Multiple shortcomings have factored into Tennessee’s recent football struggles.
Sometimes, it lacked offense. Sometimes, it lacked defense.
And sometimes, it lacked both.
And his misfortune might bode well for Jones. Assuming a program’s good and bad breaks really do even out over the course of time, Jones has three lucky years coming to him.
One unfavorable bounce merely led to another for Dooley.
The most obvious example of that came in his first season when the Vols lost a game they seemingly had won against LSU.
UT players and coaches actually celebrated the victory before officials stepped in with the bad news and awarded LSU another play after time had expired.
The loss to North Carolina in the Music City Bowl almost was as bizarre as the defeat to LSU. The combination was devastating.
The Dooley era also was impacted by serious injuries to some of his best players.
Dooley was unlucky in another area, too. Some of his most talented players — not all of whom he recruited — were his least dependable players. Their talent raised expectations but did little to fulfill them.
On teams lacking in talent, Dooley probably couldn’t bear to lose what talent he had. But the way he handled those troublesome, talented players hardly helped him with the rest of the team.
Two of Dooley’s most gifted players were running back Bryce Brown and defensive back Janzen Jackson, both of whom former UT coach Lane Kiffin left behind after his one-year run in Knoxville.
Brown, who was the nation’s No. 1 running back the year Kiffin signed him, qualifies as one of the most puzzling Vols of all-time. He sat out spring practice and never played a down for Dooley. He just hung around long enough to make you wonder what in the world was going on — with him and Dooley.
Dooley got one productive season out of Jackson, but it wasn’t productive enough to offset all the negative headlines he engendered before he was finally kicked off the team.
Wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers, a Dooley recruit, was another great athlete who caused more problems than he was worth. Like Jackson, he was dismissed from the team after one good season.
Rogers was the perfect receiver for quarterback Tyler Bray, who had a great arm but was terribly lacking in virtually every
other attribute that you associate with a position as demanding as quarterback.
When Bray wasn’t in the act of throwing, his on-the-field body language was awful. His off-the-field image was worse.
Unlike Dooley, Jones didn’t inherit a quarterback with Bray’s supposed potential.
The previous coach didn’t leave him a running back with Brown’s ability, either.
And there might not be anyone in Jones’ secondary who can hit as hard while covering as much ground as Jackson.
Without them, Jones is already luckier than he realizes.