Vols 'not as good' without Dallas Thomas

Former Vanderbilt football coach Bobby Johnson shares thoughts on Derek Dooley

Game summary: Tennessee vs. Cincinnati

Dooley's orange pants a good luck charm for the Vols?

Know your Vols: The D-line - Games to look forward to

For Derek Dooley, it was cut and dry. No need to slide into a gray area that doesn't exist.

Without left tackle Dallas Thomas, who missed the fourth quarter Saturday against Cincinnati with a mildly sprained knee, Tennessee was "not as good" as it was the previous three quarters — or the previous 14 games in which Thomas has started, for that matter.

"When we lose anybody, it starts stressing us," Dooley said. "Especially up front."

The Vols (2-0) were stressed Saturday without Thomas, who is expected to play Saturday (TV: WVLT, 3:30 p.m.) at No. 16 Florida (2-0), but an injury like his could have certainly come at a worse time.

UT led Cincinnati comfortably throughout a fourth quarter that featured guard Alex Bullard one spot to the left at Thomas' tackle spot and true freshman Marcus Jackson manning Bullard's place at left guard.

Bullard, who filled in for the mononucleosis-afflicted Ju'Wuan James at right tackle during spring practice, hadn't played a meaningful snap at tackle since high school. Jackson, who enrolled at UT in January and entered fall as a co-first team member at left guard, was one of the odd men out when Bullard finally settled at a position.

The situation clearly exhibited the pecking order beyond the starting five. Despite being a part of the starting rotation, Bullard, in theory, is the "sixth man," versatile enough to fill in at any position. Jackson, meanwhile, is literally the first man off the bench, setting up at left guard while Bullard fills in for someone else, or if Bullard, himself, is hurt.

"Going to left tackle on Saturday wasn't something that I expected to do, but it's something that I've prepared my mind for," Bullard said. "The coaching staff has made it clear that I'm going to have to play three different positions if someone gets hurt."

Jackson, at 6-foot-3 and 326 pounds, has good "size and power" and has the proper "position specifics" for left guard, Dooley said. His relative experience, as compared with highly touted true freshman Antonio Richardson, who enrolled during the summer and missed three weeks of contact with a shoulder injury, also gave him the advantage to play right away.

"When he got in, we really didn't miss a beat. He was ready to go," Bullard said. "I made the adjustment from going to guard to tackle, and I communicated with him. I was in his left ear and James (Stone) was in his right ear. We just made sure we were all on the same page.

"Marcus is a great player, and he's going to be a great player. When he goes in the right direction, he can hammer some people."

Bumps And Bruises: Injury-wise, the Vols have "nothing serious, nothing major" heading into Saturday's game at Florida, Dooley said.

Defensive end Ben Martin, who exited the Cincinnati game early, is "day to day" with a sprained ankle, Dooley said. Knoxville native Devrin Young, a freshman running back, will have the collarbone he broke in August X-rayed this week.

"We'll see," Dooley said. "He's getting close, though. If not this game, then next game."

Bart To Start: It appears fullback Ben Bartholomew's first career start against Cincinnati won't be his last.

According to a depth chart released by the program Monday, Bartholomew was listed as UT's starting fullback in front of Channing Fugate. Dooley reaffirmed that he was the Vols' starter until further notice.

"Ben played, he did a good job," Dooley said. "I was pleased with him. It doesn't mean Channing's on the shelf. We're still going to play Channing. Channing's still a good player, but it's good to have competition. It's a healthy thing for the team."

Players Of The Week: Instead of singling out one player from a unit that produced 531 yards against the Bearcats, Dooley honored the entire offense when doling out his player of the week awards.

That brought a smile to the face of an offensive lineman like James, who doesn't receive near the attention that's heaped on quarterback Tyler Bray or wide receivers Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers.

"We are the quiet guys. We just do the work," James said. "Coach Dooley looked out for us this week.

"He said it couldn't have happened without everybody. Tyler and them do a great job. We are just here to protect him so that he can make those plays."

Defensive tackle Malik Jackson received defensive player of the week honors for being "pretty disruptive up front" and kicker Michael Palardy, who successfully recovered his own onside kick, garnered special teams honors.

Pants Party: Asked if he would don bright orange pants for a third consecutive Saturday, Dooley hinted it would be a game-time decision.

"That's the last thing I'm worried about," Dooley said. "I can assure you the orange slacks aren't the reason we're winning."

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 » 35

troubleinc writes:

uno

RashaadSalabeb writes:

The Vols Rock the world and kick Florida's booty! Yeah, that's what I said....kick their booty!

Go Big Orange!

skboy writes:

Sept 16 2019, In a unrelated story, suspened player John Doe will return to the Flordia defence in time for the game against Tennessee. ( SSDD )

VolGrad writes:

Did any of you guys know that we aren't quite as good if one of our starters goes out with an injury?

Anyhow..., go Vols! Beat the gators!!!

VolGrad writes:

Darn copy editors or whoever. Mess up an otherwise good story with a lousy headline.

jack_2222#231746 writes:

in response to skboy:

Sept 16 2019, In a unrelated story, suspened player John Doe will return to the Flordia defence in time for the game against Tennessee. ( SSDD )

Exactly. Any gator suspended for 3 games sits 1,2 and 4. Trackrecord.

VolGrad writes:

in response to jack_2222#231746:

Exactly. Any gator suspended for 3 games sits 1,2 and 4. Trackrecord.

Too funny..., well, if it weren't so true.

GBO!
Beat the gators!!!

UTByrd writes:

It sure is a good feeling being excited about UT football again.
Go VOLS!!!!!

sadvol writes:

"For those about to block... we salute you!"

VolGrad writes:

in response to sadvol:

"For those about to block... we salute you!"

Nice AC/DC reference.

VolInIndy writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dooley Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap!

NOthgif writes:

Here's some truth for you. IF you beat the Gators this weekend, ESPN will chalk it up to Muschamp's first year. If you lose to the Gators, ESPN will say something along the lines of "just another Gator coach starting a new streak against Tennessee". Either way you won't get the respect from ESPN or any other sports writers. So the way I figure, what does Tennessee have to lose? Heck, go on out there and chomp on some GATOR. Unleash the 6 years of frustration this weekend. Also, one piece of advice for Dooley: When you get Florida down? Put your foot right on their frickin throats! In other words, leave NO doubt on the field! Fight ON!

FiftyOne writes:

in response to troubleinc:

uno

That's a fun game. Now let's talk some football.

UTbassdrummer writes:

Going into Florida healthy is big. And the
possibility of unveiling Devrin Young is
exciting, since there's no film on him.
I'm not trying to make predictions, but
it all feels right this week. Feels good.

GBO.

orangecountyvols writes:

Bassdrummer,

You're right about Young. Trouble is, he's a true freshman who has not seen any action............and this is a tough place to see his initial playing time. If he plays, he might lay it on the ground, or take it to the house..........at least give us good field position. Who knows? At some point, in some game, he will be a factor. Kicking game is so important as we all know.

Go Vols..........tighten your chin straps !

devo-evol writes:

I love the Vols flying under the radar. No pregame shows are mentioning them. No one is giving them any chance of being any good. It is going to be nirvana to go in to the swamp and beat the gators in their house and start the "Dooley Streak".

VOLFAN4LIFEgovols writes:

Has anyone else noticed that CSS shows Vandy more than UT and never says anything about the vols unless its negative.

P.S. How about Tyler Bray getting a helmet sticker from Lou Holts.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

in response to VolInIndy:

Dooley Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap!

Dooley in the Sky with Diamonds!

jakethevolguy writes:

in response to VOLFAN4LIFEgovols:

Has anyone else noticed that CSS shows Vandy more than UT and never says anything about the vols unless its negative.

P.S. How about Tyler Bray getting a helmet sticker from Lou Holts.

CSS is all about Jawja and since all Jawja fans hate UT............there you have it. GBO!!

kcbigorngX writes:

in response to sly_stone99#434111:

Dooley in the Sky with Diamonds!

Mind expanding drug of choice.

Side effects include: visions of D-Day (call Rommel), seeing vivid colors (love them 'slacks'), flashes of brilliance (1st quarter on-sides).

Let's hope his pusher isn't a gator fan. This Saturday he might just turn on, tune in, and drop out.

givehim6 writes:

in response to sadvol:

"For those about to block... we salute you!"

I love it! These guys have a very important job, gators got a tough D I will give'm this. And I'm sure they have orders to take Bray out or at least take him off his game. This being said "Good Luck Men"! And try to open up some running lanes ok.

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to VolInIndy:

Dooley Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap!

AC/DC does have some great song titles that play well for Tennessee football:

"Heatseaker" - a Tyler Bray pass

"Thunderstruck" - the reaction an opposing secondary has to a Bray touchdown pass

"Big Balls" - what CDD showed with the onside kick in the Cincy game

"Have a Drink on Me" - a great comment to hear from a friend following a Vols victory

As always, GBO!!

allvol8 writes:

Love the comments! Go Vols!

NeylandWest writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Actually, that is the proper English spelling of the word. In America, we spell it "defense" and in Britain it is spelled, "defence".

I just adore grammar policemen such as yourself.

NeylandWest writes:

in response to NOthgif:

Here's some truth for you. IF you beat the Gators this weekend, ESPN will chalk it up to Muschamp's first year. If you lose to the Gators, ESPN will say something along the lines of "just another Gator coach starting a new streak against Tennessee". Either way you won't get the respect from ESPN or any other sports writers. So the way I figure, what does Tennessee have to lose? Heck, go on out there and chomp on some GATOR. Unleash the 6 years of frustration this weekend. Also, one piece of advice for Dooley: When you get Florida down? Put your foot right on their frickin throats! In other words, leave NO doubt on the field! Fight ON!

You're right. That's pretty much how the media will view a TN win or loss. I've never been a fan of low-class lop-sided victories, but I swear I'd love to rip them 60-0 if given the chance.

Gator nation forgets just how miserable Florida football used to be. Here's to hoping that they fail miserably and Muschamp ends up at his alma mater and leaves the Gators gasping for a new coach.

A guy can dream...

kcbigorngX writes:

in response to NeylandWest:

Actually, that is the proper English spelling of the word. In America, we spell it "defense" and in Britain it is spelled, "defence".

I just adore grammar policemen such as yourself.

Calling Bret Maverick the grammar police is like saying Col. Sanders runs a home for wayward chicks.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I was about to correct your corrections but another poster did it for me....getting a little nervous about Saturday throws you off your game....relax MCMP...its just football....

kcbigorngX writes:

Sure would be a good time for Big Orange #20 to step up and show the world just what he can do.

allvols4life writes:

in response to NOthgif:

Here's some truth for you. IF you beat the Gators this weekend, ESPN will chalk it up to Muschamp's first year. If you lose to the Gators, ESPN will say something along the lines of "just another Gator coach starting a new streak against Tennessee". Either way you won't get the respect from ESPN or any other sports writers. So the way I figure, what does Tennessee have to lose? Heck, go on out there and chomp on some GATOR. Unleash the 6 years of frustration this weekend. Also, one piece of advice for Dooley: When you get Florida down? Put your foot right on their frickin throats! In other words, leave NO doubt on the field! Fight ON!

After reading several of your posts lately, I have to say we think a lot alike, except for that USC thing...ha! I agree with you on this one as well. If, and when, we get the Gators down, keep pressing the throttle. No lead is safe in college football. Just ask Notre Dame.

Brillovol writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Don't discount the fact that our coaches are planning for this too. Fla focusing on our downfield passing attach opens up gaping holes for the running game, not to mention screens and the short routes. This will be the most balanced game for our offense to date. I'm not certain it will be good enough to win, but I like our chances for the first time in about 5 years.

Wilhelm16 writes:

in response to VolInIndy:

Dooley Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap!

First and goooal offense is cruisin. First and goal Marlin Lane can fly. First and goal no way we're losin. Florida Gators they're gonna die..yes they willllll

NeylandWest writes:

in response to kcbigorngX:

Calling Bret Maverick the grammar police is like saying Col. Sanders runs a home for wayward chicks.

lol

CroKev writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Based on UF's defense (UK - defence) needing to bring it against Bray in order to shut down Hunter and Rogers, I expect our TE's to have a field day. Poole in the open field after a screen pass has to be a bit worrisome for them as well...

CroKev writes:

On subject, I'm anxious to see how Dallas matches up with UF's Powell and Floyd. It will be really interesting later to see how he does against USCe's Clowney.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to UTbassdrummer:

Going into Florida healthy is big. And the
possibility of unveiling Devrin Young is
exciting, since there's no film on him.
I'm not trying to make predictions, but
it all feels right this week. Feels good.

GBO.

+1

Smokey says it feels right to him too..

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