No ends in sight: Position of strength now has big needs

Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson (45) dodges a playful swipe by defensive lineman Gregory Clark (93) as defensive linemen Daniel McCullers (98) and Allan Carson (69) look on during media day at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2012

Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson (45) dodges a playful swipe by defensive lineman Gregory Clark (93) as defensive linemen Daniel McCullers (98) and Allan Carson (69) look on during media day at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee tight end Brendan Downs runs the ball during a drill in practice at Science Hill High School's Steve Spurrier Field in Kermit Tipton Stadium in Johnson City, Tenn., Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2012

Tennessee tight end Brendan Downs runs the ball during a drill in practice at Science Hill High School's Steve Spurrier Field in Kermit Tipton Stadium in Johnson City, Tenn., Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

The Tennessee football team almost was set for its annual team photo when two players came hobbling across the field at Neyland Stadium and a third pulled up in the back of a cart.

All were on crutches. All were tight ends.

The latest cruel twist at what once was a position of strength for the Vols came when sophomore tight end Brendan Downs suffered a serious knee injury in Friday night's scrimmage.

Coach Derek Dooley said Downs dislocated his patella and would miss a "chunk" of the season. That leaves little depth behind starting tight end Mychal Rivera, who also has missed much of camp with an injury.

"Nobody wants to move there anymore," Dooley said. "I went to three guys and they said, 'Hell no, I'm not moving to tight end.' They wondered what I was doing to them."

The dismissal of sophomore Cameron Clear in May started the depletion of the Vols' tight end depth. Since camp opened, Rivera, Downs, Justin Meredith, Joseph Ayres and Dakota Summers have suffered injuries.

"We don't have enough," Dooley said. "We came in (to camp) feeling good, and we're coming out saying, 'We're in trouble.' "

"We're not going to change our offense," Dooley said, "but we may move some parts around."

The good news is that Rivera's knee injury doesn't seem serious and the senior knows the offense well enough to miss time and still return without missing a beat.

"Mike will be back," said tight ends and special teams coach Charlie Coiner. "He's an old hat here. We'd love to have him (practicing), but it's not critical."

Coiner said the lack of depth at the position harkens back to his time as an assistant in the NFL, where the 53-man roster (and 45-man active roster) made the depth of college a luxury.

"You coach what you have," Coiner said. "I hate it for Brendan and (the other injured players). But as a coach, you work with what you have and try to prepare them as best you can."

Right now, Coiner has two reliable options — Rivera and senior Ben Bartholomew, who is listed as a fullback but can play a sort of hybrid role between the two positions. Freshman Justin King moved from linebacker to tight end, but is currently concentrating more on fullback.

Dooley called Bartholomew a "putty guy" because of his versatility. Coiner plans to take full advantage of it.

"I'll lean on my NFL experience: You go into games all the time with two tight ends," Coiner said. "I'd rather not, but if you do, you do. I know those two can go into a game and do a good job for us."

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 163

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Work 'em Coach Coiner. I like your attitude.

GBO

borovol1956 writes:

I love Coach Dooley's frankness.

VFL_Troll_Patrol writes:

Well...... were screwed now! We always take 2 steps forward but get screwed anyway we can and drop 3 steps back. Will we ever get a break?

*Im always watching*
*Shock the World*

http://www.youtube.com/user/BudrayJef...

Voluvr writes:

I've seen the walk on David Page play. He's a very good player.

BigOrangeRock writes:

I wonder whose idea it was to use the cool lable maker to stick the names on the helmets? I think those are the clearest names on helmets in the history of Tennessee football.

HallowedHill writes:

Might we see Croom moved to TE since he played the position in high school? He's 6'4 and 220, which should help.

GO VOLS!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to BigOrangeRock:

I wonder whose idea it was to use the cool lable maker to stick the names on the helmets? I think those are the clearest names on helmets in the history of Tennessee football.

No doubt, when did they switch from the sharpie pens??

RashaadSalabeb writes:

Play with what you have. I'm ready for some Tennessee Football! Players and Coaches....make us proud!

Go Big Orange!

alwaysvol1 writes:

in response to HallowedHill:

Might we see Croom moved to TE since he played the position in high school? He's 6'4 and 220, which should help.

GO VOLS!

he didn't play TE in high school.

CoverOrange writes:

There is probably one or two second or third string old timer OL that could be shoved out there. I'm thinking Carson Anderson or Darin Gooch. Yeah, you pretty much give up on passing to the TE but at least they would know how to block. Heavy Jumbo formation. Wouldn't hurt the run game either.

Wouldn't mind seeing the shoulder triple strip with the Power T on the side as our regular road uniforms. Not sure why they are only for practice.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

No doubt, when did they switch from the sharpie pens??

Just about when the equipment manager claimed carpal tunnel syndrome and wanted disability.

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Walt
No one listens to you either
No one cares what you post

Just go away

GerryOP writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Walt ... just.shut.up ... please.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Just about when the equipment manager claimed carpal tunnel syndrome and wanted disability.

Yeah, sounds about like the whiners of this day and age.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What are ewe, Walt?? A sniveling whiner that complains endlessly over events you have no control over..Get help ASAP, and in case you can't afford it, let me know and I'll get you a guest chair on the Dr. Drew or Phil show..The minute they read your obsessive drivel they'll call for an immediate intervention.

Mr_Bandman writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Couldn't agree more on this one---he's the friggin' head coach---you don't ask a player to move to TE, you say "Hey---line up at tight end NOW." Who is in charge?

gc_scvol writes:

in response to Mr_Bandman:

Couldn't agree more on this one---he's the friggin' head coach---you don't ask a player to move to TE, you say "Hey---line up at tight end NOW." Who is in charge?

6/5/2007 Payroll Troll

smokies_old_soul writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

personally, i could not be more in agreement with you regarding Coach Dooley's inability to properly make decisions about and then deal with players. my faith in Dooley went south when he allowed Darick Rogers to run amuck on the coaches and the progam in general.

having said that, his comment about players refusing to move to tight end was made completely in jest and was not meant as a literal statement.

Snapshot writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks for the comments, Wally. For a 81 year old man you really keep up with the Vols, don't you?

FWBVol writes:

I know tight end is an important position in Dooley's offense and that he likes to use tight ends coming across the middle and running a variation of a legal pick type play. That said, if I had to pick one position on offense or defense where I had to be thin it would be tight end.

We have enough big receivers this year to move a guy closer to the interior line and slip into the flat. With our depth on the offensive line we can probably move a guy out on the flank in third or fourth and short to provide the needed blocking.

Rivera will be back soon and we will have some help.

The bottom line is the game is football and players are going to get hurt. Sometimes just by makig a hard cut and other times by taking a hard hit.

Every team has injuries so this is not the curse of Derek Dooley.

tovolny writes:

Tennessee has never had a TE who really played the TE position in the traditional way. So, put a big body type out there and have him run his assignment. A true TE should be making reads prior to the snap and then reads just after the snap. If the QB and TE make the same reads,they cannot be stopped. Right now, South Carolina, Arkansas, Boise State, Vanderbilt and a only a few other non-SEC teams acutually use a real TE. Peyton Manning confirms or checks the TE at pre-snap now in the pros, but that is the pros. Most college teams have a primary and a secondary and then a throw-away. I am not saying this is bad...a coach can only work with what he has. Two wide receivers and a H-back along with a good hands RB would suffice when Rivera is resting. I think Dooley, Chaney, and the rest of the staff will get the job done. Mark that down.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

JW only had one big game against Michigan, under the Cutcliffe/Fulmer regime TE's were rarely used except for blocking assignments. In fact TE has been so little used at UT other than a reception/TD by Whitten and Jeff Smith. I can only think of Tommy West even playing TE at UT the 35 years prior to that.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

JW only had one big game against Michigan, under the Cutcliffe/Fulmer regime TE's were rarely used except for blocking assignments. In fact TE has been so little used at UT other than a reception/TD by Whitten and Jeff Smith. I can only think of Tommy West even playing TE at UT the 35 years prior to that.

With emphasis on WR since Majors came to town, wasn't much need to recruit a good hands TE. Witten benefited from being a truly exceptional player and only having one quality WR to compete with for catches.

That said, Luke Stocker seemed to do okay. So did Reggie Harper.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Problem is Walt, you can't prove any of your theories either. And I don't see anywhere you can conclude how KNS took it.

tovolny writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He lined up at TE and ran WR routes. Alvin Harper did the same thing. We had large FB's for blocking and pass protection. Tennessee only had 4 running plays., anyway, Show me some highlights of Witten blocking on a running play while he was at Tennessee. Witten and Stocker were a bit of a sissy at times.

BigOrangeRock writes:

in response to Orangeblood13:

Walt
No one listens to you either
No one cares what you post

Just go away

Speak for yourself, I listen to what all Vols have to say.

bitterroot_vol_for_life writes:

No matter what we put on the field this year, short a few TE's or not. were in better shape than we've been in a while. Higher expectations than Fulmer's last year. it's going to be good year in Big Orange Country.

papavol writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

every scrap of evidence says that you're a crusty old man with no life.

Dane

USAF 2003 to present.... now get a life

chrisw2967 writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So your were a 2nd LT? So in other words you didnt do nothing while in the Marines? Ever 2nd LT I ever came across came into the Military with their degree and didnt have a clue about wth they were doing.Does that sound about right ? Thats if you were ever in the Marines.You sound like a pathetic old man.

BigOrangeDan writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Walt please get a life or become a bama fan. You are way too negative about something you know nothing about.
Cheer up man the Vols will be fine this year.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And every scrap of evidence says you're a troll.

Your desperate attempts to rally supporters to can Dooley come off as just that... desperate. Not to mention imbalanced. You discuss Fulmers leadership yet ignore the fact that his constant lack of leadership led to an award being named after him. Fulmer CONSTANTLY had disciplinary issues... more so than most coaches.

Give your head a tug... it's clearly stuck up your arse!

Vol43 writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Walter, unless it was the fat one, it wouldn't matter who the coach was. You'd trash him.

BigOrangeFever76 (Inactive) writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Mr. Sunshine (WaltNoBalls) strikes again.

Like all the other trolls here, your schtick is old. You spew the same old ****, day in and day out. Why don't you get a hobby? Maybe spend some time with your grandkids? Maybe go jump off the Gay Street bridge?

You are a troll. Every scrap of evidence says you are.

Big Orange Fever

UT '4eva

ProfessionalHandicapper writes:

in response to tovolny:

He lined up at TE and ran WR routes. Alvin Harper did the same thing. We had large FB's for blocking and pass protection. Tennessee only had 4 running plays., anyway, Show me some highlights of Witten blocking on a running play while he was at Tennessee. Witten and Stocker were a bit of a sissy at times.

Whitten played last year with a broken rib and will be there game 1 vs the Giants with a lacerated spleen. I dont see calling Whitten or Stocker such names. I like stats and proof but name calling is weak. They were both very good Vols.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Let's not try to change Walter. He is one of the people who claim to be for Tennessee and when he says something.........it's just the opposite. We have a bunch of his negative buddies here.........Flowers, Merlot, and ArkyVol. All claiming to be for the Vols and having absolutely nothing good to say about the team, coaches etc. Constantly griping and whining 24/7.

We'd best move along without counting on them.

As far as the tight end situation, this just came to light IMO. Imagine 3rd and 1 or 2, or similar situation. Maybe not a pass, but can you imagine sliding big Dan in there at tight end for a little nudge forward for the first down or a touchdown?

Vol43 writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

Let's not try to change Walter. He is one of the people who claim to be for Tennessee and when he says something.........it's just the opposite. We have a bunch of his negative buddies here.........Flowers, Merlot, and ArkyVol. All claiming to be for the Vols and having absolutely nothing good to say about the team, coaches etc. Constantly griping and whining 24/7.

We'd best move along without counting on them.

As far as the tight end situation, this just came to light IMO. Imagine 3rd and 1 or 2, or similar situation. Maybe not a pass, but can you imagine sliding big Dan in there at tight end for a little nudge forward for the first down or a touchdown?

I agree. Never once have I read anything postive coming from Walter. Never.

SevenT writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Apparently the players have little respect for Dooley. The players may be young men but they are not blind. They have seen Dooley throw player after player under the bus then give preference to his pet-players.

Razzle writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yea, Yea! But can you prove you're a Vols fan?

Razzle writes:

in response to SevenT:

Apparently the players have little respect for Dooley. The players may be young men but they are not blind. They have seen Dooley throw player after player under the bus then give preference to his pet-players.

And everyone knows you aren't.

Vols20 writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Walt, I believe there is quite a bit of sarcasm and humor in what doing CDD is saying. Lighten up!

Vol43 writes:

in response to SevenT:

Apparently the players have little respect for Dooley. The players may be young men but they are not blind. They have seen Dooley throw player after player under the bus then give preference to his pet-players.

Why do you care? I've never understood trolling, but I could see a gator or a bammer wanting to talk smack, but a wildcat? You gotta be kidding. Really?

Hound_Dog69 writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your a total moran,any of these players will play wherever their asked.Do you live in a box and can't understand that CDD and the players were probably joking about the TE position being jinxed? One things for sure, nobobody here needs to know anything else about you to know your an idiot! GBO!!!!!

tennlions writes:

Walt...you certainly have a right to your opinion and I don't doubt you served. I think you might be off base about Dooley. I don't think there's enough evidence either way to say whether Dooley is a great leader or not. My gut feeling is that he's a good leader. I think the Bray thing was a case of stupidity and there probably was some behind-the-scenes stuff done regarding that. The TE comment struck me as an attempt to lighten up a sucky situation. Time will tell.
GO VOLS!

jobrando#216494 writes:

Coach Dooley Please stop feeding the press negative comments even if they are fact. It makes you look weak. Do you not see this is a must win year. You might as well pump this team up like it has no weak link and it's ready to win 9 or 10 games. Neagative post want keep your job just plenty of W's

BigOrangeFever76 (Inactive) writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are right WaltNoBalls....we are done for before the season even starts. I am going to throw all my UT stuff in a garbage bag and set it on fire. My tickets to the Chick-fil-a Kickoff game will be in there too. I suggest every UT fan boycott all games until WaltNoBalls gets HIS way and Dooley is gone. Do not attend a single game. Do not yell "Go Vols" at anytime. Do not admit to being a "Vol For Life" to anyone. Burn all of your UT gear. WaltNoBalls is not satisfied with Dooley and that is good enough for me.

After all, Walt served in the Marines! He knows what is best for all of us. And he will remind us all on a daily basis. 3 cheers for WaltNoBalls....hip hip horray!!!

Walt...we former loyal UT fans will be on stand by waiting for your orders. Which team should we support this year? UGA? Bama? Auburn? How about USC and Lame Kitten? Now you are talking!!

givehim6 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

What are ewe, Walt?? A sniveling whiner that complains endlessly over events you have no control over..Get help ASAP, and in case you can't afford it, let me know and I'll get you a guest chair on the Dr. Drew or Phil show..The minute they read your obsessive drivel they'll call for an immediate intervention.

I don't care who you are, that't funny!

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It's not an attack

Your negativity stinks and your disectment of every word gets old, sorta like you

Like I said just go away

givehim6 writes:

in response to BigOrangeFever76:

You are right WaltNoBalls....we are done for before the season even starts. I am going to throw all my UT stuff in a garbage bag and set it on fire. My tickets to the Chick-fil-a Kickoff game will be in there too. I suggest every UT fan boycott all games until WaltNoBalls gets HIS way and Dooley is gone. Do not attend a single game. Do not yell "Go Vols" at anytime. Do not admit to being a "Vol For Life" to anyone. Burn all of your UT gear. WaltNoBalls is not satisfied with Dooley and that is good enough for me.

After all, Walt served in the Marines! He knows what is best for all of us. And he will remind us all on a daily basis. 3 cheers for WaltNoBalls....hip hip horray!!!

Walt...we former loyal UT fans will be on stand by waiting for your orders. Which team should we support this year? UGA? Bama? Auburn? How about USC and Lame Kitten? Now you are talking!!

That's funny too. I have ever bit of respect for the Marines, they got a tough job. I was just in the Air Force 8 year. A Gulf War Vet, was in Prime Beef, Red Horse, and 1st DAWG 8 months in the Gulf if I want to be a Vol for life I will. The Vols will be just fine. GO VOLS!

pingkr62 writes:

in response to tennlions:

Walt...you certainly have a right to your opinion and I don't doubt you served. I think you might be off base about Dooley. I don't think there's enough evidence either way to say whether Dooley is a great leader or not. My gut feeling is that he's a good leader. I think the Bray thing was a case of stupidity and there probably was some behind-the-scenes stuff done regarding that. The TE comment struck me as an attempt to lighten up a sucky situation. Time will tell.
GO VOLS!

I think our beloved trolls are all Fulmer lovers who can't accept the fact he dragged the football program into a deep hole, and left the football program in shambles. Their misguided worship is a sign of denial and paranoia. If you read their post closely, the all have two things in common, 1, they HATE Coach Dooley. 2, they HATE anyone who defends Coach Dooley. Another observation is these trolls are very likely to be the same person with several screen names. They will post one comment, and then reply to themselves with their other screen names so the can boost their own ego or, these are symptoms of multiple personality disorder. My guess is the latter. Therefore, if they are ignored by those of us who support the coaches and players, their mental issues will worsen. Then we will see him, or them implode. Just a thought. G.B.O.!!!

orangecountyvols writes:

Orangeblood and fellow Vols,

Let's face it guys, Walter is sitting back in his rocking chair with his vintage 1940's record player, player old trolling music, stuck in place. He is not about to change.......this is what he does. Once again, those whining
so-called Vol backers are anything but ( Walter, Merlot, ArkyVol, etc. )

Question? When have any of you Vol fans heard any of them saying a positive comment about Tennessee? If.......a big if, one of them should ever attend a Vols game, can you imagine half of a section of fans getting up to move.......tiring from listening to their constant negativity?

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