Struggling Vols' noteworthy streak in Music City to be tested by Vanderbilt

UT hasn't lost to Vanderbilt in Nashville since '82

Charlie Daniel's cartoon for the Vols game against Vanderbilt in Nashville on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012.

Photo by Charlie Daniel

Charlie Daniel's cartoon for the Vols game against Vanderbilt in Nashville on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012.

NASHVILLE — Six days ago, while Internet rumors were saying that he was fired, Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley was calmly talking with his boss.

He was not, in fact, fired after last week's demoralizing four-overtime loss to Missouri.

But even Dooley acknowledged that his future is uncertain at best with two weeks remaining in the season.

The Vols (4-6, 0-6 SEC) play Vanderbilt (6-4, 4-3) today (TV: ESPN2, 7 p.m.) at Vanderbilt Stadium.

Tennessee's last loss to the Commodores in Nashville was in 1982. Since then, the Vols have won 28 of 29 games in the series, losing only in 2005.

The most recent win was last year's 27-21 overtime victory in Knoxville, which is notable because it's also the last time Tennessee won an SEC game.

The Vols celebrated that win enthusiastically, and when a video from the postgame locker room was leaked, it made Vandy coach James Franklin simmer.

"Tennessee ALWAYS beats the (expletive) out of Vanderbilt," Dooley shouted to players in the video.

Franklin said he's more mature now than he was when he reacted angrily to the video last year. He said he hasn't made it an issue with his players, and the Commodores have carefully followed their coach's script this week in interviews.

Franklin's magnanimity is understandable. Vandy is a 4-point favorite today. While the Vols are fighting for a bowl berth, the Commodores have already clinched theirs. A win today would give Vandy its first five-win SEC season since 1935.

"(Vandy) has done a great job," Dooley said. "I guess it's good for the rivalry. It makes better games. They did a good job before James (Franklin) got there, and he has done a nice job of bringing some really good energy to the program. They are playing with a lot of confidence."

Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio "Tiny" Richardson, a Nashville native, said he thinks the rivalry has been rekindled.

"They're going to come in thinking they're going to win the game," Richardson said. "At the end of the day, they are Vanderbilt, we're Tennessee and the rivalry is going to be there. We just have to execute our offense, execute our defense and we can win this game."

UT players also downplayed the importance of the leaked locker room video. It was an internal celebration not intended to disrespect Vandy, they said.

After all, the Vols had just gone to overtime to win their first (and ultimately only) SEC game of 2011. It's tough to be arrogant in those circumstances.

"I think we can expect that because of Vanderbilt-Tennessee, they're coming into this game thinking that they can beat us and they have all the right to," said senior cornerback Prentiss Waggner. "They've been playing great football."

If Tennessee wins its last two games, it will finish the season 6-6 and sneak into a lower-tier bowl game (perhaps even the Music City Bowl in Nashville). But if they lose today, eliminating any hope of the postseason, the spotlight on Sunday will once again be on Dooley's job and athletic director Dave Hart.

"We feel like these are two wins that we have to get," said center James Stone. "I don't think anybody's going to go out there and do anything 'Superman.' We're just trying to do our jobs and do it efficiently and do it correctly and go out there and execute so we can win these last two."

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

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Comments » 40

Laydbakvol writes:

That's too bad, James. We need Superman.

td writes:

Turn the Tennessee offense lose! Score as many points as you can as fast as you can!!! DO NOT worry about resting the defense. They get their reset by a three and punt or (better) a turnover. If the Vols put the brakes on for fear of Vanderbilt scoring, they will surely lose this game. Score, score, and score some more!!!!! Let the defense earn it's time off the field. Vanderbilt has the play makers to win this game if Tennessee does not play relentless offensive football.

florida-volfan writes:

in response to td:

Turn the Tennessee offense lose! Score as many points as you can as fast as you can!!! DO NOT worry about resting the defense. They get their reset by a three and punt or (better) a turnover. If the Vols put the brakes on for fear of Vanderbilt scoring, they will surely lose this game. Score, score, and score some more!!!!! Let the defense earn it's time off the field. Vanderbilt has the play makers to win this game if Tennessee does not play relentless offensive football.

I'm not sure if thats the way to go... maybe it is. I've been saying all along that UT needed to use the running game more to burn the clock and shorten the game. But I guess it doesnt matter if our defense cant stop them even if they do get a good rest on the sidelines. I think I'll go with your idea and let the offense just rip it

6972 writes:

in response to Laydbakvol:

That's too bad, James. We need Superman.

I would settle for Wonderwoman. But, that's just me.

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to 6972:

I would settle for Wonderwoman. But, that's just me.

Hmmm... good post.

orange_eVOLution writes:

Okay, Dooley is done after the regular season. Done.

So let's hope and pray for the best possible hire Dave Hart and company can come up with.

I want Tennessee football back... and I want to beat those damn Gators. Nuf said.

GO VOLS!! BEAT VANDY!!

gobigorange1 writes:

I love my Vols, I pull for them every Saturday... I will bleed orange 'til the day I die, but I have no hope that this coaching staff will have arguably the best offense in the SEC in a position to win this game. Sorry, not being pessimistic, just pragmatic.

IndianapolisVol writes:

I love the Vols but eradicate the coaching staff and go for Charlie Strong. Anybody thinks Gruden is coming is an idiot.

jaydubuc writes:

If they lose to Vandy, I say Hart fires Dooley Monday. No need to let him finish out the season with no bowl bid.

IndianapolisVol writes:

My hope is that no one turns to the NFL. They are FAR from ready and next year with a solid coaching staff could render a great season.

rb4346 writes:

in response to IndianapolisVol:

My hope is that no one turns to the NFL. They are FAR from ready and next year with a solid coaching staff could render a great season.

I agree They are not ready for the NFL but with a year of coaching from a solid coaching staff they could be contenders instead of pretenders and three or four of the players could be 1st round draft choices the following year. IMO

pcshowtime writes:

I know a lot of you are like me and were watching ut lose to mizzu last week. Here is a link the Texas a&m vs bama.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUHD45...
Guys this is the type of offense we need. Due to our recruiting situation we are not going to be able to get the O line and RB to line up and out power bama, fl, or lsu. We need a up tempo offense with a running threat like Cam newton, tim teabow, or johnny football. Then go get a top 20 Defensive coordinator along the lines of justin wilcox maybe even better. Stay away from the 3-4 go back to traditional 4-3. The 4-3 is what kids coming out of high school are used to. Also if you will watch the video even the great Saban coached Defense had breakdowns in contain much like we did with Fl. I believe the 3-4 is prone to the run. In college football that is what you have to stop first. Anyway my 2 cents.

jt45 writes:

Let Sam Pittman take over for the rest of the season, he may very well be the best coach on the staff right now.

Vols by 10 over the dorks

82cat writes:

Despite all the dooley firing and who the new coach will be (which I agree) and the disaster of a season and past 3 yrs I am pumped about this game!

I live in Nashville and if the players on UT could here what the sweater tied around their neck weejun wearing grey poupon eating beemer driving soft handed mommas boys talking smack about The University of Tennessee they would take the field today with a huge chip on their shoulders.

I hope they show up today motivated and play lose and fast.They are now the underdog and can ruin Candys little party they already assume they have won.

I hope Patterson and Hunter light it up and Bray is on fire.

Vandy may have a better team and does have a better coach but 2 things.

1. Vandy does not match up to our receivers well and they know it.

2.Tennesse always beats vandy

SevenT writes:

This season will come down to the final game (Kentucky vs Tennessee) to see who will finish winless and land on the bottom of the SEC East.

jt45 writes:

in response to IndianapolisVol:

I love the Vols but eradicate the coaching staff and go for Charlie Strong. Anybody thinks Gruden is coming is an idiot.

Keep Sam Pittman and Jay Graham, they are earning their pay. The rest of them including Chaney I dont much care for. I dont know if Strong is the right coach for the job but he has turned the Louisville program around in three years. Thats a long time by todays Fan standards. Whoever takes on the job here at UT will be expected to win immediately and coaches know that. Unrealistic expectations by the fans will keep many coaches from wanting the job. The pressure from the media and the fans to pull off a winning season in year 1 with the current players on the roster will be quite a challenge.

The Vols need more top tier recruits on the Defensive side, especially the secondary, they are pathetic.

Coach Dooley should go back to working as an assistant somewhere he just isnt cut out to be a head coach yet, not in the SEC anyhow.

volforeverandever writes:

in response to notfunanymore:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You had way to much to drink when this was posted.I doubt that you will be on here after the game.This time you will be drowning your sorrows.I heard this dribble last year.The commode doors are favored yada yada yada then the hometown boy Eric Gordon drove the nail in heart of vandy.Coach Dooley just said what everyone knows after last years game.

ProfessionalHandicapper writes:

Vandy/Tennessee UNDER 60
This Vandy team will come to play today and their defense is very good. Vandy is the number 15 ranked defense in points allowed giving up just 18ppg on the year and allowed just 4 TD passes all year coming into last weeks game. Tennesse has a weak secondary but don't look for James Franklin to try and get into a shootout with the Vols offense. Vandy can and will run the football thus limiting the chances for UT. Vandy also seldom turns the ball over with QB Jordon Rodgers throwing only 4 INTS all season. Last year this was a hard fought rival game with low scoring even with the OT. Looking at Vandy's four game win streak the defense has allowed only 11 points per game over that stretch.Take the UNDER 60 points total.

Sir_Spanky writes:

Bear Bryant used to tell his players to act like they've "been there before". Here we have a ceramic dog, silly videos, undisciplined player displays on the field (Prentiss Waggoner's frequent incomplete pass signal imitation for example), etc., things that say "I've never been there before". Tennessee needs leadership. I hate it for the program. I hope they don't embarrass the Vol Nation in Nashville.

volfan1202 writes:

Hart, Go ahead and announce that Drooley is fired and open the checkbook to get Chucky in here asap!

volforeverandever writes:

in response to ProfessionalHandicapper:

Vandy/Tennessee UNDER 60
This Vandy team will come to play today and their defense is very good. Vandy is the number 15 ranked defense in points allowed giving up just 18ppg on the year and allowed just 4 TD passes all year coming into last weeks game. Tennesse has a weak secondary but don't look for James Franklin to try and get into a shootout with the Vols offense. Vandy can and will run the football thus limiting the chances for UT. Vandy also seldom turns the ball over with QB Jordon Rodgers throwing only 4 INTS all season. Last year this was a hard fought rival game with low scoring even with the OT. Looking at Vandy's four game win streak the defense has allowed only 11 points per game over that stretch.Take the UNDER 60 points total.

We won't be hearing from you after the game either.Tennessee will win if 60 points are scored or 3.I have read your ramblings for quite some time and you are wrong most of the time.After the game you won't post for a while.At least thats what you usually do after you have been wrong again.I know you really don't bet on your forcast because you would be broke.I know no one else takes your advice,in fact it probably gives them confidence to bet on Tennessee.One other thing,if the over and under is 60 and the Vols score 40 how many does that leave the commode doors?

knoxchatter writes:

Let's look at the situation realistically: the fact of the matter is that our football program is at a point where Vol fans are hoping and praying...hard...that we beat teams like Vandy and Kentucky! Is this where we want to be? Is this to be acceptable for our team for years to come as it has been for the past few?? It appears likely unless some changes are made soon. A bit hard to take when you look around the stadium and the brightest color you see is...nothing.

djohnnyg writes:

I don't know if it's some of the same people or not, but i remember distinctly MANY here predicting AT LEAST 8-4 this yr. for Dooley in yr. 3 of his tenure and nothing less would be close to acceptable.

Well...here we are HOPING with a bit of luck and God's grace we can get to 6-6, and i think some of the same ones who were saying 8-4 was barely acceptable, are now saying Dooley needs another year and "you can't expect the defense to do well when you switch schemes...give Dooley more time to right the ship".

Nobody likes having to get a new head coach, that's why this next guy better be good.

It's sounds childish to some to say this but Vols NEED a big name who has history of winning or else you may as well keep Dooley till you can get one.

djohnnyg writes:

The other thing with Dooley is you would think he'd have at least a few "signature" wins to point to that help his case; there are none...unless you count NC State.

He's had a few signature 'moral' victories and "almost's" like LSU at Death Valley when it appeared he had won...but managed to botch it up at the end.

Not good enough.

This may not be popular thought, but UT SHOULD KEEP HIM unless they have some big name coach with a history of winning and who has a proven plan for recruiting.

If it were to be Gruden, his name and face is enough to convince a lot of kids to come to UT.

It may not be Gruden (probably not) but UT needs someone strong to come in or keep Dooley until you get the right one.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

I'd settle for beating anybody.

snuffysmiff writes:

in response to ProfessionalHandicapper:

Vandy/Tennessee UNDER 60
This Vandy team will come to play today and their defense is very good. Vandy is the number 15 ranked defense in points allowed giving up just 18ppg on the year and allowed just 4 TD passes all year coming into last weeks game. Tennesse has a weak secondary but don't look for James Franklin to try and get into a shootout with the Vols offense. Vandy can and will run the football thus limiting the chances for UT. Vandy also seldom turns the ball over with QB Jordon Rodgers throwing only 4 INTS all season. Last year this was a hard fought rival game with low scoring even with the OT. Looking at Vandy's four game win streak the defense has allowed only 11 points per game over that stretch.Take the UNDER 60 points total.

I do agree Franklin is going to attempt slowing the game down, that seems to be his style and might work if he can keep it close.
Perspective: three of Vandy's last four games, Auburn, Massachusetts and Kentucky are in the bottom five of the worst offensive teams in Div I football, with Mass being rock bottom. Vandy did a good job coming from behind against Ole Miss, which is probably their best win this season only because Vandy played Mizzou when their starting QB missed most of the game. Throw in Presbyterian and you have six wins for the Dores.

Fact: Vandy is only slightly better statistically running the football than UT.

Under is good only if Franklin succeeds in slowing the game down.

BigOrangeRock writes:

So after 3 coaches, we have the same results. The problems is obviously not the coach. It is time to go get Fulmer back and fix the real problem.

6972 writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

I'd settle for beating anybody.

I don't know where "Anybody University" is, but if they are ranked, we couldn't beat them either.

LCPanthers (Inactive) writes:

in response to OrangeAndBlueWaffles88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

First of all Vandy cant hold Tennessee to 28 points
They dont have that good of a defense.Here is the question"can Vols hold Vandy to under 30 points"??
Tennessee-42
Vandy-----28

LCPanthers (Inactive) writes:

in response to OrangeAndBlueWaffles88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Everyone moves ball on Tennessee--thats a given.All I am saying is if Tennessee scored 30 or more on almost everyone--then Vandy will not stop them.If Tennessee is "bombs away"--and just run to keep Vandy honest--then they will win.

TheReal-Ville_Vol writes:

Drink your Dool-Aid today because you're going to need a good buzz by the time this one is over....

mrvol2u writes:

in response to notfunanymore:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your name says it all.

GO VOLS BEAT VANDY! SOMEBODY CONJURE UP GEORGE CAFEGO!!!

aldntn writes:

I cannot recall a time when Vandy was favored over the Vols. Surely the bottom of this downturn is near.

GO VOLS!!!!

volforeverandever writes:

in response to aldntn:

I cannot recall a time when Vandy was favored over the Vols. Surely the bottom of this downturn is near.

GO VOLS!!!!

vandy was favored last year and the results will be the same.

SpecialTeams writes:

in response to SevenT:

This season will come down to the final game (Kentucky vs Tennessee) to see who will finish winless and land on the bottom of the SEC East.

It is a sad day when U.T fans have to hope they can win Vande and U.K to get to a bowl with the down side that the powers to be may keep Dooley and ???? for other year.

volfan1202 writes:

in response to OrangeAndBlueWaffles88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"Unlucky" in close games? Doodoo is not unlucky... he's incompetent. His poor decisions usually cost us close games.

volfan1202 writes:

in response to BigOrangeRock:

So after 3 coaches, we have the same results. The problems is obviously not the coach. It is time to go get Fulmer back and fix the real problem.

LMAO! Fulmer is the one that got this whole mess started. If anyone in the country thought Fulmer was worth anything, he would have already gotten a coaching job at another school... and he's tried and tried. Memphis didn't even want him.

Fulmer is never coming back... neither is Cutcliffe or Chavis.

snuffysmiff writes:

in response to aldntn:

I cannot recall a time when Vandy was favored over the Vols. Surely the bottom of this downturn is near.

GO VOLS!!!!

Short memory? Vandy was favored last year in Knoxville and in 2008, Fulmer's last season as HC.

volforeverandever writes:

in response to volfan1202:

LMAO! Fulmer is the one that got this whole mess started. If anyone in the country thought Fulmer was worth anything, he would have already gotten a coaching job at another school... and he's tried and tried. Memphis didn't even want him.

Fulmer is never coming back... neither is Cutcliffe or Chavis.

I agree and lets move on from that nonsence.

jmaples54 writes:

nor is gruden coming. after many media comments about petrino, i've decided i can support him. he could shape up bray and hunter and recruit well... perhaps he's chastised and ready to salvage his reputation.

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