JOE BIDDLE: Dooley can't survive Missouri loss - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: Dooley can't survive Missouri loss

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -

Derek Dooley had numerous chances to gain a stay of execution.

Instead, he goes back on coaches' version of death row to play out the string.

I'm afraid the embattled Tennessee coach can't survive after losing a 51-48 four-overtime loss to Missouri.

To add salt to the wound, it came on Big Orange turf where empty seats and boo birds were significant. Athletics Director Dave Hart could not help noticing both factors.

Can the 4-6 Vols beat Vanderbilt in Nashville and Kentucky at home to earn a bowl invitation? Maybe, just maybe. Who cares? How many Vols fans want to travel to Nashville, Memphis, Shreveport or Birmingham? I didn't think so.

"We played our tails off and had plenty of opportunities. We just couldn't get it done,'' Dooley said after the game.

"We got no other option but to go beat Vanderbilt and try to get to a bowl game. It's tough. We've lost four games at the end of the game.''

This places Tennessee and Kentucky as the bottom feeders in the SEC East. Neither has won an SEC game and Kentucky has already notified Coach Joker Phillips he will not return to his alma mater.

The game was just about what you would predict between two 4-5 teams. Tennessee led 21-7 at half. Missouri owned the second half, 21-7 as the Vols vaunted offense couldn't score after its third quarter touchdown and its defense eventually ran out of gas.

Tennessee had 32 first downs to Mizzou's 20. The Vols outgained the Tigers, 585-454 yards. Tennessee had 80 yards marked off due to 11 penalties. The Tigers were flagged twice for 10 yards.

Both quarterbacks did what they had to do for their teams to win. Tyler Bray was 37 of 54 for 404 yards and four TDs, with no interceptions.

Missouri's James Franklin was 19 of 32 for 226 yards and four touchdowns and threw one interception. He also hurt the Vols with key runs.

But Bray came up short in the end while Franklin made plays when the game was on the line. He threw a touchdown pass on a fourth-and-12 from the Vols 25 to tie the game late in regulation.

Vols defensive back Byron Moore lost Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham with 53 seconds left and allowed the game to move to overtime.

"They throw the ball up and we're disoriented,'' Dooley said. "It's fourth-and-12, man. You got to make a play and we didn't do it.''

And why on earth did Dooley decide to wave a white flag of surrender just before the end of regulation when the Vols had the ball on their own 39 with 43 seconds and two time outs. An incomplete Bray pass and a completion for no gain and Dooley let the clock run out.

"I felt like we'd go beat them in overtime,'' Dooley offered.

Huh? You have one of the best long ball quarterbacks in the college game. You have future NFL receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarelle Patterson, both of them several inches taller than every Missouri defensive back.

Sling it down field and let them try and make a play. Instead, they go to overtime without a fight and the home crowd catcalls ringing in their ears.

I think the way Tennessee lost Saturday erased any confidence the Vol Nation has for Dooley.

As promising as the Vols played in taking a 21-7 halftime lead by rolling up 383 yards, it all disappeared in the second half and through four overtimes as the Vols' season-long defensive woes were glaring.

"It's a hard loss. We just didn't execute in the end to win the game,'' Dooley said.

Prepare the final meal. Like Derek Dooley (and I think he is a good person) or not, he has made it an easy call.

Contact WKRN.com Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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