Posted on: December 20, 2010 2:39 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Over the weekend reports surfaced that Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox had been offered the same position at Texas, where he would be replacing Will Muschamp who left Austin to take over at Florida. Wilcox is in his first season at Tennessee and spent the previous three years at Boise State, and it seems the 34-year old's star is on the rise.
Of course, if Wilcox is going to leave Tennessee for Texas, Texas would have to offer him the job first. Which, according to Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, hasn't happened yet.
"Here's all I can tell you," Dooley told Vols Xtra. "Nobody on our staff has been offered any jobs, I don't anticipate any staff changes and I'm going to reiterate exactly what I said in (Wednesday's) press conference - it's a fluid industry, and it always is. But I don't anticipate any changes, and nobody on our staff has been offered a job.
"That's where we are. I'm never going to beg people to stay at Tennessee, because this is a great job and there are thousands of coaches that would kill to be here and we're never going to have one coach that's going to be bigger than the program. I think we should expect this every year, so get used to it because it's a good thing. When programs want your coaches, it means your coaches are doing a good job."
Also, if Wilcox was getting ready to leave for Texas, he sure has a funny way of showing it considering he was at Vols practice on Monday as the team prepares to take on North Carolina in the Music City Bowl. Of course, just because Wilcox hasn't been offered the Texas job yet, that doesn't mean he isn't going to be. Which, depending on the way you interpret Dooley's words, would either make the head coach extremely happy or ticked off.
Posted on: December 20, 2010 10:33 am
Edited on: December 20, 2010 10:53 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
There is nothing like adding insult to injury when Texas capped off one of the worst seasons in program history by saying goodbye to their coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp. When Muschamp departed to succeed Urban Meyer at Florida, the Longhorns were left in a deep divot with no long-term exit strategy. The future of the program is certainly a concern for Texas fans everywhere, but first they need to hire a new defensive coordinator.
A report Sunday evening from the Austin American-Statesman noted sources beginning to point to Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox as a leading candidate to join Mack Brown's staff in the same position. Wilcox, 34, is in the first year under Derek Dooley at Tennessee, he previously spent three years as the defensive coordinator at Boise State.
Wilcox could supply the youth and energy that Muschamp displayed in his early seasons as defensive coordinator, but he is likely far from ready to take the headset from Brown. Texas does have the challenge of filling four open positions on the staff this offseason, so trying to tab a new coach-in-waiting is likely low on the priority list. Brown was able to overcome major challenges when he first arrived at North Carolina (making the postseason) and at Texas (getting past Oklahoma). Now he will have one last major task for the Texas football program: re-building for the future. Judging by Brown's track record, it would not surprise me if he pulls it off.
Posted on: December 17, 2010 4:32 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It's hard to criticize much about the first year of Derek Dooley's tenure at Tennessee. After the sudden departure of Lane Kiffin from Knoxville and Dooley's whirwind hire, he still managed to hire a well-respected staff, salvage an impressive recruiting class, and drag the least-experienced Volunteer team in years to a bowl game behind rapidly-developing quarterback Tyler Bray.
Perhaps the only truly debatable decision Dooley has made has been to play hardball with a handful of Volunteers who asked for transfer requests in the wake of Kiffin's departure, notably former No. 1 overall recruit Bryce Brown and former freshman All-America lineman Aaron Douglas. Dooley denied Brown his release, apparently keeping him off scholarship at his hometown Kansas State program, and responded to Douglas's claims that he needed to get away from certain influences in Knoxville by granting him a waiver only on the condition that Douglas transfer somewhere eight hours' drive or further away. Those highly unusual steps -- taken to "protect the program " in Dooley's words -- may have successfuly sent the message that any future Volunteers who wish to transfer will need to be in good standing with Dooley ahead of time, but it also created a good deal of enmity between the program and Brown and Douglas.
Now that enmity may be coming home to roost in Douglas's case. After spending this season at community college Arizona Western, Douglas has transferred back into the SEC, and at the last school Vol supporters would want: Alabama.
For his part, Dooley says he's happy that Douglas has landed on his feet:
But to hear Douglas say that he didn't originally want to play against Tennessee but that "the stipulations with my release opened up everything," it doesn't take a whole lot of reading between the lines to see that responding in kind to Dooley's less-than-accomodating decision was a motivating factor in his choice of new school.
If so, then certainly Douglas is opening himself up to his own charges of pettiness. But that wouldn't change the fact that if Dooley had simply approved a standard release, Douglas likely would have ended up somewhere that wasn't Tuscaloosa. Maybe the message sent to future potential transferees was worth it, but if Douglas plays a role in maintaining the Crimson Tide's recent success in the series (and judging by his play in his one season on Rocky Top, he does), it will have to be asked of Dooley if, maybe, it wasn't.
Posted on: November 20, 2010 11:42 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
1. South Carolina learned its lesson. The last time Carolina won a game as big as last week's SEC East-clinching victory over Florida , they had downed No. 1 Alabama before going out the following week and laying their biggest egg of the season against Kentucky . Now, sure, the Gamecocks got a lot of help early on from a Troy team that for some reason played like a nervous team with lots to lose rather than the massive underdog with nothing to lose they were. But the previously-hapless Gamecock secondary held a statistically potent Trojan passing attack entirely in check, the Marcus Lattimore -led offense ruthlessly punished every Troy mistake, and by halftime it was already 56-7, 'Cocks . Not only did Carolina avoid the letdown, but they looked ready to give Auburn all they want and more when the SEC championship game rolls around in two weeks.
2. It's time to put the defense-first image of the SEC to bed for good. Maybe the SEC really is home to better athletes, maybe they really do hire better coaches, maybe they take defense more seriously than some other conferences ... but none of that, even if true, is making a lick of difference on the field at the moment. This week gave us only four games between SEC teams and FBS competition, and those four games produced 268 total points (in regulation) and as average score of 42-25. And that 's with Tennessee and Vanderbilt battling to a low-fi 24-10 Volunteer win, and the conference's best offense and ninth-ranked defense at Auburn taking the week off.
You get the point: very few teams in this league are playing defense. When even the consensus best unit in the league -- LSU's entered the weekend No. 1 in total defense at 274 yards per-game -- is getting gashed for 36 points and 420 yards at home against the conference's No. 5 offense, the SEC's image as a collection of grind-it-out attacks and impregnable defenses is officially as current as Bob Dole . If SEC fans want to argue their conference is superior, fine. If they want to argue their conference is superior because of the SEC's brand of defense, they need to acquire a clue.
3. LSU should be an underdog going to Arkansas. Full kudos to Les Miles for exorcising his clock management demons , but it's the Hogs who appear to be playing the better football at the moment after surviving what might have been Mississippi State 's best performance of the season on the road in Starkville while the previously stout LSU defense was busy getting gashed by the up-and-down Rebels. If Masoli and Co. can do that in Baton Rouge, what can Ryan Mallett and the suddenly scorching-hot Knile Davis do in Fayetteville?
(And while we're playing the transitive property game, the latest compelling evidence of how much stronger the West is than the East? The Razorbacks went to the East champion three weeks ago and rolled to an easy win. Then they went to the fifth-place team in the West tonight and were fortunate to escape with a double-overtime win.)
4. This Tyler Bray kid might just be one worth watching. Not that you'd expect it from his taste in tattoos , but the skinny kid from California has taken to SEC football like a duck to some very forgiving water. No, the pass defenses of South Carolina, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt aren't the most intimidating the conference has to offer. But after another productive outing in Nashville (16-of-27, 232 yards, 8.6 yards-per-attempt, 2 touchdowns), Bray has collected some seriously impressive numbers in his last three league performances: 43-of-76 (57 percent completion rate), 714 yards (9.4 YPA), 7 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions.
And he's a true freshman. If Derek Dooley can keep his head on straight and his brittle-looking body remains intact, Bray should be one of the SEC's best in due time ... and maybe as soon as 2011. (As for 2010,the Vols are one win against Kentucky away from scraping their way to a bowl berth. Not bad considering they stood at 2-6 not so long ago.)
Posted on: November 2, 2010 12:31 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Yesterday on "As the World of the Tennessee Volunteers Turns," quarterback Matt Simms essentially called out both his coaches for replacing him in the second half of a loss to South Carolina and his backup, freshman Tyler Bray , for a pivotal Gamecock pick-six.
But with Bray recovering nicely from that play to lead a second-half charge and the coaches no doubt none too pleased with Simms' outburst, it's no surprise that today's development is that Bray is now your starting Volunteer quarterback :
“We’re going to start Tyler Bray this week, and I just feel like that’s the best thing for our team right now,” [head coach Derek] Dooley said during his weekly press conference. “The plan is going to be exactly how I went into the South Carolina game, which was, let’s see how he’s doing. If he needs to take a few series to kind of catch his breath a little bit, we’ll put Matt in and see how Matt does.If that sounds on the charitable side for Simms given his statements to the press, rest assured that Dooley was certainly paying attention (emphasis added):
“Until a quarterback says, ‘Coach, you’re an idiot for not playing me all four quarters,’ by his play and not his words , then we’ll just keep sorting through it. Neither has had actions that say, ‘Play me for four quarters.’ There’s enough in both of their play to say maybe you should put the other guy in a little bit.If you're Bray, there's never been a better opportunity to make those "actions" on the field; this Saturday's opponent is rock-bottom Conference USA outfit Memphis , the 119th-ranked (out of 120, recall) defense in the FBS. Dooley may be giving Simms the benefit of the doubt for now, but by giving Bray the opportunity to grab the kind of momentum that the hapless Tigers can offer, he's also likely betraying which of his two quarterbacks he'd prefer to see carry the baton the rest of the way.
At right: Bray's tattoo.
Posted on: November 1, 2010 12:38 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2010 12:42 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Even in their 38-24 defeat at South Carolina , Tennessee had a lot of things to be happy about Saturday: the resilience the young Vols showed on the road, a second-half comeback instead of a second-half collapse, the surprisingly effective performances (give or take a critical, game-changing turnover) from quarterbacks Matt Simms and Tyler Bray .
But if you're Simms himself, all those other positives don't matter nearly as much (if at all) as the fact that they end with "and Tyler Bray." The JUCO transfer apparently didn't intend on splitting snaps when he signed on with Tennessee, even after committing a pair of costly fumbles, and he's not making any attempt to hide it :
"I had no idea that I was going to get taken out of the game for [a fumble]. I was playing really well. Extremely well. Probably the best game I've played all year. It's rough but hey, they made a decision and they stuck with it ...Believe it or not, there's more :
"Nothing much I can do about getting hit in the back and the guy stripping the ball from me," Simms said. "That's one of the better defensive lines in the conference. Hey, if you get hit a lot the ball comes out.The person who did "drop back and throw it to the other team"? That would be Bray. It's tough to get much more insubordinate than this in the press, or more dismissive of your teammate ... a teammate that, pick-six aside, did go an impressive 9-of-15 for 159 yards and a pair of scores. If Bray's capable of playing that well, it's impossible to blame Derek Dooley for getting the quarterback of the Vols' future some in-game repetitions now.
So it's hardly taking a bold stance to say that Simms should clam up in front of reporters, work on his ball security, and take whatever complaints he has directly to his coaches. Between the 0-5 SEC record, the freshman defensive end arrested on assault charges , and the defensive issues that led to the 38 Carolina points, Dooley has enough to worry about right now without having to muzzle one of his players in the press. The way Bray has played, at this point, it would be an equally un-bold stance on Dooley's part to sit Simms for this week's date at Memphis in response.
Posted on: October 25, 2010 4:52 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2010 4:58 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
With Saturday's 21-7 victory over Vanderbilt, South Carolina snapped an SEC road losing streak that dated by to 2008 and pushed the Gamecocks into the division lead in the SEC East. After getting shut down in the second half against Kentucky, South Carolina's offense was able to get clicking again against the Commodores for 484 yards of total offense. A statistic that is especially impressive with the absence of star running back Marcus Lattimore.
Lattimore sat out Saturday's match up with Vanderbilt nursing a sprained ankle. Word from Columbia is that he could have gone if needed, but head coach Steve Spurrier wanted to rest the true freshman in preparation for the Gamecocks' final three conference games: against Tennessee, Arkansas, and at Florida.
So far, the plan appears to be working. The Gamecocks picked up the W in Nashville and Lattimore was able to take the week off. Spurrier says that after resting against the Commodores, Lattimore should be 100 percent for Saturday's showdown with Tennessee.
Lattimore is currently fifth in the SEC in rushing yards per game (89.7) and has scored a touchdown in every game of his young career. Lattimore's greatest strength's are not able to be read in statistics. His running style is not completely power, but he rarely is brought down by less than two defenders. The rare combination of power and speed can wear down a defense, opening up the passing game for quarterback Stephen Garcia to find All-SEC wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey down the field. The Gamecocks are three conference victories from their first SEC Championship Game appearance. All of their games are winnable, but with one loss the Gamecocks will find themselves in a messy three-way with Georgia and Florida. No one wants that (innuendo intended).
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Posted on: October 25, 2010 4:37 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
If there's one maxim about making comparisons and analogies, it's this: Don't mention the Nazis. Unless the subject directly involves the deaths of tens of millions of people, just leave World War II out of this. And since this is a blog about college football, well, it's pretty safe to say any references would be wildly inappropriate.
With that, here's Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley comparing his team to Germany's army during D-Day or something:
Now, here's the thing: in a vacuum, there isn't anything immediately wrong with what Dooley said. Yes, his grasp of the historical details is dubious, but Dooley acknowledges that himself shortly thereafter. More to the point, it's not as if he was in any way endorsing any aspect of Nazism whatsoever, of course, nor even addressing the atrocities that preceded and necessitated that American invasion.
But we're not in a vacuum, and there are likely tens of millions of Americans who would prefer not to be reminded of World War II and everything about it when they're just trying to enjoy football. That goes for plenty of other wars, for that matter, and there isn't much need to rehash the awful casualties of those. World War II, however, just happens to be predicated upon one of the most profane displays of inhumanity in the history of the world. It's probably not asking a lot for football coaches to just avoid references to it from here on out.
Here's video of the comments, via Dr. Saturday: