Back to basics is battle cry for failing Vols
Posted: Monday, October 11, 2010 1:12 pm
By: By BETH RUCKER, AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Tauren Poole knows the only acceptable reaction to Tennessee’s fourth loss in five games is to stay strong emotionally and stay focused on improving on the field.
That doesn’t mean the Volunteers’ senior tailback isn’t a little frustrated after being routed by a strugging Georgia team a week after dropping an agonizing game to LSU.
“I’m sick of losing. I’m sick of excuses. I just want us to play better and fix it,” Poole said.
That’s what coach Derek Dooley wants, too, and he’s taking the Vols (2-4, 0-3 Southeastern Conference) back to basics during their bye week.
The Tennessee coaches plan to use their extra time to review their schemes and their players’ performances.
They’ll meet individually with the Volunteers to discuss how to improve and expect the players to set their own personal goals for the second half of the season.
The Vols will spend Tuesday and Wednesday practicing basic concepts like blocking and tackling — just as they did during fall training camp — before getting to work on Thursday on the next opponent, which just happens to be No. 8 Alabama, which comes to Knoxville on Oct. 23.
The Vols then travel to South Carolina, which defeated the Tide this past weekend, for an Oct. 30 game.
“It’s not where you want to be as a program, but it’s where we are,” Dooley said Sunday. “We’re not playing with that confidence and that aggressiveness that we need to be playing with.”
The struggles weren’t unexpected with such a young, inexperienced team that has so little depth, and Dooley plans to do a little extra recruiting this week.
Fifteen true freshmen and 15 first-time starters have played for the Volunteers this season, bringing with them a plethora of youthful mistakes.
One huge one was having 13 men on the field in a chaotic last play against LSU on Oct. 2.
The penalty ended up costing Tennessee a win against the Tigers, who scored on the replayed down to ultimately grab a 16-14 win.
Despite the result against LSU, Tennessee played well and appeared to be making strides toward becoming a winning team again.
Instead, the Vols appeared to regress in a 41-14 loss to Georgia.
They committed three turnovers that led to 17 points in the first half and never mentally recovered.
Two of the turnovers were fumbled returns by Eric Gordon, and Matt Simms threw his first interception in over two games.
The Vols struggled to tackle Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green or quarterback Aaron Murray, who spun out of a would-be sack around the Tennessee 8 to reach the corner of the field and stick the ball over the goal line for a touchdown just before stepping out of bounds to open the third quarter.
Tennessee’s road doesn’t get any easier after hosting the Crimson Tide.
The Vols will then travel to South Carolina to face the team which upset the defending national champions on Saturday.
“We are capable of playing good football,” Poole said. “It’s just all about the little things. It’s about competing on every down. We really have no choice but to move forward, and we need to stay focused on the team.
“It showed out there that we still have a lot of work to do.”