Dooley, Vols out of answers
A despondent Derek Dooley didn’t have many answers Saturday night.
“We got whipped by a great football team,” Dooley said, “in just about every phase.
The Vols got whipped 44-13 by rival and top-ranked Alabama in front of a home crowd that seemed whipped before the game started. The 102,455 in attendance, just as despondent, at least those in orange, didn’t have answers either.
On the field, no answer for Tennessee there.
The Vols took to three-and-outs like the end of just another drill in practice — walking off the field like things were running just on schedule.
“We didn’t execute on offense,” Dooley said. “That was something I was pretty surprised about.”
Sure, the Vols were game for some stops on defense and a couple of big plays on offense.
But where was a catch when it was desperately needed from a too-open Justin Hunter streaking down the sideline and deep into Alabama territory with just seconds left before halftime and Tennessee trailing 23-10?
The only answer there was a drop.
“We had two chances in the first half,” Dooley said. “Didn’t capitalize.”
Even before that, where was Tennessee’s clock management when Alabama ran down the play clock before kicking a 34-yard field goal with 1:24 left in the second quarter?
Time outs weren’t the answer.
Instead of burning one of the two Dooley had left to save the 25 wasted seconds, the Vols opted to hold on to their time outs to use on the following possessions.
But a couple of Tyler Bray shovel passes to Marlin Lane and the missed connection on the nine-route to Hunter saw the Vols take those two timeouts into the locker room.
“I understand people are upset at me,” Dooley said of the clock management. “We’re up 13, which is fine. It’s not the end of the world.
“It’s two touchdowns. I didn’t want to risk going down 16, or even more.”
Tennessee chose to burn a timeout in the second half, taking the extra time to decide what to run on third-and-1 at the Alabama 33, trailing 23-10.
“Third quarter, we’re down there twice, (down) 23-10,” Dooley said, “and got a chance to keep grinding and staying in it.”
Two plays out of the time out resulted in exactly zero yards and turnover on downs. ‘Bama was in the end zone six plays and 67 yards later for a ‘good night’ touchdown and a 30-10 lead.
“We take a shot on third-and-1,” Dooley continued. “Then we get stuffed on fourth-and-1.”
Tyler Bray, the strong-armed quarterback with a gunslingers mentality coming into the season, didn’t have answers, aside from his two interceptions — one thrown in the Tennessee end zone — that Alabama turned into 14 points.
Dooley didn’t have an answer for his quarterback, either.
“Our quarterback didn’t play well. Not sure why.”
Dooley added of Bray’s second interception: “It was a bad throw.”
The lopsided scoreboard didn’t tell the story Saturday night.
A despondent crowd before the game and an out-of-answers coach after the game did, though.
When asked if he felt like he still had the support of the administration after the game Dooley did have an answer, albeit a brief one.
A quiet Neyland Stadium gave another answer Saturday night.
Grant Ramey is a sports writer at The Daily Times. He can be reached at grantr@thedailytimes. You can follow him on Twitter @TDT_Sports. He wrote from Knoxville.