To say the Tennessee Volunteer program has had its ups and downs over the last three years is probably an understatement.
Derek Dooley will be the third different coach in three seasons in Knoxville taking over a program searching for a return to the SEC's Elite.
To get a better look at the Vols, I contacted the UT Blog Losers With Socks for their take on Dooley and the upcoming season.
Q: How successful has Derek Dooley been in uniting the Tennessee faithful after a tumultuous off season?
A: Dooley seems to be the opposite of the jocksniffer-sniffer, spanktanking facebook stalkers that proliferate the Vols fanbase. He really seemed to handle all of the preseason two Achilles injuries well in interviews. He seems to be in control and has a grasp of things. It is hard not to like him. Or he is totally clueless of how deep in shit he is. One has to wonder if the Achilles injuries will be as unique to Dooley as the shoulder injuries were to the Great Battle Captain Fulmer?
Q: Describe the QB situation in Knoxville. Who do you see winning the starting job?
A: Son of Simms will carry the day. BUT be very afraid. Tyler Bray will be Erik Ainge with a pissed off attitude and really cool tramp stamp tat....Son of Simms: ignore the practice INT's and throwing off the back foot, this kid has guts and a cannon, Simms is the best QB in the SEC right now, seriously, who's better? Name a better field general, I dare you.
Q: The Vols have several areas of concern on the offensive line. Which one do you think keeps Dooley up the most at night?
A: Dooley has 7 starting positions on his offense with future pro football players and potential Hall of Famers. It does look to me like they should be the type of offensive line you can lean on. I think this offensive line is plenty good enough to run the football in this league which as we all know is always a key to winning.
In contrast, Dooley knows that his defense will need some extra work on the field. He will play conservative "Big 10" football to allow the defense to get more game time reps.
Q: Are UT fans excited about the scheme new defensive coordinator Chris Wilcox is bringing over from Boise State?
A: Chris Wilcox is a definite improvement of that old relic Monte Kiffin. Kiffin seemed to get his ass kicked by spread option and Wildcat offenses and any Ole Miss running back. Either way, this ain't the Mountain West or whatever Conference it is that Boise resides. Wilcox is going to play catchup on SEC Speed.
Q: The defensive line lacks size. Do they have the speed to make up for it?
A: The Tennessee DL will be better than a headbutt, faster than a speeding feral street dog in Tuscaloosa and sweeter than a ice cream cone (double dip with sprinkles). I'm counting the days till Mike Hamilton brings on the perennial OVC powerhouse UT-Martin.
Q: How does the departure of projected starter Darren Myles affect the secondary?
A: Teague will start. He is the best athlete in the secondary. Myles being kicked off, Loften and Clark not getting in, made the secondary a liability. Placing Teague and Meline in the secondary, has now made the secondary one of the strong positions on the football team.
Q: Are LBers Nick Reveiz and Savion Frazier going to be ready for the season opener?
A: They will. Reveiz is still smarting from Dooley painting his backside red for lacking leadership skills. With that said Reviez and a bunch of guys trying to just be like him (Frazier is one of those guys), will lead the team and will re-assert himself as the premier linebacker in America.
Q: Dooley was Special Teams coordinator at LSU under Nick Saban. What does he bring to a unit that was suspect last year?
A: Anything is an improvement from this: “We’re good a couple of weeks on special teams, then all of a sudden, the football god’s mad”. ? CPF quote from 11/11/2005 Daily Beacon article, apparently still clueless that special teams at UT have been horrible for YEARS (and obviously forgetting how bad it was on September 20, 2005).
Q: Who are some of the freshman that are likely to contribute?
A: I think Dooley will have to play 10 frosh because they are 10 of the best 22 on the roster. One of the sportswriters on the SEC tour mentioned that you can pick out Tennessee's frosh on the practice field because they are taller, quicker and heavier than the veterans.
Q: Describe a successful season. Describe a disappointing one.
A: In my ideal world there would be a 11 or 12 win season. My definition of success changes week to week.This week I’d love to see around ten, but next week should be eleven or noon, and probably within about six months I think I could get back around full circle jerk to getting up at ten again. It sounds like madness even to me, but at least it’s my own sort of madness. Go Vols. Failure? anything that is qualified as a prestigious pre-new years bowl: Shreveport is an example of season fail.
Q: What is your prediction for this season?
A: 9 wins minimum.
My Take on Tennessee...
I think Dooley may be in for a rough first year. His mom. Barbara Dooley, said as much as on the radio after Spring Practice basically throwing this season out.
While I don't think this year is a waste, I think Vol fans need to lower their expectations to winning a bowl game as a successful season.
Issues exist all across the offense especially at QB and the defense has a new coordinator while having to replace arguably the best defensive player in the country last year.
We should find out how far UT has to go in week 2 when Oregon comes to East Tennessee for a visit.
October will make or break this team's post season chances with a four game stretch of at LSU, at UGA, vs Alabama, and at South Carolina. Tennessee will likely be underdogs in all four, but if they can pull of an upset they will surely be playing in the postseason.
6-6, 4th SEC East
Thanks again to Losers With Socks for their insight.