This week’s Dooleyisms have a melancholy tone. But, they also have a silver lining. There is room for improvement, and there are nine games left. It’s only September 17th, Happy Constitution Day everybody.

On “Most” of the Florida game:

We had a great game going as we all now. Sitting there in the third quarter, 3:27 to go, up seven, outgaining them 300 to 250. Then, we had a series of events that really we obviously weren’t ready for. Four out of the next 10 plays they get 225 yards and 21 points. On the other side, we had an interception that certainly wasn’t Tyler’s (Bray) fault. It got a little loose in protection. The guy made a good hit on him as he’s throwing an opportunity ball. We’re sitting there at 9:55 in the fourth, down 14.

There is a lot to be said about this. It felt much worse than it really was. One of my friends said we didn’t compete. We competed, we just had a bad stretch.

On the Offense’s ability to come back:

There was a moment there when too many people were not listening to the voice of reason. It’s like I’ve told the team, down 14 with 9:55 to go against anybody in the country, we should have the confidence that we can come back and win. 

Yep, we need to get the swagger back. And when I mean back, I mean remember we are Tennessee. They didn’t build that giant stadium for a bunch of turd football teams!

On Brian Randolph

ACL. I hurt for Brian, but he’ll be fine and we’ll move on… Byron (Moore) has been playing pretty good football. He just needs to keep doing what he’s been doing. Brent (Brewer) needs to get in there and we need to get Rod (Wilks) and LaDarrell (McNeil) going.

Byron Moore and Brent Brewer will be starting this weekend against the Akron Zips.  Unfortunately Randolph is Tennessee’s most dynamic defensive back. He brings a lot of flexibility. Two years in a row, UT lost a great player on a non-contact injury against the Gators.  But it’s nice to bring a former starter back off the bench. UT’s depth is getting there.

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I have spent a lot of time in the last 36 hours trying to figure out how to analyze this game. Dooley always says “It’s never as good as it seems; it’s never as bad as it seems”. So I have been trying to keep that in mind. After some self-reflection, maybe I was more guilty of the former than the latter. Maybe NC State isn’t that good, and neither is Tennessee. Georgia State is just a waste in terms of determining how good Tennessee is.  Maybe Florida’s opening game jitters against Bowling Green were simply that. Now on to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Good

I was pleased with the entire first half. I liked the way Tennessee responded with two reasonably quick scores after Trey Burton got his first touchdown.  I was thrilled with the goal line stand at the end of the first half. I liked AJ Johnson’s wildcat package. I thought Rajion Neal had his best game of the young season. I also thought Zach Rogers had a nice game. Even without his acrobatic save off of the carom. I saw more good defensive interior work by Mo Couch and Daniel McCullers. Both made repeated trips to the Gator backfield, and allowed the linebackers to make plays. I thought that the crowd was impressive. Just a good solid half of football for the Volunteers.

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We made the predictions, now we have to face them. How did Mike and I do in week three?

Tennessee vs. Florida in Knoxville

What Mike Said:

The SEC opener for both teams in recent years, is now just the SEC opener for the Vols. Florida comes in after having defeated a game Texas A&M squad. UT is coming in over a thrashing of Georgia St. The Florida defense keeps the Vols under forty for the first time this season, but Sal Sunseri’s crew is starting to get the hang of this 3-4 thing. Florida scores a late touchdown to make the final score close than the actual game.

Tennessee 31 – Florida 23


What Steve Said:

It’s Florida, and nothing good ever happens against Florida. Today is no different. The Vols fans learn the hard way that having a good passing game isn’t quite enough. Brent Pease has a good, conservative game plan that allows the Gator defense to stay fresh and minimize the damage the Vols offense can do. The game remains tight but Florida has the edge at the end.

Tennessee 20 – Florida 23


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Well that was … thorough. Let’s get to it, shall we?

The Good

  • Back to back shutouts. Question the quality of the opponent if you like, but the Tide hasn’t shutout two opponents in consecutive weeks since Coach Bryant was on the sidelines. When you consider they did so despite playing literally everyone that made the trip, that’s really something.
  • Freshmen. QB Alec Morris is the only true freshman still eligible for a redshirt after only three games. When the media marvels at how Alabama is able to replace seven starters on defense so easily, this is how. When people marvel at how Saban can continue to get players to come to loaded positions where they won’t start, this is how. Fifth string running back Kenyan Drake led the team in rushing. Third string true freshman linebacker Denzel Devall recorded one of four sacks on Arkansas’ starting QB. That’s a pretty handy box score to share with prospective players.
  • AJ McCarron. He’s not going to win the Heisman because he doesn’t throw the ball enough, but he looks fantastic when he does. He’s quietly leading the league in yards per attempt (10.8) and passer rating (a whopping 196.59 which is sixteen points better than next-best Aaron Murray). To understand how far he’s come as a QB, he only topped that mark once last season (209 against Georgia Southern) and that’s his average this year.
  • Twelve players recorded a tackle for loss. Twelve. And that was rushing only three or four for the entirety of the game.

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Doesn’t this week just feel right? Giddy anticipation, two top-25 teams, clashing at night in Neyland Stadium. College Gameday will be there. It’s a good week to be Vol fan. We are gonna break this one down;  see who has the upper hand, position by position. Each team has played an automatic qualifier school (NC State for UT, Texas A&M for Florida), and a patsy, (Georgia State for UT, Bowling Green for UF) So I am going under the assumption that even though it’s early the schedules mean at least a little bit.

Offensive Lines

I am not going to sit here and proclaim that I know a lot about offensive line play. Shoot I have no idea how or why Zach Fulton is the highest graded Tennessee offensive lineman or that Joe Thomas is the highest graded offensive lineman in the NFL. I have no clue what to look for in such situations, so I am going to shoot you some numbers.

Florida is T-83 in Tackles for loss allowed. 91st in yards gained per game 47th in rushing yards per game.

Tennessee it T-57 in Tackles for loss allowed (and no sacks allowed), 15th in yards gained, and amazingly 42nd in rushing yards per game.

Do those number mean that Tennessee’s offensive line is superior than Florida’s? No idea, but it’s the best I’ve got so I am going to say yes.

Edge Tennessee

Running backs

Mike Gillislee  is Florida’s leading rusher, he’s pretty darn good. He’s banged up though. Tennessee has trotted out Rajion Neal, Marlin Lane, and Devrin Young. Which one is the best? I personally feel like it’s Lane, but I would listen to an argument for Neal. Regardless, I’d trade either for Gillislee, banged up or not.

Edge Florida

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We made the predictions, now we have to face them. How did Mike and I do in week two?

Tennessee vs. Georgia State in Knoxville

What Mike Said:

Not much to see here. This game is over almost before it begins. The defense looks better, but it should. It’s Georgia State.

Tennessee 56 – Georgia State 13


What Steve Said:

The only criticism of the Vols in this game will be asking why they left Bray in so long. Vols barely break a sweat.

Tennessee 63 – Georgia State 17


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Dooleyisms are back. Not the most exciting edition when you blow a team out 51-13, and you don’t want to give Florida any bulletin board material.

On Kickers:

This week, we plan on kicking Derrick Brodus starting out as long as things stay the same during the week. I still believe in Mike [Palardy] but he has some things he still needs to work through, and Derrick earned the right to be out there…It’s really no different than all the other positions, it’s performance-based and it’s my responsibility as a coach. If I feel like another guy is more deserving and gives us a better chance to get through the game, then that’s what we’re going to do. I don’t know if it’s the right one but it’s what we’re going to do. We’ll see, only time will tell. Mike understands it. I still believe in Mike. He’s talented. He has some technical things to work through to get him out there to perform better on game day and he’ll do it…Brodus, he has made every kick every time he has been out there. He kicks it high and he has a nice calm about him. We will see.

James Wilhoit was the last time I felt good about a Tennessee kicker, and that’s been a while. Is UT that bad at scouting kickers? Fulmer recruited Daniel Lincoln, Kiffin and Dooley both recruited Palardy.

This was the last time I felt comfortable about Tennessee’s kicking situation, and it’s been a long time.

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Lots of shifts in my blog poll. Yes I dropped Tennessee 4 spots after whipping Georgia State. I was not real impressed with NC State’s 10-7 defeat of UConn to be honest. I dropped USC back a bit. I know they went cross-country, but I was not impressed with their win over Syracuse. Oregon on the other hand looks awfully good.

SB Nation BlogPoll Top 25 College Football Rankings

MIike Mozingo Ballot – Week 2

Rank Team Delta
1 Alabama Crimson Tide
2 Oregon Ducks Arrow_up 2
3 LSU Tigers
4 USC Trojans Arrow_down -2
5 Georgia Bulldogs Arrow_up 2
6 West Virginia Mountaineers Arrow_down -1
7 Michigan St. Spartans Arrow_up 1
8 Florida St. Seminoles Arrow_down -2
9 Oklahoma Sooners
10 Clemson Tigers
11 South Carolina Gamecocks Arrow_up 5
12 Kansas St. Wildcats Arrow_up 12
13 Virginia Tech Hokies Arrow_up 5
14 Florida Gators
15 Texas Longhorns Arrow_up 4
16 Louisville Cardinals Arrow_down -4
17 Tennessee Volunteers Arrow_down -4
18 Michigan Wolverines Arrow_down -3
19 Ohio Bobcats Arrow_up 2
20 Arizona Wildcats
21 UCLA Bruins
22 ULM Warhawks
23 Ohio St. Buckeyes
24 Oregon St. Beavers
25 BYU Cougars
Dropouts: Nebraska Cornhuskers, Arkansas Razorbacks, Wisconsin Badgers, Oklahoma St. Cowboys, Boise St. Broncos

SB Nation BlogPoll College Football Top 25 Rankings »

Full disclosure, with UT-GSU on PPV, and my wife not real keen on me spending money to watch blowouts, I had to follow this game on Twitter, and texts from friends. Also, when a game is 51-13, it’s tough to do a full throttle, Good, Bad and Ugly. But, I am a mudder, so here I am!

The Good

18-20, 310 yards, 4 TDs, 0 Ints. That was Tyler Bray’s stat line. I know it’s Georgia State, but man! 90% completion rate? That’s insane. A lot of QBs don’t go 18-20 in practice with the green jersey on. That’s one great day. Justin Hunter had 8 catches for 146 yards and three touchdowns. That’s another impressive day. Just the ninth time in school history that a UT receiver scored three times.  Scoring 51 points in regulation also qualifies as good. I don’t care if Western Kentucky is better than Georgia State. Alabama is better than Tennessee, and they only scored 35 points in their win.

The Bad

The running game still isn’t where it needs to be. I thought about putting this in the ugly section, but I feel like it should go here instead.  This needs to get better, and right soon.

The Ugly

Michael Palardy missed an extra point.  That’s two weeks in a row. That’s pathetic. One point hasn’t mattered yet. But it could soon.

The Beautiful

A new section this week, and just for this week. Gameday is coming back!


My local Chattanooga affiliate decided that people would rather watch Braves baseball than the number one football team in the country, so thanks for renewing my hatred of you, Tennessee.  I did get to watch it on ESPN3, though, so not a complete loss, although watching Mike’s Hard Lemonade commercials thirty times in a three hour span is not cool. Not cool at all, ESPN.

If you had told me before the season that Alabama would win by five touchdowns and shutout a team who is on an eight game win streak and their last loss was to LSU last year, I would be thrilled with that. But I watched the game, and despite the good (and there was quite a bit to be happy about), the word “sloppy” just kept running through my head. The offensive line was playing like you can block someone with your reputation. It doesn’t work. The defense was sloppy in some of it’s tackles and the defense seemed a bit too willing to allow short passes. They lacked the aggressiveness they played with in week one.

I realize there’s not a lot you can really glean from this game. This game plan will in no way resemble what Alabama will do against Arkansas next weekend, and so in choosing not to pull out all the stops, you allow for certain things. This is still probably the best team in football, but it’s not a team who can beat anyone just by lacing up.

I’ll have more in the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but for now, I’ll take satisfaction in a 35-0 win and 2-0 start to the season and try not to dwell on the plethora of mental errors that were made this afternoon.