Derek Dooley’s job is officially on the line after the Tennessee Volunteers lost their 15th consecutive game against ranked teams, most recently to South Carolina 38-35 on Saturday. Added to that is the 0-5 record within the SEC this season, despite high expectations from an explosive offense led by junior quarterback Tyler Bray. Bray has had several opportunities with some high profile receivers including Justin Hunter, coming off the ACL injury from last year and junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson. But it wasn’t either of these receivers that performed beyond expectations in the loss to South Carolina. Senior receiver Zack Rodgers caught 3 touchdown passes and proved to be a reliable target with 6 catches for 107 yards. But the offense was unable to pull off the win in the last minutes of the game, bringing to light the future of head coach Dooley.
Dooley has been a real change for the whole Tennessee program replacing the controversial Lane Kiffin three seasons ago. Despite the changes, the Vols have been unable to pull off winning seasons, narrowly making the Music City Bowl in 2010 (eventually losing to UNC) and missing the post season in 2011. This season isn’t very different either. The off-season hiring of defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri from a very successful Alabama defense has been the hot topic of late. The Volunteer defense is almost dead last in every category within the SEC and maybe all of DI NCAA football. The Vols have been unable to stop opposing offenses allowing 33.3 points per game.
With the defense unable to get the job done, the shaky hit or miss offense and the unstable special teams, it is no surprise the Vols are 3-5 and people are starting to question Dooley’s future. It may come down to the final few games, versus Troy, at Vanderbilt and versus Kentucky, all winnable games, to determine Dooley’s future. In the meantime, Dooley must keep the Vols on track after several heart-breakers this season.