Tennessee's defense will have Derek Dooley's imprint against Missouri

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley watches the closing minutes of the Vols 38-35 loss to South Carolina during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C.(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

Photo by RICHARD SHIRO, (2012) Richard Shiro2012

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley watches the closing minutes of the Vols 38-35 loss to South Carolina during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C.(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

Derek Dooley previews UT vs. Missouri

Charlie Daniel's cartoon for the Vols game against Missouri at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012.

Photo by Charlie Daniel

Charlie Daniel's cartoon for the Vols game against Missouri at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012.

For 10 weeks, Tennessee coach Derek Dooley stuck to what he knew best, offering input on offense and special teams but contributing little except "big-picture" ideas to the defense.

That changed after last week's embarrassing meltdown against Troy. In practice, film study and coaches' meetings this week, Dooley has focused exclusively on the defense.

No one knows whether the changes on display today will be dramatic or minor. But by his rhetoric this week, Dooley has made clear that the defense is now under his control.

And the first look at the defense under his control comes today (TV: WVLT, 12:21 p.m.) when the Vols (4-5, 0-5 SEC) play Missouri (4-5, 1-5) at Neyland Stadium.

"Everything that I'm doing going forward is for one reason and that is to do what we can to give our players the best chance to beat Missouri. That is all I am really focused on," Dooley said.

Defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri was diplomatic in his meeting with reporters on Wednesday, taking full responsibility for the 721 yards of total offense surrendered to Troy and refusing to blame his players. But he left open many questions about just how things would be handled differently today.

Will Sunseri call plays? He didn't address that question directly, other than to say "someone" would call plays and "nothing would change."

Will Sunseri be in the press box? It sounds like it, although Sunseri didn't say for certain. First-year safeties coach Josh Conklin is usually upstairs and he could offer greater input on play-calling while seated beside his boss.

"I've tried to make myself be more aware big-picture of what is going on, how we are putting it together, how we are structuring it," said Conklin, who was defensive coordinator at The Citadel before joining UT. "It's not anything I've been asked to do or anything like that. I'm just trying to get a better handle on how things are fitting in there from top to bottom."

Dooley hasn't just been lurking in the background, either. He promised this week to leave the offensive room, where he spent most of his time, and start spending time conferencing with the defensive coaches.

The Vols are ranked 112th of 120 teams nationally in defense. Dooley said he has no plans to act as a "guru" but simply wants to add another set of eyes.

"Obviously, there are issues on defense, a lot of issues," he said.

Missouri's offense could present more issues if the Tigers can hold onto the football. Quarterback James Franklin has returned to nearly full health from a left knee sprain and he showed flashes of his old form last week at Florida. But he also threw four interceptions and led Missouri to the end zone only once.

For as bad as Tennessee's defense was last week, the offense was phenomenal. UT quarterback Tyler Bray set a new school record for passing yards with 530, 400 of which went to receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter.

The campuses of Tennessee and Missouri are about 600 miles apart, but they are the flagship universities of border states. (Missouri and Tennessee share a roughly 40-mile border along the Mississippi River).

But if a rivalry emerges from the annual meetings between the Vols and Tigers, it won't have any history to rely on. Today will be the first time Missouri and Tennessee have ever met in football.

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

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Comments » 62

tenndave writes:

If the defense shows remarkable improvement and we win, what will the trolls say. On the other hand Dooley has set himself up for the end if the defense is worse. Got to hand it to him. He is taking responsibility and putting his behind out there unlike our present politicians. Hope it works coach.

Classof72 writes:

Coach Dooley is always accountable and responsible for all aspects of the team, especially selecting, retaining and supervising assistant coaches. I hope the defense plays very well and the team wins.

pcshowtime writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

BigOrangeFever76 (Inactive) writes:

in response to GlennFordsFoible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Frankly, I would like to get the miserable Jeffy "Whinyboy" Flowers experiment over with.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

Give it a rest, Jeffy.

Evan, there are 124 teams, not 120. That doesn't make our defensive ranking much better, but you should at least get those kind of things right.

I hope Coach Dooley isn't doing the same sort of thing Fulmer did when he decided to take the offense from Clawson. It didn't work out too well for him, and that's because the only way to make a struggling unit struggle more is to try to make them start doing something completely different in the middle of a season.

RodneyHopper writes:

in response to pcshowtime:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Amen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to pcshowtime:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Are you capable of coming up with something new to post? Maybe you could just paraphrase yourself? I guess it's easier to just copy and paste, but one would think you'd at least edit out the incorrect statements, Mr Romney.

SEC ranking, total offense:
9 Vanderbilt
10 South Carolina
11 Florida
12 Missouri
14 Kentucky

* Georgia State would rank #111 in the country based on their total offense, and they're 1-9 in the FCS.

"the worst 3 offenses on the schedule," eh?
Close, but no cigar.
Thanks for playing.

pcorange writes:

I am a Dooley naysayer who hopes he goes out there and proves me wrong. Nothing I'd like more than for him to make a fool of me and win out. I hope we beat the dog mess out of Mizzou. GBO!

eduardo writes:

Doolandger=worst coach in the history of UT Athletics!

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to eduardo:

Doolandger=worst coach in the history of UT Athletics!

Of all the stupid, childish nicknames idiots have come up with for Coach Dooley, this one has to take first prize in the WTF? category.

"Doolandger?" WTF does that even mean?

PinballWizard writes:

Does anyone really care at this point? Who is going to be our new coach next year is the only reason I continue to check this website anymore.

orange_eVOLution writes:

Hate to say it, but some of this sounds so damn goofy... someone will be calling plays, someone may or may not be in the press box. What? Can we run a freakin' football team or not?

Dang. GO VOLS!!

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to orange_eVOLution:

Hate to say it, but some of this sounds so damn goofy... someone will be calling plays, someone may or may not be in the press box. What? Can we run a freakin' football team or not?

Dang. GO VOLS!!

Maybe they're just trying to keep Mizzou's OC guessing? Kinda makes sense actually. Their OC has all the game film from the season to go by, so why not change things up and also not be forthcoming about any changes?

I hope that's it at least.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to PinballWizard:

Does anyone really care at this point? Who is going to be our new coach next year is the only reason I continue to check this website anymore.

Yes, all UT fans really care, all the time. Now, Dooley will still be the coach next year (barring any embarrassing losses this month), so I guess you can go away.

crappieking writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Yes, all UT fans really care, all the time. Now, Dooley will still be the coach next year (barring any embarrassing losses this month), so I guess you can go away.

FIRE DOOLEY ASAP!

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Yes, all UT fans really care, all the time. Now, Dooley will still be the coach next year (barring any embarrassing losses this month), so I guess you can go away.

Not feeling good about the Vandy game. Remember last year?...

http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/20...

pcshowtime writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Yes, all UT fans really care, all the time. Now, Dooley will still be the coach next year (barring any embarrassing losses this month), so I guess you can go away.

It is over man he is done. It does not have anything to do you or me or wins or loses it has everything to do with half full stadium at homecoming and crappy attendance tomorrow. As soon as the season is over he is toast.

ACWLY writes:

Dooley is the head coach and a head coach should be able and capable to call defensive plays. It's clear Sunseri can't call the game so what else is left? The only problem I have is why did it take so long for the head coach to step in? and will it matter anyway? I don't see our defense improving but regardless of my opinion, we will find out for sure this Saturday.

caverunner writes:

in response to GlennFordsFoible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree...CDD's imprint will mean Missouri puts up 80 on us. you know, sometimes you just have to say we messed up and start fresh. How much more messed up do we have to be before they stop using teaspoons to try to save the Titanic? What 4 or 5 star recruit would seriously consider UT with the coaches and staff we have? This has gone from disappointing to disgusting!

MitchelCrass writes:

in response to Classof72:

Coach Dooley is always accountable and responsible for all aspects of the team, especially selecting, retaining and supervising assistant coaches. I hope the defense plays very well and the team wins.

You can't be serious, hell he told Bray his thumb wasn't broke, that Bray wasn't a doctor and didn't know!! I knew!! How bout Eric Gordon, Brent Brewer, Devrin Young, Channing Fugate and even McCullers (he's hard to miss), these players clearly need to be on the field!! Devrin had the fumble but i've seen worse from "pro-bowl" backs, dooley is a lawyer selling the jury every interview

caverunner writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Yes, all UT fans really care, all the time. Now, Dooley will still be the coach next year (barring any embarrassing losses this month), so I guess you can go away.

If CDD is the Coach next year, you will see the attendance at UT's games at all time lows! I won't attend another game as long as CDD is coaching in any capacity at UT. I'm sure that I am not the only one who will let our voices be heard by the absence of our money.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

Some of you people just amaze me. College football is a bunch of 18-22 year old college kids playing a game! Whether the team is winning or losing, does not affect your lives at all. How will your lives change if UT wins a national championship? Answer: it won't.

The only lives that change based on the outcomes of the games are the kids playing in them, and maybe the coaches being paid to coach them.

If you're a fan of a team, not a player on it, you either support that team or go away. Imagine if your kids' high school team goes the whole season without winning a single game. Would you whine and say you'll never go to another game?

When things aren't going well for the team, that's when they need the support of the fans the most. They don't need whining and refusing to attend their games.

Some of you people really need to get some perspective and get lives.

djohnnyg writes:

Perspective? Of course if one of our kids were on the UT football team I doubt if any of us would not attend any more games and turn our back on our children.

That's a really bad example.

TheVolSnake writes:

in response to BigOrangeFever76:

Frankly, I would like to get the miserable Jeffy "Whinyboy" Flowers experiment over with.

Agree BO76

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to BigOrangeFever76:

Frankly, I would like to get the miserable Jeffy "Whinyboy" Flowers experiment over with.

me also, but not much chance of that happening

rocky_topper writes:

There's a reason Dooley waited until the month of November to try to leave his footprint! SMH!

tmcretired writes:

I think at this point it is time to cut Dooley,really no matter what he does he has hurt the program and should be out by next year

bfowler1161#262198 writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Some of you people just amaze me. College football is a bunch of 18-22 year old college kids playing a game! Whether the team is winning or losing, does not affect your lives at all. How will your lives change if UT wins a national championship? Answer: it won't.

The only lives that change based on the outcomes of the games are the kids playing in them, and maybe the coaches being paid to coach them.

If you're a fan of a team, not a player on it, you either support that team or go away. Imagine if your kids' high school team goes the whole season without winning a single game. Would you whine and say you'll never go to another game?

When things aren't going well for the team, that's when they need the support of the fans the most. They don't need whining and refusing to attend their games.

Some of you people really need to get some perspective and get lives.

Amen! I am not happy with the state of UT football. But you guys constantly calling for man's job and all the silly names sound like a bunch of whiny 3 year olds! When the big money donors decide they've had enough, then a change will be made. As far as those not attending games anymore, I hope your seats are better than mine.

Elonsway writes:

in response to tmcretired:

I think at this point it is time to cut Dooley,really no matter what he does he has hurt the program and should be out by next year

Dooley has hurt the program? You can't be serious. Hamilton is 100% responsible for the current state of this program. Regardless of our record this year, CDD has done everything he can to restore it after it was nuked by Fulmer's firing with no plan and Kiffen's little stunt. I am not saying Dooley is or isn't the long term solution but he has done nothing but build from an absolute wasteland.
Sunseri may be the one over his head; easy to look good with 5 star linebackers on the scout team but you take our talent level and flaws are exposed. As many have pointed out, if our defense is even average we are a top 25 team with 1 or 2 losses tops.

Fix the defense and we are back in the hunt. If Sunseri is still D Coord next year then I would agree that the program is being hurt. By who (Hart?) remains the question.

GBO!

volinlm writes:

in response to Classof72:

Coach Dooley is always accountable and responsible for all aspects of the team, especially selecting, retaining and supervising assistant coaches. I hope the defense plays very well and the team wins.

Please..you're bringing way too much sanity to the discourse here. Nice post.

TheVolSnake writes:

in response to Elonsway:

Dooley has hurt the program? You can't be serious. Hamilton is 100% responsible for the current state of this program. Regardless of our record this year, CDD has done everything he can to restore it after it was nuked by Fulmer's firing with no plan and Kiffen's little stunt. I am not saying Dooley is or isn't the long term solution but he has done nothing but build from an absolute wasteland.
Sunseri may be the one over his head; easy to look good with 5 star linebackers on the scout team but you take our talent level and flaws are exposed. As many have pointed out, if our defense is even average we are a top 25 team with 1 or 2 losses tops.

Fix the defense and we are back in the hunt. If Sunseri is still D Coord next year then I would agree that the program is being hurt. By who (Hart?) remains the question.

GBO!

Agree and I am one of the biggest supporters there is.

Go Vols

dvhill100 writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Some of you people just amaze me. College football is a bunch of 18-22 year old college kids playing a game! Whether the team is winning or losing, does not affect your lives at all. How will your lives change if UT wins a national championship? Answer: it won't.

The only lives that change based on the outcomes of the games are the kids playing in them, and maybe the coaches being paid to coach them.

If you're a fan of a team, not a player on it, you either support that team or go away. Imagine if your kids' high school team goes the whole season without winning a single game. Would you whine and say you'll never go to another game?

When things aren't going well for the team, that's when they need the support of the fans the most. They don't need whining and refusing to attend their games.

Some of you people really need to get some perspective and get lives.

Well said. Fan truly is short for fanatic, with all the irrationality and emotion.

Common sense is an uncommon virtue sometimes.

hikerdude writes:

I say let Conklin call the plays on defense. There is no way it could get any worse.

SevenT writes:

The battle of the SEC bottom dwellers. I look for a 65% full stadium and extremely low TV ratings. This game is flat out BORING

TheVolSnake writes:

in response to SevenT:

The battle of the SEC bottom dwellers. I look for a 65% full stadium and extremely low TV ratings. This game is flat out BORING

Still a lot better than what your Kats are getting.

Go Vols

SevenT writes:

in response to TheVolSnake:

Still a lot better than what your Kats are getting.

Go Vols

The only chance Tennessee has is if they let some air out of the ball for TB just like they did when Kiffin was coaching down there.

Just Saying

GerryOP writes:

Coach Dooley did not create this mess, he's trying to clean it up. Sorry he isn't doing it fast enough to appease you knee-jerk-gotta-have-wins-now naysaying negaVols. Three years into a 5-6 year rebuilding program.

Support this man as he rebuilds this once noble football program. That's what fans do!

It's great... To be... A Tennessee Vol!

wildmed writes:

Benchmarks of the last 2.75 seasons: first back-to-back losing seasons since WWI; only team other than Vanderbilt to start three seasons 0-5 in SEC play; 721 yards and 48 points to Troy, for God's sake; 4-17 and counting in SEC play; 0-for against ranked teams. None of this is speculation or opinion, just cold, hard facts. Another year or two of Dooley? Could we go lower? Possibly, but at this point the fans have shown by the empty seats in Neyland that they no longer support this regime.

JonGrudensAgent writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Some of you people just amaze me. College football is a bunch of 18-22 year old college kids playing a game! Whether the team is winning or losing, does not affect your lives at all. How will your lives change if UT wins a national championship? Answer: it won't.

The only lives that change based on the outcomes of the games are the kids playing in them, and maybe the coaches being paid to coach them.

If you're a fan of a team, not a player on it, you either support that team or go away. Imagine if your kids' high school team goes the whole season without winning a single game. Would you whine and say you'll never go to another game?

When things aren't going well for the team, that's when they need the support of the fans the most. They don't need whining and refusing to attend their games.

Some of you people really need to get some perspective and get lives.

Are you going to the game or spending some more time posting here and providing life lessons for the readers at GVX?

eb502us#225637 writes:

More BS Dooley. He knows as much about calling defensive plays as I do, which is nothing at all.

Just hope we can hire someone who can once the season is over.

oldvoltimer62 writes:

Hear's a thought Mr.Hart how about imprinting FIRED on Dooleys contract.I'll loan you my stamp pad.

JonGrudensAgent writes:

in response to orange_eVOLution:

Hate to say it, but some of this sounds so damn goofy... someone will be calling plays, someone may or may not be in the press box. What? Can we run a freakin' football team or not?

Dang. GO VOLS!!

Seems like Dooley IS running this program....running it straight into the ground.

6972 writes:

in response to wildmed:

Benchmarks of the last 2.75 seasons: first back-to-back losing seasons since WWI; only team other than Vanderbilt to start three seasons 0-5 in SEC play; 721 yards and 48 points to Troy, for God's sake; 4-17 and counting in SEC play; 0-for against ranked teams. None of this is speculation or opinion, just cold, hard facts. Another year or two of Dooley? Could we go lower? Possibly, but at this point the fans have shown by the empty seats in Neyland that they no longer support this regime.

Attendance numberes today will be interesting to see. Hope for a win.

stormblast writes:

Did I read that right, UT's defense is 112th out of 120?

My goodness, who are the other 9 that are worse?

JonGrudensAgent writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Coach Dooley did not create this mess, he's trying to clean it up. Sorry he isn't doing it fast enough to appease you knee-jerk-gotta-have-wins-now naysaying negaVols. Three years into a 5-6 year rebuilding program.

Support this man as he rebuilds this once noble football program. That's what fans do!

It's great... To be... A Tennessee Vol!

Not sure who is worse with the canned comments on every story, you or pcshowtime.

Once Dooley actually starts his "5-6 year rebuilding project", I'll support him. As it stands, this program is no better than when he started.

Recruiting is worse than when he started.

Special teams are holding steady at well below average.

The running game has moved all the way from the bottom of the conference to 10nth.

He won't have Kiffin recruits to rely on for the passing game next season.

The defense is a disaster with no end in sight.

Expect better for their teams, that is what fans actually do.

brokendownoldvol writes:

Just loose so TN can guarantee to get rid of these clowns. I'm 52 I don't have forever to see a top 50 TN football team again. I sure can't watch these idiots my fools of our poor players.

GerryOP writes:

in response to wildmed:

Benchmarks of the last 2.75 seasons: first back-to-back losing seasons since WWI; only team other than Vanderbilt to start three seasons 0-5 in SEC play; 721 yards and 48 points to Troy, for God's sake; 4-17 and counting in SEC play; 0-for against ranked teams. None of this is speculation or opinion, just cold, hard facts. Another year or two of Dooley? Could we go lower? Possibly, but at this point the fans have shown by the empty seats in Neyland that they no longer support this regime.

Three head coaches in three years. The last coach walked out with no notice. 57 kids on scholly. Nine kids recruited by Kiffin who signed to play for Kiffin already on campus as early entries. Hired two weeks before LOI NSD. Few coaches left from predecessor. A complete rebuild of the program is required ... a 5-6 year project. A rabid fan base that will be demanding wins within the second year.

That's what Coach Dooley started with. Facts, cold hard facts.

GerryOP writes:

in response to JonGrudensAgent:

Not sure who is worse with the canned comments on every story, you or pcshowtime.

Once Dooley actually starts his "5-6 year rebuilding project", I'll support him. As it stands, this program is no better than when he started.

Recruiting is worse than when he started.

Special teams are holding steady at well below average.

The running game has moved all the way from the bottom of the conference to 10nth.

He won't have Kiffin recruits to rely on for the passing game next season.

The defense is a disaster with no end in sight.

Expect better for their teams, that is what fans actually do.

What is worse is you with your ever-changing screen names coming on here posting your usual mindless nonsense. Why don't you save time and just post: "Dooley sucks. Fire Dooley."

traderjoe writes:

He's the head coach...when did he NOT have responsibility for the defense??? Isn't the head coach responsible for the entire team???

Malarky!

underthehill writes:

Speculation among media..TV & radio..commentators has been that it appears Hart may have hired Sunseri and turned the defense over to him..when Dooley kept insisting he had nothing to do with the defense this speculation increased..then all of sudden Dooley was going to take over the defense..I heard one TV comment that we may never know the truth about this..one commentator said UT would have been better to have kept Thompson and made him the DC..instead they brought in Sunseri and Thompson went back to bama..at this point if UT wins out it will be hard to justify not giving Dooley another year..but who knows..some say the decision is already made..I am not a big Dooley fan but I do see the point of those who say it would be in the best interest of UT for Dooley to be successful...regardless..I have UT winning today 27-17..

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