Swimming in the backwash of his 14th straight loss to a ranked foe, Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley pulled no punches Monday.
In a prolonged opening statement at his weekly formal press conference, Dooley uncorked a number of airy haymakers.
The players caught a piece. The coaches, including himself, took some of it.
Hopefully, Smokey ducked.
Among the blows:
"It gets a little frustrating when you see your guys who are very capable, you've seen them do it and it's not anything new, and they don't do it. We have to keep doing a good job as coaches to demand it and if guys can't do it, we have to put other guys in."
"I think their spirit is broken and it should be."
"Justin (Hunter) has to understand that playing receiver is not always clean and easy."
"We are not playing good defense and we are not playing well enough on offense to overcome it. That is the way it is."
"Are (fans) upset? Of course, they should be. I understand that. I am not in a position to defend what we are doing, make a case for what we are doing. We have to go prove it on the field."
And, of course, in regards to his quarterback, Tyler Bray: "Man up."
But, hey, on the bright side, "We have to go prove it on the field. Do I feel confident we will? I do."
South Carolina, Tennessee's opponent Saturday (TV: ESPN, noon) boasts an SEC-best 22 sacks in six league games.
Most of the heat comes from USC's relentless defensive line.
Tennessee left tackle Antonio Richardson scoffed when asked if any worries have arisen on the UT offensive line.
"We're one of the best offensive lines in the country so we're not worried about it," he responded.
On the injury front, Dooley noted that offensive lineman Zach Fulton (ankle) is doubtful against the Gamecocks and running back Rajion Neal (ankle) is probable after missing last weekend's game.
Bumbling along with four losses in five games, running back Marlin Lane thinks an upset of South Carolina could fuel a season-ending push.
"I feel like if we win Saturday, then we're going to win-out through the season, try to go 8-4 and get into a nice bowl game," he said.
Along with sophomore linebacker Jordan Williams, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Trevarris Saulsberry saw significant playing time against Alabama. Saulsberry recorded five tackles, including one for a loss.
Referring to the one-time deep reserves, Dooley said, "We probably should have put them in the lineup four weeks ago."
Saulsberry is expecting more time against South Carolina.
He's also expecting a win.
"There is no losing this week," Saulsberry said. "We have to go win this game down in South Carolina."
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn