Derek Dooley Media Transcript (Sept. 10)

(Opening statement)
"Nothing really stuck out after the press conference that we had after the game. I'm really proud of how we played. We had an incredible amount of big plays, 20 big plays on offense. I've never been around that many. We just kind of overwhelmed the secondary. We played really well the third quarter. We keep emphasizing that second half coming out of the locker room. Two weeks in a row we've done that. This week, we plan on kicking Derrick Brodus starting out as long as things stay the same during the week. I still believe in Mike [Palardy] but he has some things he still needs to work through, and Derrick earned the right to be out there. From an injury standpoint, Christian Harris we've activated. I'm not saying he's going to play and be ready but he's now out there. He's working with the defense and we need him because we're so thin at inside backer. Pig Howard is activated. We'll see how much we can get out of him. We need him, especially in the slot. Curt [Maggitt] and Herman [Lathers] are still questionable for the game and it's just going to be day-to-day. Obviously, we're playing a very talented Florida team. I think Will [Muschamp] is getting the team how he wants it. Great defense starts with their front seven. There aren't many teams in the country with a front seven like these guys. We did not win the line of scrimmage on either side last year with these guys. That's going to be our challenge this year. They have a special running back, really efficient pass game. We have our work cut out for us. I told the team they've earned the right to get some of the attention that they've been getting by how they've preformed the last couple of weeks. That's good, that's what we should get. But now we have to earn the right to continue getting it and earn the right to play well by how we prepare this week so that's kind of where we are."

(On being pleased with today's practice)
"We had a little more spunk out there today. Every day, the preparation builds each day. I think it's important for our team keeps their focus on what they need to do to play well this week and not on all the external drama that's certainly going to be there."

(On switching kickers)
"It's really no different than all the other positions, it's performance-based and it's my responsibility as a coach. If I feel like another guy is more deserving and gives us a better chance to get through the game, then that's what we're going to do. I don't know if it's the right one but it's what we're going to do. We'll see, only time will tell. Mike understands it. I still believe in Mike. He's talented. He has some technical things to work through to get him out there to perform better on game day and he'll do it."

(On his feelings in post-game press conference)
"I was excited. I just didn't seem it, I guess. I was happy with how we played. There was a huge talent disparity. That's not a disrespect, that's just where the two programs are. Those guys really competed well. They did, they should be proud. The quarterback was getting hit a lot and he kept coming. The running back caused us problems. I know Coach Curry was proud of them, he should be."

(On his sense of Florida's abilities)
"I think that all the people who were doubting them going into the season, they went out there and proved them wrong. The proved their mettle, they proved their ability, the ability to have some grit in the second half. To me, they proved they're one of the top teams in the league and it wasn't surprising."

(On the team's run game)
"We were very efficient again. We significantly got our goals. The average per carry was good, we would like it to be better. We made more mental errors than I thought we had made and I was very surprised at some of the mental errors we made up front. I was disappointed by that. I'm not sure what the reason was, because it wasn't anything complex. They weren't really doing anything different, probably just a lack of focus. I think there's a lot of good things in our run game but then there are a lot of concerns. Nothing has really changed. The good thing is we're running for about a football field more than we did last year. Of course we haven't gone against this league. This will be a good test for us."

(On the team's focus)
"It depends on your level of maturity and your experience in the situation. This will be a little new for us. It's good. I think our players will handle it fine. This is where you want to be. You didn't come to Tennessee to not be on a big game, big stage and game day. That's why you came here. It shouldn't really have any impact on preparation, any impact on focus. The only impact it has is for the fans."

(On Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel's ability)
"He's a big guy. He's got a very strong arm. He's been accurate the first couple of games. I think they feel pretty settled at that position. We have to make sure to keep our pass rush lanes, which we haven't done a great job of the first week. We have to keep working on it."

(On Florida's front seven)
"They're really good at everything. They have some special NFL high-round caliber guys. No. 2 wore us out last year. We couldn't block him. No. 73 is a special talent. Their MIKE linebacker, No. 1, he's kind of their quarterback. He's a little bit what A.J. [Johnson] is to us. They're really deep. They're able to play a lot of guys and there's not a big drop off. In the last three to four years, they've had the No. 2, No. 3 class in the country recruiting. When you turn on the film, you see it. They have excellent, excellent personnel."

(On James Stone)
"This will be a good opportunity for him. I don't think any of our guys really kept their composure last year against them. But it's a new year. Hopefully we've learned from it. I think we've learned from it by evidence of how we've played the first couple games. Bu this will be a good test for them."

(On whether this is his most important game here)
"Every game you go, the more you win, the more important they become. That's how it is. The more you lose, the more important they become. They're all important. It's kind of like the first game. If we want to go out there and play, we want to win. If we win, we have a lot more games left on the schedule. If we don't win, the sky isn't going to fall. We have to regroup, learn from it and go play the rest of the schedule. We've played two games. This is our third game, our conference opener. We'll find out a little more about our football team this week."

(On goals of getting in the top 25)
"We have some basic program standards that we kind of established that I think all the Tennessee fans expect. Certainly, at Tennessee we want to be in the top 25 like a hundred other teams. You can't be if you don't keep winning. If you're focused on being in the top 25 and not what you need to do to be in the top 25, then you're not going to be in the top 25."

(On preparing for Florida)
"It was a good early test so we haven't not been tested but this is going to be a different test. It is going to be a level of personnel A: who we haven't beaten in a long time and B: who is probably one of the best fronts in the country. There is more to come down the road. You look at these games and it just sums up what this league is. You look at Florida's game last week, the second half the defense just keeps beating on them and beating on them and eventually they pull away. That is what makes this league tough, you have to go against these defenses."

(On Florida)
"Will [Muschamp] is starting to get his team to look like what he wants his team to look like. They are a pro-style and they are multi-formational, so they are going to try and get you out-flanked. We are going to try and be physical at the line of scrimmage and have a heavy back. That is his philosophy and they are starting to play Muschamp ball."

(On Tyler Bray)
"He is two-for-two. I think that is fair to say. He has played two great games and but he also knows he is going to get measured by his body of work over time and this will be a big challenge for him. He knows he is going to get a lot of pressure. He has to get the ball out, our guys have to win outside on the perimeter. It is going to be a little tough, this is going to be a whole different philosophy in the secondary because they are going to put their hands on us and play deny the ball. They are going to grab and they are going to push, it is going to be physical. We have to go out there and match it."

(On Mike Gillislee)
"He is extremely productive, he is elusive and he is heavy. If you have bad tackling technique, he is going to break it. If you don't come in at a good angle he is going to make you miss, and he has the power to get extra yards."

(On the up-tempo offense)
"It is a good question. It is a little bit philosophy and I used to be that philosophy. I am not anymore - I want to score. I did a lot of soul searching in the off season about all that. Defense has to go and stop them, but if you keep scoring it is harder and harder for the other team. I know that because I have been on the other side of it. I am not going to slow our guys down. I want them to play fast and I want them to have fun. If they score, let's go stop them."

(On the offense enjoying the change to up-tempo)
"I know the offense does. I told Sal [Sunseri] when I hired him that it was going to look a little different than he is used to. Sal understands it - he is in. It is philosophy, doesn't mean one is right and the other is wrong. But given what we have on our football team I just think that gives us the best chance to win and that is why we are doing what we do. "

(On allowing the defense to prepare)
"That was the challenge - how do you have an up tempo offense and still give the defense a chance to go prepare to go play. Time will tell if we got it right. We haven't really changed how we do our practice structure much but we have changed how we do the offense. We could get it done a lot quicker but I am not going to compromise the defense."

(On the linebacker position)
"Those guys are doing a good job, but we are better with the other two too. Those guys can come in and spare them. Anytime you lose two players like that on defense and you are already thin at backer, you are not feeling good. It is not because you don't feel good about Willie Bohannon and Dontavis Sapp but we are a lot better with everyone healthy."

(On this team being tougher than the previous two)
"I think time will tell. We think we are but until you go out there against this league we have to go prove it."

(On the exposure from College Gameday)
"It is good but the best exposure you can get is to win. That hasn't changed. If you go and have GameDay out there and you go lay an egg, all that goes out the window."

(On Florida's front)
"I think it is fair to say. You look at the top defenses in the country and what they have starts up front. You look at the teams that have consistently played good defense in our league over the last three or four years, it starts up front. It isn't just that they have a few guys up front that are good, it is that they are deep, they are able to go four quarters and they are able to make game-changing plays in the second half. That is usually what happens, those game-changing plays. You saw it in both of those games this past weekend."

(On taking the defense a while to settle in)
"I am hoping just experience and recognition. You are always going to see new stuff early in the game. They have a plan and they are going to attack you a certain way. Over time - we have seen that and we know what to do. I am hoping just time."

(On the communication on defense)
"No I didn't think communication was really the issue in this game. As much as the first game. This one they got us on a few things - we were a little soft, we got picked one time. They hit a big play early on. We had a couple of busted coverages that hurt us, lost the edge a couple of times just not playing technique right. We need to come out and play a little better it the first quarter, but if you are going to pick a quarter not to play well it is probably a good one. Play well in two, three and four."

(On Derrick Brodus)
"Well, he has made every kick every time he has been out there. He kicks it high and he has a nice calm about him. We will see."

(On the length limit for Brodus)
"I don't know. We will see how the week goes."

(On who will do kickoffs)
"We will keep Michael Palardy on kickoff. He has been doing a pretty good job on kickoffs."

(On recruiting in Florida)
"No - it is still a big emphasis. We have had a lot more success in the Northern part of the state. We have gotten a lot of kids from the Jacksonville/Gainesville area, Orlando has been good to us. There are a lot of good players down there, but there is a lot of competition. We have some nonstop flights to Knoxville so that helps. They are cheap. It helps the family budget too when they have to come see their boy play when you can get flights for 49 bucks. Orlando nonstop and Jacksonville nonstop. We are working on getting Southwest here too, if anyone can help us on that. Helps recruiting."

(On A.J. Johnson)
"He's been doing great as MIKE. He's really starting to blossom as a MIKE LB. He is getting a little more vocal. I think the reps are giving him a little more confidence that he knows it, probably better than he thought he did. He is a really good football player. He just finds his way to the football like every good MIKE LB does... he's a good one."

(On how AJ has progressed from year one to two)
"His instinct, the better you understand the defense the more your instincts can put you in a better position to make a play. You look at last year; he was instinctive but didn't really know what was going on. He is playing at a high level right now."

(On recruiting both AJ Johnson and Curt Maggitt)
"I was trying to just get some good defensive football players. They would be good in any scheme."

(On the play of Mo Couch)
"Mo has really played great. He really has. He has been very consistent up front. He is playing with a lot more discipline, scheme discipline, and he has been productive two weeks in a row."

(On the 3-4 defense on young QB)
"I think it's more with the philosophy, not just 3-4 verses 4-3. What the defense of philosophy is in trying to create confusion for the QB and there are a lot of ways to do it. We played some teams that really didn't blitz at all but created a lot of confusion on the back end by all of their looks and disguises. You play some teams that create confusion with their blitz packages and others created confusion in their front packages. It is really more philosophical on how they want to disrupt the quarterback."

(On short-yardage situations offensively)
I think it's an element of both. There is execution but also a level of it is third-and-one it is not just running a play. Your pad level has to be a little bit different, your finish has to be a little bit different and your mindset has to be a little different. So probably a little bit of both."

(On the defensive pass rush this year)
"We're getting back there a little better. We hit the guy a lot last week. I do not know about our sacks right now. We don't have a lot of them but we're getting back there."

(On the kicking game)
"I have confidence to kick Derrick (Brodus), I do. I wouldn't name him a starter if I did not. We work on fourth downs. It is just a lot of it depends on what yard line, what the situation in the game is, what the field conditions are, what the weather is. There is a lot that goes into whether you go for it or not. I'm really not going to view our decision to kick a field goal any different than last week."

(On Florida's pass rush against A&M)
"They did a good job. It looked like they got him a few times on a scramble situation. We're going try to get out there. I know this when the quarterback has a little room in the pocket he can really hurt you and he did that."

(On the rotation at RB)
"I don't know. That will be a week-to-week thing on who's running well. We have got to protect the football; that is paramount. We hadn't done a good job of that last week. We have to run with our pads down and create yardage. We're going to start with Rajion (Neal) like we did this week and see how they run."

(On RB Quenshaun Watson)
"I was pleased with Que. He has a level of toughness about him even though he's a little guy that you like in a runner and he has speed. It was good to see him in his first game out there and he did a pretty good job. We got some yards and we had a lot of first time players out there."





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