JOE BIDDLE: Late turnovers kill UT'S chance versus Georgia - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: Late turnovers kill UT'S chance versus Georgia


Another opportunity for Tennessee's football team to impress was marred by a myriad of mistakes.

A team that was desperately seeking its first signature win under third-year coach Derek Dooley failed to make the plays needed to upset No. 5 ranked Georgia between the hedges at Sanford Stadium.

"There will never be a game where we will have the amount of adversity that we had,'' Dooley said after the wild and wooly 51-44 defeat.

Once again, Vols quarterback Tyler Bray showed he is just good enough to get you beat against a quality opponent.

In the Vols final three possessions of a high-scoring, but close game, Bray was guilty of two interceptions and a lost fumble.

Tennessee is not a complete enough team to overcome those kind of turnovers, especially by a quarterback who seems to save his worst for last. Too often, Bray melts when the heat is the hottest.

That is not to pin the loss all on Bray. He saw junior college transfer Cordarelle Patterson drop a long pass that hit him right in the hands as he had at least a five-yard lead on a Georgia defensive back. A certain touchdown turned into failure to execute the fundamentals.

Dooley is looking for playmakers. Georgia lost its best running back prior to the season opener when Isaiah Crowell was dismissed from school due to a reported number of failed drug tests.

So freshmen running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall took up the slack and had a field day against the Vols' porous run defense. Gurley rang up 130 yards on 24 carries while Marshall gashed the Vols defense for 164 yards on only 10 plays.

Running lanes were impossible to miss. Gurley and Marshall had no trouble finding them. If you can't stop the run in this league, you won't be an elite team.

"We made a lot of mistakes. We have a lot of issues on defense, especially stopping the run,'' Dooley admitted.

The Vols' kicking game also continues to disappoint. Derrick Brodus missed a 28-yard field goal and a point after. They had a punt blocked. Once feared for its kicking game, Tennessee scares no one today.

There were some great plays made by the Vols, but they were negated by as many mistakes that nullified the positives.

They are now 3-2, 0-2 inside the SEC. Their next three opponents are Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina. The Vols can't hope to beat those teams unless they tighten up the run defense, drastically cut down on mistakes and develop a kicking game.

Georgia Coach Mark Richt may have been trying to placate the Vols after the game.

"Tennessee is very talented. They have good-looking athletes,'' Richt said. "I think Derek (Dooley) has got them going in the right direction.''

While all that is true, it has to start paying off in the win column. I predicted it would take Dooley four years to get this program to where it could win its share against the top teams in the East. After watching them stumble in the fourth quarter against Georgia, it still stands.

The question is, will Vol Nation be patient enough to suffer through the process without braying for a coaching change.

"They're going to be a pain in the rear for some time to come,'' Richt said of the Vols.

Will Derek Dooley be there when that time arrives?

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

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