Derek Dooley: Everybody 'whipped' at line

Derek Dooley breaks down the Vols' performance against Montana

When he discussed Tennessee's struggle to run the ball effectively against Montana moments after the Vols wrapped up their rout, Derek Dooley singled out the offensive line, which was "whipped" at the line of scrimmage.

In hindsight, it wasn't just the five guys up front, Dooley said at his weekly news conference Monday.

It was everybody.

"It always starts with coaching, but the offensive line didn't play as well as they're capable of, we didn't block on the perimeter like we're capable at receiver and the runners didn't run consistently enough with that commitment," Dooley said. "That word 'commitment' is what I thought we lacked in the run game."

The Vols certainly didn't stray away from it Saturday, even when it was truly going nowhere.

UT ran the ball 46 times for 128 yards and attempted just 25 passes for 311 yards. Give back the 21 yards taken away for the three sacks it surrendered and the numbers don't look as ugly, but UT still only managed just shy of 4 yards per carry.

Players throughout Monday's media gathering fell in line with Dooley, providing a variety of reasons why the Vols' ground game never got off the ground.

"The last two seconds of the play, if we strain just a little bit harder, I feel like Tauren (Poole) and Marlin (Lane) and those guys can get a couple more yards just off of us straining a little harder," tight end Mychal Rivera said.

"We have to work on cleaning up some things," center James Stone said. "As a group we didn't communicate like we should have communicated."

Even fullback Channing Fugate put some of the blame on himself.

"There are a couple of blocks where I have to work on my technique a lot," he said. "I have to go to practice this week and work on that stuff every day."

Unlike Saturday's opponent, Cincinnati, which ran for 387 yards against Austin Peay, the Vols didn't exactly match up with an overwhelmed defense. Montana, which started four seniors on the defensive line, presented a number of different looks throughout the game and even played in a 3-4 formation at times.

Still, Dooley said, there were "no excuses" from a performance like Saturday's. Just players to hold accountable.

"Every team is going to come in and do some different things," Dooley said. "With experience, they were a little bit hesitant and it showed."

For the five players who were "whipped on the line of the scrimmage," Sunday's film session with offensive line coach Harry Hiestand was business as usual, Stone said.

How the Vols spent a rain delay

Hiestand didn't need to raise his voice because "he's always pretty animated."

"He let us know everything was correctable," Stone said.

Health Report: UT escaped its first game of the season with only one minor injury, Dooley said.

Defensive tackle Maurice Couch, who sat out most of the fourth quarter against Montana, is "day to day" with a sprained knee.

Defensive end Ben Martin, who was seen with a bag of ice on his ankle as he sat on the bench near the end of the game, said Monday he wasn't hurt, but was simply done for the game and was told to "ice it down."

"Everything's good," he said.

Dooley said freshman Devrin Young, who broke his collar bone in early August, will be re-evaluated next week. Young continues to catch punts at practice, but has yet to face contact.

Linebacker Herman Lathers recently had two screws removed from his broken left ankle and will likely be out for the next four to six weeks.

"We hope by the second half of the season he can come in and get back in it," Dooley said.

Fumble Trouble: With heavy rain in the forecast all week, the Vols won't have any shortage of opportunities to work on the "wet ball" drills they couldn't get to all throughout a dry August.

The stormy weather couldn't have come at a better time, especially after a six-fumble effort against Montana that Dooley labeled as "inexcusable."

UT recovered all six fumbles, but that didn't make watching the film any easier.

"The weather doesn't cause it. It's poor fundamentals," Dooley said. "Sometimes you get away with poor fundamentals when everything's perfect or you don't get it hit right. I'm A, glad that we saw it and B, really happy that it didn't come back to haunt us.

"If those would have been six turnovers, this would have been a whole different ballgame."

Fugate admitted the early-practice fumble drills can get a bit "lackadaisical" at times. That certainly won't be the case when the Vols return to the practice field today, he said.

"We're going to work on it a lot this week," Fugate said. "We need to hold onto the ball a lot better than we did Saturday."

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 67

Caspian writes:

Like the attitude of both players and coaches.

rabidvol1998 writes:

I like it, "no excuses". Everyone taking the blame for their part. We will get better. Go Vols. I must admit, I was lackadaisical in my cheering as well.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to rabidvol1998:

I like it, "no excuses". Everyone taking the blame for their part. We will get better. Go Vols. I must admit, I was lackadaisical in my cheering as well.

Witch Doctor say meet me outside after work tomorrow..Witch Doctor see you run some laps. lol
Bones never lie.

arkyvol writes:

when the head coach is saying his offensive line (among others) was whipped by a third rate team, its hard for me to see something promising.

dvols writes:

i couldnt tell if our running backs "are not very good"...or MOntana had an SEC caliber d-line???????

pingkr62 writes:

Let's see how we play next week against a much better opponent. This week will tell us a lot. The game against Montana can be summed up with one word, SLOPPY! I wish someone can explain why our running backs seem to have a habit of making their cuts directly into the biggest clump of lineman they can find, especially Tauren Poole. G.B.O.!!

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to arkyvol:

when the head coach is saying his offensive line (among others) was whipped by a third rate team, its hard for me to see something promising.

The coaches also said it was all correctable. It's not uncommon so see some sloppiness in the first game. They'll get it fixed. There were also a lot of encouraging moments during the game, but its easier for us to focus on the negative moments.

Caspian writes:

in response to Whatthehellsgoingonoutthere:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You appear lackadaisical in the pursuit of balance and common sense.

baldingalum writes:

I'm a big fan of Tauren Poole as a person, player and representative of the University. That written, I do not believe he has ever had a worse game as a starter. He fumbled twice. He didn't hit holes hard, missed a lot of reads and didn't break tackles. Outside of a nice juke late in the game, it was disappointing. He has to step up and run like he did last year or we're in trouble. That's on the offensive side.

Defensively, they have to get Vereen on the field a lot more. Our freshmen linebackers may have a great deal of potential but they bit on fakes and were often out of position. Vereen was everywhere making tackles.

kazoo writes:

The one thing we did well under Kiffin--or relatively well--was run block. The OL blocked better under his staff than we it had blocked in many years. Now we look we to be mediocre again.

kazoo writes:

We should seek a medical redshirt for Lathers, if possible. Simply put, he's not going to help us much playing the last four games or so--if he's even capable of doing that. What's the point. We surely won't need him against kentucky, vandy, etc. Better to get back a full year of eligibility.

DannyVol writes:

in response to Whatthehellsgoingonoutthere:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

This dude curses throughout this post and it stays because it's critical of UT. However, if someone says Bray is "playing really (effing) well," it stands a good chance of being completely deleted instead of edited.

Volways writes:

I don't play poker much. But I have a good general understanding of how the game of poker relates to our game plan after we got a 28 point lead Saturday. Having a young team makes this even more important.

rabidvol1998 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say meet me outside after work tomorrow..Witch Doctor see you run some laps. lol
Bones never lie.

Can the Witch Doctor fix my hips? Regular Dr. says I have the hip joints of 75 year old. It wasn't a compliment. But I'll give you 5 miles tomorrow and cheer better Saturday. Go Vols.

Kelly8 writes:

We could easily get beat Saturday. Smells like a UAB-type game, but Cincy is better.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to Kelly8:

We could easily get beat Saturday. Smells like a UAB-type game, but Cincy is better.

if that happens then the chance of a 5-7 season grows..

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to arkyvol:

when the head coach is saying his offensive line (among others) was whipped by a third rate team, its hard for me to see something promising.

I agree. Last year, they were young and new. This year, they are working on the chemistry. Next year, it will be the schedule. The year after, the seniors will be too old. All I know is that for the last 2 years, we can't run. I don't want to hear about film. I don't want to hear Southern home-spun anectdotes. I don't even want to hear how dedicated they are now. It is like Obama saying he really is serious about jobs THIS TIME. We knew coming in to the year we had issues in the run game. If that was not enough to get everyone serious, then someone needs to get fired or benched.

And, I got to say that Dooley/Chaney need to get better at poker. If it appears that we cannot run, then we need to stop running up the middle for no gain and throw the ball ALL OVER THE FIELD. First, we need to move the ball. Take what the defense gives or what is working. Second, get the defense out of the box. It is always the chicken or the egg when it comes to run/pass. But, we can't always run on first down when we can't run the dang ball.

And, I'll say this. I don't care if we run the ball well against Cincinnati. It won't mean anything. We have to run it WELL in Gainesville. Coaches and Players need to take a course in what we used to call "smash mouth football". Or, just throw the ball.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to Whatthehellsgoingonoutthere:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well heck my thoughts were there seemed to be a lack of fire or emotion in this game. So the Lackadaisical practice comment fits what I saw in this game. Well I'm hoping I was just a sleep at the TV but we will know this Saturday. I'm not sure why CDD said he wouldn't be surprised if we were not double digit underdogs. Not what you want your coach saying. Last time I checked Cincy was not rated. So I share your concerns.

RashaadSalabeb writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The heck with Florida...bring em on!

Go Big Orange!

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to Whatthehellsgoingonoutthere:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your frustration is justified. And, if folks could not see Lane twisting and turning for 1 more yard when Poole wasn't then they should not post. The Montana game was a wakeup call. Our run game is a joke and that is not acceptable.

And, I don't care if the Vols run for 300 yards against the Bearcats. It won't mean anything. They better run with some effectiveness against the Gators.

DalTexVol writes:

During football season in Dallas there is a sports radio talk show called "Overreaction Monday." From all the comments on this board, I think that concept would go over very well in Knoxville.

movol77 writes:

in response to Whatthehellsgoingonoutthere:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Channing,

Suggestion. Keep your mouth shut. The fan fodder can only add mental drift from what you know you need to do.

Kudos for facing up. But I suggest that you keep it out of the press.

Bufforange00 writes:

Poole lacks the vision and burst of an elite back. He has good straightline speed but can he get through the holes before they close?

west_tn_volfan writes:

in response to DalTexVol:

During football season in Dallas there is a sports radio talk show called "Overreaction Monday." From all the comments on this board, I think that concept would go over very well in Knoxville.

Good post. Fans aren't looking at this like a coach would. There wasn't any doubt who was going to win that game and Montana was putting 8 in the box to stop the run so the coaches ran it any way. The whole point was to get some film for teaching purposes and give the O line some work. If we had thrown the ball more, we could have hung 70 on Montana but we wouldn't have gotten the work we needed in the running game. These mismatch games are for working on the area's that need work not just to run up the score. I'll reserve judgment on the running game until I see a few more games.

TNVOLNTX writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

if that happens then the chance of a 5-7 season grows..

So you're saying that if we start the season 1-1 rather than 2-0 then it increases our chances of finishing with a worse record than had we started the season 2-0? Hmmmm...statistics major, perhaps?

BadBob70 writes:

One TD late in the game, the O-line blew across the goal line, but by the time the RB got there, the defense had filled the hole. Was it the line's fault the RB took 6 seconds to get to the hole and they only held for 4 seconds?

It was 2' to the goal line for crying out loud what was the RB doing taking so long?

xvolx writes:

I feel a UCLA coming in that this team isn't ready to play yet. Only bright spot I saw was Bray. He threw 72% with Rogers dropping two and Hunter one.

snakeplissken writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Florida looked a WHOLE LOT BETTER than I thought they would. The were much more prepared, organized, and determined than Tennessee was. That's coaching, my friend!!!!

dvhill100 writes:

You have to run to get better at it. Yes, we should have had better success running the ball, but we were trying to run against a team stacked to take the run away from us. Easy openers are for working out the kinks and "practicing" what you need to work on, whether it is fully successful or not. The only caution I would add is while passing teams can usually rip between the 20's, they have trouble scoring in the red zone if they can't run. See Maryland from last night (1 TD for 5 red zone trips).

snakeplissken writes:

in response to FLVOL79:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So if you think Florida didn't look good and they're that bad, the Tennessee team you saw play Saturday will beat the Gators?

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to TNVOLNTX:

So you're saying that if we start the season 1-1 rather than 2-0 then it increases our chances of finishing with a worse record than had we started the season 2-0? Hmmmm...statistics major, perhaps?

No, just add up what is left on the schedule that's a give me. Cincy is a must win to keep on track for a 7-5 otherwise I said it's a possibility for a 5-7. I have not given up on finishing 7-5.

GONAVY writes:

It never changes. For most of the off season when football is brought up in an article, Florida somehow creeps into several posts.For the past two years before the opening game, either WKU or UT Martin, so many posters kept beating their chests wanting to say things like "bring on the Gators". Ok, follow the bouncing ball: One game at a time. Cincinnati is next. Concentrate on Cincinnati. When it's over, start the rhetoric about dreaded, hated Florida. In 2009,UT cruised over WKU and lost to an inferior UCLA team and then lost to Florida. Go back and read a lot of posts for the UCLA week. Tons of Florida barbs and bragging. 2010- cruise over UT Martin. Check some posts: even with Oregon coming in, there was all the smack about Florida. Oregon ran a track meet and then Florida won, again. I have read a couple of the UF boards in the past and this year: know what? Their fans don't obsess on UT like UT does on them. Florida's in the mind of UT and has been for the most part the last 18 years at least. Best remedy for the UF wannabees who get on this site early and start baiting you? Ignore them. Better thing to do? Concentrate on Cincinnati only. That's the most important game on the schedule right now...not UF.

TNVOLNTX writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

No, just add up what is left on the schedule that's a give me. Cincy is a must win to keep on track for a 7-5 otherwise I said it's a possibility for a 5-7. I have not given up on finishing 7-5.

I'm with you bud. The way you said it just struck me as funny. I think the Vols show up big against Cincy. Austin Peay's loss to Cincy was their 9th straight loss Including a 50 point loss to Jax state. Conversely, the fact that we were spotted 28 points against Montana gave us the luxury of stubbornly trying to run against 7 or 8 in the box when realistically we likely could have thrown with success on nearly every down.
I'm with you on a 7-5 season.

UT - 41

CINCY - 24

brokendownoldvol writes:

Today's players either aren't coached or don't know how to get low any more. That kind of blocking may work with the spread but it is worthless with the old I formation.

treytn writes:

Agree with Dooley that our offensive line was whipped badly by the defensive line of a Maryville College type team.

1998 writes:

Montana? Oh boy! Might as well have played Fontana. If Vols beat Cincinnati, there will be reason for hope.

crappieking writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Navel, Mama is a loser Memphis Tiger fan. She's a nobody.

treytn writes:

I don't agree with Dooley throwing his players under the bus and not shouldering any blame for himself or Heistand in having the offensive linemen prepared.
Dooley's quote: "There were no excuses from a performance like Saturday's. Just players to hold accountable."

johnlg00 writes:

in response to kazoo:

We should seek a medical redshirt for Lathers, if possible. Simply put, he's not going to help us much playing the last four games or so--if he's even capable of doing that. What's the point. We surely won't need him against kentucky, vandy, etc. Better to get back a full year of eligibility.

I reluctantly agree with you. If he can't be back in time to help us in the first half of our front-loaded SEC schedule, we shouldn't even need him in the back half. No doubt in my mind the defense would have been better if he had been full-speed from the start of the season, but the young guys played pretty well for the most part. It was a bad break (no pun intended) for Lathers, the team, and we fans, but stuff happens. Better that he be fully ready and chomping at the bit to help the Vols' run at a championship next season.

snakeplissken writes:

in response to treytn:

I don't agree with Dooley throwing his players under the bus and not shouldering any blame for himself or Heistand in having the offensive linemen prepared.
Dooley's quote: "There were no excuses from a performance like Saturday's. Just players to hold accountable."

I read that and it struck me wrong too. We have all of our two deep offensive linemen back from last year and have heard how much stronger and faster they were. They're playing in the same system as last year yet it appears they're actucally regressing. I'd like to hear Hiestand and Dooley admit they've not done a good job in developing them. That would show more character than saying JUST PLAYERS TO HOLD ACCOUNTABLE.

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to dvols:

i couldnt tell if our running backs "are not very good"...or MOntana had an SEC caliber d-line???????

Great post. Poole certainly didn't hit the holes and/or turn upfield with any speed the whole game. Lane tried but his inexperience showed early and often. We know Montana's D-line isn't SEC quality but experience and teamwork make up for a lot. Those guys played like a unit, our O-line like individuals, and it showed. As much as I hate to admit it, youth is a scourge in D1 football. Pat Dye used to say every true freshman starter on an SEC team equals one loss. A little over the top but his sentiment is well taken. Auburn, off a NC season and two consecutive Top 5 recruiting years, looked even worse than we did not because of talent or coaching, but youth - and we are younger in our two-deep than they are! I just hope our young Vols grew up a lot in that one game because for a vanilla-appearing non-conference game, Cincy will bring all we want and then some. Go Vols!!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to DalTexVol:

During football season in Dallas there is a sports radio talk show called "Overreaction Monday." From all the comments on this board, I think that concept would go over very well in Knoxville.

They may not have named it that, but this board is already a showcase for overreaction. Sheesh! People can surely be schizo sometimes--"protect me from the terrorists but don't take away my freedom"--but football fans are the worst of all. UT surely wasn't the only team that wasn't razor-sharp on Saturday. In a way, it would have almost been worse if they HAD been clicking on all cylinders. Young players easily get complacent if they accomplish all their short-term goals. It would only be that much harder to convince them that they will have to be MUCH better to get the same results against better competition.

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to pingkr62:

Let's see how we play next week against a much better opponent. This week will tell us a lot. The game against Montana can be summed up with one word, SLOPPY! I wish someone can explain why our running backs seem to have a habit of making their cuts directly into the biggest clump of lineman they can find, especially Tauren Poole. G.B.O.!!

Heck, forget me, I wish someone would explain the problem to HIM!!! Watching him Saturday I don't know how in the world he rushed for almost a grand last year. There were plenty of plays with big holes, just not where the play was designed. It's called adjusting on the fly and Tauren needs to look into it, and soon, because I'd wager the actual running lane is not where it was drawn up at least half the time. C'mon Tauren, you're a senior. Yikes! Go Vols!!!

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to baldingalum:

I'm a big fan of Tauren Poole as a person, player and representative of the University. That written, I do not believe he has ever had a worse game as a starter. He fumbled twice. He didn't hit holes hard, missed a lot of reads and didn't break tackles. Outside of a nice juke late in the game, it was disappointing. He has to step up and run like he did last year or we're in trouble. That's on the offensive side.

Defensively, they have to get Vereen on the field a lot more. Our freshmen linebackers may have a great deal of potential but they bit on fakes and were often out of position. Vereen was everywhere making tackles.

I saw that too and wondered why he wasn't a starter or out there a lot more. It's a LOT to ask of two true freshmen and a converted fullback to handle backing up an SEC defensive line, and an average one at that. We are certainly missing Lathers but Vereen appeared a good second option for that experience we so desperately need on the defensive side of the ball. Anybody know for SURE why he isn't starting/playing more? Please, no obvious generic answers, I am hoping for real insider stuff. Go Vols!!!

snakeplissken writes:

in response to asleep#212036:

Heck, forget me, I wish someone would explain the problem to HIM!!! Watching him Saturday I don't know how in the world he rushed for almost a grand last year. There were plenty of plays with big holes, just not where the play was designed. It's called adjusting on the fly and Tauren needs to look into it, and soon, because I'd wager the actual running lane is not where it was drawn up at least half the time. C'mon Tauren, you're a senior. Yikes! Go Vols!!!

I think it obviously shows our offensive line hasn't improved, and probably has gone backwards. Just look at Poole's rushing totals last season against the better SEC opponents when Simms was QB and everyone stacked the line because we didn't have a passing threat to speak of. Isn't it odd that Poole got more yards per carry against them last year than he did against a weaer division Montana team Saturday night.

GeneralNeylandsReturn writes:

in response to kazoo:

The one thing we did well under Kiffin--or relatively well--was run block. The OL blocked better under his staff than we it had blocked in many years. Now we look we to be mediocre again.

we also held on to the footbal under Kiffin...went an unprecedented whole season without a fumble on a handoff from scrimmage

treytn writes:

in response to GeneralNeylandsReturn:

we also held on to the footbal under Kiffin...went an unprecedented whole season without a fumble on a handoff from scrimmage

I didn't like Kiffin and his band of clowns but I have to admit he did a MUCH BETTER job with his walk-on and under-sized offensive linemen than Kiffin and Heistand have done in their second year.

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to tdvol1989:

I agree. Last year, they were young and new. This year, they are working on the chemistry. Next year, it will be the schedule. The year after, the seniors will be too old. All I know is that for the last 2 years, we can't run. I don't want to hear about film. I don't want to hear Southern home-spun anectdotes. I don't even want to hear how dedicated they are now. It is like Obama saying he really is serious about jobs THIS TIME. We knew coming in to the year we had issues in the run game. If that was not enough to get everyone serious, then someone needs to get fired or benched.

And, I got to say that Dooley/Chaney need to get better at poker. If it appears that we cannot run, then we need to stop running up the middle for no gain and throw the ball ALL OVER THE FIELD. First, we need to move the ball. Take what the defense gives or what is working. Second, get the defense out of the box. It is always the chicken or the egg when it comes to run/pass. But, we can't always run on first down when we can't run the dang ball.

And, I'll say this. I don't care if we run the ball well against Cincinnati. It won't mean anything. We have to run it WELL in Gainesville. Coaches and Players need to take a course in what we used to call "smash mouth football". Or, just throw the ball.

Two things: first, it appeared to me that Chaney/Dooley wanted to run up the middle and work some things out. We ran almost no stunts on the O-line and the RB's ran right where the play was drawn up, hole or not. And I'm still not a fan of zone blocking in college. The schemes have to be run perfectly and the NCAA just doesn't allow enough practice time to make it work, not to mention college teams don't have 5 NFL-caliber guys at a time to work with. Second, we stopped smash-mouth football in the Georgia Dome against LSU in 2001 when we threw the ball three consecutive plays on first and goal from the 4-yard line - kicked a FG, and lost the game. We have never been the same since. Don't you hold your breath on every 3rd and 2 or 4th and 1? I do now, but I didn't back in the glory days of the late 90's when we just flat ran over people, week after week. Somehow through Fulmer's last years and up to the present, we have lost our identity as a tough, physical running team. We need that back, it's who we are and what we (should) do. If our coaches can't get it done, fire them. If the players can't get it done, bench them and recruit ones who can. You are right on - in the SEC, lack of a consistent running game translates into losses more than any other aspect of the game. We had better get it together or this season is going to get ugly, and soon. Go Vols!!!

treytn writes:

in response to snakeplissken:

I think it obviously shows our offensive line hasn't improved, and probably has gone backwards. Just look at Poole's rushing totals last season against the better SEC opponents when Simms was QB and everyone stacked the line because we didn't have a passing threat to speak of. Isn't it odd that Poole got more yards per carry against them last year than he did against a weaer division Montana team Saturday night.

Excellent observation snake!!!!!

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Well heck my thoughts were there seemed to be a lack of fire or emotion in this game. So the Lackadaisical practice comment fits what I saw in this game. Well I'm hoping I was just a sleep at the TV but we will know this Saturday. I'm not sure why CDD said he wouldn't be surprised if we were not double digit underdogs. Not what you want your coach saying. Last time I checked Cincy was not rated. So I share your concerns.

Coach-speak, I hope. I have never heard a coach say in his post-game comments, "Well, we didn't play very well and our O-line got whipped but next week we're not worried. We'll beat those boys by fifty even if we play as badly as today. If we're not 3 touchdown favorites, I'm calling Vegas myself and asking some questions!". Not picking on anyone but as an attorney AND Vince Dooley's son, Derek seems to be especially adept at poor-mouthing his teams, at least in those forums. I hope he doesn't really believe those things. If he does, you are exactly right, we should all be very scared. Go Vols!!!

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