Johnny Majors met his end after the South Carolina game in 1992. Phil Fulmer met his end after the South Carolina game in 2008. Is Derek Dooley next? Can he survive a drop to 3-5. I guess that will remain to be seen.  Dooley himself said they have one more shot against a top 10 team. Is he Nostradooley? Does he know something? What doesn’t remain to be seen is one of Dooley’s finest Monday press conferences ever.

On Trends in UT’s Losses:

You’ve heard me talk a lot about what I believe are the two biggest indicators of winning and losing: turnovers and big plays. When you look at those four games that we have lost, we are negative-six in turnover ratio. I think the disturbing part of it is that we have spit the ball up 10 times. We are averaging 2.5 turnovers in each of those SEC games, eight of them are interceptions, so we have no chance of winning those games when you are down 2.5 every game…”Then you look at big plays and it is, on average, 8-4. When I say big play, I am talking a play over 20 yards. I think teams have hit 31 on us to our 15. We are obviously giving up way too many and we are not getting as many as we are capable of with the kind of players that we have on offense in those games. Until we correct those two things, we are never going to get over the hump in beating some of these quality football teams.

Of course Dooley is right here. One thing I am curious about is why he didn’t reduce his ration even further. Our opponents have two big plays to our one. I guess it doesn’t really matter, but that seems like a point that would drive Derek mad.

On Coaching:

It always starts with coaching. We have to keep grinding on us to see how we can make sure we do not ever put our players in a bad position or we are calling the right plays to generate those kind of explosives or whatever. The second component is a level of discipline, pre-snap discipline and post-snap discipline, that we are not playing with consistency. Pre-snap meaning lining up right, getting the call, what is your assignment, communication and eye control. All of those things get you ready for the next play. Then post-snap is trusting the technique that you use over and over and over and over and over. You can’t have breakdowns during the course of a game because there are always seven or eight plays that define it. A great example is, if you watch the film, the interceptions we threw could easily have been huge, explosive plays for us. I’ve seen Tyler [Bray] make those throws to guys that are popping open, our fast guys, a million times and we don’t do it. Justin [Hunter] has a great opportunity to make a play before the half and we don’t do it…That doesn’t mean the other team won’t make some plays because they will, but it gets a little frustrating when you see your guys who are very capable, you’ve seen them do it and it’s not anything new, and they don’t do it. We have to keep doing a good job as coaches to demand it and if guys can’t do it, we have to put other guys in.

I imagine that Dooley has seen Bray and Hunter make those plays a million times. In practice with no pressure. Neither are gamers, and I don’t see any reason to think it will change. If it does change, it’ll have to come from Dooley or Jim Chaney. I doubt it comes from inside.  Of course other teams will make plays. Alabama is too good to not make plays. But Tennessee has talent too, and they aren’t making the plays that when it counts. If this is the final Dooleyisms it will be because of his “stars”

On His Own Last Shot?

We have one more good shot against a top 10 kind of opponent. We have to keep believing in our abilities and believing in what we are doing because I believe in our guys and believe in what we are doing. We have to work at it with a little greater passion so we go in with the right confidence and mindset. Then when it is time to play we have to go compete and play like we are capable of. That is kind of where we are. It’s not a fun place to be but the beauty of athletics is you have the next week to go dig your way out of it.

One thing you have to give Dooley credit for: He’s a smart guy, he knows how hot the seat is. He knows it’s his butt on the line. He knows, like me, that November is irrelevant.

On the Offensive Struggles against Bama:

We have one side that is really experienced with a lot of good ability and we didn’t perform on that side, the offense, the way I thought we could of. Now look, this is a great team we played so I am not taking anything away from how good they are. They are outstanding but we left a lot of plays out there. Just those two interceptions alone and the drop, there is about 150 yards of offense right there. Being able to put that kind of number on Alabama and some points. I’m not sure why we didn’t play a little better on offense.

He knows why. I know why. You know why. His best players didn’t come to play. The two picks and the drop killed Tennessee for sure, but teams can’t do that against Bama and still win.

On the Defensive Struggles against Bama:

On defense, certainly there are some things that contribute to it. It’s not an excuse. A lot of growing pains with the coaches, a lot of growing pains with the players. I think we have nine guys out there in their first or second year of the program and a new system. It’s not an excuse. We have to play better

The Volunteer offense is more talented than the Volunteer defense, but there is talent there. Darrington Sentimore, AJ Johnson, they had nice games. It’s the system.  Dooley didn’t keep Justin Wilcox, it’s not an excuse, it’s a fact, and the fact is the UT defense misses it’s coordinator.

On Mistakes:

They pop up when you play really good teams. There is no margin for error, but it’s not like we have been mistake-free with the other teams. The difference is we are able to offset it with a lot more explosiveness, if that makes sense. We create more on defense, big plays on offense. The mistakes are really about the same. You talk about the quarterback but he makes mistakes in every game. Against the good teams, you can’t make them because you aren’t going to offset them with 15 explosive plays.

Um, accurate: 3-0 against NC State, Georgia State and Akron, 0-4 in conference.

On Tyler Bray’s Leash:

If he is loose with the ball he is coming out of the game and we are going to play [Justin] Worley. And I told him that. He is too loose with the football and he’s been too loose. That’s the way it is. We can’t win, we can’t beat these team turning the ball over.

Sounds like a desperate head coach to me. Maybe he’s right, but it doesn’t seem that way to me.

On Bray’s Mood Post-Game:

I was very disappointed and I told him that. I have no defense for that kind of behavior. He is the quarterback and there is a level of responsibility that you have to the team, to the fans and to the media. If you don’t like it, don’t play quarterback. That is how it is and I told him that. That is the first time we’ve ever had a guy do that and that is unacceptable in our program. Man up. That is what you have to do. That is life. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t get upset at the fans because they are angry. What do you want them to be? Happy? They all want to get cheered but nobody wants the criticism when you don’t perform. That’s not how life is. Nothing wrong with the fans.

That wraps up Tyler Bray’s career in a nut-shell.

On the Team’s Mood:

I think their spirit is broken and it should be. I don’t think any of us expected to be where we are right now. We’ve played four really good teams, they are 27-1 let’s don’t forget that. They are good teams but three of the four we have had plenty of opportunity to win them. Then in the fourth one we had a lot of opportunity to at least push it to the fourth quarter to see if we could have a chance to win it and we didn’t do that. That is the disappointing part. We are not playing good defense and we are not playing well enough on offense to overcome it. That is the way it is.

Well I am in low football spirit’s as well, so there’s that too.

On Trevarris Saulsberry and Jordan Williams  and Young Guys Stepping up:

They were great additions, I’m glad you brought that up. I think it helped us a lot in the run game. Two young guys who are thicker, they have good qualities, that is why we signed them. I think they are going to have a good future here and we probably should have put them in the lineup four weeks ago…We’ve been wanting to integrate Dan [Gray] and Deion [Bonner] into games, but there level of consistency in practice [isn't there yet]. I keep telling them that they have to inspire a little confidence in practice but if we are not performing out there, we have to get some young guys in there who have a chance.

Well I’ll say this: If Dooley does go, the team has more contributors of SEC caliber than it did when he came in. Two years ago Gray and Bonner would’ve been starting. In fact they were starting we just called them Prentiss Waggner and Marsalis Teague. Heck, Gray and Bonner are probably more talented.

On Justin Hunter:

First of all, it has to be done in practice with a lot more consistency and Justin has to understand that playing receiver is not always clean and easy. There is a little grit that you have to do to get open, you are going to have to get hit and good receivers are able to make those kind of plays no matter what the circumstance. He’s not there yet. We all want to talk about how he is a first-round pick and the number one pick in the draft and he can be that but he has never performed to that standard in my opinion and he knows that. He needs to focus on his development, on what does he do well, what are some things we can keep building on and how do we get there. He has great character, it is important to him and he has a lot of special qualities for a wideout but being able to go produce out there week-after-week is what matters.

Justin needs to understand that playing receiver is not always clean and easy. WOOOOOOHOOOOOO! No kidding. He’s fast, he can jump he can catch, but he can’t play football yet. He doesn’t have that fox-hole mentality that he needs yet. Bumping and running gets in his head.

On if Bama “Outmanned” Tennessee:

I thought it was probably the most difficult from an offensive standpoint. I was really upset because I was really excited to go and challenging these guys offensively. Not that I wasn’t defensively, don’t get me wrong. I just felt like we could have done a lot better. I know we could have. I watched the film there are a lot of plays Alabama made but there are a lot of plays that we were a little out of character and had we performed the way we are capable of I think we could have hurt them as bad as any team could have.

Common theme here. Didn’t perform on the big stage…again.

On South Carolina’s Front 4.

Defensively it starts with their front four, extremely talented and disruptive. They are probably the most disruptive front four we have played all year as evidence by their 29 sacks. They play with incredible energy and fly around to the ball. They are not very complex and they are able to not be very complex because of that front four. You can really be simple in the back end when the minute the quarterback plants his foot he is getting hit by one of those guys…They are so long. You hear me talk about size and length at end. That kind of length can really cause problems on the edge. The edges are tough. It is hard enough for the left tackle but the minute you do something different and put a tight end or back on him, you can forget about it, it is over. He {Clowney} can wreck your game plan and he does it to almost every team.

Jadaveon Clowney is the best of that bunch, but the other three are not slouches. I was more afraid of this game at the beginning of the year. Tennessee’ offensive line has proven that they can handle good players. Will this be the best they’ve faced? Yes. Is it my biggest concern? Far from it.

On Connor Shaw and Marcus Lattimore:

Offensively, of course, the quarterback and runner, you better slow them down. What the quarterback does so well is he can scramble and he makes a lot of explosive plays when he is scrambling around. They have a lot of fast receivers. They push the ball down more than you think. The receivers are very fast. They have a group of about five or six of them who can hurt you down the field.

These two are my biggest worry. Shaw more with his legs than with his arm.

On if this Game is Make or Break for the Season:

We would like come out of here saying we beat a ranked opponent. My biggest thing is, I want to see us play our best for four quarters. Which we haven’t done from an execution standpoint.

I’d like to see that too coach.

On if the team has Improved since NC State:

That is hard to answer that question because one game, as you go through the season you are constantly changing. Just because you might have done some good things the first game that doesn’t mean you didn’t have the same fleas, that means that they didn’t expose them. If that makes sense. They didn’t know much about us either. I think certainly we have to get our confidence back that way it was going into that game. We were pretty confident and nothing hurts your confidence more than going out there and losing the way we have lost. I think, up to the Alabama game, the progress was obvious on the run game, offensively the points we were putting up. We were doing things that weren’t even close last year. And even against Alabama, I am really frustrated but I think we put up more yards on them even as bad as we were than most teams. But defensively, the biggest difference is we aren’t getting the takeaways because we were giving up yards, we didn’t give the points but we aren’t playing well on defense. We are on stretches. I thought we played, this sounds crazy, but I really thought we played the run. We had a horrible really bad run that was bad defense but against that football team I felt that we played the run better. The big plays are now coming differently. Earlier in the year it was the runs not it is these balls over our head. If we can correct that part maybe we can keep the point totals down.

I agree with this. I think UT is better than last year. Unfortunately I am not sure if it’s going to make a lot of difference. I will say this about the swagger. Dooley’s boys just looked different in the Georgia Dome. They looked like a top 25 team. They don’t look that way right now. Whether or not it’s the competition. I am not sure.

On the article that claims Dooley asked to resign after the Kentucky game:

That is absurd. Who wrote that? Who is he? Who are the sources? That is absurd. My high school coach used to do that though. He used to tell us every year, it is a great memory for me as a player. At the end of the season, he said every year he would walk into the principal’s office and turn in his resignation. And we were 52 and 4. So he says, `I resign.’ His point was he doesn’t want to be here if they don’t want him. Of course, he never left. I haven’t had the courage to do that right now. So maybe one day I will do that but I am not doing that right now. So that ought to answer your question. I would be a real dumbass to do that.

I agree. He would be.

On the Fans being Upset:

Are people upset? Of course, they should be. I understand that. I am not in a position to defend what we are doing, make a case for what we are doing. We have to go prove it on the field. Do I feel confident we will? I do. Am I a little disappointed we haven’t to this point? Of course I am. I am not upset that people are angry and screaming at the coach. You haven’t been in the business if you don’t expect otherwise. I have been getting some voicecalls, I don’t know how they got my number. But that is the way it is. They are screaming for guys everywhere. When you don’t play what they expect you to play. What am I going to do? It isn’t going to help us me sitting here defending it, we have to go play better. And we are going to do it.

Wins on Saturday make Monday-Friday a lot more tolerable. Go Vols!