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Tennessee Football: The 3 Biggest Problems Facing Derek Dooley's Program

Jason EllisContributor IIIDecember 4, 2016

Tennessee Football: The 3 Biggest Problems Facing Derek Dooley's Program

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    The tenure of Derek Dooley at Tennessee has been lackluster to say the least.  Some say it has been a downright atrocity.

    It's hard to argue the fact given his record.

    Four wins in the SEC in two and a half seasons.  No wins against Florida or Alabama, the Vols' biggest rivals.  Not to mention the horrible loss to Kentucky to close last season.  

    He also has an overall record of 14-18.  This is something that is not acceptable to the fans on Rocky Top.

    For the first two seasons, any rational person can accept the defeats.  It's no secret that Dooley inherited a mess of becoming Tennessee's third coach in as many years.

    This season, however, the losing is not being taken very well by the big orange masses.  The reason being is Dooley now has what is considered an SEC-caliber roster.

    With losses continuing to mount, Dooley's stool is on fire and continues to get hotter by the day.

    The record and roster can be looked at all day long, but it still leaves a lingering question: What factors are contributing to Derek Dooley's problems?  

Switching to the 3-4 Defense/Sal Sunseri

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    Derek Dooley's decision to switch to a 3-4 defense going into this season left many scratching their heads.  It is considered to be somewhat of a drastic change going into such a pivotal season in his tenure.

    Most that know even a little about football know that this is an excellent defense to run.  Those in the know also know that it takes into the second season for the defense to start showing gains.

    With his backside ablaze after losing to Kentucky, it was an odd change.

    To go along with the change, Dooley hired Sal Sunseri from Alabama to implement the system  

    It seemed like a good hire because he was knowledgeable on the system. However, Sunseri has never been a defensive coordinator, nor has he ever called plays—not something you want when your job hinges on the season.

    There is also an eerie quality to this hire and change.  It is very similar to another hire that was made in the Phil Fulmer's final season.

    Vol fans assuredly remember the "Clawfense."

Tyler Bray's Lack of Maturity on and off the Field

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    The stories of Tyler Bray's summer have been oft reported and are well known.  It is also well known that Dooley's success is tied to how well Bray performs on the field.

    His lack of maturity is on display for all to see and you don't have to look very far.

    • Leaving the field without shaking hands after the loss to Florida
    • Tweets about bandwagon fans after the loss to Mississippi State
    • Refusing to speak to the media after the loss to Alabama

    These are only the most recent examples of of this behavior.

    His play on the field hasn't been much better, especially in games against SEC opponents.  He breaks down mechanically when the opposition is of a higher skill level.  He also has made a ton of mistakes in these games.

    It's reached the point to where Dooley has said he will pull him if his erratic play continues.

    This may be too little, too late for Dooley, however.

Derek Dooley

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    The biggest problem with Derek Dooley's program at Tennessee is Derek Dooley.  

    He is a very likeable guy and is great with the media, but he seems out-matched in almost every game that he has been in.

    He has done an excellent job in recruiting SEC-level talent to the program, but it hasn't been enough.  He hasn't been able to win with this talent.

    It's becoming clearer with each game that Dooley may not be the man to revive the Tennessee program.  He currently has it on the cusp, but is unable to get over the hump.

    He may be out of time to do that.  Winning the only huge game remaining on the schedule may not be enough to save him.

    Like many are saying, he may just be the bridge to the person that can bring the program back.

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