 38-10.

Packer_Park_Orange (Inactive) writes:

in response to volcycle:

I'm just not concerned about us losing to GA. They haven't shown anything yet this year. They are just not a strong team. UT should win easy...something like 38-10. I fully realize we are young and could fall apart, but it would have to be some major disruption to UT for that to happen. Something akin to losing Hunter and us losing our focus. It could happen, but barring that... I just don't see us losing.

You should be worried ...Doofus has never beaten a BCS team with a winning record...This Dooleyphile swagger based on beating 3 chumps won't cut any ice with the Dawgs...Expect things to go according to Hoyle and an 0-4 slide to the bottom the rest of October...Then we'll see just how much you Dooleyphiles love Doolittle and Wilchoke.

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to Packer_Park_Orange:

You should be worried ...Doofus has never beaten a BCS team with a winning record...This Dooleyphile swagger based on beating 3 chumps won't cut any ice with the Dawgs...Expect things to go according to Hoyle and an 0-4 slide to the bottom the rest of October...Then we'll see just how much you Dooleyphiles love Doolittle and Wilchoke.

MOre basement fodder from a nobody

Cubicle flexin at it's best

DavidB writes:

I loved how Dooley pointed out on the locker room show there isnt 4 games next week and that he liked to remind players of that. He wants them focused on GA and I think that he will get them focused for this weekend. We play one game at a time so looking forward to the next is not what is needed. We do need all fans at the game and cheering louder than ever.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to volcycle:

I'm just not concerned about us losing to GA. They haven't shown anything yet this year. They are just not a strong team. UT should win easy...something like 38-10. I fully realize we are young and could fall apart, but it would have to be some major disruption to UT for that to happen. Something akin to losing Hunter and us losing our focus. It could happen, but barring that... I just don't see us losing.

I will not debate your view but I do think you are wrong. Ga has looked pretty good except against Boise. They are a lot like the Vols in that they always appear to start slow. Auburn has always wanted to play UT in the early season because they knew we would not be up to speed. Ga will be here to play and you can count on it. We win a close one.
Go Vols

foosballer writes:

Moreover, John loves to use the word "moreover".

murrayvol writes:

in response to foosballer:

Moreover, John loves to use the word "moreover".

It's a great word. Some of the best sportswriters in the land use it often.

stevefrommemphis writes:

I think Georgia may be the strongest team in the SEC East and will be playing in the SEC CHampionship game, even though they are the 4th best SEC team at best. They certainly have the easiest SEC west schedule (Ole Miss, Miss St) of any SEC East team. Tennessee is still at least a year away from competing with them. I hope I'm wrong, but losing Hunter, J Jackson, and Herman Lathers just hurts too much. If UT gets a punt blocked for the 3rd consecutive game, there's a 95% chance the Vols will lose.

FREOVOL writes:

Good article. Don't know if GA or SC is our best shot at a win though, the way Garcia is struggling. If our defense grows up a little we could win both. But we could also lose both. It should be a great game this Saturday though - wish I could be in Knoxville.

Packer_Park_Orange (Inactive) writes:

in response to 10seVol85:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

How bout Dooley-Foolies...that may actually be more accurate...Sorry that I offend you but we can't all come up with things with the panache and verve of "10seVol85"...It's such a manly moniker.

flatrock writes:

in response to Packer_Park_Orange:

You should be worried ...Doofus has never beaten a BCS team with a winning record...This Dooleyphile swagger based on beating 3 chumps won't cut any ice with the Dawgs...Expect things to go according to Hoyle and an 0-4 slide to the bottom the rest of October...Then we'll see just how much you Dooleyphiles love Doolittle and Wilchoke.

Sad. Very sad.

govols1981 writes:

in response to Packer_Park_Orange:

You should be worried ...Doofus has never beaten a BCS team with a winning record...This Dooleyphile swagger based on beating 3 chumps won't cut any ice with the Dawgs...Expect things to go according to Hoyle and an 0-4 slide to the bottom the rest of October...Then we'll see just how much you Dooleyphiles love Doolittle and Wilchoke.

dude you waste so much of your life on this site.all you do is talk trash.i wish you would take your dumb aRSE some where else...geez...............GO BIG ORANGE!!!!!!!!!!

Munsterlander writes:

KNS, please do your readers a favor and implement an ignore feature.

Clearly our Vols are climbing out of one of the darker periods of a rich history, with expected stumbles and false starts. Along the way, differences of opinion and pursuasive dissent amongst Vol fans and respectful adversaries are great; but the non-stop, predictable, mindless, uncreative, yawning, infantile blather of PPO and her girlfriends is something on which nobody should have ever have to waste a second of their life, even to read the ID and know to skip it. As Flatrock said, very sad.

TheFuj writes:

Have beens saying since last year, we need to beat the teams we should beat and beat 2 out of 6 of the "better teams". Well, we lost to FL, so now must beat 2 of the remaining 5, with 3 of those games at home.
GA is very good. Not sure what others have been watching. Just streaky. They get in a groove and they are hard to stop. The crowd has to be a big factor to help.
Nothing big scientific here, but turnovers will decide the game.

SeminaryVol writes:

in response to murrayvol:

It's a great word. Some of the best sportswriters in the land use it often.

Sure is. It's not only sportswriters who use it, but all writers who want to be understood and persuade readers by carrying the reader along through a logical argument.

dgcarter43 writes:

As stated, this is a big game for CDD. Georgia has a lot of talent and a good runningback in Crowell as he showed Saturday. UT can't afford any mistakes. They have to put together a complete game. If they do that, they win 31-28.

dgcarter43 writes:

in response to TheFuj:

Have beens saying since last year, we need to beat the teams we should beat and beat 2 out of 6 of the "better teams". Well, we lost to FL, so now must beat 2 of the remaining 5, with 3 of those games at home.
GA is very good. Not sure what others have been watching. Just streaky. They get in a groove and they are hard to stop. The crowd has to be a big factor to help.
Nothing big scientific here, but turnovers will decide the game.

I agree. This will be a tough game.

Noogaorange writes:

in response to volcycle:

I'm just not concerned about us losing to GA. They haven't shown anything yet this year. They are just not a strong team. UT should win easy...something like 38-10. I fully realize we are young and could fall apart, but it would have to be some major disruption to UT for that to happen. Something akin to losing Hunter and us losing our focus. It could happen, but barring that... I just don't see us losing.

Not worried? You should be! Georgia is a lot better than apparently you think. They've lost to some pretty good teams and will definitely be up for the Vols on Sat. We've have good sucess in the past few years, except for last year of playing well against them. We definitely can and I believe will beat the dogs but it won't be easy. Last year proved that if nothing else the dogs won't lay down..no pun intended.
GBO

OrangePride writes:

Georgia would be a great win for Tennessee, and I for one think we have a good chance to upset this team if we can do 3 things: 1) improve special teams, 2 )win the turnover battle, and 3) avoid the disaster plays. Those are big if's, I realize, but not out of reach. All the Negative Nellies and naysayer trolls notwithstanding, we are a better team than last year and have an opportunity to prove just that this coming Saturday....I, for one, will be out there yellin', GO VOLS!

FLORIDAGATORHATER writes:

So far Dooley has not won any games as a head coach that he wasn't supposed to. Let's hope that streak ends Saturday. Probably won't though.

volfan8#549730 writes:

in response to Packer_Park_Orange:

You should be worried ...Doofus has never beaten a BCS team with a winning record...This Dooleyphile swagger based on beating 3 chumps won't cut any ice with the Dawgs...Expect things to go according to Hoyle and an 0-4 slide to the bottom the rest of October...Then we'll see just how much you Dooleyphiles love Doolittle and Wilchoke.

I can see why you were let go

volfan8#549730 writes:

in response to 10seVol85:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He's a jilted teenage......

tombo7 writes:

in response to Packer_Park_Orange:

How bout Dooley-Foolies...that may actually be more accurate...Sorry that I offend you but we can't all come up with things with the panache and verve of "10seVol85"...It's such a manly moniker.

You clever boy. "Doolittle", "Doofus", "Wilchoke". How did you become so witty, please tell us? And who says "according to Hoyle" anymore?
...

tombo7 writes:

Maybe I missed the discussion, but what is wrong with Palardy this time? I thought he was supposed to be injury-free now. Couldn't kick the ball into the end zone now matter which direction the wind was blowing.

pogiegovols writes:

I hate using this term but this is a must win game for the Vols. We have got to beat a decent competitive team and we havent done that yet. we have this tough stretch coming up where we will be big underdogs and in reality if we lose this game we will be in trouble. With that being said I do believe this team is ready for a big win. If we win this game who knows what may happen. I believe we have a real chance to beat South Carolina, especially if Garcia keeps playing the way he has played. LSU and Alabama may be the 2 best teams in the country so a victory is a long shot but there is a great chance to show improvement and to learn where we really stand against the big boys. This is also a great opportunity to make home field advantage mean something again for the Vols. I will be there with my wife coming from South Carolina. It will be my first night game at Neyland Stadium so Im excited to experiance a great atmosphere. I believe our coaches and our kids will be ready to play a great game. If we dont turn the ball over and if we play good special teams we can win this football game....GO VOLS!!!

SilasDogooder writes:

in response to Packer_Park_Orange:

You should be worried ...Doofus has never beaten a BCS team with a winning record...This Dooleyphile swagger based on beating 3 chumps won't cut any ice with the Dawgs...Expect things to go according to Hoyle and an 0-4 slide to the bottom the rest of October...Then we'll see just how much you Dooleyphiles love Doolittle and Wilchoke.

Good ole Fudge! Hot and bothered at the keyboard, high on eau de jockstrap!

ProfessionalHandicapper writes:

UT does not have enough playmakers around Bray when they can't run the ball. UT lost to UGA last year with much better threats in Gerald Jones, OKU, Moore, Hunter and Janzen all on the field. Add Stocker at TE that is now gone plus having to start two true freshman at Linebacker with Lathers and Reviez missing from last years defeat and I dont see why anyone would be optimistic. Georgia has the biggest OL in the SEC and a 350lb beast in the middle of the defense. They will try to line up and run over the Vols just like they did to a good Miss St team last week. Boise had a very experienced team playing Georgia in game one having to start a true freshman at RB in his first start. They are much better now than then. The Georgia-Florida game should decide the SEC East winner.

shoalcreekvol writes:

in response to Packer_Park_Orange:

You should be worried ...Doofus has never beaten a BCS team with a winning record...This Dooleyphile swagger based on beating 3 chumps won't cut any ice with the Dawgs...Expect things to go according to Hoyle and an 0-4 slide to the bottom the rest of October...Then we'll see just how much you Dooleyphiles love Doolittle and Wilchoke.

No I haven't seen your stapler.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to volcycle:

I'm just not concerned about us losing to GA. They haven't shown anything yet this year. They are just not a strong team. UT should win easy...something like 38-10. I fully realize we are young and could fall apart, but it would have to be some major disruption to UT for that to happen. Something akin to losing Hunter and us losing our focus. It could happen, but barring that... I just don't see us losing.

Let's not get carried away. I understand the enthusiasm, and believe me, i'd love nothing more than to take an SEC opponent to the woodshed. But this team still has a lot to prove. The offense is definitely clicking better, but the special teams has issues it needs to work out pronto. And I'm not completely sold on the D (gave up a couple big plays to Buffalo). I'll be happy with a win by any margin.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to shoalcreekvol:

No I haven't seen your stapler.

LMAO!! Watch it, he may set the office on fire!!

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to pogiegovols:

I hate using this term but this is a must win game for the Vols. We have got to beat a decent competitive team and we havent done that yet. we have this tough stretch coming up where we will be big underdogs and in reality if we lose this game we will be in trouble. With that being said I do believe this team is ready for a big win. If we win this game who knows what may happen. I believe we have a real chance to beat South Carolina, especially if Garcia keeps playing the way he has played. LSU and Alabama may be the 2 best teams in the country so a victory is a long shot but there is a great chance to show improvement and to learn where we really stand against the big boys. This is also a great opportunity to make home field advantage mean something again for the Vols. I will be there with my wife coming from South Carolina. It will be my first night game at Neyland Stadium so Im excited to experiance a great atmosphere. I believe our coaches and our kids will be ready to play a great game. If we dont turn the ball over and if we play good special teams we can win this football game....GO VOLS!!!

I agree that USC is a winnable game, especially at Neyland. LSU has shown signs of mortality at times. We're going to be annihilated in Tuscaloosa, though. Still, I'll be cheering on the Big Orange every week.

Bigger_Al writes:

Good to see the trolls back after a brief hiatus while they licked each other's wounds. Since the Gators and Mushchomp got their butts kicked, they spent the day licking each other's glutes.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to Packer_Park_Orange:

You should be worried ...Doofus has never beaten a BCS team with a winning record...This Dooleyphile swagger based on beating 3 chumps won't cut any ice with the Dawgs...Expect things to go according to Hoyle and an 0-4 slide to the bottom the rest of October...Then we'll see just how much you Dooleyphiles love Doolittle and Wilchoke.

You really have serious issues if all you can do is CONSTANTLY degrade our program and coaches..It just shows your lack of class and you sure aren't a Vol fan because if you were, you wouldn't be resorting to the CHILDISH act of name-calling..As I have said before, it is easy for idiots like you to resort to that on a message board..I bet you wouldn't have the guts to say that stuff to CDD and CJW's faces because YOU ARE A COWARD,SIR...You sir live a sad,sad life if this is what your world revolves around, hanging on a message board and acting like a jerk.

Smokey says PPO has no one to turn to in his life and craves attention..

murrayvol writes:

in response to ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog:

You really have serious issues if all you can do is CONSTANTLY degrade our program and coaches..It just shows your lack of class and you sure aren't a Vol fan because if you were, you wouldn't be resorting to the CHILDISH act of name-calling..As I have said before, it is easy for idiots like you to resort to that on a message board..I bet you wouldn't have the guts to say that stuff to CDD and CJW's faces because YOU ARE A COWARD,SIR...You sir live a sad,sad life if this is what your world revolves around, hanging on a message board and acting like a jerk.

Smokey says PPO has no one to turn to in his life and craves attention..

Down Smokey. You're wasting your time.

murrayvol writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"we, we," screamed the little piggie.

We (vols and vol fans) will be fine. Not so sure about you old sport.

murrayvol writes:

in response to SeminaryVol:

Sure is. It's not only sportswriters who use it, but all writers who want to be understood and persuade readers by carrying the reader along through a logical argument.

Moreover, it's a good transition word. :{)

snakeplissken writes:

Tennessee can win this game and should win it.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to murrayvol:

Down Smokey. You're wasting your time.

I know,murray..I'm just sick of his BS.

TheOrangePants writes:

On a related topic, the trolls seem to be awake and active this morning.

Regardless if you think Georgia is a good team or not, of course this is a big game for UT. EVERY SEC game is a big game. One loss in the SEC isn't fatal to a chance of playing in the SEC Championship. Two, however, is extremely hard to overcome. Considering the rest of the October schedule, this game may just be the most pivotal of them all.

That being said, we need to focus on this game and this game only this week. LSU, Alabama, and the overrated Gamecocks can wait. The Bulldogs demand our full attention this week.

rockytopnation16 writes:

I wouldn't say Dooley hasn't had a signature win..we lost to LSU after the game and the Music City Bowl was a complete robbery by the officials

GONAVY writes:

I think UGA will come to Neyland with a two-pronged purpose: 1) They see light now that both UF and SC lost giving them a technical tie for first in the East. 2) They know their coach is on the hot seat and another loss basically puts him on the street. That being said, as I posted the other day the team which achieves a balance in their offense gets the upper hand. Being in Knoxville and especially Neyland at night gives the Vols a boost. UGA's defense is better, though, than UT's and their front 4 are big and fast. This could prove problematic to UT's running game and more pressure on Bray passing. If UT can find a way to slow down UGA's run game they will win. I have not seen the opening line yet, but I would ventire to say UT -6.5? And, as I posted I see a competitive UT win; maybe 7-10 points.

SCVFL writes:

Everyone needs to just ignore the trolls and they will shrivel up and go away. They keep coming back because you guys continue to feed them.
Coach Double D is continuing to fix things. Remain faithful and good things will come.
UT 31
ga 16
GO VOLS!!!!!!

mikec1000000 writes:

This is a huge game for the Volunteers! As a Vol fan living in GA, I can tell you that the GA people are very optimistic of late about their team's progression. There are many fans of other SEC schools around here as well and the general consensus is that Tennessee has drifted down to an unrespected bottom-feeder in the conference now. The only way the Vols prove that idealogy wrong is by winning this game against GA, keeping the rest of October competetive, and perhaps surpirising everyone one with an upset along the way. I look forward to the time when we have that swagger back on the field and opponents dread the Tennessee date on the schedule. It will take SEC wins though. Victories over the Buffaloes and Montanas of the sports world will not cut it.

DroopyDrawers writes:

Adams, you stink. Pack and go some where besides Knoxvegas

TheOrangePants writes:

in response to mikec1000000:

This is a huge game for the Volunteers! As a Vol fan living in GA, I can tell you that the GA people are very optimistic of late about their team's progression. There are many fans of other SEC schools around here as well and the general consensus is that Tennessee has drifted down to an unrespected bottom-feeder in the conference now. The only way the Vols prove that idealogy wrong is by winning this game against GA, keeping the rest of October competetive, and perhaps surpirising everyone one with an upset along the way. I look forward to the time when we have that swagger back on the field and opponents dread the Tennessee date on the schedule. It will take SEC wins though. Victories over the Buffaloes and Montanas of the sports world will not cut it.

I agree. Yes our stats are slanted because of the quality of teams we've been playing. The one game we could've proven our stats right was the Florida game, but we became stunned for three quarters after losing Hunter and didn't regain any confidence until too late in the 4th.

If we beat Georgia, it goes a long way to giving us confidence to face our rough SEC schedule.

Volunatic writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your gators looked really lost last weekend, didn't they? It sure seems to hold a team back when they lose a star player.
I wonder where VolCycle got the score 38-10? Do you know?

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