published Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Wiedmer: Are these Vols really better?

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, bottom left, leads his team onto the field before the start of an NCAA college football game against Florida on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn.
Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, bottom left, leads his team onto the field before the start of an NCAA college football game against Florida on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn.
Photo by Associated Press.

KNOXVILLE — So just how bad are North Carolina State and Georgia State anyway?

Tennessee did more than lose its eighth straight football game against Florida on Saturday night in Neyland Stadium. Not that that 37-20 defeat wasn't bad enough, especially since UT led 20-13 midway through the third period.

But what was equally troubling was the gnawing, numbing belief that Derek Dooley's third team may be little better equipped to compete against the top half of the Southeastern Conference than his first two squads.

It didn't seem that way heading into this game. Not after the Vols whipped a supposedly respectable Wolfpack squad 35-21 in the opener before crushing overmatched Georgia State 51-13 last week.

But if a No. 18 Florida team that seemed not much better than average entering this game could outscore the Big Aren't 24-zip over the game's final 22 minutes and 33 seconds, what foul fate awaits the Doolittles at Georgia and South Carolina, not to mention that ghastly Oct. 20 visit from No. 1 Alabama?

If seemingly owning every advantage -- home field, ESPN's "GameDay" crew in the house, a beat-up bunch of Gators playing their second SEC road game in two weeks -- could lead to this, how much will Neyland's concessionaires have to further discount bottled water and pizza to lure fans back from this point forward?

Beyond that, perhaps most disturbing of all, three games into his junior season, Tyler Bray has yet to defeat or even scare a single member of the traditional top half of the SEC.

For now, he remains far more Bray the Bully than Bray the Bull.

Yes, there seemed to have been much improvement early in this twilight tussle. The Vols led 14-10 at intermission, the crowd of more than 102,000 in full throat following an impressive goal-line stand just before the horn.

In the house to have his No. 45 jersey retired both belatedly but deservedly, former coach Johnny Majors clinched his fists inside the press box and yelled, "That's the way to play!"

And that good work appeared as if it would continue when the Vols completed an 81-yard, 12-play drive for a touchdown midway through the third to lead 20-13.

But new starting kicker Derrick Brodus missed the extra point that would have padded that advantage to 21-13, and from that moment on, for whatever the reason, in Dooley's disappointed words, "We hit a bad stretch at the wrong time."

Here's your bad stretch:

From that 7:33 mark of the third period until the final horn, the Vols totaled 35 yards of offense and no points while Florida piled up 311 yards and 24 points.

To make matters worse, UT had zero yards of offense in the final period.

"We just need a better job of responding," said UT defensive back Prentiss Waggner. "We kind of hung our heads."

The play when the fans began to hang their heads came when the Vols' Marsalis Teague failed to shove Florida's Trey Burton out of bounds as he raced down the right sideline late in the third.

Burton raced 80 yards and the Vols were tied. Then they fell behind 27-20 late in the period, a scene witnessed far too often the past five or six seasons in Big Orange Country.

When the Gators struck again for a 75-yard touchdown pass five minutes into the fourth to lead 34-20, you immediately could watch a steady march to the exits by UT's deflated fans.

"We knew we would be the ones to stop us, and that's just what happened," Bray said after having two passes intercepted and suffering his first two sacks of the season.

"We fell apart."

That's the one point the entire Big Orange Nation would agree with.

about Mark Wiedmer...

Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...

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Livn4life said...

It was painful to watch. I am sure Coach Dooley is as embarrassed as all the fans who helplessly beheld the meltdown. But I take exception to your disrespectful use of the term Dolittles. That is a term seen by negativites on Volunteer websites. As a serious sports journalist, you could show more respect. But then, I get the freedom of speech thing. We do not know who these Vols are. But it would serve all right who write them off and play jokes with the head coach's name if they came out and smacked Georgia, South Carolina, or even the mighty Tidey Alabama. The season has really just begun and who knows what will happen over the next several weeks? That all being said, they did look sad!

September 16, 2012 at 7:29 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Look what did Vol fans expect ? When you hire a coach, Dooley, who had a losing record at La Tech, why would you think anything would be different at Tennessee ? . . . . Dooley as head coach in his 6th year, has only won 2 games against teams that finished the season with a winning record. . . . . As they say " you are what your record is" . . . . .Dooley will never be more than a 7 or 8 win a year, at best, coach. . . . You get what you pay for. . . .

September 16, 2012 at 1:54 p.m.
jomo11 said...

And by the way , when you wear those god-awful orange pants and win, you look interesting. . . . When you wear those pants and lose, and look bad losing. . . You look like an idiot

September 16, 2012 at 1:56 p.m.
chet123 said...

I hate to say it.....but i told you so!!!!!!!...maybe the university of Tennessee need to move to Nashville...or maybe faithful Tennessee Fans need to get behind middle Tennesse State U. or some other Tennessee College(as Alabama has bama and auburn)....since University of Tennessee Knoxville is taking faithful ut followers for granted.....there is something wrong in the culture at ut-knoxville

Why would a big time program like ut-Knoxville hire a loser like Derek Dooley to start with???mmmmmmmmmmmmm?....is it because his family name???

Remember how they end the season last year losing to Kentucky!!!!!

Dooley is a Horrible coach!!!!!

Why do Tennessee dools at the name of Famous Family Children....(remember Eric Ainge,and the son of phil simms,peyton manning, and many more....peyton was the only real winner.....but ut won national champ under a little know quarter back name tee martin)

Something is wrong with the culture in Knoxville....There need to be a house cleaning in knoxville until they get it right..............do these moron understand that potential high school candidates are watching tennessee and want to be a part of this weak football program mmmmmm????? they are forming a negative opinion of the football program mmmmmmm?....Maybe Tennessee need to take notes from Nick Naban......Bama can give these moron a clue!....since these moron keep during the same thing looking for different results.......

And by the way....if i was a coach....and Knew the team with the most rushing yarn won 100% of the time over the last 20 years....i would throw the ball 44times....i would try running.....only a moron would continue to do the same thing repeatly looking for different result....ha ha ha ha!!!!!!

TENNESSEE GET A REAL COACH!!!!!!

ALSO TRY A BLACK QUARTERBACK FOR A CHANGE FOR HEAVEN SAKE!!!!!

TYLER BRAY IS NOT WHAT TENNESSEE CRANK HIM UP TO BE !!!!!!

TOO MANY MISTAKES!!!!

September 16, 2012 at 3:27 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Lane Kiffen would have won that game if he was still the coach at UTK. . . . . .it is ashame that Kiffen left, he would have had the VOLS moving in an upward direction.

September 16, 2012 at 3:56 p.m.
Ozzy87 said...

Vols : a nice tasty treat for a Gator.

September 16, 2012 at 11:19 p.m.
chet123 said...

Tennessee once was known to be a smart school....wise and mature...far ahead of the other sec schools......WHAT HAPPEN?

September 17, 2012 at 10:49 a.m.
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