John Adams: Vols need to play to strengths

Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter, left, helps fellow wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson remove wrapping around his hair during the fourth quarter of the game against Georgia State at Neyland Stadium Saturday. Tennessee won 51-13 over Georgia State. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter, left, helps fellow wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson remove wrapping around his hair during the fourth quarter of the game against Georgia State at Neyland Stadium Saturday. Tennessee won 51-13 over Georgia State. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Dooley on Vols' defense, offense and special teams

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Tennessee's open-date week apparently was a resounding success. The team honed its fundamental skills, avoided injuries and didn't have anyone arrested.

It didn't reinvent itself, though.

The Vols won't hit the halfway mark of the season until they play Mississippi State in Starkville late Saturday night. But their identity is firmly established.

And it's hardly surprising.

You knew in preseason the offense was promising. You also knew the kicking game was questionable and the defense was potentially vulnerable.

Those preseason expectations have been confirmed through five games, especially in the last two against SEC teams. The Vols have missed more extra-point kicks (four) than any other team in the conference. They probably would be giving up big plays at a school-record pace — if the school kept such a record. They're also averaging more than 500 yards per game in total offense.

Such imbalance isn't the exception in the SEC. Texas A&M is first in offense and eighth in defense. Alabama and LSU are one-two in defense, but eighth and ninth in offense.

Balance isn't crucial. Playing to your strengths is.

No one does that better than No. 1 Alabama, which relies on its defense to make plays and its offense not to make mistakes.

So what if the Tide ranks eighth in total offense. It leads the conference in fewest turnovers (three fumbles and no interceptions).

Tennessee must lean in a different direction if it hopes to turn this into a successful season.

The extra-point kicking might become more proficient, but neither Michael Palardy nor Derrick Brodus will become Caleb Sturgis. The defense might reduce its number of chase scenes per game, but it won't suddenly strike fear into anyone's offense.

Tennessee could improve in those areas, but you can't expect it to excel. That's where the offense comes in.

As productive as the Vols have been offensively, they have hardly maximized their potential. Their corps of big-play wide receivers needs a surer grip. Quarterback Tyler Bray needs to make better decisions under duress.

And the coaching staff needs to realize it's not going to win many games with defense and kicking.

Late in the third quarter, with UT trailing Georgia 51-37, coach Derek Dooley called on his placekicker of the day to attempt a 28-yard field goal, rather than go for a fourth-and-5 from the Georgia 10. Even if Brodus had converted the kick, the Vols still would have been down 11 points with a quarter to play.

As it turned out, Georgia didn't score in the fourth quarter and even

tually won 51-44. That probably said more about the Bulldogs' conservative play calling than UT's defense. They threw only once on first down the rest of the game — for a 13-yard completion.

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze demonstrated a better understanding of his team's strengths and weaknesses, even though his strategy didn't work out Saturday against Texas A&M. Facing fourth-and-an-inch and holding a four-point lead, Ole Miss went for the first down from midfield.

The Aggies tackled running back Jeff Scott behind the line, then quickly drove for the game-winning touchdown. But Texas A&M also breezed 99 yards in only three plays for another score against the same defense.

Distance doesn't matter much with bad defenses. For example, take three of Georgia's scoring drives against UT — one play, 75 yards; two plays, 56 yards; three plays, 81 yards.

Never mind if Tennessee's defense improves somewhat. The Vols still will have a better chance of matching those scores than preventing them.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 30

VolinCalif writes:

John you didn't have to put it in the first sentence. But I love it.

6972 writes:

Guess all the readers enjoyed the police report.
Hope Saturday on the field that the players are guilty of assault and battery, especially the defense.
Go Vols.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

Sorry, but I would have gone for it on that fourth and five. No faith in the FG kicking, but that isn't it. I wanted them to go for it because of the exact thing Adams is talking about. Down by 14 against #5, on the road, you have to take those risks. I guarantee he would have gone for it on fourth and five at the 30. Failing there would have given the Dogs a lot better field position than inside the 10. Trust the offense. Take some chances. Coach like Spurrier -- go for it any time you're on their side of the field.

Stooley_Dinks writes:

What is with the "let's play pony tail salon" pic?!?

These are truly dark days.

John, just come out and SAY IT like Sam Kinnison demanded in Back to School...remember Robert Downey, Jr before he had dental work? Dooley is too much of a p___y wimp to call THE PLAY!

But Stooley, you are a troll. Really, wanting our coach to win games is being a troll?

Yes, if you don't predict a 4 TD win every game, you are a troll.

But, what if we lose due to bad coaching and I really believe a better coach could win?

Then you are a troll. If Bill Battle had recruited better, then he would have started a string of 40 National Championships. However, when Nixon resigned, Battle was so upset, he lost it. Johnny Majors was poised to win, but Jimmy Carter and the oil embargoes were too much to overcome.

But that is irrelevant. Dooley is the coach now.

Yes, but WaltGoVols psyched him out just like you. He was on his way to a National Championship, but you, Walt, and Merlot posted ugly things about his ability. That hurt his feelings. Everyone knows that polishing Dooley's shoes is the only way to win. Firing Dooley and hiring a great coach would be disastrous.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Sorry, but I would have gone for it on that fourth and five. No faith in the FG kicking, but that isn't it. I wanted them to go for it because of the exact thing Adams is talking about. Down by 14 against #5, on the road, you have to take those risks. I guarantee he would have gone for it on fourth and five at the 30. Failing there would have given the Dogs a lot better field position than inside the 10. Trust the offense. Take some chances. Coach like Spurrier -- go for it any time you're on their side of the field.

Well 85 I agree. those big plays in the first half made us look like a JC team getting ready to be really waxed. But the second half was a ball game and the Def was starting to show up. We had nothing to lose by going for it at the 10 and we would still have to score again to win. So what the h.. go for it.

UTistheOLEMISSoftheEAST writes:

I'm just glad i'm not a ut fan. How miserable that must be.

EIGHT

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to UTistheOLEMISSoftheEAST:

I'm just glad i'm not a ut fan. How miserable that must be.

EIGHT

being an instigating troll is miserable

Classof72 writes:

"And the coaching staff needs to realize it's not going to win many games with defense and kicking."

If that's true, the fans need to realize the Vols aren't going to win many games, because defense and kicking are how games are won. See Alabama.

15_counting writes:

Whats up with the Hunter/Patterson School Of Beauty? Rent those boys a station somewhere!

bigdisbig writes:

in response to UTistheOLEMISSoftheEAST:

I'm just glad i'm not a ut fan. How miserable that must be.

EIGHT

How pathetic and small minded can you get dude? Even your name says it all about you. You admire and love the Vols or you wouldn't even care but in your pathetic small minded state you want to lash out for attention because they fired your idol.....Fulmer. You pretend to be a fan of another team but its the Vols you want to love. You need a hug from Fulmer to tell you its going to be ok.

SCVFL writes:

IF VOLS can eliminate the 50-70 yd runs, they should be able to win. Hopefully OC will come up with another good play call plan. GA was the best game he has called since he has been at UT.
I still think he could still use a little more misdirections.
And as much as I screamed earlier in year about Bray needing to run , at least a little, like when there is 20 yds open in front of him...I have changed my mind. His run results are not to impressive. Just throw it straight or hand it off.
Hopefully, some of the freshman secondary will step up big and salvage this season.

GO BIG RNG...VFL

JayTee writes:

Gen Neyland's seven maxims tells you how to play winning football but it's evident by the way we play our coaches and players neither read them or heed them.

In case they have been forgotten:

General Neyland's 7 Maxims

1. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.

2. Play for and make the breaks and when one comes your way - SCORE.

3. If at first the game - or the breaks - go against you, don't let up... put on more steam.

4. Protect our kickers, our QB, our lead and our ball game.

5. Ball, oskie, cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang tackle... for this is the WINNING EDGE.

6. Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made.

7. Carry the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes.

jdcdjc writes:

You fair weather fans just make me sick.
GO VOLS.
Get behind them or get out of the way and shut up!!!

Orangepuddinskin writes:

As much as I hate to ever admit it when John Adams is right, he is correct this time around. Until our Defense learns this new scheme, it is going to have a lot of growing pains. Our strength is Offense, so we need to just make sure that we score, score, score.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Thanks John for giving vol fans the scoop on everything we already know and read 50 times..How about telling us about what really happened during bye week practice..To get actual good sports writing go to VOLS247 ..Wes Rucker does a good job with updates from Press conferences where he asks important questions of Dooley instead of sitting there holding a recorder..things of note.....Brewer still ahead of McNeil on depth chart but may not get the start...also Maggitt's toe did not get better with the week off

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to JayTee:

Gen Neyland's seven maxims tells you how to play winning football but it's evident by the way we play our coaches and players neither read them or heed them.

In case they have been forgotten:

General Neyland's 7 Maxims

1. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.

2. Play for and make the breaks and when one comes your way - SCORE.

3. If at first the game - or the breaks - go against you, don't let up... put on more steam.

4. Protect our kickers, our QB, our lead and our ball game.

5. Ball, oskie, cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang tackle... for this is the WINNING EDGE.

6. Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made.

7. Carry the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes.

You can add another good Neyland quote..3 things happen when you pass the ball and 2 of them are bad!! Stick with the running game and eventually it will produces..Muschamp proved it against LSU when late in the 3rd quarter LSU got tired and Gillislee broke the game wide open

pcorange writes:

in response to Classof72:

"And the coaching staff needs to realize it's not going to win many games with defense and kicking."

If that's true, the fans need to realize the Vols aren't going to win many games, because defense and kicking are how games are won. See Alabama.

Amen to that. Offense scores points and puts butts in the stands, but defense wins football games and championships. If offense alone could win national championships, the Big 12 would have the last 6 NCs instead of the SEC.

6972 writes:

in response to pcorange:

Amen to that. Offense scores points and puts butts in the stands, but defense wins football games and championships. If offense alone could win national championships, the Big 12 would have the last 6 NCs instead of the SEC.

Well said PcOrange. The defense needs to get its act together quick. If they don't, our Vols are going to be covered by an avalanche in October.

pcshowtime writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Sorry, but I would have gone for it on that fourth and five. No faith in the FG kicking, but that isn't it. I wanted them to go for it because of the exact thing Adams is talking about. Down by 14 against #5, on the road, you have to take those risks. I guarantee he would have gone for it on fourth and five at the 30. Failing there would have given the Dogs a lot better field position than inside the 10. Trust the offense. Take some chances. Coach like Spurrier -- go for it any time you're on their side of the field.

Dang we agree on something

budd#207344 writes:

I have a question. Although I am not on the Wilcox bandwagon, last year we ended with the 28th ranked defense. The D worked well in the first half then faded in the second. We were told it was lack of depth. This year the D spent this last week working on basic tackling and angles and pursuit? We have more depth and didn't lose any impact seniors except Malik from D. Is this defense that much more difficult that it causes players to forget how to play? Or is there some other reason that we have gone backward on defense this year?

kevininaugustageorgia writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Sorry, but I would have gone for it on that fourth and five. No faith in the FG kicking, but that isn't it. I wanted them to go for it because of the exact thing Adams is talking about. Down by 14 against #5, on the road, you have to take those risks. I guarantee he would have gone for it on fourth and five at the 30. Failing there would have given the Dogs a lot better field position than inside the 10. Trust the offense. Take some chances. Coach like Spurrier -- go for it any time you're on their side of the field.

Derek Dooley going for the FG there probably has as much to do with all the critisim he is under as any football reason. Either way he decided to go, it's still 3rd quarter and would not win or lose the game at that time.

I would have gone for the first down there, too. Just like you and ol John here.

But, say he did go for the first down and they failed to get it? You, John or me just shrug it off and say, we gave it a shot.

For Dooley, it's 2 weeks of "what the heck was he thinking? He wasted the drive! He should have taken the GUARANTEED 3 points (See, when they are criticizing, no way the kicker would have missed that one). So, the outside noise from the out to get Dooley crowd would go off the meter on that call.

He called it safe, like most coaches under fire will do.

Maybe when / if Dooley is confident that the ramifications of taking the less-conservative approach is normal. As in, just ticking off a few fans and reporters if it fails to work, he will call one like that different.

Right now, making such a call only gives more ammunition to the "he's an idiot" crowd.

So, I expect when the coach is faced with situations where there is no clear cut right or wrong, he is going to go with the by the book appproach--for the moment, anyway. Why give the fire Dooley crowd additional ammunition?

As long as you go with the normal, expected call, you can justify the criticism.

Like it or not, that has to enter into the thought process if you want to win and hang around to enjoy it too.

kevininaugustageorgia writes:

in response to budd#207344:

I have a question. Although I am not on the Wilcox bandwagon, last year we ended with the 28th ranked defense. The D worked well in the first half then faded in the second. We were told it was lack of depth. This year the D spent this last week working on basic tackling and angles and pursuit? We have more depth and didn't lose any impact seniors except Malik from D. Is this defense that much more difficult that it causes players to forget how to play? Or is there some other reason that we have gone backward on defense this year?

The issues now on defense are mostly inconsistencies. That is what happens when you are going through the transition.

Several college football former coach turned analysts, familiar with other teams who have made the switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 warned about this over the summer. Folks who know have said this transition year would have ups and downs.

Players are still getting confused from time to time on responsibilities. That's why the defense works great most of the time, then wham! A 70 yard TD run.

If the offense lined up the exact same way every time, no problem. But offenses use multiple formations and lots of motions to try and create confusion.

The other guys have highly paid coaches and scholarship players, too.

As the year goes on, the defense will continue to improve and the big plays will become less.

Switching to this defense is a process. Like it or not, this is the year UT pays the price for learning.

It would have been nice for them to have gotten away with making the change without pain, but other teams that make the switch have experienced the same things and the same pains.

TNVol71 writes:

in response to UTistheOLEMISSoftheEAST:

I'm just glad i'm not a ut fan. How miserable that must be.

EIGHT

Wow. You must be a masochist and have a really sorry life to continue coming back to this site just to make your inane comments. Get a life!! Starting tracking Florida and Alabama since you obviously hate UT.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to Stooley_Dinks:

What is with the "let's play pony tail salon" pic?!?

These are truly dark days.

John, just come out and SAY IT like Sam Kinnison demanded in Back to School...remember Robert Downey, Jr before he had dental work? Dooley is too much of a p___y wimp to call THE PLAY!

But Stooley, you are a troll. Really, wanting our coach to win games is being a troll?

Yes, if you don't predict a 4 TD win every game, you are a troll.

But, what if we lose due to bad coaching and I really believe a better coach could win?

Then you are a troll. If Bill Battle had recruited better, then he would have started a string of 40 National Championships. However, when Nixon resigned, Battle was so upset, he lost it. Johnny Majors was poised to win, but Jimmy Carter and the oil embargoes were too much to overcome.

But that is irrelevant. Dooley is the coach now.

Yes, but WaltGoVols psyched him out just like you. He was on his way to a National Championship, but you, Walt, and Merlot posted ugly things about his ability. That hurt his feelings. Everyone knows that polishing Dooley's shoes is the only way to win. Firing Dooley and hiring a great coach would be disastrous.

Overstating your trollness is not what makes it so. Not ever showing ANY hope for our team is. Not ever believing. Not ever showing Dooley or anything UT respect is usually the sign of a "troll". Your handle alone is the kind of handle most "trolls would use. Have you picked UT to win any games at all? Maybe you have, grudgingly?

BTW don't flatter your self and the "others" by thinking Dooley cares what non-fans think. Real fans don't care either. We respond because we want to defend UT and bring out the positives. Well it's fun also at times. So post all you want I don't care. I seriously hope the potential players reading this sight don't care either.

budd#207344 writes:

in response to kevininaugustageorgia:

The issues now on defense are mostly inconsistencies. That is what happens when you are going through the transition.

Several college football former coach turned analysts, familiar with other teams who have made the switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 warned about this over the summer. Folks who know have said this transition year would have ups and downs.

Players are still getting confused from time to time on responsibilities. That's why the defense works great most of the time, then wham! A 70 yard TD run.

If the offense lined up the exact same way every time, no problem. But offenses use multiple formations and lots of motions to try and create confusion.

The other guys have highly paid coaches and scholarship players, too.

As the year goes on, the defense will continue to improve and the big plays will become less.

Switching to this defense is a process. Like it or not, this is the year UT pays the price for learning.

It would have been nice for them to have gotten away with making the change without pain, but other teams that make the switch have experienced the same things and the same pains.

I have heard and seen the same thing. So why, in a critical year, would you make this kind of change? This is a team that needs a winning season more than ever. Imagine where the record is if last year's D with depth is playing instead of this unit?

VOLFLIAM writes:

in response to UTistheOLEMISSoftheEAST:

I'm just glad i'm not a ut fan. How miserable that must be.

EIGHT

Why are you on this board then ???? Idiot ????

jakethevolguy writes:

God, I hope UT wins Saturday so you miserable buttwads stfu.

kevininaugustageorgia writes:

in response to UTistheOLEMISSoftheEAST:

I'm just glad i'm not a ut fan. How miserable that must be.

EIGHT

I'm glad your not a UT fan too. Adding your I.Q. into the other million UT fans brings our collective average down.

I'm a UT fan and I'm not miserable. Good for Florida, they have won 7 or 8 in a row over UT!

UT's day will come around again. Normal fans get that. I surely hope that when UT is on a good winning streak against Florida and ranked in the top 5, they will spend their time celebrating with UT folks.

Rather than acting like an idiot trolling for responses to stupid comments on the Florida fans sites.

Will Muschamp is looking like a great coach. Good for the good Florida fans!

Too bad for him he has more of the silly trolls as fans than the normal coach...

kevininaugustageorgia writes:

in response to budd#207344:

I have heard and seen the same thing. So why, in a critical year, would you make this kind of change? This is a team that needs a winning season more than ever. Imagine where the record is if last year's D with depth is playing instead of this unit?

My guess is it went like this:

Dooley had always planned on going to the 3-4 at some point. Had Wilcox stayed, he would not have changed this year. But, when Wilcox wanted to go, he had to have a new coordinator.

He could have possibly found a good 4-3 guy and hired him. But, that still means he has the change to make at some point.

Hiring a new coordinator creates some risk regardless of what system he uses. A new 4-3 guy may have come in and had issues that were not foreseen.

That course means you risk having issues this year as well as when you make the change you intend to make.

Since change is in the plan, why not go ahead and make it to the one you want to be married to for the long term? Its as simple as making the best of the situation.

Wilcox was leaving and somebody new had to be hired. May as well bite the bullet and go all in at that point.

That defense will continue to improve this year because Sunseri is going to be a good coordinator. I would bet money on that.

Will it improve enough to make a difference verses MSU, Ala, or SC? I don't know.

But, I believe they can out-score MSU and Missouri with what they have. If they get good enough soon enough on defense to compete with Alabama or SC that will be a big plus.

8-4 regular season as they stand. If they do that and scare phooey out of Ala or SC, I think that will do for now. Next year this defense--and this whole team--should be really strong.

kevininaugustageorgia writes:

in response to Stooley_Dinks:

What is with the "let's play pony tail salon" pic?!?

These are truly dark days.

John, just come out and SAY IT like Sam Kinnison demanded in Back to School...remember Robert Downey, Jr before he had dental work? Dooley is too much of a p___y wimp to call THE PLAY!

But Stooley, you are a troll. Really, wanting our coach to win games is being a troll?

Yes, if you don't predict a 4 TD win every game, you are a troll.

But, what if we lose due to bad coaching and I really believe a better coach could win?

Then you are a troll. If Bill Battle had recruited better, then he would have started a string of 40 National Championships. However, when Nixon resigned, Battle was so upset, he lost it. Johnny Majors was poised to win, but Jimmy Carter and the oil embargoes were too much to overcome.

But that is irrelevant. Dooley is the coach now.

Yes, but WaltGoVols psyched him out just like you. He was on his way to a National Championship, but you, Walt, and Merlot posted ugly things about his ability. That hurt his feelings. Everyone knows that polishing Dooley's shoes is the only way to win. Firing Dooley and hiring a great coach would be disastrous.

I do not think you are a troll, Stooley. I just think you are wrong.

But, you got lots of company out there. If the coach don't win soon enough or don't win big enough, its "Fire the Coach." As if the next national championship coach in waiting is lined up outside the offices at UT.

Good thing your crowd wasn't listened to seriously in 1978, 79, 80 etc. If so, Majors would have been fired long before he brought the Vols back into the national picture.

Oh yeah, that means Fulmer would have been thrown out with the Majors water, too. And don't forget Chief, he was part of the crowd that developed during that era.

Hollarin' fire the coach about Dooley already don't make you a troll in my book, it just means you don't get it on what it takes to get UT football back on the map.

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