Aug. 21, 2010
Tennessee's sideline of fresh faces hit a wall Saturday during scrimmage work that dealt with game situations all over the Neyland Stadium turf.
And from his post-practice comments, Dooley seemed well aware that today's workout ended almost exactly two weeks shy of this year's season opener against UT Martin.
"Our youth and inexperience were really exposed today," Dooley said. "We need a ton of work at this stuff. We got affected a lot, we couldn't manage the offense as well as we need to, we made some bad mistakes -- it was a really good indicator of where we are, I think, when it got crunch time. Youth and inexperience just showed.
"The players who had experience were calm and played well, and the ones who didn't along with the freshmen really struggled.
Dooley was speaking for both sides of the ball but said it was the offense that was especially challenged.
"Managing the clock, getting the right plays, milking it, when to hurry -- all those things. It was a tough day."
The defense made the most of offensive miscues. Eric Gordon and Savion Frazier both returned interceptions for touchdowns, while Anthony Anderson on a deep route and Gerald Williams at the line of scrimmage made nifty plays for their own picks.
"That was a good play by Gerald," Dooley said of his deflection and grab. "We had a lot of turnovers, but it's the plight of the head coach. I got on the defense because they weren't creating enough turnovers, so then they create them and I'm in the tank because we gave them up. It's like nothing's ever good enough.
"But they're feeling good about that on defense and they should be. We're going to need to get some this year but we can't spit them out."
Dooley then switched to a brief outlook for what needs to happen this season.
"We're going to have to create turnovers, we're going to have to protect the ball, and we're going to have to be good on special teams just to have a chance to win. That's where we are."
The head coach took time to explain Tennessee's depth situation heading into 2010.
"Our depth issue showed, our inexperience showed, and when you have those issues is when you get a lot of stuff that happens that isn't supposed to happen. It's kind of like we have ones (first-stringers) and threes (third-stringers), and when you're operating with 72 scholarships we've got 15 guys missing on the team who could be sophomores and juniors.
"Think of it this way: four more defensive backs, four more defensive linemen, three more receivers and about four more offensive linemen. Think of it essentially as a whole signing class. But it's pointless to even talk about it. I'm not worrying about what we don't have, but today it really showed."
Tennessee practices again Monday afternoon.
JACKSON SHAKING THE RUST
Safety Janzen Jackson continues to make his way back to normalcy after missing more than a week with a sore hamstring. Dooley said it was crucial Saturday to have the Lake Charles, La., sophomore taking his licks.
"It was extremely important and he's very behind. He's going to need a ton of work. He missed Practice 4 to about 12 and we got a lot done in those practices. He's out there and for him it's Practice 6 or 7 and for the other guys it's Practice 17. It's a big difference."
OUTLAND WINNER DeLONG'S MEMORIAL SERVICES SET
The family of Steve DeLong will receive friends at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church Chapel on Sunday from 3-5 p.m., followed by a brief Celebration of Life. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to: The Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center C/O Fort Sanders Foundation, 280 Fort Sanders West Blvd., Building 4, Suite 100, Knoxville, TN 37922.
DeLong died Wednesday in Knoxville.