Tag:Derek Dooley
Posted on: November 26, 2011 4:18 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Kentucky 10, Tennessee 7

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

KENTUCKY WON: 
In and of itself, not a big deal. But they won against Tennessee. Kentucky never beats Tennessee. They hadn't done it in 26 years. They'd had a dozen golden opportunities over the years and never pulled it off. Apparently, what they needed was to plug in a wide receiver at quarterback and let him operate out of the Wildcat nearly the entire game; Matt Roark ran for 152 yards and tailback CoShik Williams added 68 yards and the one second-half touchdown the Wildcats would need. The much-maligned Kentucky defense held Tyler Bray below a 50 percent completion rate and picked him off twice -- once on the Vols' 4th-and-17 final desperate play -- and of course the Tennessee running game added nothing. Result? Wildcats 10, Vols 7. Yes, Virginia, Kentucky can beat Tennessee.

WHY KENTUCKY WON: As much attention as Joker Phillips' decision to go to Roark at quarterback and completely forsake the terrible Wildcat passing game will get -- Kentucky only attempted 6 passes, completing four of them for all of 15 yards -- this game was ultimately about how flat-out awful the Volunteer offense became over the second half of this season. Shooting blanks against Alabama or LSU or with Justin Worley at the helm is one thing; with Bray under center and facing the nation's 64th-ranked defense, the Vols should have been able to put at least a few points on the board, right? 

Aside from one 54-yard bomb from Bray to Raijon Neal that gave Tennessee a brief glimmer of second-half hope: entirely wrong. Bray averaged a just-better-than-terrible 5.7 yards an attempt, thanks half in part to some scattershot throws and half due to the Vol receivers failing repeatedly to get open. As always, the Tennessee running game did nothing, netting 61 yards on 24 carries. And with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, the Vol line could not keep Kentucky's defensive line off of Bray--thus the game coming down to "4th-and-17."

Derek Dooley is about to have a flamethrower taken to him by Vol fans and the Knoxville media, not that it will keep him from a third year at the helm. But his inability to find any way to get the Tennessee offense moving at all -- especially when contrasted with Phillips's ingenuity with Roark -- means some of that heat is justified.

WHEN TENNESSEE LOST: When Taiedo Smith picked off Bray on that 4th-and-17 from Tennessee's 31. With fewer than 90 seconds left and no Vol timeouts remaining, all that was left was the Wildcat victory formation.

WHAT KENTUCKY WON: I think they'll be happy with snapping the nation's longest annual series losing streak, don't you?

WHAT TENNESSEE LOST: Not only did the loss end the nation's longest annual series winning streak, not only will it crank up the heat on Dooley's seat to the hottest levels in the SEC (and maybe the nation), but this loss drops Tennessee to 5-7 overall--and will leave the Vols home for bowl season, depriving them not only of the prestige and payout but the extra practice that Dooley's young team desperately needs. There's no way to spin this as anything less than a total disaster for the Vols and their head coach. 

Posted on: November 22, 2011 12:47 pm
 

Dooley 'disappointed' locker room video surfaces

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

After last Saturday's overtime win over Vanderbilt, Tennessee has defeated the Commodores 28 times in their last 29 tries. It's not the sort of long-term competitive balance that typically leads to a spicy, engaging, bitter rivalry.

But it appears that as long as Derek Dooley and James Franklin are in charge of their two teams, the Vols and 'Dores are going to be a rivalry worth watching all the same. A YouTube video of the Vols' locker room celebration leaked over the weekend, one in which Dooley says "the one thing Tennessee always does is kick the (expletive) out of Vandy" and the Vols sing they "don't give a damn for the whole school of Vanderbilt." Here's the video (language warning): 



Monday, Dooley said that he was "disappointed" the video had surfaced.

"That’s kind of the world we live in. It’s like there’s no sacred place," he said. "I think probably all 120 (FBS) coaches out there in football have a side to them where they loosen up with the team that they don’t do in public ... It’s a post-game, emotional, have a little fun ... and then you close the door on them when you leave.”

In Dooley's defense, there's no doubt he had no desire to see that celebration become public, and equally little doubt that he and his team ought to be able to celebrate however they like inside their own locker room without it becoming a scandal. (If every postgame locker room scene became public, we'd wind up writing a post like this every week.) But you'll also note Dooley in no way apologizes for, retracts, or condemns the celebration  

But to hear Franklin tell it Monday, it won't be as simple as closing the door this time:

“That’s a wound that I’m going to leave open that’s not going to heal. We’ll leave it open for a year and we’ll discuss it next year ... We’ll watch it as many times as we’ve got to watch it next year.

“I look at it as respect. Some people act like they won the Super Bowl, and they beat a team that the two previous years had won four games total. Obviously, we are closing the gap and threatening some people and making some people uncomfortable. We’ll see. We’ll leave it at that. We’ll move on. But we’ll have a lot of discussion about this next year when the time is right.”

Franklin has a point here: emotional as the game was, it's likely been a looooooong time since Tennessee felt as good about itself for beating the 'Dores as it appeared to in the video. It's safe to say that between the Vols' decline from their Phillip Fulmer-lead glory years and the feistiness shown both on- and off-the-field this year from Franklin's team, the Commodores have their in-state "rival's" full attention these days.

That doesn't say particularly good things for the state of Tennessee football. But it does say good things about the state of the rivalry between the two teams--and at this stage, the lackluster SEC East needs all the storylines it can get.

Posted on: November 18, 2011 5:31 pm
 

Vandy's Franklin expects Bray to play for Vols

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When last Eye on CFB checked in on Tennessee quarterback  Tyler Bray, the sophomore gunslinger had been cleared to practice, with Derek Dooley saying he'd be "crazy" not to give him the start if his broken thumb had healed enough for him to play. Four days of practice later, what's changed?

Nothing where the Vols and Dooley are officially concerned--Dooley's most recent official comment was that Bray would be a game-time decision, saying it "may come down to pregame warmups." But with Dooley also discussing how Bray would best handle snaps and no doubt desperate to avoid an 0-7 "start" to the SEC season, it'll be something of a surprise if Bray doesn't take the field; CBSSports.com Tennessee RapidReporter Daniel Lewis writes that "all indications" are that Bray will play.

So no one will blame Tennessee's Saturday opponent, Vanderbilt, for assuming they're going to see the largely successful Bray-led version of Vols from early this season rather than the offensive horror show they've been in his five-game absence. Commodore head coach James Franklin took Bray's inclusion as all but a foregone conclusion:
“Tyler Bray, getting him back … that will give them a spark of energy,” Franklin said. “When you’re able to get a guy like that back, it has an effect on the coaches in terms of confidence in what they can call when you have an experienced quarter.

“And then also, receivers just seem to run better routes when they’ve got their guy. Tight ends: same thing. The O-line seems to protect well. So it will have a spark for sure.”
The stakes are high for Franklin's team, which would clinch only the program's second bowl berth in its last 29 seasons with a win--not to mention being able to claim a victoy over the Vols for, likewise, just the second time in those same 29 years. Even if only by a point, the Commodores are favored for just the second time in the series since lines were established.

That makes the game a massive opportunity for Franklin and his 'Dores, and it's no surprise they're preparing for the best Volunteer opponent they can imagine seeing. As Dooley said: there's too much on the line for both teams to take the "crazy" step of holding Bray out if he's at all available.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 1:24 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 1:37 pm
 

Dooley inspiring Vols with orange dog statue

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There's no easy, clever way to introduce this remarkable story from the Knoxville News-Sentinel, so we'll get right to the details: Derek Dooley attempted to inspire his struggling Tennessee team Tuesday by having a ceramic orange dog statue wheeled around practice on a dolly.

"It's just a reminder, you know, when you get something in your mind that is negative or you get down on yourself," Dooley said of the statue. After his team's 49-7 loss to Arkansas Saturday, Dooley refused to let his team watch the game tape and told them they needed to feed the "orange dog," a symbol of positive thinking, instead of the "red dog," its negative opposite.

"You've got one side that wants to be negative and wants to feel sorry for yourself and wants to make excuses and blame others," Dooley said. "Then you've got another side who thinks good thoughts and has a lot of encouragement, is a little more solution-oriented and isn't so emotionally drawn to the results. That's the side we need to feed ourselves with."

So what did this dog statue look like? Via the Vols' official athletics site, here's a photo of it being moved on its dolly:



As for the players' reactions, it doesn't sound like Tyler Bray is taking it too seriously--though at least it has his attention. Defensive end Marlon Walls seemed to get the message, though.

"When I first saw it, I laughed about it. But at the same time, I thought, 'This is something serious. We've got to learn how to be more positive,'" Walls told the News-Sentinel. "Especially right now, coming off a loss like that, got to be more positive. We've got to put it behind us and look at that orange dog and get focused and think of something positive to say to somebody else to help their day out. It was a good thing seeing it out there."

So we'll call the initial reaction ... mixed, and wait to see how well the Vols do against Vanderbilt Saturday before casting a final judgment on Dooley's motivational acumen. Which leaves just one question: where did Dooley come up with this idea of the "orange dog" and the "red dog"? Via our own Tom Fornelli, here's an artistic interpretation we think comes very close to the truth:



Orange dog statue photo credit* to UTSports.com

*Not a phrase we ever expected to use

Posted on: November 15, 2011 6:06 pm
 

DODDCAST: Penn State's next coach, Heisman, more

Posted by Chip Patterson

What kind of coach is/should Penn State be looking for to replace Joe Paterno? Is Derek Dooley among the many coaches facing a hot seat down the stretch of the 2011 season? Check out Dennis Dodd's answers to these questions and much more in the Week 12 edition of The Doddcast.

Oregon made a splash with their impressive victory at Stanford on Saturday, but how likely is their shot at a national title? Dennis and Adam Aizer also discuss the hypothetical LSU-Oklahoma State national championship game, and give their opinions on who would win the showdown of styles.

Also, Dennis takes a moment to discuss his recent conversation with NCAA President Mark Emmert and weigh in on the controversial Jerry Sandusky interview from Monday night on NBC.
Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.

You can listen to the podcast in the player below, pop out a player to keep browsing, or download the MP3 right to your computer. 



Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: November 14, 2011 5:29 pm
 

Tennessee QB Bray cleared to practice

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In the darkest hour his program has seen in years, could Tyler Bray ride in to save Tennessee's season?

It's still very much to-be-determined. But the first step in that direction has been taken, as Derek Dooley confirmed Monday that doctors have cleared Bray to return to practice. The true sophomore has missed the Vols' last five games with a broken thumb, five games in which his team has gone 1-4 and not once scored more than 7 points against SEC opposition.

That kind of despair is why Dooley made no secret of the fact that he's hoping Bray will be able to make a gof of it Saturday in the Vols' make-or-break game against Vanderbilt. A loss would drop Tennessee to 0-7 in the SEC and eliminate the Vols from postseason consideration.

"The reality is, if he's ready to go, we'd be crazy not to give him a shot," Dooley said.

But will he be ready to go? Dooley described Bray's status as "questionable" and said the quality of his reps in practice this week -- Bray is reportedly in line for the first-team snaps in Tuesday's practice --  would go a long way towards determining if the California gunslinger got the call against the Commordores.

I really won't know until we start practicing to see how he can take a snap, how accurately he can throw it, and then he's going to have a learning curve because he's been out of ball for five, six weeks. That's a long time, so we'll see," Dooley said. "We've still got to get the other guys ready to play and we'll just kind of take it day by day."

With all due respect to "the other guys," since Bray's injury those other guys -- Matt Simms and true freshman Justin Worley -- have combined to complete just 43 percent of their passes against SEC teams, for all of 5.2 yards an attempt and a 0-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. If Bray can't take the field Saturday, a dangerous 'Dore secondary could easily ensure the Vols stay home for the holidays.

In short: this week is as a big a week of practice for Dooley since his arrival in early 2010, and it all rests on how well that thumb responds.

Posted on: November 13, 2011 1:58 am
Edited on: November 14, 2011 5:25 pm
 

SEC Winners and Losers, Week 11

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



WINNER: Atlanta ticket brokers. Not that there's ever any shortage of demand for the SEC championship game, but with the A-T-L's biggest college football team (sorry, Georgia Tech) officially on their way to the Georgia Dome, that hometown demand should drive prices clean through the roof.

Wait, whaddya mean, "not officially"? The only thing standing between Georgia and their trip to Atlanta is a home game against Kentucky, the same team that spent its Saturday getting drilled 38-8 by Vanderbilt. It's more likely some sort of bizarre last-minute eligibility scandal -- Bacarri Rambo busted for selling prime Sanford Stadium hedge clippings, or something -- keeps the Dawgs from the East crown than the Wildcats do. Arrange the days off, book the hotels, scalp the tickets--for the first time since 2005, Georgia's going to play for the SEC title. 

LOSER: The ghost of Willie Martinez. So why have the Dawgs made the leap? The friendliest possible league schedule has had a lot to do with it -- if Georgia goes to Arkansas and it's South Carolina who gets to visit Ole Miss, the Gamecocks are booking their tickets today -- but it's also true that as much hand-wringing as there's been over the Dawgs' struggles since 2005 at quarterback, the offensive line, running back, play-calling, etc, their biggest problem has always been on the defensive side of the ball. And in his second season after replacing the exiled, despised Willie Martinez as Georgia's defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham has those problems nearly solved. His unit ranks in the national top 10 in rush defense, pass defense, and total defense, and showed why vs. Auburn. Clint Moseley got no time to throw, Michael Dyer found precious little room to run, Rambo made the biggest play of the game with a pick-six, and the bottom line was that a Tiger offense that had scored 41 points two weeks earlier got none after their opening drive.

After that performance, it's safe to declare the specter of Mr. Martinez's failures fully exorcised.

WINNER: Hangovers. You play the Game of the Century one week, maybe it shouldn't be a surprise you don't quite play with your hair on fire the next. So even though they're LSU and Alabama, LSU and Alabama still took their leisurely time putting away outmatched opponents in Western Kentucky and Mississippi State, respectively. (The Hilltoppers a little more outmatched than the Bulldogs, obviously.) No one's immune to the week-after effect, apparently.

LOSER: The Rematch Resistance. Hangovers or no hangovers, though, LSU-Alabama II: Rematch of the Century took a big step closer to reality Saturday with both Stanford and Boise State falling from the ranks of the unbeaten. With Oregon unlikely to be any more palatable a rematch opponent for the Tigers than the Tide is, the only hurdle for Alabama to clear appears to be whichever team wins Bedlam: Oklahoma State would be undefeated and home-free, of course, but Oklahoma might also stake a claim with plenty of computer power and the voters' aversion to a sequel. But with that Texas Tech loss looking less and less explicable by the day, the educated guess here is that a Sooner win would send the Tide on for a second crack at the Tigers.

WINNER: Joe Adams. Because seriously:

LOSERS: Ole Miss supporters. Facing a substantially less-talented Louisiana Tech squad at home Saturday, the Rebels had a terrific opportunity to 1. rally for their fired head coach Houston Nutt 2. snap their six-game losing streak 3. show some kind of pride in their program and themselves regardless of the off-field distractions and coaching turnover. Instead they lost to the visitors from Ruston by three full touchdowns in what has to go down as the worst, most embarrassing nonconference loss for an SEC team this season. The Rebels still have two games to play this season -- at home to LSU and at Mississippi State -- and we don't envy anyone from Oxford compelled to watch either one.

WINNER: Steve Spurrier. The Gamecocks won't be going back to Atlanta. They won't make any kind of dent in the national title race. They won't go down in history as some great team gone unrewarded, not having now won three SEC games in which they scored 17 points or fewer and having been the only SEC team to host Auburn and not blow the Tigers out of the water. Marcus Lattimore won't win the Heisman, Alshon Jeffery won't be named All-American or even All-SEC (today's tally: 2 receptions, 17 yards), and the less said about Stephen Garcia the better. 

So on many, many levels, this 2011 season is a disappointment ... and on the other, even for all of those struggles, the Gamecocks have just won 6 SEC games for the first time ever. As Spurrier noted, they've gone 6-0 the past two seasons vs. their main East rivals at Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida. And in players like Jadeveon Clowney, Brandon Wilds and tackle Cody Gibson, there's still plenty of young talent to groom. The specific goal was to win another East title, and Spurrier failed at that. But maybe the larger, more important goal was to prove that 2010 wasn't a fluke  --  that the old annual November swoon, perpetual also-ran Gamecocks were gone for good -- and on that count Spurrier has succeeded, without question. If he wasn't already the best coach in the Gamecocks' history, this 2011 season means he is now. 

LOSER: Derek Dooley. Any talk of removing the second-year head man at Tennessee is wildly premature; if Tyler Bray and Justin Hunter are still healthy, who knows what the Vols' record is? And Dooley of course had nothing to do with a schedule that handed his team LSU, Arkansas, and Alabama out of the west. But it's one thing to lose a lot of games -- even SEC games, even six such games in a row -- and another to look as hopeless as the Vols did in their drubbing at Arkansas. Dooley's already been more good than outstanding on the recruiting trail, and if he loses next week to James Franklin and Vandy, the knives are going to really come out among the Vol faithful ... and that recruiting job is only going to get harder. 

(Gene Chizik isn't in the same boat, but he deserves a mention here all the same. The 4-3 SEC record isn't bad, but in the non-Ole Miss portion of the schedule, those three wins have come by a total of 21 points and the three losses by 97. With a defense that Chizik has a major hand in the main culprit, those blowouts suggest last year's national champion has a lot of work to do between now and 2012.)


Posted on: November 7, 2011 3:24 pm
 

Vols make call for last-minute kicker

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Tennessee's
run-of-the-mill 24-0 victory Saturday over Middle Tennessee State wasn't the sort of game that anyone, even Volunteer fans, would likely remember for very long. But that was before Derek Dooley revealed how the Vols came by their lone field goal and three successful extra points.

The kicker in question, redshirt freshman walk-on Derrick Brodus, had never played a down of college football before Saturday and grew up a soccer star in nearby Maryville. He wasn't even part of the Volunteer's gameday roster and wasn't even listed on the depth chart. Which is why he wasn't even at Neyland Stadium an hour before kickoff--he was alseep on his couch preparing to watch the Vols take on the Blue Raiders on TV.

“Oh, he was definitely asleep,” said Brodus's friend Daniel Sullivan. “We’d just been sitting there all day, watching some football and some soccer.”

It was about that time -- an hour before kickoff -- that regular Tennessee kicker Michael Palardy was ruled out for the game with an injury suffered during the week in practice and backup walk-on Chip Rhome hurt himself in warm-ups. Result: "an APB out for Brodus," as Dooley put it.

"We had to make a call to the frat house," Dooley said. "This is no lie. We called the frat house and had a policeman go get him."

"I was just laying on the couch, and people came in, and I didn't know what was going on," Brodus said. ""I thought I was having a dream."

If it had been a dream, it was an awfully good one: Brodus went 3-for-3 on extra points, hit a 21-yard field goal to end the first half, and received a game ball. Monday he was named one of two Vols' special teams players of the week.

Not bad for a guy who wasn't even planning on watching the entire Tennessee game; Brodus admitted he and Sullivan's plan was to watch the first half of the MTSU game and then go out with some friends to watch LSU and Alabama.

"I mean, we’re 100 percent Vols, through and through,” Sullivan said. "But Bama-LSU ... I mean ... that’s basically the national championship, you know? You gotta watch that."

Not if you're on the Neyland field living out your dream, you don't. Here's video of Brodus's post-game comment to the press:



For more on the story, we recommend this highly detailed account by Wes Rucker at GoVols247, which includes the immortal Dooley quote "I told the coaches, ‘Hey, an intoxicated Brodus is better than nobody. Get him. Just get him here, and we’ll do a breathalyzer.’"

Video HT: Sportsgrid.
 
 
 
 
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