Make Or Break Season For Dooley At Rocky Top
It’s going to be a make or break season for head coach Derek Dooley. His Tennessee Volunteers haven’t done much for the college football picks throughout his tenure and he needs some results – maybe even immediately – if he wants to keep his job.
There’s no question that the potential is there. The Vols boast a talented roster in the SEC and return more starters than any other team in the conference. Quarterback Tyler Bray has flashed his potential and when healthy, he’s slung the ball around enough to make NFL scouts salivate. Beyond that, he’ll be working with one of the best receiving tandems in the country with Cordarelle Patterson and Justin Hunter, even though star Da’Rick Rogers was booted off the team.
But there are questions beyond that. The Vols haven’t had a quality running game since the days of Phillip Fullmer and their defense has been questionable since his era too. The running game will try to get the job done by committee Raijon Neal, Marlin Lane and Devrin Young while the defense is hoping that a switch to the 3-4 will shore things up.
The Vols finished last season with losses in six of their last eight, which included an ugly loss to Kentucky. It’s unclear whether the schedule will do them any favors in 2012.
They’ll start with a neutral-site affair with N.C. State and two weeks later will host No. 23 Florida. Even if they can somehow start 2-1 or 3-0, they might be back to square one after a rough four-game stretch. The Vols will go to No. 6 Georgia, then Mississippi State, then come home to face No. 2 Alabama and then go on the road to face No. 6 South Carolina. The Vols will be an underdog in the sportsbook for each of those contests.
They finish up with four relatively easy games but it’s hard to envision Tennessee having the eight – or better – win season that might be necessary for Dooley to keep his job. One saving grace could be good showings against the elite teams. Even if the Vols can’t get the wins, if they can at least come close and be competitive, that might keep Dooley hanging by a thread for one more year.