published Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Mark Wiedmer: Vols lose another close one

Tennessee running back Rajion Neal (20) pushes past Mississippi State linebacker Benardrick McKinney (50) and defensive back Corey Broomfield (25) for a first quarter touchdown in their NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012.
Tennessee running back Rajion Neal (20) pushes past Mississippi State linebacker Benardrick McKinney (50) and defensive back Corey Broomfield (25) for a first quarter touchdown in their NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

STARKVILLE, Miss. — The Derek Dooley Era at Tennessee just got a little more complicated in the early moments of this morning. Not necessarily more certain.

Just more interesting. A gritty, gutty 41-31 loss on the road to undefeated and 19th-ranked Mississippi State will do that for an embattled coach and his foggy program.

Was this an improvement, because the Volunteers trailed 27-14 at haltime but outgained the Bullies 183-10 in the third quarter while pulling within 27-24 and later to 34-31?

Or was the fact that the Vols were outclassed most of the first half, outgained 293 to 97 in yardage in that first half, a reason to begin to think about a third coaching change since 2008?

All that will surely percolate in the days and weeks to come, especially if Tennessee loses to both Alabama and South Carolina over the next two weeks.

But while the first half was a nightmare, the second was certainly a study in toughness for the losers.

First the Vols began the second half by marching down the field for a field goal to slice their 13-point halftime deficit to 27-17 with a quick field goal.

Then they forced the Bullies to punt for just the second time all night.

Then they began marching again, a rushing attack that had gained only 39 yards the entire first half suddenly gashing holes in an MSU defense that had begun the night ranked second in the SEC in rush defense.

This is how you win road games against ranked foes in the SEC. This is how you build programs for the long haul. You run the football when you want to so you might throw it when you prefer, rather than when the other guy’s defense gives you no other options.

Yet as great as this newfound strength up front was, it was the newfound resolve the young man handing the football to those running backs that most impressed and inspired.

For during that first drive of the second half, the one that ended in a field goal before UT’s second possession of the third period ended in a touchdown, Big Orange quarterback Tyler Bray found his left knee tucked beneath him at a troublesome angle after being tackled.

Bray rose slowly. He walked with a limp. You wondered if this might not be it for the California Kid. At least for this night.

But then he trotted onto the field for that next possession, albeit gingerly. His left knee was covered in a black brace. He was clearly in pain. But he played.

Oh, how he played. Within a few minutes he found Cordarelle Patterson all alone in the left front corner of the end zone for his first TD toss of the night. The Vols were within three points at 27-24. The Vols were alive. The Vols felt like the fresher, better team.

Not only because of Bray, of course.

But he was certainly a major reason for the physical and emotional swing taking place on the field, a swing that appears to be happening with far greater regularity for the men in pale orange.

It didn’t last, of course. Devrin Young fumbled and MSU converted a few plays later to lead again by 10.

Yes, the Vols fought back, Bray finding fullback Ben Bartholomew in the end zone to again pull with three points (34-31) with more than five minutes to play.

And other than the outright lead, this is all any UT fan could have hoped for at that moment. With that much time on the clock, the Vols controlled their own destiny. Get a defensive stop quickly and there would be more than enough time to deliver the first Dooley victory over a ranked opponent in his 13th try.

Get a road win here against the undefeated Bullies, and New Year’s Day bowl in sunny Florida would suddenly be possible.

Get a win here and all that negativity about the coach and the players and the program might fade away.

But then Mississippi State got two first downs, scored one more touchdown and danced into today with a 6-0 record. Maybe one day the Vols again will do the same. Whether they do it with Dooley or someone else now becomes a bigger question than ever before.

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 ...

11
Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
jomo11 said...

Please don't fire Dooley, I really think in 8 years he will have UTK back to respectability !

October 14, 2012 at 1:16 a.m.
jomo11 said...

With the Bama game now certainly going to be a noon start time, will that give Vol players enough time to pick out their caskets ?

October 14, 2012 at 1:17 a.m.
chet123 said...

Tennessee biggest problem is stupidity.......why keep going to the west coast looking for a quarterback......when there are great quarterbacks here in tennessee.......Johnny major won with big games with players from rhea,bradley,hamilton counties.....also....tennessee have a coach with a losing record....he record was under .500 when they hired him to tennessee......fans need to stay at home....do waste their money....maybe the A.D will get!!

this will be another under .500 season....ha!ha!....because thats what dooley is....a under.500 coach....ha!ha!....how dumb can one be!!!!!

October 14, 2012 at 7:53 a.m.
chet123 said...

tennessee record will be 3 and 5 after playing south carolina.....ha ha 3 and 5....one of the top 5 biggest program in the nation ha!ha!........after south carolins...tennessee trying to play safe by playing troy university a scholl with a 30,000 seating capacity stadium...ha!ha!....then they hoping to beat losing programs as missouri,vandy,and kentucky,,,,that will give them a 7and 5 record......this will give them a winning record..........dismissing the fact they havent beaten a top 20 program in years..........and they can bank on bringing the state of tennessee winning college football program.....BUT NOT SO FAST!!! MTSU IN MURFREEBORO WOULD CLEAN TENNESSEE CLOCK ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.....AND UTK WILL CONTINUE TO DODGE "MIDDLE TENNESSEE".....MIDDLE-TENNESSEE IS NOT SURROUNDED BY IDIOTS...THEY HAVE THE BETTER COACH TOO....

October 14, 2012 at 8:27 a.m.
herbrich said...

Mark -- Can't wait to read your recap of Bama-UT. "Folks, this 81-0 loss to Bama was closer than the score indicates. With a break here or there, Vols could have easily held the Tide under 50 points. Another amazing rivalry game. These Vols have clearly turned the corner. Time to lock-up coach Dooley long-term."

October 14, 2012 at 11:42 a.m.
Salsa said...

Johnny Majors? LOL! Majors was 4-7, 5-5-1, 7-5, and 5-6 in his first 4 years as coach at Tennessee. Quite a role model for Dooley.

October 14, 2012 at 4:29 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Look I'm not an alumn of UTK, so I don't have a dog in the hunt. That having been said, UTK will never win big with Dooley. He had a losing record at La Tech WITHIN his own conference. He never beat a team with a winning record in 3 years there and finished 17-20. He has only one win in 3 years at UTK against teams that finished with a winning record ( Cincinnati ) . 0-13 against teams ranked in the top 20. 1-11 in his last SEC games. So why does any Vol fan think he will turn things around ? Next year will be even worse with Hunter and Patterson leaving early for the NFL and Bray coming back is bad, Bray leaving early is also bad.

October 14, 2012 at 5:47 p.m.
jomo11 said...

So the question is will UTK be willing to buy out Dooley, considering the athletic department is in worse shape financially than ever. Or will they make the mistake of saying " let's give Dooley more than 3 years to turn this aroun" . . . . That would be a big mistake

October 14, 2012 at 5:54 p.m.
chet123 said...

SALSA....MAJORS HAD STUPID TENNESSEE FANS LIKE YOUR SELF TO GET BY.....BECAUSE TENNESSEE FANS LIKE YOU HAD LET BILL BATTLE RUN THE PROGRAM INTO THE GROUND......MAJORS CAME TO TENNESSEE AS A YOUNG MAN WITH A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP UNDER HIS BELT.....

SALSA YOU HAVE BALLS ENOUGH TO COMPARE DOOLEY WITH THE GREAT JOHNNY MAJOR......PUT THAT CRACK PIPE DOWN!!!!!!!

October 15, 2012 at 8:50 a.m.
chet123 said...

SALSA CONVENIENTLY LEFT OFF THE FACT JOHNNY MAJOR HAD A NATIONAL TITLE BEFORE EVEN COMING TO TENNESSEE....

THE PEOPLE AT PITTSBURG BEGGED JOHNNY MAJOR TO STAY.....BUT HIS LOVE WAS AT A UNGRATEFUL TENNESSEE FOOTBALL BASE WITH IDIOT LIKE SALSA.....

THE BIGGEST MISTAKE MAJOR MADE WAS LEAVING THE GOOD FANS AND PEOPLE OF PITTSBURG....AND COMING TO RED-NECK SCHOOL LIKE TENNESSEE

October 15, 2012 at 8:59 a.m.
LaurynGraf said...

Neat blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it http://hairdressersballymena.com/ from somewhere? A http://moriyamaproductions.com/ http://millerscandy.com/ theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really http://janicedennison.com/ make my blog jump out. Please let me know where you http://studiotregi.com/ got your theme. Cheers

December 2, 2013 at 8:18 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement

Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.