Tennessee enters the meat of it’s schedule. I can’t think of another program who consistently has the October slate that the Volunteers get in the SEC. So many teams have their huge games in November, but for UT, October is prime time. So we have a prime time set of Dooleyisms as we wrap up Akron, and prepare for Georgia
I always look at those three big things in turnovers, big plays and fourth quarter. We obviously did a pretty good job on all three. We were plus-12 on big plays, I think we had 16 of them on offense which is pretty explosive. We gave up four that we need to correct. We were plus-one on turnovers. Really good job by the defense getting three, but we were a little too loose with the football and that is something that is going to be a big priority this week. Even though we only lost one, we had a couple other opportunities to lose them. We have to get better. The fourth quarter was obviously a great quarter for us. We outscored them, 17-3, outgained them 167-19 and then were plus-one on takeaways.
Dooley seems more pleased by the Akron performance than most fans. (Including me.) There are ups and downs in any football game. When you look at the deeper stats it appears that Tennessee handled Akron better than the perception. But as Andre Agassi says “image is everything”. So Derek Dooley needs to be aware of that as well.
On Being Between The Hedges
They are probably playing as good as I’ve seen them in a long time. The quarterback is averaging 10.5 an attempt, the runner is averaging 9.2 an attempt, [they are scoring] 48 points and only giving up 16. They are probably one of the most talented defenses in the country, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. Hopefully we can take a lot of the lessons we have learned in the first four games and try to go play as good as we can play in Athens and see how it turns out…We are certainly a lot better than we were two years ago. We didn’t play very good down there and obviously need a lot better effort than what we put on two years ago… The good news is that a lot of our guys have been in these environments, so it shouldn’t be as overwhelming as it has been in the past, at least I hope it isn’t. You look on offense and I think everybody except Cordarrelle Patterson and Tiny Richardsaon played at Georgia two years ago. Defense probably not as many but we had a lot of hostile games last year, so hopefully you learn from it. You have to learn to enjoy playing in that kind of environment.
The last time Tennessee went to Athens it was a near debacle. Aaron Murray had a very good game that week, and he is much better than he was then. This is gonna take a humongous effort to beat Georgia.
On the Offensive Line:
We had two short yardage situations that we didn’t get. A.J. [Johnson] went the wrong way on one just trying to make something happen. He won’t do that again. The other one, they kind of put everybody up in there, shooting the safeties real aggressive. We probably need to mix it up a little bit and give our kids a little better chance…[Tyler Bray] got hit more this game than he had, but we’ve only given up [two] sacks which is one good thing. For the most part, our line is pretty good at pass protecting. We had some breakdowns in that game because of some of that radar stuff they were doing, which I really haven’t seen that since the early 2000s from anybody. It’s not hard once you work on it, so we adjusted to it and were fine.
I was very excited about the Tennessee offensive line pre-season, I am not so excited at the moment. Bray hasn’t been sacked yet, but keeping Akron off of him, shouldn’t be difficult.
On the Running Backs:
We are looking for a lot more consistency from Marlin Lane. That is probably the biggest thing. Consistency in his runs, where he is hitting it, consistency in his pass protection. The thing coaches love is when they put a player in a game, they know exactly what they are going to get, no matter how good or bad it is. The things that make coaches nervous is when you put a player in a game and you have no idea what is coming. Just developing that kind of trust of knowing what we are going to get when we put this guy in the game, that is the challenge for all of them… Rajion Neal hasn’t had the propensity to fumble this year so I think it’s an unfair label. It’s kind of like the kicker who missed one PAT last week. We are going to try to give him more than one opportunity but obviously there is a point where we are going to make a change… if he is able to average 4.5-5.0 yards a carry then yes. If the other guys aren’t, then absolutely, but the more guys you have that can get in there and do it, the better. You can manage them through the year a little better.
Neal has had two good games in a row. Not great, but good. I am waiting for him to break a long one. I know he has the speed to do it. Hopefully he can break a tackle or two against Georgia.
On Tyler Bray:
There were a lot of conversations about how you manage what goes wrong in a game and how your body language and your thoughts and your words can affect other people, especially guys on the team. He made some bad throws early, bad decisions early and was frustrated wanting to get something happening but he really kept a nice calm about him and worked his way through the game. He got better and better and better as the game went on. That was a good step for Tyler… Tyler wants to be a good quarterback and he is on his journey of being one. I think his level of want-to and want to win and want to be a great quarterback is a lot greater than what might be the perception of many. We all bring things on ourselves, so his goal is to work his way out of that and prove to people, not only that he is a really good quarterback, but how important it is to be good and how important it is to help this team win.
It’s not fair, at all for fans and media to question a guy’s heart. Everybody reacts to adversity different. Just think of how people in your family react to the same situation. I think Bray wants to win. He may not know how yet, but I do think he wants it well. NFL quarterbacks take years to get better. It reasonable to think that Bray will continue to improve as the season progresses, and assuming he stays, to be even better next year.
On Jarvis Jones
If you are not aware of where he is he can just wreck your game plan because of his athleticism and ability to win on pass rush and be disruptive in the backfield. He just has one of those playmaking personalities. He wants to make a game-changing play and they move him around a little bit. You just have to be very aware of where he is and you have to be very disciplined on how you block him, so we’ll try to do both of those.
Oh my Jarvis Jones. He scares the crap out of me. He might be the best player in the SEC, and that might make him the best player in the country.