After wild win, Tennessee facing questions as final 3 SEC games loom

For better and worse, Tennessee's wild victory against Troy on Saturday will always dot the record books.

The Vols' offense and quarterback Tyler Bray set records for production, while the defense set records for futility in a season that has already seen a lot of it.

The 55-48 victory was much better than the alternative — a stunning upset defeat — as coach Derek Dooley and players noted after the game. But it raised plenty of questions about the direction Tennessee must take in its three final regular-season games.

If Tennessee is going to beat Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky, are the Vols going to have to win it like this? Can they?

The Vols (4-5, 0-5 SEC) play Missouri (4-5, 1-5) on Saturday at Neyland Stadium (TV: WVLT, 12:21 p.m.)

While the Vols were contending with Troy, Missouri lost to Florida

14-7 in a game at Gainesville that looked nothing like Tennessee's slugfest.

Missouri and Florida combined for 611 yards. Troy and Tennessee each had more than that alone, and combined for 1,439.

Tennessee's defensive woes were due in part to two longtime culprits — big plays and maddening inefficiency on third down.

Troy converted 10 of 19 third-down opportunities, many on third-and-long, keeping the defense on the field for 99 plays and 37 minutes of possessions.

It was hard to find fault in the Vols' offense, of course. But in the past, Dooley has told the offense to tap the brakes a bit to ease the pressure on the defense.

Dooley didn't do that on Saturday, and the resulting performance can be interpreted in two ways. Is it important to give the offense free rein to batter opposing defenses, giving the Vols the best chance to outscore opponents? Or must the offense be adjusted to help the struggling defense?

"I never said (to slow down) because, man, I just felt like they could never stop us," Dooley said. "You know, early in the game, I thought we could just pull away. But we never really could because every time we'd (score), they'd come back."

Because there was so much scoring on Saturday, it's easy to forget that Tennessee led 28-10 in the second quarter and seemed on the verge of putting the game away.

The dreaded third downs were the culprit again for the defense. Facing third-and-12 from deep in its territory, Troy receiver Chandler Worthy caught a 37-yard pass that kept the drive alive.

The Trojans scored five times on their next five possessions, all drives of longer than 60 yards.

"It was ridiculous," Dooley said. "Well, we play cover-two, they hand it off and we have nobody can tackle the guy. The linebacker can't get off the blocks. The D-line can't get off the block, and the safeties don't see it quick enough. We play cover-one, three deep, they throw it over our corner's head."

Dooley sighed as he repeated Troy's total offensive output, 721 yards.

"That's a big number," Dooley said.

It's not one that the Vols want to see again.

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

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Comments » 67

kd45music writes:

After three years, it is painfully obvious that DD doesn't really know what he's doing. Being a head coach in the SEC isn't a "learn on the fly" gig. You have to know what you're doing or you'll get your butt kicked but good. He could have selected better coordinators and assistants as Les Miles has done. I don't really see that Miles is agreat coach, but he knows how to pick coaches who are. The problem with UT seems to be a collage of errors - coaching, motivation, recruiting, schemes, speed,and football intelligence. If the status quo remains, nothing will ever improve.

PUL4VOLS writes:

Whine on, the defense stinks. The Vols got a win, accept it ugly and all. All the new coach wishers need to beware. The head coach situation across the conference is going to be competitive. Where the program has been lately on Rocky Top is just not that encouraging. I don't know what the answer is. I do figure there will not be a worse defensive showing than last Sat. but that is only wishful thinking. Tough days have been here and are likely to stay sadly a while more. Again I say, make sure you have Duh Man in the fold before you can Derek Dooley.

jack4444 writes:

It was Dooley's time out that got things rolling. Troy's lining up for a field goal to cut it to 28-13 and he calls time out. Could have left the defense on the field and play safe and pray they kick a field goal. So Troys reconsiders, goes for it, makes it and scores a TD few play later and goes on a 38-13 run.

Poor basic fundamentals. Sad.

Laydbakvol writes:

Everyone, and I mean everyone, said Dooley should be given 3 years to see what he could put together. So give get off his back and give him his 3 years. At the end of the season Hart needs to evaluate the job he's done and determine his future based on his accomplishments or lack thereof, not rabid fan rants. However, if I were Dooley, I'd seriously consider taking over running the defense if I wanted to keep my job.

joevol33 writes:

The only question is will they at least beat ky? mizz and vandy are loses for sure, ky is up in the air. I love the vols but, even if they get ahead the defense or coaches will blow it mark my words.

VolGrad writes:

The defense has "progressed" from okay to terrible this season. If this continues, even our offense will not be able to deliver another victory regardless who the opponent is.

Go Vols! Beat Mizzou!!!

CoverOrange writes:

The offense cannot help the defense by speeding up, slowing down or doing the hokey pokey. Unless special teams gets a turnover on the kickoff or punt return, the defense always gets a turn after the offense.

FWBVol writes:

in response to jack4444:

It was Dooley's time out that got things rolling. Troy's lining up for a field goal to cut it to 28-13 and he calls time out. Could have left the defense on the field and play safe and pray they kick a field goal. So Troys reconsiders, goes for it, makes it and scores a TD few play later and goes on a 38-13 run.

Poor basic fundamentals. Sad.

The way I understand the situation is one guy was trying to come in before another guy was going out as players were trying to be in the right place at the right time.

Let's say Dooley didn't call time out and we get flagged for 12 guys on the field or an illegal substitution penalty, people would have been shouting about that.

My biggest problem was settling for a field goal at the end of the first half. We throw the ball on first and second down and only on third down do we try and run for the score. I would have liked to see us line up in the wild cat with Johnson getting at least on chance on first or second down to get the ball in from two yards out.

dwolfcreek#397971 writes:

You'll the hiss moaning bunch of people , i ever seen , go down on the field and coaching youselves . Yeah , i know , you could do a better job . LOL

eduardo writes:

Jimmy freakin Cheek get outtttttaaaa the way you moron!!!!!!!

CoverOrange writes:

in response to FWBVol:

The way I understand the situation is one guy was trying to come in before another guy was going out as players were trying to be in the right place at the right time.

Let's say Dooley didn't call time out and we get flagged for 12 guys on the field or an illegal substitution penalty, people would have been shouting about that.

My biggest problem was settling for a field goal at the end of the first half. We throw the ball on first and second down and only on third down do we try and run for the score. I would have liked to see us line up in the wild cat with Johnson getting at least on chance on first or second down to get the ball in from two yards out.

What was surprising was that the drive before that one I believe, when Troy was inside our five we had 10 men on the field. Troy missed the pass to the corner though, would have been howling if they had scored.

Ironcity writes:

We are so bad. I am trying to stay angry because if I am not then I will have become numb to the situation and will lose interest like 40 thousand who use to sit in the empty seats. To want Dooley to stay would be to accept poor play (not mediocrity thats a step above what we are playing).

bvol1inSC writes:

in response to jack4444:

It was Dooley's time out that got things rolling. Troy's lining up for a field goal to cut it to 28-13 and he calls time out. Could have left the defense on the field and play safe and pray they kick a field goal. So Troys reconsiders, goes for it, makes it and scores a TD few play later and goes on a 38-13 run.

Poor basic fundamentals. Sad.

Jack4444....we've now seen 3yrs of almost a complete lack of basic fundamentals...FROM THE HEAD COACH. EVERY GAME, you can pick out missteps by DD that have hurt the team's chance to win.

bvol1inSC writes:

in response to Laydbakvol:

Everyone, and I mean everyone, said Dooley should be given 3 years to see what he could put together. So give get off his back and give him his 3 years. At the end of the season Hart needs to evaluate the job he's done and determine his future based on his accomplishments or lack thereof, not rabid fan rants. However, if I were Dooley, I'd seriously consider taking over running the defense if I wanted to keep my job.

LOL...and how would DD know how to coach defense? HE HAS NO EXPERIENCE. Part of the problem in hiring such a low-experience coach. Pretty sure at least part of the problem is that Dooley has been micro-managing Sal and the defense already....

nocleats writes:

ALL I know is I dont want somebodys Defensive Coordinator as our next head coach!!

pcorange writes:

When considering whether we can afford a coaching change, consider this: the people missing in Neyland Stadium on a given Saturday would fill the stadiums of Vanderbilt and Ole Miss to capacity. I'm not sure we can afford not to make a coaching change.

shorttail writes:

DB'S AND SAFTIES LOOK 5'3 AND WEIGH 350 LBS

jt45 writes:

in response to FWBVol:

The way I understand the situation is one guy was trying to come in before another guy was going out as players were trying to be in the right place at the right time.

Let's say Dooley didn't call time out and we get flagged for 12 guys on the field or an illegal substitution penalty, people would have been shouting about that.

My biggest problem was settling for a field goal at the end of the first half. We throw the ball on first and second down and only on third down do we try and run for the score. I would have liked to see us line up in the wild cat with Johnson getting at least on chance on first or second down to get the ball in from two yards out.

I agree, 1st and goal inside the five and he goes with 2 busted pass plays. Made me think of all those bad calls last year inside the red zone that ended badly, Ironically the same OC that wasnt getting it done last year is the best we have this year and thats just pitiful.

shorttail writes:

find SOMEONE that can get within 20 yards on a receiver

1986sugarbowl writes:

Any team, especially an SEC team, especially the VOLS should never give up 721 yards. Totally unacceptable!!! The players has seem to loose heart and has quit on the coaching staff. That tells me all I want to know.

Also I like how some posters here, is claiming a statement made by Cheeks. Can someone post a reference or a link as to when he made this statement?

traderjoe writes:

$$$$$ 5 MILLION DOLLAR BUYOUT!!!

NO NEED TO FRET ABOUT COACH DOOLEY. HE'S GOING TO BE FINE HOWEVER THIS TURNS OUT. 98% OF AMERICANS WOULD LOVE TO FEAR BEING FIRED AND GETTING A $5 MILLION DOLLAR SEVERANCE PAYOUT. JOB PRESSURE IS WHEN YOU'RE MAKING < $50K A YEAR, HAVE A MORTGAGE AND A FAMILY TO FEED, HATE YOUR JOB AND YOUR BOSS AND LIVE IN FEAR OF BEING FIRED EVERYDAY. NO ONE NEEDS TO FEEL SORRY FOR CDD. HE'S GOT IT MADE HOWEVER THE CHIPS FALL.

miatatom writes:

HIRE THE CHIEF!!!!!!!!

tnvol4ever writes:

Just checking to see if UT has followed UK's lead.
As Mick said to Rock "what are we waiting for"

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

Florida and Missouri rank 103rd and 112th in the country in total offense. Did anyone expect an offensive shoot out? Troy and Tennessee rank 15th and 18th (respectively). There's a bit of a difference.

Florida and Mizzou are 5th and 22nd in total defense. Troy and UT are 92nd and 115th.

So, Florida's and Mizzou's strength is defense, while for both Troy and the Vols it's offense. Big surprise there was a lot of offense in our game and not so much in theirs. (Note the sarcasm)

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to joevol33:

The only question is will they at least beat ky? mizz and vandy are loses for sure, ky is up in the air. I love the vols but, even if they get ahead the defense or coaches will blow it mark my words.

Really? Mizzou and Vandy are sure losses? What are you smoking? Ok, Mizzou kinda kept up with Florida because they both have bad offenses and good defenses. So what?

Sir_Spanky writes:

in response to eduardo:

Jimmy freakin Cheek get outtttttaaaa the way you moron!!!!!!!

Yep. Likely one of the roots of the problem.

Bark_at_the_Moon writes:

Sal's Defense is as bad as Clauson's Offense. Both suck!

Classof72 writes:

"It was ridiculous," Dooley said.

That pretty much sums up Dooley's tenure at Tennessee.

TheStupidPolice writes:

http://www.rockytoptalk.com/2012/11/4...

By far the best take on Tennessee football that I've come across. A must read.

bigdisbig writes:

There is only ONE QUESTION and that is how much longer will this embarassment of a coach continue?

Sure, the Vols set records against TROY for goodness sake! Its like setting records against Alcoa. Its a shame that Bray broke Peyton's record for most passing yardage in one game for he isn't worthy to even tie Peyton's shoes.

CCLC writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

There is only ONE QUESTION and that is how much longer will this embarassment of a coach continue?

Sure, the Vols set records against TROY for goodness sake! Its like setting records against Alcoa. Its a shame that Bray broke Peyton's record for most passing yardage in one game for he isn't worthy to even tie Peyton's shoes.

Racking up 718 yards of offense against a Sun Belt team is one thing. Needing to rack up 718 yards of offense against a Sun Belt team is quite another.
just sayin'

volinlm writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Florida and Missouri rank 103rd and 112th in the country in total offense. Did anyone expect an offensive shoot out? Troy and Tennessee rank 15th and 18th (respectively). There's a bit of a difference.

Florida and Mizzou are 5th and 22nd in total defense. Troy and UT are 92nd and 115th.

So, Florida's and Mizzou's strength is defense, while for both Troy and the Vols it's offense. Big surprise there was a lot of offense in our game and not so much in theirs. (Note the sarcasm)

The stats would indicate that Tenn should do well against Missouri. Perhaps against any team that doesn't pass well. Although the Vols defense made Troy's passing game look better than it should have, Troy had a good passing game coming into the game. All the talk (rightfully) has been about UT's defense. But, the offense can put up points and seems to be improving. The Vols should beat Missouri by 10 points or so.

TheStupidPolice writes:

in response to miatatom:

HIRE THE CHIEF!!!!!!!!

STUPID

govolsn3 writes:

in response to joevol33:

The only question is will they at least beat ky? mizz and vandy are loses for sure, ky is up in the air. I love the vols but, even if they get ahead the defense or coaches will blow it mark my words.

Tennessee will out score them all. Turn the offense loose and all three teams couldn't combine their defenses to stop them. Quit your whinning or go buy you a VANDY hat...GO VOLS VFL

linebam writes:

in response to kd45music:

After three years, it is painfully obvious that DD doesn't really know what he's doing. Being a head coach in the SEC isn't a "learn on the fly" gig. You have to know what you're doing or you'll get your butt kicked but good. He could have selected better coordinators and assistants as Les Miles has done. I don't really see that Miles is agreat coach, but he knows how to pick coaches who are. The problem with UT seems to be a collage of errors - coaching, motivation, recruiting, schemes, speed,and football intelligence. If the status quo remains, nothing will ever improve.

I agree with your comment if it is directed at the defensive side of the ball. There HAS been significant improvement on the offensive side this year and, to a lesser extent, each year of Dooley's tenure. The biggest improvement being the OL and the RB's; Pittman and Graham have been great hires. I truly believe that the offensive staff should be kept intact no matter what; however, Dooley MUST admit that the experiment on the defensive side has been an abject failure! No coach (not a single one) on that side should be safe... time to part ways. Abandon the 3-4? Maybe not, but find a DC and staff that can teach it and get the kids to buy into it! Dooley - eat some crow, show some balls and drop Sal NOW; show the fan base that you are serious about fixing the program. It's the only way to save your job. Everyone and his/her cousin knows that the problem is the defense.

HopeisNotaCourseofAction writes:

in response to volinlm:

The stats would indicate that Tenn should do well against Missouri. Perhaps against any team that doesn't pass well. Although the Vols defense made Troy's passing game look better than it should have, Troy had a good passing game coming into the game. All the talk (rightfully) has been about UT's defense. But, the offense can put up points and seems to be improving. The Vols should beat Missouri by 10 points or so.

Problem is every team passes well when they play us.

Seems every QB including football powerhouse troy's has his career day against our D. Next 3 weeks probably no exceptions.

In many contracts in the real world, there are metrics inserted that ensure if some measure of quality is not achieved, payment is not given. Wish we had someting like "agreed upon payment only dispersed if defense holds opposing teams to less than 500 yards." Yeah - 500, at least we would not be paying Sal for the past several weeks of poor performance by his players. But he keeps cashing in, each week worse than the one before.

Playing the bottom tier SEC the next 3 weeks, which is likely several levels higher than the troys and akrons, oh boy, here it comes, move over auburn, stop hogging the bottom rung.

jumby92 writes:

Our offense is phenomenal. The real problem at UT is defense. I am sick of hearing the bogus 3-4 excuse. New scheme does not account for arm tackling and those goofy attempts to make a big hit rather than tie up the guy. Sunseri was a big mistake and I suspect that there is a lot of Hart influence involved in that hire when you consider the Bama connection. Also, is it me or does it look like the defense plays prevent on 3rd down? If it is say, 3rd and 12, it looks like they set the defense to contain the box from the line of scrimmage to the down marker as if the other team is locked in on making the 12 yards rather than reading to a check for something behind the defense.

I believe if UT had Chief coordinating the defense, nobody would be howling for Dooley's hide and we'd be a 1 or 2 loss team right now. The players are showing poor defensive fundamentals, the staff does not seem to understand that, and the coordinator appears clueless.

StoneJackBaller writes:

The sooner this divorce happens, the better. As in all divorces, it's the kids that suffer. Go ahead and get it done and let the healing begin.

Tennfan4075 writes:

in response to Laydbakvol:

Everyone, and I mean everyone, said Dooley should be given 3 years to see what he could put together. So give get off his back and give him his 3 years. At the end of the season Hart needs to evaluate the job he's done and determine his future based on his accomplishments or lack thereof, not rabid fan rants. However, if I were Dooley, I'd seriously consider taking over running the defense if I wanted to keep my job.

The problem with giving Dooley a full three years will be finding a suitable replacement in December, the Vols are not the only team needing to replace the HC. If you are not already looking and negotiating with a replacement then you will probably end up with what is available and that could be no better than what you already have and no legitimate candidate will be willing to sit around and wait for the results of the final three games, not to mention time to recruit. If three is the number then Dooley has shown the quality of his product and beating these three losers left on the schedule really does nothing to change the direction of this program. Missouri was not previously on the schedule, but Fulmer was beating Vandy and Kentucky when he was fired, so at best no improvement.

Tennfan4075 writes:

in response to jt45:

I agree, 1st and goal inside the five and he goes with 2 busted pass plays. Made me think of all those bad calls last year inside the red zone that ended badly, Ironically the same OC that wasnt getting it done last year is the best we have this year and thats just pitiful.

What game are you talking about the offense put up 55 points.

setab8484 writes:

Dooley failed a 3 year audition and It's apparent he's not big time SEC material. We need to learn from the countless mistakes of the DD era and move on. There is another General Neyland out there - we just need to find him.

HopeisNotaCourseofAction writes:

Watching the alabubba and lsu game was watching college football at its best. My how far we are away from those teams both in coaching and athletes on the field. Years and years to get close to where they are, and slipping further behind week after week.

But have to say it, old Chief let that one get away and it looked so familiar. After busting al receivers all game up close, that last al possession the lsu players backed off - remember that (3d and chavis) all you chief lovers, and al marched down the field for the win.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to jack4444:

It was Dooley's time out that got things rolling. Troy's lining up for a field goal to cut it to 28-13 and he calls time out. Could have left the defense on the field and play safe and pray they kick a field goal. So Troys reconsiders, goes for it, makes it and scores a TD few play later and goes on a 38-13 run.

Poor basic fundamentals. Sad.

Dooley had no choice but to call the time out because we had too many or not enough players on the field..During the TO you could see Dooley counting heads..That's not Dooleys fault;that's on the players for just plain Stupidity!!As a player you know if your supposed to be on the field for a FG!!Players with their head up their b%tt plain and simple

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to jt45:

I agree, 1st and goal inside the five and he goes with 2 busted pass plays. Made me think of all those bad calls last year inside the red zone that ended badly, Ironically the same OC that wasnt getting it done last year is the best we have this year and thats just pitiful.

Good call JT..Inside the 5; the play call is a no brainer. Line up Lane with the FB lead blocking and it's a TD!!! Not the first time Chaney has pulled such stupidity at the goal line..The "Wild Pig" play call also was a turnover waiting to happen..A direct snap to a more sure handed Neal would have served the same purpose.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to Tennfan4075:

The problem with giving Dooley a full three years will be finding a suitable replacement in December, the Vols are not the only team needing to replace the HC. If you are not already looking and negotiating with a replacement then you will probably end up with what is available and that could be no better than what you already have and no legitimate candidate will be willing to sit around and wait for the results of the final three games, not to mention time to recruit. If three is the number then Dooley has shown the quality of his product and beating these three losers left on the schedule really does nothing to change the direction of this program. Missouri was not previously on the schedule, but Fulmer was beating Vandy and Kentucky when he was fired, so at best no improvement.

Don't worry my friend the coach search has been going on for almost a month and the next coach will NOT be a 2nd tier;desperation hire..

LCPanthers (Inactive) writes:

The only way for Vols to win is to score more than 50 points--well maybe not against Kentucky--they must be worst team in SEC.But against Missouri and Vandy that will be the case.Vols cant stop anyone.I watched that game till i got mad and switched channels.They had them down 28-10 and stopped passing --didnt make third downs and let Troy back in.Vols should have won that game by say,60-20.I would fire everyone and start over.

Memphis_VOL_Alum writes:

in response to Tennfan4075:

The problem with giving Dooley a full three years will be finding a suitable replacement in December, the Vols are not the only team needing to replace the HC. If you are not already looking and negotiating with a replacement then you will probably end up with what is available and that could be no better than what you already have and no legitimate candidate will be willing to sit around and wait for the results of the final three games, not to mention time to recruit. If three is the number then Dooley has shown the quality of his product and beating these three losers left on the schedule really does nothing to change the direction of this program. Missouri was not previously on the schedule, but Fulmer was beating Vandy and Kentucky when he was fired, so at best no improvement.

Who do you think will come? Nobody lined up when Kiffen left. Nobody will now. There is too much turmoil at UT right now. We will get another un-proven coach with another rebuilding program and be terrible for another three years...Unless we can hire a diamond in the rough. Those are very hard to find.

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to jack4444:

It was Dooley's time out that got things rolling. Troy's lining up for a field goal to cut it to 28-13 and he calls time out. Could have left the defense on the field and play safe and pray they kick a field goal. So Troys reconsiders, goes for it, makes it and scores a TD few play later and goes on a 38-13 run.

Poor basic fundamentals. Sad.

Not that this will make you feel any better but he had to call TO - we had twelve men on the field.....It's the ninth game of the season and our guys don't know who's blocking FG's? Special teams coach Coiner has been a big disappointment - bad punts, missed FGs and PATs, personnel problems like yesterday, the kickoff issue that may have cost us the game at Mississippi State..... the only reason that didn't get more press is because nobody can seem to write enough about the defense so the special teams caught a break. Go Vols!!!

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to miatatom:

HIRE THE CHIEF!!!!!!!!

Did you happen to see the Chief's patented "prevent defense" cost LSU a win on Saturday night against Bama? Do you not remember how all Neyland Stadium held our breath every week as our defense played 20 yards off in the 4th quarter with a 3-point lead? Remember how every Spurrier QB had a career day against our D? No, the Chief can stay at LSU.....IF they fire Dooley, and it looks as though that may happen, they need a head coach who's a proven winner, even if it's at a smaller school. In fact, with the mess we have, that's all we'll be able to attract or pay..... Go Vols!!!

Memphis_VOL_Alum writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

Don't worry my friend the coach search has been going on for almost a month and the next coach will NOT be a 2nd tier;desperation hire..

Not going to happen. And I'll ask again, if we are not going to get a 2nd tier coach...WHO? It suddenly gets quiet when I ask. We would all love a huge name coach. (I would personally rather have a recruiting magician) So who is going to come to Tennessee? I'm waiting???

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