Closing holes is Vols' open-date priority

John Bazemore/Associated Press
Georgia running back Todd Gurley runs for a touchdown as Tennessee linebacker Curt Maggitt gives chase on Saturday in Athens, Ga.

Photo by John Bazemore, AP2012

John Bazemore/Associated Press Georgia running back Todd Gurley runs for a touchdown as Tennessee linebacker Curt Maggitt gives chase on Saturday in Athens, Ga.

Recap: Tennessee at Georgia

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"We're lined up wrong ... It's just bad defense ... Horrible angle ... It's just inexcusable.''

Commentary from an average Tennessee fan watching one of Georgia's long touchdown runs Saturday?

No, it was coach Derek Dooley on Sunday morning during his weekly TV show, reviewing Georgia's 51-44 victory over the Vols.

And that was just on one play.

The Bulldogs gouged UT's defense for 560 yards, the most allowed in the Dooley era. But just barely: Florida had 555 yards two weeks earlier.

Now the Vols (3-2, 0-2 SEC) have an open date before facing a slate of three more Top 25 SEC foes, beginning Oct. 13 at No. 20 Mississippi State. The Bulldogs (4-0, 1-0) play at Kentucky on Saturday.

TV coverage and kickoff time for the Vols' first trip to Starkville since 2007 should be announced today.

"Nobody can run him down back there ... We're just diving, throwing hands at the runner.''

Dooley again, commenting on another of Georgia's seven touchdowns.

The biggest challenge of the open date will be trying to solve why opponents are busting so many big plays against UT's defense.

Florida scored on an 80-yard run and a 75-yard pass and had another 45-yard run. Even Akron broke a

70-yard TD run.

Then Georgia hit on touchdown runs of 75, 72 and 51 yards.

Tennessee ranks 92nd in rush defense, allowing 187.8 yards per game.

"We've obviously got a lot of issues on stopping the run,'' Dooley said Saturday night. "We've got to correct that on this open date or we're not going to beat anybody.''

UT is in its first year of installing a 3-4 base defense under new coordinator Sal Sunseri. Growing pains were inevitable, but Dooley said confusion isn't the primary problem.

"It isn't from (trying to create) crazy pressure,'' he said. "It's from base defense and we're just getting whipped.

"We've played two top 10 teams and they whipped us.''

The secondary has been exposed due to lack of overall speed — with some poor tackling thrown in.

Tennessee lost starting cornerback Izauea Lanier in preseason due to academics. Starting safety Brian Randolph suffered a season-ending injury against Florida. "We miss Brian Randolph,'' Dooley said. "He was our last line of defense for a long time.

"He's a great tackler. To say that doesn't hurt us, it's not true.

"But our guys are more capable than what they've showed. I'm not down on who they are. I'm down on what they did.''

True freshman LaDarrell McNeil played extensively at safety in the second half. Dooley praised McNeil on his Sunday TV show.

"He's going to get every opportunity to show he's a good football player,'' Dooley said.

Palardy's Turn: Dooley said Michael Palardy will return as the No. 1 kicking option after Derrick Brodus missed a field goal and an extra point at Georgia.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 39

jobrando#216494 writes:

Coach D perhaps you should roll up your sleeve and show Sal how you want it done.

woodcutter writes:

Someone better be looking for some defensive coaches.

heyitsme writes:

Someone needs to get Worley and Peterman ready. Bray's last 3 turnovers in the 4th quarter cost UT the game. And don't act like it didn't.

Pullingguard writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Coach D perhaps you should roll up your sleeve and show Sal how you want it done.

why not, for Sal certainly has not brought nothing to the defense

florida-volfan writes:

No ****, because if not, I may just have to buy a ticket to every UT game from here on out, stand on the sideline, and every time I see an opposing back breaking off a 70 yard run I'll trip him up myself.....good grief, its like we need a 12th man out there

florida-volfan writes:

in response to Pullingguard:

why not, for Sal certainly has not brought nothing to the defense

How many people who were talking bad about John Chavis miss him now. I for one hated to see him go, his defense was very good in Fulmers last year, we just had no offense to help him out. His defenses may not have been the best in the SEC, but for the most part, they were always in position to make plays

alavol writes:

Coach Dooley was very clear and did not sugarcoat. When offense came back in second quarter, defense let the big one get away in the third quarter! We need to contain end arounds and stuff the middle.Where are the defensive backs? Glad coach dooley is using McNeal at safety. I think we get there very soon- like in two weeks. Go Vols! Go Bray, Hunter, CP and Neal.

FWBVol writes:

in response to heyitsme:

Someone needs to get Worley and Peterman ready. Bray's last 3 turnovers in the 4th quarter cost UT the game. And don't act like it didn't.

Yes, Bray had three turnovers on the last three possessions and I won't pretend like he didn't, but I won't blame the turnovers all on Bray.

The first pick he was being pressured and thew off balance. He missed the spot on that throw by a half-body width trying to hit the outside shoulder.

The fumble he stepped in the pocket and was trying to get a first down. Yes, he could have had better ball security, but again, he was trying to make a play. The last interception was a tipped ball that went Georgia's way.

No one player wins or loses a football game. If Patterson catches the wide open TD pass in the second quarter then we are trying to run out the clock to seal the win late in the fourth quarter. If Brodus hits the PAT and field goal we can play more conservatively knowing a field goal will send the game into OT and we don't have to play for the win.

If the punt team doesn't let the guy through for the easy block in the third quarter that sets up a touchdow, we have a good chance of winning.

And, oh yeah, if the defense give 560 yards in total offense and 51 points, we win the game.

Did Bray make some mistakes? Yes, but would we have been in position to win without him? I don't think so.

Oh yeah, and if the defense doesn't give up 560 yards in offense

GatorHater1998 writes:

Vols 33 miss st 26
Bama 42 Vols 14
Vols 30 south car 27
Vols 49 Troy 17
Vols 42 mizzou 30
Vols 35 Vandy 20
Vols 45 KY 13

I think our 1st big upset comes against south carolina.

alavol writes:

in response to FWBVol:

Yes, Bray had three turnovers on the last three possessions and I won't pretend like he didn't, but I won't blame the turnovers all on Bray.

The first pick he was being pressured and thew off balance. He missed the spot on that throw by a half-body width trying to hit the outside shoulder.

The fumble he stepped in the pocket and was trying to get a first down. Yes, he could have had better ball security, but again, he was trying to make a play. The last interception was a tipped ball that went Georgia's way.

No one player wins or loses a football game. If Patterson catches the wide open TD pass in the second quarter then we are trying to run out the clock to seal the win late in the fourth quarter. If Brodus hits the PAT and field goal we can play more conservatively knowing a field goal will send the game into OT and we don't have to play for the win.

If the punt team doesn't let the guy through for the easy block in the third quarter that sets up a touchdow, we have a good chance of winning.

And, oh yeah, if the defense give 560 yards in total offense and 51 points, we win the game.

Did Bray make some mistakes? Yes, but would we have been in position to win without him? I don't think so.

Oh yeah, and if the defense doesn't give up 560 yards in offense

I believe Bray is the best quarterback we have had since Casey Clausen and Tee Martin!His coach must instill confidence; he certainly has the tools. savour his skills and support him!

pcorange writes:

Well, at least he understands that 560 yards and 51 points is a bad thing.

OrangePsyched writes:

Cowardgrovebilly..still eating those retard sandwiches I see. I hope you aren't feeding them to the family also.

Its_Goooood writes:

in response to heyitsme:

Someone needs to get Worley and Peterman ready. Bray's last 3 turnovers in the 4th quarter cost UT the game. And don't act like it didn't.

What about his 5 scoring drives? To quote Leon " Tyler can't do it all " 560yds offense for dawgs" I guess he should have played both ways your clueless

VOL_IN_BAMA writes:

in response to GatorHater1998:

Vols 33 miss st 26
Bama 42 Vols 14
Vols 30 south car 27
Vols 49 Troy 17
Vols 42 mizzou 30
Vols 35 Vandy 20
Vols 45 KY 13

I think our 1st big upset comes against south carolina.

With a defense like ours there will be no big upset. I read where they gave up over 1000 yards between the Florida and Georgia game. Offense looks to be getting better but the defense is horrible. Can't win in the SEC giving up yardage like that.

Scoon writes:

in response to VOL_IN_BAMA:

With a defense like ours there will be no big upset. I read where they gave up over 1000 yards between the Florida and Georgia game. Offense looks to be getting better but the defense is horrible. Can't win in the SEC giving up yardage like that.

I think you'd better think again, Mr. tertiary red-orange. The vols will NOT beat KY at stated scores, rather a much slimmer margin is on the horizon, no matter who wins the match. You're gonna get all you want from the Cats.

RockyMtnVol writes:

Ok, ok, we heard it from the negavols the provols, the anti-Dooly and the pro-Dooly.
We can all agree there are two sides to this team and coaches. But the common thread, outside the trolls, is that we are Tennessee Fans and we want to win, who doesn't, but look at Arkansas...my god that is a melt down, UT is not melting down, we are getting better. Fla and UGA are about a year to two ahead of UT, we all know that, its a hard fact to swallow, but this is only CDD 2nd recuiting class and I believe he is doing a great job and switching to a 3-4 is tougher that anyone thought.

ashvol7 writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Coach D perhaps you should roll up your sleeve and show Sal how you want it done.

Maybe Coach Dooley should send Sunseri back to alabama, he is the worst that I have ever seen! While he is at it, send hart back with him!High school dc are better than this!

atnvol#283282 writes:

in response to FWBVol:

Yes, Bray had three turnovers on the last three possessions and I won't pretend like he didn't, but I won't blame the turnovers all on Bray.

The first pick he was being pressured and thew off balance. He missed the spot on that throw by a half-body width trying to hit the outside shoulder.

The fumble he stepped in the pocket and was trying to get a first down. Yes, he could have had better ball security, but again, he was trying to make a play. The last interception was a tipped ball that went Georgia's way.

No one player wins or loses a football game. If Patterson catches the wide open TD pass in the second quarter then we are trying to run out the clock to seal the win late in the fourth quarter. If Brodus hits the PAT and field goal we can play more conservatively knowing a field goal will send the game into OT and we don't have to play for the win.

If the punt team doesn't let the guy through for the easy block in the third quarter that sets up a touchdow, we have a good chance of winning.

And, oh yeah, if the defense give 560 yards in total offense and 51 points, we win the game.

Did Bray make some mistakes? Yes, but would we have been in position to win without him? I don't think so.

Oh yeah, and if the defense doesn't give up 560 yards in offense

Agree....just wish they could put a complete game together for once against a quality opponent....like Alabama. The Tn defense is what I am moslty concerned with....cannot tell if it is really the new 3-4, or the new DC that is hindering the most. One thing that cannot be changed this year is lack of speed in the secondary.

raoucubs writes:

We can not say the Defense does not get off the field quickly. The bad thing is they are not 3 and outs. Holes is not a good word for what is happening. The secondary is way too sloooooow. Definitely the worst part of the defense. They ran outside all day. ...I do not think Sal is the problem. It is a new look and it takes time to get everything worked out. Georgia was gashed the first year they installed this defense and bama was not much better the first of it either.

OLROCKYTOP writes:

in response to heyitsme:

Someone needs to get Worley and Peterman ready. Bray's last 3 turnovers in the 4th quarter cost UT the game. And don't act like it didn't.

Defense allowed 51 points????? Defense is more the issue than Tyler.

richvol writes:

in response to heyitsme:

Someone needs to get Worley and Peterman ready. Bray's last 3 turnovers in the 4th quarter cost UT the game. And don't act like it didn't.

Exactly...talk about choking that's Bray. Don't forget the goal-line fumble in the last game.

Your QB cannot be the one that fails every time the team needs a winning play or leadership.

Ayres_Hall writes:

Boo Hoo Hoo. Crybabies cry.

Who here thought we'd beat UGA back in July? Right. Stop crying. We're showing improvement with each game.

8-4 is still the goal.

6972 writes:

You cannot improve the secondary speed....but poor angles and arm tackling at this stage of the game ought not be a issue. So, what is it...coaching or talent or maybe both. We saw holes that 18 wheelers or Greyhound buses could run through. Defense, so I am told, wins championship. Ours so far, is not close. Let's hope of much better days defensively.

VOL_IN_BAMA writes:

in response to Scoon:

I think you'd better think again, Mr. tertiary red-orange. The vols will NOT beat KY at stated scores, rather a much slimmer margin is on the horizon, no matter who wins the match. You're gonna get all you want from the Cats.

Who said anything about KY??? All I said was that with the way the Vols were playing defense there will be no upset against a top 25 team. As far as beating KY, I don't see that being breaking news on ESPN.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Iam not much of a defensive guru but looking at our secondary which I thought would be a strength; They are pretty awful! I really don't understand why we can't get a top notch DB coach at UT..I can accept that they aren't fast but speed isn't the only skill required to be a decent cover guy or a good open field tackler..I guess it's safe to assume that we allow some of these big WR cushions for lack of speed but at this point I would rather see our DB's challenge slot or average WR's to at least knock them off or slow the progress of their routes..Didn't notice McNeil on the field but glad to see it cause this kid would knock your teeth out in HS..Just hope our sorry DB coach doesn't wreck him!

tennrich1 writes:

Not a defensive guru here BUT I think the one obvious problem on defense??? Lack of over speed....which creates bad angles...you commit to the run inside and once you realized the play has bounced outside where the speedsters can really ramble its too late to adjust because of lack of speed and some good line level and corner blocking by Ga. as well....I think that's mostly what happened Saturday night on at least two of those long runs...

tennrich1 writes:

in response to tennrich1:

Not a defensive guru here BUT I think the one obvious problem on defense??? Lack of over speed....which creates bad angles...you commit to the run inside and once you realized the play has bounced outside where the speedsters can really ramble its too late to adjust because of lack of speed and some good line level and corner blocking by Ga. as well....I think that's mostly what happened Saturday night on at least two of those long runs...

Woooo lick and a promise I didnt see your post before posting....BUT I KNOW I'M NOT A DEFENSIVE GURU....Great minds thinking alike!!

tennrich1 writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

Iam not much of a defensive guru but looking at our secondary which I thought would be a strength; They are pretty awful! I really don't understand why we can't get a top notch DB coach at UT..I can accept that they aren't fast but speed isn't the only skill required to be a decent cover guy or a good open field tackler..I guess it's safe to assume that we allow some of these big WR cushions for lack of speed but at this point I would rather see our DB's challenge slot or average WR's to at least knock them off or slow the progress of their routes..Didn't notice McNeil on the field but glad to see it cause this kid would knock your teeth out in HS..Just hope our sorry DB coach doesn't wreck him!

Acutally McNeil made one great tackle on the side run late in the game that saved a huge gain...I think we need him in there as much as possible especially with injuries....and if I'm a highly recruited cornerback or tailback....yeah you can bet I'm on my way to Tennessee...and all the playing time I can stand...

tennrich1 writes:

in response to heyitsme:

Someone needs to get Worley and Peterman ready. Bray's last 3 turnovers in the 4th quarter cost UT the game. And don't act like it didn't.

Ah yes the greatest player on the team...the mystical backup QB who has got to be better than the starter...how many times have we've seen the backup thrown in only to realize that wasnt the issue.....been that way for decades...but its always funny to see it rear its ugly head...when Peyton was throw it may be the only time I've seen it have a positive desired effect...of course we all knew he was the best QB on the team...just took a minute to get him there....

tennrich1 writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

For those of you who want a picture of misunderstanding (maybe intentional or not) read this post....

seaplane#216536 writes:

in response to 6972:

You cannot improve the secondary speed....but poor angles and arm tackling at this stage of the game ought not be a issue. So, what is it...coaching or talent or maybe both. We saw holes that 18 wheelers or Greyhound buses could run through. Defense, so I am told, wins championship. Ours so far, is not close. Let's hope of much better days defensively.

I agree. You'd think learning angles and arm tackling would have been corrected in Pop Warner.
The defensive secondary is non exsistent. If you've seen them in person, the defender is sometimes 30 yards away from the guy that catches the ball. Also, the linebackers and def. end need to communicate on who's keeping the runner from getting outside. These are basics. 550 yards on the defense. The General would be rolling over if he knew this was happening.

RealisticVol writes:

"We've obviously got a lot of issues on stopping the run,'' Dooley said Saturday night. "We've got to correct that on this open date or we're not going to beat anybody.''
At least somebody agrees with me on my loss projections.

usafvol writes:

in response to heyitsme:

Someone needs to get Worley and Peterman ready. Bray's last 3 turnovers in the 4th quarter cost UT the game. And don't act like it didn't.

Bray kept us in the game fool. Here's an idea for ya, get the book "Football for Dummies" and educate yourself..

usafvol writes:

in response to richvol:

Exactly...talk about choking that's Bray. Don't forget the goal-line fumble in the last game.

Your QB cannot be the one that fails every time the team needs a winning play or leadership.

You should know all about choking polesmoker!

GvlVol writes:

Okay,someone help me out. Last year, the only Tennessee team that had some success was the defense (offense and special teams were below average). Last years defense did the job, but we couldn't score points. The run was awful and Bray/Hunter were hurt and the O line was developing.

2012, we go to the 3-4 defense and can't run it. Our guys are learning it, but are having a fully anticipated problem adjusting to it. Performance against the run (and pass as far as I can tell, particularly in the middle) have fallen to epic lows. The 3-4 may be superior for our needs in the future. But we can't run it with current personnel. With many personnel improvements since last year, why in the world are we trying to make this dog hunt now? Why not install the defense from last year, enjoy the fruits of recruiting, and stop the run and work with our injured secondary? Seems to me that we could at least cover the run. We have those players! D line and linebackers are here. Let them stop the run. Perimeter players and secondary will have to adjust.

What am I missing?

DavidB writes:

in response to florida-volfan:

How many people who were talking bad about John Chavis miss him now. I for one hated to see him go, his defense was very good in Fulmers last year, we just had no offense to help him out. His defenses may not have been the best in the SEC, but for the most part, they were always in position to make plays

Letting Chavis go was one of the biggest mistakes Tennessee has made. I always thought that Chavis and Cutcliff is what made Fulmer such a winning coach. Chavis defense kept us in a lot of games and it was rare if any single rusher gained a 100 yards on a Chavis defense.

I think once the players fully understand the 3-4 we will be OK.

I just honestly dont think right now is the time to change coaching staff. These kids have had enough coaching changes to last them awhile.

My opinion is that leave the current coaches in place and see what they do next year. Next year Dooley will have Freshman, Sophomores and Juniors that he recruited on the field. If he cant win big games next year then look at a coaching change. It would be a more appealing job to a big name coach if we give Dooley a fighting chance to keep his job. If we are not productive next year then getting rid of him makes more sense.

If you change coaches right now then all these guys have to learn something new all over again so we go back to year 0 once again.

HopeisNotaCourseofAction writes:

in response to GvlVol:

Okay,someone help me out. Last year, the only Tennessee team that had some success was the defense (offense and special teams were below average). Last years defense did the job, but we couldn't score points. The run was awful and Bray/Hunter were hurt and the O line was developing.

2012, we go to the 3-4 defense and can't run it. Our guys are learning it, but are having a fully anticipated problem adjusting to it. Performance against the run (and pass as far as I can tell, particularly in the middle) have fallen to epic lows. The 3-4 may be superior for our needs in the future. But we can't run it with current personnel. With many personnel improvements since last year, why in the world are we trying to make this dog hunt now? Why not install the defense from last year, enjoy the fruits of recruiting, and stop the run and work with our injured secondary? Seems to me that we could at least cover the run. We have those players! D line and linebackers are here. Let them stop the run. Perimeter players and secondary will have to adjust.

What am I missing?

Last year we lost 7 games, 3 of them by 31 points or more. Don't know if last year is a successful bench mark. We're losing to the same teams again this year, so 4-3 or 3-4, still losing, losing, losing unless it is montana, buffalo, mTsu, ga state, akron...

Just a whole lotta what ifs, couldas, wouldas and shouldas for yet another year. Beat the cupcakes, lose every game we play vs ranked teams, at least 0-12 so far.

We may win 7 games this year and not beat a team with a winning record or anywhere near the top 50 for that matter. So stop yer belly achin' - 7 wins is possible - 7 WINS!! SaniFlush Toilet Bowl early in Dec - here we come!!

congaman59 writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Coach D perhaps you should roll up your sleeve and show Sal how you want it done.

Dooley must have said 10 or more times in the coaches show on Sunday "We are playing too soft" referring to the defensive secondary. Here's a new idea "Fix It"! Dooley needs to show up at "D" practice every day for 2 weeks until he sees it done the way he wants it done.

LibertyVolance writes:

in response to heyitsme:

Someone needs to get Worley and Peterman ready. Bray's last 3 turnovers in the 4th quarter cost UT the game. And don't act like it didn't.

Why did the coaches put so much on Bray in those final plays preceding the Bray fumble? Neal and the rungame was providing some big gains and 1st downs. The all of a sudden, you would have thought that passing the ball was our only option. Guess what? GA was back in coverage and there was nobody open.

I don't mind if Worley or Peterman get some playing time at all. But, unless Bray ignored the playcalls in those 2 final sets of downs, it was the playcalls more to blame than anything. Another draw play or play action run play would have taken so much off Bray and given Neal a chance to make a huge play. Now that we have a little bit of a rungame going, we need to trust it. But we reverted back to that 'passing is our only chance' mentality and all we had to show for it was an interception, a fumble, and a final interception to end the game.

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