Vols hoping they can always beat Vanderbilt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Vanderbilt Commodores have a chance Saturday night to crank up the intensity in their rivalry with Tennessee to a level unseen in decades.

Vanderbilt goes into the annual game with the Volunteers already bowl eligible and trying to remain perfect in November.

The Vols desperately need a win over the team they've beaten 29 of the last 30 years to have a chance at ending their own bowl drought and give coach Derek Dooley a better chance of keeping his job.

"I know they want to get the W, but we really need it more than they do," Tennessee left tackle Antonio Richardson. "We've just got to go in there with a chip on our shoulder and get this win."

Tennessee is the team the Commodores love to beat more than any other — but haven't done it often. This may be their best chance at their first victory in Nashville and a winning record in the regular season for the first time since 1982 — well before any of the current players on either team had been born.

"I'm not sure what the past shows," Vanderbilt defensive end Johnell Thomas. "I'm just confident in where this team has come, and where we're headed right now. That's pretty much it."

The Volunteers (4-6, 0-6 Southeastern Conference) traditionally make themselves at home on their trips every other year to Music City, taking over Vanderbilt Stadium with lots of orange and white celebrating yet another win.

Vandy coach James Franklin wants a big turnout of his own, even tweeting out Thursday that the ticket office had been told to only sell to Commodores' fans the final tickets left. Senior defensive Johnell Thomas expects plenty of black and gold on hand.

"This fan base has been unbelievable for us this year, unlike anything in the past," Thomas said. "I'm really confident they'll be there."

Franklin has gotten his Commodores (6-4, 4-3) to stay on message focused only on this game. Not the past and not talking of revenge for a 27-21 overtime loss to Tennessee in Knoxville last season when Dooley boasted in the locker room afterward that Tennessee always beats Vandy.

He needs only one win to become the second-most successful coach in his first two seasons at Vanderbilt, noted this program won only four games combined in the two years before he arrived.

"Year two, we've done some nice things," Franklin said. "We've still got a long ways to go as a program."

The Commodores can deal a big blow to their rival just 190 miles east. Of Dooley's four SEC wins in his three seasons, two came against Vanderbilt. The Commodores already have that many league victories this season.

"We've just got to focus on the game at hand, and that's on Saturday," Vols receiver Zach Rogers said. "We can't be worried about what's going to happen with all that clutter outside of this place. We've got to focus on what we have inside that room and continue to fight."

Tennessee receiver Justin Hunter expects the Commodores to be fired up for kickoff, especially remembering how close they came to winning a year ago.

"We don't want to lose a game we should win, so we're going to go in there and fight our tails off," Hunter said.

The Vols are coming off a 51-48 overtime loss to Missouri in which they blew a 21-7 halftime lead. Vanderbilt rallied from 17 down in beating Mississippi 27-26 on the road for a big boost of confidence.

The SEC's four best receivers will be on display in this game. Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson average 161.7 yards each game, second only to Vanderbilt's duo of Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd (168.9 yards). Tyler Bray also has Rodgers and tight end Mychal Rivera as targets, helping him throw for 1,302 yards in just the last three games.

Jordan Rodgers believes Matthews and Boyd are getting better every game.

"To have two guys to know if I miss a ball a couple feet this way or that way that I didn't want it, they're still going to be able to make a play ... it's a good feeling," Rodgers said.

With Tennessee averaging 495.1 yards total offense and scoring 37.9 points per game, slowing down the Vols seems a tough task. Vanderbilt allows only 18 points per game, blown out only 48-3 by Georgia in September.

"Really all I'm concerned about right now with our team is that they don't lose their focus on all the things they could be thinking about that won't help them play well," Dooley said.

___

AP Sports Writer Steve Megargee contributed to this report from Knoxville, Tenn.

___

Follow Teresa M. Walker on Twitter at www.teresamwalker

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Comments » 21

born2ride writes:

Even Dooley can beat Vandy.

volboy81 writes:

"Vandy coach James Franklin wants a big turnout of his own, even tweeting out Thursday that the ticket office had been told to only sell to Commodores' fans the final tickets left."

This is SO typical of Vanderbilt sportsmanship!
they tried doing this about 12-15 yrs ago, insisting that anyone buying a ticket to the UT-Vandy game had to join the Commodore club! (for an extra $100) This should be against NCAA rules....everything else seems to be!!

spacehistorian writes:

I can't remember when the Vols went into the Vandy game as an underdog. It is sad to think that if Tennessee does pull off a victory it will be considered an upset. Big Orange Nation is pretty depressed right now but I remain hopeful these things go in cycles. I remember when Coach Majors returned to The Hill to go 4-7, 5-5-1, 7-5 & 5-6 in his first four years before the program became a consistent winner & bowl participant(except for that weird 1988 season). The difference now is that the Vols just haven't shown any improvement on defense. Now we are struggling to compete with the likes of Vandy and Kentucky to avoid the cellar of the SEC East. I hope the next coach & his staff are able to rebuild our proud program into competing with the best of the SEC and winning on a regular basis. Until then we just have to support the team and the current coaching staff with class. Coach Dooley is a decent human being who clearly is trying to get this team to play their best and win games. It just hasn't worked out that way and that it not a moral failing. It just means that Coach Dooley's time is at an end and Big Orange Nation is ready to move forward.

ollias#273315 writes:

Hope we don't have to kick a field goal or an extra point to win the game.

MurfVol77 writes:

in response to ollias#273315:

Hope we don't have to kick a field goal or an extra point to win the game.

true that!!!

dvhill100 writes:

Won't sell any remaining tickets unless you are a VU fan? Just how are they going to tell? Yell "Go Vols" and see the response? Common sense is an uncommon virtue some times.

HopeisNotaCourseofAction writes:

in response to dvhill100:

Won't sell any remaining tickets unless you are a VU fan? Just how are they going to tell? Yell "Go Vols" and see the response? Common sense is an uncommon virtue some times.

You can easily pick out the VU fans by the shape of their large egg heads (hard to see around them if you are unfortunate enough to sit behind one at a game), and many also have pocket protectors.

6972 writes:

If it comes down to the wire....I will not be able to stand to watch. What was it Glover said in the LETHAL WEAPSONS movie series, " I'm too old for this ...."

CantStandCantStandSaban writes:

in response to ollias#273315:

Hope we don't have to kick a field goal or an extra point to win the game.

I hope we don't have a chance at a game winning drive at the end of regulation, cause we all know how that will end up.

CrankE writes:

I've broken the code:

Sal Sunseri, "Nothing is going to change."

A week ago, Duuley was telling us it was just like the Bruce Hornsby song.

That's just the way it is.
Some things will never change.

Gotta give them props for being consistent on their talking points!

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to CrankE:

I've broken the code:

Sal Sunseri, "Nothing is going to change."

A week ago, Duuley was telling us it was just like the Bruce Hornsby song.

That's just the way it is.
Some things will never change.

Gotta give them props for being consistent on their talking points!

LMAO.

GeneralNeylandsReturn writes:

in response to spacehistorian:

I can't remember when the Vols went into the Vandy game as an underdog. It is sad to think that if Tennessee does pull off a victory it will be considered an upset. Big Orange Nation is pretty depressed right now but I remain hopeful these things go in cycles. I remember when Coach Majors returned to The Hill to go 4-7, 5-5-1, 7-5 & 5-6 in his first four years before the program became a consistent winner & bowl participant(except for that weird 1988 season). The difference now is that the Vols just haven't shown any improvement on defense. Now we are struggling to compete with the likes of Vandy and Kentucky to avoid the cellar of the SEC East. I hope the next coach & his staff are able to rebuild our proud program into competing with the best of the SEC and winning on a regular basis. Until then we just have to support the team and the current coaching staff with class. Coach Dooley is a decent human being who clearly is trying to get this team to play their best and win games. It just hasn't worked out that way and that it not a moral failing. It just means that Coach Dooley's time is at an end and Big Orange Nation is ready to move forward.

I can't remember when either, maybe 77?

But you make some good points - Major's had some time to turn things around, and even with some great players, Craig Puki, Herbert Simpson, Reggie White, on and on; we he honestly really struggled until the 83 season when he broke through with 9 wins (after the 5-6 season of 81 he did get us back into a bowl in 70 where we lost to Purdue in the Astro-Blue-Bonnet Bowl, and then back into a bowl in 81, the Garden State Bowl against Wisconsin, and finished with a win for an 8-4 record...but then fell to 6-5-1 in 1982 opening the season with a loss to Duke and ending it with a loss to Iowa in the Peach Bowl) but ending the 11 game Bama streak; but it wasn't until 83 beating Maryland in the Citrus Bowl that he won his first 9 game season - and then it was right back to 7-4-1 in 1984 with a loss to Kentucky and Maryland in the Sun Bowl.

Then when he finally had enough depth and heart (Chris White and Dale Jones) to overcome an injury like Tony Robinson, he finally put together a Championship Team (a team that was actually 9-2-1, but by the end of the season, could have beat anybody...Miami being the one who had to take the 35-7 beating.)
Then in 1987 he finally won his first 10 game season (10-2-1 that included a win over the Lee Corso Indiana team 27-22.)

Point being it took 10 years to accomplish that, and he followed 19185 with a 7-5 record in 1986 that included a Liberty Bowl win over Minnesota. And Major’s had a NC ring.

GeneralNeylandsReturn writes:

And then there was 1988 - 0-6 with the sixth being a tough well played 20-28 loss to Alabama, followed by 5 straight wins. Probably the team in my life I am most proud of outside the 1998 team.

That team was loaded with future All-Americans and NFL stars that were young (just look at the roster)...and point being he survived; he survived to go 11-1 in 1989, basically losing a national championship on one Utah pass in the Bama game...and from that point until 2005 we never lost less than 8 games.

Majors never won more than 9 games again (9-2-2 in 1990...though he tied National Champion Colorado 31-31 to open that season and finished it in the Sugar Bowl with a 23-22 win over then #1 Virginia...and 9-3 in 91 when we had the miracle in South Bend, but he lost his team with tirades in the 17-42 debacle with Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl (up 17-7 halfway through the 3rd with a 324-59 in total yardage. They quit on him and Andy Kelly - those who were in the locker room know why.

The next year, well say what you want, but we had the east wrapped up and Majors came back from his heart attack and we managed to lose three SEC games to hand the east back to FL.

We made a change, not 3 years out but 18 years out, and by 1997 and 1998 we had not only the last back to back SEC championships, but an undefeated 13-0 team with a BCS Championship.

Then we decided we could do better after two tough seasons in 2005 and 2008 - now we are scrambling. Sometimes change isn't the answer, sometimes it is - but as Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence, "prudence dictates" (you can look up the rest.)

Dooley has done some heavy lifting but his coaching is not that of his peers, certainly not his coaching staff anyway - the fan base and market of college football have changed - stability is rare, hard to find...do we keep Dooley...above my pay grade.

But know this, the grass is not always greener on the other side. And we saw the best decade of modern Tennessee football because we fired a HC coach but kept together a stable staff.

We are not in a position like that this time. Yet at the same time, who knows what could happen if a stable staff had some time.

Unstable staff's, well Alabama, Southern Cal, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Miami - they have all been through this over the past two decades.

It seems to be our turn...it will be if we make the wrong choice.

GeneralNeylandsReturn writes:

1979 Astro-Blue Bonnet Bowl, not 1970 - was there, man we came back to take a 22-21 lead then inthe last minutes and lost it...heartbreaker

orange_eVOLution writes:

Little bit of a misprint in this article...

"and give coach Derek Dooley a better chance of keeping his job."

Should have said...

"and give coach Derek Dooley a better chance of not losing his job until after the Kentucky game."

GO VOLS!! BEAT VANDY!!

cltvol writes:

in response to GeneralNeylandsReturn:

And then there was 1988 - 0-6 with the sixth being a tough well played 20-28 loss to Alabama, followed by 5 straight wins. Probably the team in my life I am most proud of outside the 1998 team.

That team was loaded with future All-Americans and NFL stars that were young (just look at the roster)...and point being he survived; he survived to go 11-1 in 1989, basically losing a national championship on one Utah pass in the Bama game...and from that point until 2005 we never lost less than 8 games.

Majors never won more than 9 games again (9-2-2 in 1990...though he tied National Champion Colorado 31-31 to open that season and finished it in the Sugar Bowl with a 23-22 win over then #1 Virginia...and 9-3 in 91 when we had the miracle in South Bend, but he lost his team with tirades in the 17-42 debacle with Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl (up 17-7 halfway through the 3rd with a 324-59 in total yardage. They quit on him and Andy Kelly - those who were in the locker room know why.

The next year, well say what you want, but we had the east wrapped up and Majors came back from his heart attack and we managed to lose three SEC games to hand the east back to FL.

We made a change, not 3 years out but 18 years out, and by 1997 and 1998 we had not only the last back to back SEC championships, but an undefeated 13-0 team with a BCS Championship.

Then we decided we could do better after two tough seasons in 2005 and 2008 - now we are scrambling. Sometimes change isn't the answer, sometimes it is - but as Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence, "prudence dictates" (you can look up the rest.)

Dooley has done some heavy lifting but his coaching is not that of his peers, certainly not his coaching staff anyway - the fan base and market of college football have changed - stability is rare, hard to find...do we keep Dooley...above my pay grade.

But know this, the grass is not always greener on the other side. And we saw the best decade of modern Tennessee football because we fired a HC coach but kept together a stable staff.

We are not in a position like that this time. Yet at the same time, who knows what could happen if a stable staff had some time.

Unstable staff's, well Alabama, Southern Cal, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Miami - they have all been through this over the past two decades.

It seems to be our turn...it will be if we make the wrong choice.

why did they quit in AZ? i heard it was something to do with someone on team taking other's belongings. Be as generic as you need to be,,but its been 20+ years so as my buddy would say,,
' the statue of liberty has run out'

HazardKYVol writes:

Hope Rodgers doesn't have a career day. If so, it will be a long day.

snuffysmiff writes:

in response to GeneralNeylandsReturn:

I can't remember when either, maybe 77?

But you make some good points - Major's had some time to turn things around, and even with some great players, Craig Puki, Herbert Simpson, Reggie White, on and on; we he honestly really struggled until the 83 season when he broke through with 9 wins (after the 5-6 season of 81 he did get us back into a bowl in 70 where we lost to Purdue in the Astro-Blue-Bonnet Bowl, and then back into a bowl in 81, the Garden State Bowl against Wisconsin, and finished with a win for an 8-4 record...but then fell to 6-5-1 in 1982 opening the season with a loss to Duke and ending it with a loss to Iowa in the Peach Bowl) but ending the 11 game Bama streak; but it wasn't until 83 beating Maryland in the Citrus Bowl that he won his first 9 game season - and then it was right back to 7-4-1 in 1984 with a loss to Kentucky and Maryland in the Sun Bowl.

Then when he finally had enough depth and heart (Chris White and Dale Jones) to overcome an injury like Tony Robinson, he finally put together a Championship Team (a team that was actually 9-2-1, but by the end of the season, could have beat anybody...Miami being the one who had to take the 35-7 beating.)
Then in 1987 he finally won his first 10 game season (10-2-1 that included a win over the Lee Corso Indiana team 27-22.)

Point being it took 10 years to accomplish that, and he followed 19185 with a 7-5 record in 1986 that included a Liberty Bowl win over Minnesota. And Major’s had a NC ring.

The Vols were a 1-2 pt underdog to Vandy last year in Knoxville.

snuffysmiff writes:

in response to HazardKYVol:

Hope Rodgers doesn't have a career day. If so, it will be a long day.

Every SEC QB has had a career day against the Vols. This one probably won't be any different either.

snuffysmiff writes:

in response to cltvol:

why did they quit in AZ? i heard it was something to do with someone on team taking other's belongings. Be as generic as you need to be,,but its been 20+ years so as my buddy would say,,
' the statue of liberty has run out'

I heard the team quit because Majors called out Dale Carter using derogatory language. He lost his team and started the downhill to losing his job as UT head coach.

caverunner writes:

in response to born2ride:

Even Dooley can beat Vandy.

Hopefully Tennessee will lose this game thus sealing CDD's fate at UT! Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and move on, and if losing to Vandy gets rid of CDD then go Dores!

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