With game on the line, UT's defense not there

Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (15) scores a touchdown over Tennessee defensive back Byron Moore (3) in overtime against Tennessee at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. UT lost in four overtimes 51-48. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (15) scores a touchdown over Tennessee defensive back Byron Moore (3) in overtime against Tennessee at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. UT lost in four overtimes 51-48. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

The huddle grew one by one until the sideline stood bare.

The Tennessee defense needed one stop Saturday. One stop, one time, to end all the pain.

Eleven Vols surrounded coach Derek Dooley. Two more jumped into the pile, urging a defensive stand. Then five more joined. Then 10 more. Twenty.

By the end — with Missouri facing a do-or-die fourth-and-12 and 53 seconds standing between it and a long-suffered-for SEC victory — the entire Tennessee team came together.

Jumping. Hollering. Hopping.

As the original 11 trotted onto the field, quarterback Tyler Bray was the last to disperse. He pointed to his head. Make a smart play. Neyland Stadium roared.

Snap. Touchdown. Silence.

Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, standing on an island by himself in the corner of the end zone, reeled in a 25-yard pass to tie the game.

Four overtimes, three more Missouri touchdowns and one game-winning field goal later, the same Tennessee team that huddled as one, languished off the field in disbelief.

Missouri's 51-48 victory marked another defeat of the Tennessee defense.

Afterward, cornerback Justin Coleman said the Vols' defense returned to the sideline after that fourth-and-12 wondering, "How did we blow this? We could have had the win."

Instead it was another ugly loss with another ugly box score.

Mizzou, ranked 109th nationally in total offense with 319.2 yards per game, gained 454. The biggest problem is that 390 came after halftime. The first half marked the Vols' best defensive performance of the year, holding the Tigers' offense to 64 yards, four first downs and no scores.

And then …

"They started making plays," linebacker A.J. Johnson said plainly.

In overtime, Missouri quarterback James Franklin completed five of six passes and had three touchdowns.

He completed two passes in the entire first half.

The Tigers' offensive comeuppance began right out of the second-half gates. Running back Kendial Lawrence galloped to a 77-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.

Last week, despite giving up an obscene 721 yards to Troy, the Vols made stops when it counted late in the game. That earned the win.

There were glimpses of it in the second half Saturday, though they were ultimately fleeting.

After Lawrence's touchdown run, the defense made a play to hold its 21-14 lead. Nose guard Daniel McCullers forced a fumble at UT's 37. Sprinting in behind the play, strong side linebacker LaDarrell McNeil scooped it up and scampered to Missouri's 30.

There was more. The Vols forced a punt after the referees overturned a fourth-and-1 stop at midfield. They held on third-and-6 with less than six minutes to go and the Tigers eyeing the end zone.

With the game on the line, however, those stops were nowhere to be found this time.

"I guess it came down to actually making the play when the ball is thrown in the air," Coleman said. "The receivers made the play and I guess we didn't."

This week saw Dooley center all of his focus on the defensive shortcomings. Coordinator Sal Sunseri spent the game in the press box, looking on from above.

It made no difference.

The UT defense again was left answering for another loss. It hasn't allowed less than 38 points since late September.

"I'm not going to stand here and say it's not hard — it is hard," cornerback Prentiss Waggner said. "We had big expectations coming into this season."

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn

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Comments » 27

killervol69 writes:

It's almost as if the defensive players want CDD fired, I think CDD getting involved with the defense this week was just a little too late. Hey, look on the bright side, Alabummer went down at home to A&M!

tnfanincali writes:

The D actually only gave up 21 points in regulation, but when it mattered they caved as usual. They look slow and confused most of the time, and the DBs never seem to look back for the ball. Are they coached to play that way? Bye bye Dooley.

tomkats3242 writes:

It was not the defense who lost the game. A high school would call a better game on offense and defense. Either Dooley is fired tonight or UT should quit football and the money spent on kids in school.

Prostar writes:

in response to tomkats3242:

It was not the defense who lost the game. A high school would call a better game on offense and defense. Either Dooley is fired tonight or UT should quit football and the money spent on kids in school.

It was the defense that gave up 390 yards in the second half alone. It is the defense that has given up at least 38 points per game since September. It was the defense that gave up a 77 yard TD run to open the second half. I agree Chaney didn't call his best game but the defense definately lost the game and Dooley and Company will lose their jobs.

navdocvol writes:

Get anyone. I don't trust myself, but it's apparent how the former vols (NFL players/ All-SEC) feel about this guy. I've been on the wagon until TROY hung 720 yds on us last week and now we can't finish a game our boys dominate in their own house. CDD, don't leave mad...

cltvol writes:

arnold zandi could outcoach derek dooley

shorttail writes:

in response to tomkats3242:

It was not the defense who lost the game. A high school would call a better game on offense and defense. Either Dooley is fired tonight or UT should quit football and the money spent on kids in school.

well hell, it's been bad defense all year.

6972 writes:

in response to killervol69:

It's almost as if the defensive players want CDD fired, I think CDD getting involved with the defense this week was just a little too late. Hey, look on the bright side, Alabummer went down at home to A&M!

The Tex A&M offense would rip us apart like toilet paper being run thru an industrial paper shredder.

jt45 writes:

Headline for this article should read,

"With game on the line, UT's Coach not there"

JDX47 writes:

in response to tnfanincali:

The D actually only gave up 21 points in regulation, but when it mattered they caved as usual. They look slow and confused most of the time, and the DBs never seem to look back for the ball. Are they coached to play that way? Bye bye Dooley.

It was 28 to 28 at the end of regulation and 390 yards given up in the second half. You can often tell who has the better coaches when you see how the second half goes. The adjustments every game that are made at half go the way of our competition. That tells me that our coaches are clueless as to how to adjust at the half or at least the adjustments they make fall hopelessly short of adequate.

Cut the head off now and let's get the search going so we can recruit.

jdogg44 writes:

I think Derek Dooley is a fantastic person, but he does not know how to coach football.

frblalack writes:

Why does our d' always cave in the second half? Sure, losing Curt was devastating. But what are Byron Moore and Justin Coleman and the rest of the defensive backfield thinking when they let receivers get so wide open. Just what is a safety? Is he not the "stopper"? Is he not the last line of defense who keeps the opposing team from scoring? I cannot understand why our defense collapses in the second half of every game. And of course two crucial drops from our most reliable receivers when the game was on the line. Justin's would have been a great catch in the end zone; he's made them before. And Zach's drop wasn't his fault as much as good defense by Missouri. The defender obviously got in the line of vision.

Anyway...whatever...it appears that once again the Vols have managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Gutsy fake field goal call by Coach, and another awesome game by Tyler and Cordarelle and Michael Rivera. And except for one play Justin was spectacular, also. We have so much talent and the guys play their hearts out for Coach Dooley; I just cannot understand the defensive lapses. And by the way; excellent game by Mr. Jacquies Smith and Curt Maggitt until he was injured. Also well played by McCullars, Walls, and Eric Gordon. The interception by P. Waggner was a great catch, but had the pass been on the money he was beaten for a touchdown.

I'm through commenting except to say thank you to ALL of OUR Team for giving it your best effort! No one can fault your effort, and I'm proud to have you guys playing in the Orange & White. Forgive my criticism/venting please; I was so hopeful we'd turned the corner after the first half.

Vol for Life

linebam writes:

in response to frblalack:

Why does our d' always cave in the second half? Sure, losing Curt was devastating. But what are Byron Moore and Justin Coleman and the rest of the defensive backfield thinking when they let receivers get so wide open. Just what is a safety? Is he not the "stopper"? Is he not the last line of defense who keeps the opposing team from scoring? I cannot understand why our defense collapses in the second half of every game. And of course two crucial drops from our most reliable receivers when the game was on the line. Justin's would have been a great catch in the end zone; he's made them before. And Zach's drop wasn't his fault as much as good defense by Missouri. The defender obviously got in the line of vision.

Anyway...whatever...it appears that once again the Vols have managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Gutsy fake field goal call by Coach, and another awesome game by Tyler and Cordarelle and Michael Rivera. And except for one play Justin was spectacular, also. We have so much talent and the guys play their hearts out for Coach Dooley; I just cannot understand the defensive lapses. And by the way; excellent game by Mr. Jacquies Smith and Curt Maggitt until he was injured. Also well played by McCullars, Walls, and Eric Gordon. The interception by P. Waggner was a great catch, but had the pass been on the money he was beaten for a touchdown.

I'm through commenting except to say thank you to ALL of OUR Team for giving it your best effort! No one can fault your effort, and I'm proud to have you guys playing in the Orange & White. Forgive my criticism/venting please; I was so hopeful we'd turned the corner after the first half.

Vol for Life

Wait a minute... is Coleman wearing #24? All I know is that every time that Mizzou needed a big play and got it, it was always because #24 was not there. Horrible defense overall, but #24 cost us the game!

JonGrudensAgent writes:

in response to JDX47:

It was 28 to 28 at the end of regulation and 390 yards given up in the second half. You can often tell who has the better coaches when you see how the second half goes. The adjustments every game that are made at half go the way of our competition. That tells me that our coaches are clueless as to how to adjust at the half or at least the adjustments they make fall hopelessly short of adequate.

Cut the head off now and let's get the search going so we can recruit.

Coming out flat, uninspired, and clueless in the second half is nothing new with this coach.

volinlm writes:

in response to tnfanincali:

The D actually only gave up 21 points in regulation, but when it mattered they caved as usual. They look slow and confused most of the time, and the DBs never seem to look back for the ball. Are they coached to play that way? Bye bye Dooley.

The defense lacks speed..period. They have trouble with the corners. And, when Gordon left his man going deep to the corner because he thought the qb was running, it left the receiver all alone in the endzone. That isn't coaching..that's just a dumb play. It's ridiculous to think they are coached to do that stuff. Dooley will probably take the fall, but the players need to own this stupid stuff.

volinlm writes:

in response to JDX47:

It was 28 to 28 at the end of regulation and 390 yards given up in the second half. You can often tell who has the better coaches when you see how the second half goes. The adjustments every game that are made at half go the way of our competition. That tells me that our coaches are clueless as to how to adjust at the half or at least the adjustments they make fall hopelessly short of adequate.

Cut the head off now and let's get the search going so we can recruit.

Missouri's adjustment was simple. They forgot they were up against the worst pass defense in the country in the first half. They simply said "hey, let's throw the ball more". Not a big adjustment. However, it's important to say that Missou's qb was hurt for 4 weeks (shoulder and knee)which hurt their passing game(look back at their stats). He was healed up for UT. Which figures!

ashvol7 writes:

in response to Prostar:

It was the defense that gave up 390 yards in the second half alone. It is the defense that has given up at least 38 points per game since September. It was the defense that gave up a 77 yard TD run to open the second half. I agree Chaney didn't call his best game but the defense definately lost the game and Dooley and Company will lose their jobs.

I hope Hart, Sal and Cheeks are included in Dooley's and company. Maybe they can go down and help Alabama as they got beat last night, ha. I don't know how you defend the pass when you don't know where the ball is. Dooley should have been shown the door when opted to let time run out in regulation and not at least try to win the game. It just showed no confidense in his team, probably the worst coach we have ever had, he, Hart and Sal should have never been hired to begin with. What a terrible waste of money.

volfan7 writes:

This year our offense has averaged 41 points per game, through the Missouri game. That is either first or second in the SEC. That is excellent by any standards.

Here is the solution. Find out what John Chavis is making at LSU, then multiply that figure by 1.5, and make the man an offer. Get a new head coach, and we are back in business.

SummittsCourt writes:

Another win slips through the fingers of this team. Finding ways to lose has become the norm. Losing to highly ranked teams i can take, but losing to teams UT should beat in embarrassing ways I cannot take anymore.

I have defended Coach Dooley all along, but I cannot any longer. Sorry, but enough is enough and even I can't defend him after yesterday's game.

tmay writes:

in response to volinlm:

Missouri's adjustment was simple. They forgot they were up against the worst pass defense in the country in the first half. They simply said "hey, let's throw the ball more". Not a big adjustment. However, it's important to say that Missou's qb was hurt for 4 weeks (shoulder and knee)which hurt their passing game(look back at their stats). He was healed up for UT. Which figures!

Volinlm, your right on! There is no speed and there is no want to on this team, period! A coach can call plays and design plays until he is blue in the face and if he does not have the personnel to execute then it's a lost cause. Tennessee does not have a balance of talent. Yes, they have some above average players but to compete for championships, we've got to have more talented players, period.When you have to bring in a linebacker to run the ball, you've got trouble.The players act like they just don't give a damn. If Dooley has a problem, it's bcause he has been too easy. They need to tell the so called players to get their heads out of their back sides or don't come back. You can't always be Mr. Nice Guy, sometimes you have to kick butts. These guys are getting a free educaton and thus far only a small few are earning this! Do the fans ever think that the opponents fans are asking the same questions about their defence when they have 48 points scored on them. Tennessee has got to recruit players for their ability, not just how they wear their hair or how many tattoos they have. They have to have desire to go with any talents they have. Desire is not taught! Forget Gruden! He is just a mouth, leave him on TV. He would be just another USC joke.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

The picture of Beckham making the catch and the DB with his back to the QB says everything you need to know!! Once again the DLine was out of gas by the 4th quarter and I just watched in amazement this nobody QB stand like a statue and complete pass after pass!! Somebody tell me how in the H@LL do Ansley and Conklin sit and watch film with these bums and not point out that they have to turn and look for the ball, then take that concept to the practice field and drill it over and over!! These bums practice against the best WR's in the SEC and have learned absolutely NO cover skills..I can't tell you how much this just makes me pull my hair out every week..I don't know who is more Stupid the coaches or the players..Ansley and Conklin should resign immediately just out of pure shame and embarrassment..Forget the fact these BUMS get beat 75% of the time but my God just turn your fat head once and you would probably make a play!!

volfan7 writes:

Bring back David Cutcliffe.

HazardKYVol writes:

The defense was never in the game and the offense quit at half time.

crappieking writes:

FIRE DOOLEY!
FIRE SUNSERI!
FIRE HART!
FIRE CHEEKS!

ASAP!!!!!!!

10SE writes:

in response to Prostar:

It was the defense that gave up 390 yards in the second half alone. It is the defense that has given up at least 38 points per game since September. It was the defense that gave up a 77 yard TD run to open the second half. I agree Chaney didn't call his best game but the defense definately lost the game and Dooley and Company will lose their jobs.

The offense had the ball three times with an opportunity to put us up by two scores. The defense is bad, but the offense contributed.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to volfan7:

This year our offense has averaged 41 points per game, through the Missouri game. That is either first or second in the SEC. That is excellent by any standards.

Here is the solution. Find out what John Chavis is making at LSU, then multiply that figure by 1.5, and make the man an offer. Get a new head coach, and we are back in business.

Any coach of the stature that UT needs to right the ship is going to want all of his own assistants. Almost any such coach is already going to know about Chavis and if HE wants to hire him, that would be fine. Any such coach would, however, not appreciate the athletic director hiring his DC without the coach's prior consent.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to tnfanincali:

The D actually only gave up 21 points in regulation, but when it mattered they caved as usual. They look slow and confused most of the time, and the DBs never seem to look back for the ball. Are they coached to play that way? Bye bye Dooley.

We could all point to any number of examples this season where the DB lost track of the ball, but there have been almost as many other instances where they were looking in the backfield and lost sight of their men. On that 4th-and-12 TD that tied the game, the two DBs on the defensive right side of the field were looking back at the QB while the receiver ran right by them to the end zone. It seemed to be one case or the other almost all year. Even when the DB was engaged with the receiver, it seemed the opponent came down with nearly every 50-50 ball that mattered. It was obvious early in the season that the defensive backfield lacked speed, but they surely didn't seem to get much help from the coaching, either.

I was pulling for Dooley. He looks nice and speaks well in public. I could understand why his record at LA Tech was not outstanding, but it looked like he had made progress there; with UT's name and resources, why SHOULD he not do better? LA Tech is tearing it up this season, and I would bet that most of their starters were Dooley recruits. If the defense hadn't been such a shambles this year, I could see giving him another year, but the on-field performance in so many critical areas just wasn't there. And there is merit to the argument that Dooley seemed lacking in many areas of game management, such as use of timeouts, strategic decisions, and especially half-time adjustments.

So, what now? Like many, I would love to see Gruden take a stab at it, but I just don't think that's going to happen. It is just too soon to hire Petrino, if there ever IS a good time. Quite apart from his attempt to have Arkansas finance his extra-marital affair, there is the case of maneuvering behind Louisville's and Tubervilles's backs for the Auburn job, and running out on the Falcons. I for one completely oppose hiring Petrino. I would take Tuberville, but I am not sure he would provide the "WOW" factor that UT needs right now. Frankly, I'm just glad it's not my decision, but I will always pull for the Vols!

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