Vols look at change in identity

Lots of questions will be answered in season opener

Charlie Daniel's cartoon for the Vols game against N.C. State at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012.

Photo by Charlie Daniel

Charlie Daniel's cartoon for the Vols game against N.C. State at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012.

ATLANTA — Tennessee's most recent football game was nine long months ago, a miserable afternoon in Kentucky that ended the Vols' 26-year win streak against the Wildcats, eliminated UT from bowl contention and started the offseason far earlier than most had anticipated.

Today, football is back, and it can't come soon enough.

The Vols play North Carolina State today (TV: ESPNU, 7:30 p.m.) at the Georgia Dome, the first of two Chick-Fil-A Kickoff games pitting the SEC against the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"None of us wanted to be the team that was remembered for losing to Kentucky," said junior defensive tackle Daniel Hood. "That's our identity right now, so we've got to go out and change it."

Change was a constant during the offseason, starting with heavy coaching turnover during the winter. Seven of the nine coaches on staff are new. Sal Sunseri was hired from Alabama to revamp the defense.

Coach Derek Dooley took the team on a journey to Milligan College earlier this month, hoping the small-town cocoon of "Milligan's Island" would insulate the players from distractions and keep the focus on football.

Still, distractions cropped up to challenge the optimism of camp. Da'Rick Rogers, the SEC's leading receiver a year ago, was suspended indefinitely and left the team last week for what he said were multiple failed drug tests.

Rogers' absence highlights one of several uncertainties in Tennessee's lineup. Can top-ranked junior college newcomer Cordarrelle Patterson make an immediate impact in the receiving corps? Are newcomers Darrington Sentimore and Daniel McCullers ready to anchor the defensive line? Is Tennessee's running game truly better than it was a year ago?

Dooley is balancing optimism and caution.

"There's confidence in the guys who have produced that they're going to go out there and perform the way we expect them to," Dooley said. "There is high concern for the guys who haven't been out there and produced, and there are a lot of those guys, too.

"I don't know what the answer is. Now we have to go see."

The new defense might be the biggest unknown, but the offense has questions, too.

UT coaches said No. 1 running back Rajion Neal had a superb camp, but like all Tennessee backs, he is unproven as an every-down runner.

Fourth-year offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said if he wasn't anxious before an opening game, it would be time to get out of the coaching business.

"When I'm not nervous before a game, it's time for me to go farming," Chaney said. "And I love farming, so that's not a knock on farming."

Dooley has described N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien as a friend and mentor. O'Brien was offensive line coach when Dooley played for Virginia.

"He was a Marine, he was hard-nosed and tough," Dooley said. "I just really admired him."

Now Dooley will face his friend in the opening game of what could be the most important season of his career.

"We are going to have to go see what we look like," Dooley said. "Whatever we look like, we'll correct it and adjust moving forward."

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

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Comments » 126

volgrog#210164 writes:

For all those who say TN is in trouble, that Dooley isn't the guy, we'll find out. For all those who say TN is back and Dooley is THE MAN, we'll find out.

I, for one, am excited to see where we are instead of just reading.

Go Vols!!!!

VolzsFan writes:

To bad UT could not have dropped NCSU and added Milligan. They may have had a winning season. Right now they play the weakest schedule in modern times. Finishing around 500 is about all you can hope for.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

To bad UT could not have dropped NCSU and added Milligan. They may have had a winning season. Right now they play the weakest schedule in modern times. Finishing around 500 is about all you can hope for.

Bitter about life?

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

To bad UT could not have dropped NCSU and added Milligan. They may have had a winning season. Right now they play the weakest schedule in modern times. Finishing around 500 is about all you can hope for.

I see idoit losers are out and about this evening. Too bad you are too stupid to hold an intelligent conversation

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

True. Also note: how some of the most ignorant trolls actually stick the word Vols onto their name.

Add the kid, Volzsfan to the list of pretty unintelligent trolls here. He just wants the attention, no matter how silly he sounds.

Vandy - USC. Not too sure about these 2. On this particular night, seems both teams can be had. One of the risks a quarterback takes is running the ball a lot, and Shaw of South Carolina sure paid the price.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

True. Also note: how some of the most ignorant trolls actually stick the word Vols onto their name.

Add the kid, Volzsfan to the list of pretty unintelligent trolls here. He just wants the attention, no matter how silly he sounds.

Vandy - USC. Not too sure about these 2. On this particular night, seems both teams can be had. One of the risks a quarterback takes is running the ball a lot, and Shaw of South Carolina sure paid the price.

Vandy, looks good. Well coached. The presser is building for Friday. Got to win big.

Vol43 writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

True. Also note: how some of the most ignorant trolls actually stick the word Vols onto their name.

Add the kid, Volzsfan to the list of pretty unintelligent trolls here. He just wants the attention, no matter how silly he sounds.

Vandy - USC. Not too sure about these 2. On this particular night, seems both teams can be had. One of the risks a quarterback takes is running the ball a lot, and Shaw of South Carolina sure paid the price.

Good point OC. Having a running qb can have it's drawbacks.

volguy#211935 writes:

I'm trying to figure out who to root against more, candy or the chickens.

ROCKYnROCKFORD writes:

That chip on their shoulder is the largest in all college football.

If Tennessee starts 3-0......it's ON!

Play well.

Take us to Miami......

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

Remember folks, when Jeff says, "isn't a lock with this loser," he's pointing both of his thumbs at himself. It's one of those rare time when he takes one thumb out of his mouth and the other one out of his butt at the same time.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

Jeffy's comments are really starting to get desperate. I guess he knows time is running out.

Bogytrain writes:

"Whatever we look like, we'll correct it and adjust moving forward."

That doesn't sound very positive Coach!

OrangePsyched writes:

This time tomorrow night we will be singing Rocky Top. Jeffy and his loser band of brothers will be discounting Pack as being overrated. After we beatdown Gators they will say not that good. You get my drift. When CDD gets and extension there will be gnashing of teeth.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

True. Also note: how some of the most ignorant trolls actually stick the word Vols onto their name.

Add the kid, Volzsfan to the list of pretty unintelligent trolls here. He just wants the attention, no matter how silly he sounds.

Vandy - USC. Not too sure about these 2. On this particular night, seems both teams can be had. One of the risks a quarterback takes is running the ball a lot, and Shaw of South Carolina sure paid the price.

Yea just watched it finish. I have to now review my take on SC. I think UT will beat SC if they play anything like they did today.But then you have Vandy that looked pretty good. If, and I believe we will, beat NCS then the Vols could well be 11-2 this season and win the SECE.
Vols 35 NCS14.

underthehill writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

True. Also note: how some of the most ignorant trolls actually stick the word Vols onto their name.

Add the kid, Volzsfan to the list of pretty unintelligent trolls here. He just wants the attention, no matter how silly he sounds.

Vandy - USC. Not too sure about these 2. On this particular night, seems both teams can be had. One of the risks a quarterback takes is running the ball a lot, and Shaw of South Carolina sure paid the price.

Pass interference not called ended Vandy's chance to win..it was so obvious the announcer said it was blatant..did the official just miss it ..or did he miss it on purpose..I think he saw it and did not call it..if this was not the case he is so incompetent he shouldn't ever officiate another game..Vandy may not have won if it had been called..but they deserved the chance..if this happened to UT in a game like this I would want it reviewed..so this rule must be changed to allow for crooked or incompetent officials..

Scoon writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

Yea just watched it finish. I have to now review my take on SC. I think UT will beat SC if they play anything like they did today.But then you have Vandy that looked pretty good. If, and I believe we will, beat NCS then the Vols could well be 11-2 this season and win the SECE.
Vols 35 NCS14.

Coach Cal, itn' it past your bedtime?

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to underthehill:

Pass interference not called ended Vandy's chance to win..it was so obvious the announcer said it was blatant..did the official just miss it ..or did he miss it on purpose..I think he saw it and did not call it..if this was not the case he is so incompetent he shouldn't ever officiate another game..Vandy may not have won if it had been called..but they deserved the chance..if this happened to UT in a game like this I would want it reviewed..so this rule must be changed to allow for crooked or incompetent officials..

You may also have noticed that the announcer didn't really see it until they showed the replay, and he was surprised, obviously expecting to see a great defensive play by the DB. At full speed it's pretty hard to judge whether he touched that arm before the ball got there or not. We're talking about nano-seconds here you know? In addition, the official would have to have been in perfect position to be able to see it. Remember that moron official in the OT of UT/Vandy last year, thinking he saw a fumble and recovery with the knee on the ground? That was all because he wasn't in a good position to see and he decided to make assumptions about what might have happened.

I can't play back that play because I wasn't watching on a DVR TV, but I'd bet the nearest official was a line judge and he would be on the outside of the play, not in a good place to see that interference.

The worst thing about it is that it will give those delusional Vandy fans something else to whine about.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to Scoon:

Coach Cal, itn' it past your bedtime?

High Scoon it's good to hear from you.If Ky can match Vandy this year the east will be very strong. That was a pretty even game and I like Vandy's effort.
As for my bed time, yes and no. I sleep off and on 24 hrs a day so any time is either before or after my bed time. Here's to our season good or bad it's football time and BB isn't that far away.

CasuallyAvid writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Remember folks, when Jeff says, "isn't a lock with this loser," he's pointing both of his thumbs at himself. It's one of those rare time when he takes one thumb out of his mouth and the other one out of his butt at the same time.

That actually made me laugh out loud!

Go Vols!!!!!

Scoon writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

High Scoon it's good to hear from you.If Ky can match Vandy this year the east will be very strong. That was a pretty even game and I like Vandy's effort.
As for my bed time, yes and no. I sleep off and on 24 hrs a day so any time is either before or after my bed time. Here's to our season good or bad it's football time and BB isn't that far away.

Coach Cal, now you oughta know that the 24 hrs. off & on shift isn't always the best for your health. Sometimes that kind of thing can lead to depression, severe depression..even at your age. Now what you really need to do is to get up off your lazy butt, get back out there on that back course area (you know, where they have the table), occasionally let one of them dudes come prop you up to take a swing or two, but most importantly of all .. just sit around & tell some whoppers. Hey, you only live once ya know.. right? Now, as far as the BB isn't that far away... yep, you're right... the Bluegrass times will be rat around the con-nors.

Hey Coach Cal, were you ever able to get back out on the back course area any with your son this summer sos you could get to telling some of them long-winded whoppers of yaws?? Huh??

dvols writes:

soon we will all know!!!!!!!!!!

burp!

vollerdash writes:

Espn never made a mention about the Vols game on espnu during the Vandy/USC game ??? They still hate us, i guess @#$#$$##@@

underthehill writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

You may also have noticed that the announcer didn't really see it until they showed the replay, and he was surprised, obviously expecting to see a great defensive play by the DB. At full speed it's pretty hard to judge whether he touched that arm before the ball got there or not. We're talking about nano-seconds here you know? In addition, the official would have to have been in perfect position to be able to see it. Remember that moron official in the OT of UT/Vandy last year, thinking he saw a fumble and recovery with the knee on the ground? That was all because he wasn't in a good position to see and he decided to make assumptions about what might have happened.

I can't play back that play because I wasn't watching on a DVR TV, but I'd bet the nearest official was a line judge and he would be on the outside of the play, not in a good place to see that interference.

The worst thing about it is that it will give those delusional Vandy fans something else to whine about.

The replay clearly showed it was pass interference and if this happened to UT ..UT fans would not whine..they'd be ready to go to war...

vollerdash writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Uh , Mr. Manning can you float us a few mil until the lady Vols start their season ???

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Congrats to local legend Ken Sparks, coach at Carson Newman. He won his 300th game tonight which only 10 other coaches have done all time.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to Scoon:

Coach Cal, now you oughta know that the 24 hrs. off & on shift isn't always the best for your health. Sometimes that kind of thing can lead to depression, severe depression..even at your age. Now what you really need to do is to get up off your lazy butt, get back out there on that back course area (you know, where they have the table), occasionally let one of them dudes come prop you up to take a swing or two, but most importantly of all .. just sit around & tell some whoppers. Hey, you only live once ya know.. right? Now, as far as the BB isn't that far away... yep, you're right... the Bluegrass times will be rat around the con-nors.

Hey Coach Cal, were you ever able to get back out on the back course area any with your son this summer sos you could get to telling some of them long-winded whoppers of yaws?? Huh??

Yes Scoon I have got out two times since we talked last. Been trying to get up more but the paralysis is getting worse and I don't have to ability to get out alone. I did get to the lake this past week and watch the Grand kids swim and fish. The Dr's wanted to give me something to help the sleep thing but I don't really like taking any med's if I can get out of it. So I just nap when I feel like it and sometimes it keeps me awake at nights. But you got me on the right track and I am trying to keep it up.
Thanks

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to underthehill:

The replay clearly showed it was pass interference and if this happened to UT ..UT fans would not whine..they'd be ready to go to war...

Uh, yeah it was interference. Don't know how they get away with that stuff. Anyone thinking it wasn't has lost their mind...

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Congrats to local legend Ken Sparks, coach at Carson Newman. He won his 300th game tonight which only 10 other coaches have done all time.

Meant to say 10 coaches have won more games.

Scoon writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

Yes Scoon I have got out two times since we talked last. Been trying to get up more but the paralysis is getting worse and I don't have to ability to get out alone. I did get to the lake this past week and watch the Grand kids swim and fish. The Dr's wanted to give me something to help the sleep thing but I don't really like taking any med's if I can get out of it. So I just nap when I feel like it and sometimes it keeps me awake at nights. But you got me on the right track and I am trying to keep it up.
Thanks

Well, Coach Cal, I am very sure that if you really aren't able to keep it up, we'll all understand.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to underthehill:

The replay clearly showed it was pass interference and if this happened to UT ..UT fans would not whine..they'd be ready to go to war...

True, many would, but that's what fans do. It's just annoying when fans of a program that has always been terrible, and will never be above .500, feel entitled enough to do it. haha

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Uh, yeah it was interference. Don't know how they get away with that stuff. Anyone thinking it wasn't has lost their mind...

The trouble is, nobody knew it was interference until they saw it again in slo-mo. The announcers were totally surprised when they watched the replay expecting to see a great defensive play, and instead saw pass interference that it would have taken Steve Austin's bionic eye to see live.

Razzle writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Uh, yeah it was interference. Don't know how they get away with that stuff. Anyone thinking it wasn't has lost their mind...

SEC refs are a scary lot.

bridges#268950 writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

To bad UT could not have dropped NCSU and added Milligan. They may have had a winning season. Right now they play the weakest schedule in modern times. Finishing around 500 is about all you can hope for.

Anybody that plays a SEC schedule, plays a hard scedule. Go root for Milligan they never lose.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Really? What game were you watching?

As long as Waggner does his job on Matthews, Vandy has nothing.

As long as the LBs stay with their assignments, USCe has nothing.

You are smoking some great phooey.

standfast#211788 writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

To bad UT could not have dropped NCSU and added Milligan. They may have had a winning season. Right now they play the weakest schedule in modern times. Finishing around 500 is about all you can hope for.

This comment, and another one you wrote yesterday, quoted as follows: "It is not sold out because NCSU's stadium could fit in the Dome a couple of times and UT is horrible. Plus UT returned tickets from their UGA game allotment. In other words, no one really cares outside of a few knuckleheads in Tenn that does not realize we are back to our pre-1990's level of mediocrity," indicates to me that you, sir, are a lot of things, but a Vols fan is not one of them.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to Razzle:

SEC refs are a scary lot.

True, but not on that no-call. Nobody knew there was interference except the receiver until they saw it in slo-mo. An official would have to have been in exactly the right place, and have unbelievable visual acuity to have seen it real-time.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Then you haven't seen many -- or any. Try to remember, the officials are watching it only one time, at full speed, and only from one angle (based on where they happen to be at the time) and the line judge on that side is running full speed trying to keep up with the play. No human, save for Steve Austin (with his bionic eye) could possibly have seen that interference live. You didn't. Neither did the ESPN announcers, who were expecting to see a great defensive play when the did the replay.

Razzle writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Really? What game were you watching?

As long as Waggner does his job on Matthews, Vandy has nothing.

As long as the LBs stay with their assignments, USCe has nothing.

You are smoking some great phooey.

I think Walt's biased towards Vandy. Doesn't he work the concession stand there?

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You're an idiot.

Snapshot writes:

in response to Wright_Wide_Right:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The only thing that is a lock Jethro, is that you are a Bitter Old Man.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to Razzle:

I think Walt's biased towards Vandy. Doesn't he work the concession stand there?

I think he's biased towards stupidity.

underthehill writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I still hate the call against J P Prince that put UT out of the NCAA..this one was worse and any nut who watches the replay and wants to argue knows zero about competing in sports..this took a chance from Vandy they had worked for to win..don't mean they would have won..but they still had a chance..the ref who missed this call ..whether intentional or not..should never work another game..

Snapshot writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Come on Uncle Wally, tell us again about when you were a ninty-day-wonder in the Corp. Tell us how you kept those pencils and paper clips in order. Tell us how you had the neatest desk in the whole Corp. Come on Uncle Wally, tell us again!

Razzle writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I fail to see what tires have to do with the fact that you are a Vandy fan masquerading as a Vols fan.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No you didn't. Nobody did. Even the ESPN folks didn't.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You must be a republican. You know, "We won't allow our campaign to be dictated by fact-checkers."

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

True, but not on that no-call. Nobody knew there was interference except the receiver until they saw it in slo-mo. An official would have to have been in exactly the right place, and have unbelievable visual acuity to have seen it real-time.

That back judge was in position to see it. It's not about what we see on TV. It took different views for us to see it, but that back judge didn't need another view or slow motion. He just blew it. Nothing new, SEC refs have been like this for years.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

LOL.

Snapshot writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Oh come on Uncle Wally, tells some more of your great adventures with that desk job you had in the Corp, come on Uncle Wally, tell us!

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah, a Vandy win helps us FAR FAR more than a USCjr win. Oh well.

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