From the doghouse to the penthouse, Coach Derek Dooley ended his week significantly better than the way he started it, as his Tennessee Vols beat the beat the living stuffing out of the Akron Zips 47-26 in Neyland Stadium Saturday night. Silencing an impatient and rowdy fan base that had expressed their concerns and doubts of his strategy throughout the game.
Chastised and penalized all week following the scrappy loss to the Florida Gators on ESPN, this supremely confident coach responded in the best manner possible. By playing it close to the vest, concealing his offensive prowess from future SEC rival UGA and putting his field goal kicker into prime position for the for several opportunities, Dooley was executing one of the best plays in his deep and vast playbook, “The Field Goal”.
There were eight field goals. Akron’s Stein was a perfect 4-of-4. Tennessee’s Derrick Brodus matched him, hitting all four tries, from 37, 23, 22 and 28 yards.
“They were big,’’said Dooley. “We were ‘struggling’ (using his fingers for air quotes) in the red zone.’’
Having watched the Vols offense struggle early in the first half to subdue Akron in a forgettable display of football, Dooley made yet another now famous half-time adjustment that made it possible for both fans and players to flush the memories of the less than par performance first half “down the shitter” and move on. One positive was that the Vols were good enough to repel a robust and resilient challenge from the Zips and emerge with a victory on the back of a better second half.
You could sense at that stage the Vols needed something special to turn the tide. Thankfully they got it from a young coach who faced his challenges this week, but responded magnificently. This time the moral victory very much went the way of Terry Bowden’s Akron Zips.
But what about those Vols? Supposedly in some form of disarray they competed hugely, led by their big, hard-running Rajon Neal and the brilliance of knuckleheaded QB Tyler Bray, and were fortunate to have secured another famous win on their home field.
Here’s hoping Derek Dooley doesn’t flinch in his pursuit of UGA perfection. Dooley is reminiscent of a fat Roman emperor resting between orgies as he sets his sights on UGA and a possible job offer to replace embattled UGA coach Mark Richt.
Dooley is reminiscent of a fat Roman emperor resting between orgies as he sets his sights on UGA and a possible job offer to replace embattled UGA coach Mark Richt.
Dooley’s nadir was in 2011 when he was under the blowtorch to improve the offensive balance and, as is their right, several former players, message boards, and twitter chatter voiced their doubts about his skills and credentials.
The question is, has the job of Tennessee’s coach, complete with intense public scrutiny and commercial obligations, outgrown a man of Dooley’s way of doing things?
Whatever happens, one thing is certain.
Dooley, as he continues to be our head coach, will have to deal with a lot more scrutiny than he receives from an a fanbase that simply doesn’t understand football or the strategy of the game. That is one thing he will not be able to flush ‘down the shitter’.
Dooley will face a huge mental test in Athens this week where he must quickly educate ignorant fans, forget his Akron wobbles and refocus on opening up the playbook.