Insider Mailing: SMU, Please Hire Dooley Edition

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    Jalen Hurd-1-8

    “Who is the better coach: Derek Dooley or Derek Mason?” – @HippieH8er

    Houston: Way too early to tell, in my opinion. I have to think that Dooley is worse, but it’s hard to make a strong case for Derek Mason after his start to the season. The one thing Dooley did have on Mason coming in – the only thing – was experience being a head coach…even if he stunk at it. Mason is still learning how to be a head coach at an SEC school while following the most successful stretch in the program’s history, so the chips were stacked against him. James Franklin won with Bobby Johnson’s players and then bolted to Penn State while leaving Vanderbilt with next-to-nothing from a talent standpoint. I feel bad for Mason because I think he is a good man and a good coach who didn’t realize what he was stepping into. Derek Dooley is just a moron.

    Daniel: It really isn’t fair to evaluate Mason yet, but we’re not always about fairness here at RTI. Based off what we’ve seen, I would say Dooley – and that’s saying a lot considering his spot as one of the worst coaches in SEC history. But how do you lose to Temple by 30, fail to score an offensive touchdown through two games and have a depth chart with four co-starters listed at quarterback right now? Atrocious. For all Dooley’s faults, he never did anything like that. As Dooley himself used to say “time will tell” on this one, but Mason’s off to a horrible start.

    Reed: Better coach? Or better head coach? Mason is clearly in over his head at Vanderbilt but he was at least a successful defensive coordinator. Dooley’s greatest coaching success was somehow earning a spot on Saban’s staff, even if he was only a paper pusher. Mason will probably be a colossal failure as a head coach, like Dooley, but his previous coaching experience suggests he’s a better football mind.

    John: I greatly respect what Derek Mason accomplished at Stanford, so even if he eventually proves to be in over his head as an FBS coach (as early returns suggest), I’d still be able to point to something he did as a coach and say that I respect it. Conversely, I cannot point to a single thing Derek Dooley has ever done as a coach and attach the word “respect” to it. So Derek Mason is a better coach than Derek Dooley. But that’s not saying much.

    Because the air we breathe is a better coach than Derek Dooley.

    Do you think Hurd will see 20 carries against Oklahoma and do you feel Tennessee could honestly win?” – Johnny Jones (we were also asked by Davy Crockett (yes, the original) who will have more carries: Lane or Hurd, and if the fact that they’re playing at Oklahoma will influence that.

    Daniel: Going to take the under on 20 carries for Hurd, but say he’s the leading rusher. I don’t think the coaches will be hesitant to give him the ball just because it’s in a hostile environment – he’s mature beyond his years. But in terms of him getting to 20 carries, just not sure Tennessee will be in the game for four quarters and that could mean a lot of passing to try to cut the gap down at the end. And while I think Hurd will lead the team in carries this year if he stays healthy, I do think they’ll want to get Marlin Lane a few more carries than he saw against Arkansas State. In terms of feeling that Tennessee could honestly win…sure, it’s not impossible, but I like Oklahoma by at least two touchdowns – maybe more. It would be one of the bigger upset in modern Tennessee football history in my book.

    Reed: I give the Vols about a 10% chance in this one. They’re not at a massive talent disadvantage like many think. Oklahoma has comparable talent if you go by the recruiting rankings, but their talent is vastly more experienced. They’re cycled up this year and they rarely lose at home so I give them a big edge in this one. I like Tennessee’s chances, though, when the Sooners come to Neyland next year. I think the staff wanted to get Hurd valuable reps in the first two games before heading into the meat of the schedule and that’s why he saw significantly more carries than Marlin Lane. Through two games, Lane has been the more effective runner. They’ll need every yard they can get at Oklahoma to have a shot at the win so I think Lane will see more carries than Hurd. At least he should. But I don’t think either will get 20. Tennessee will have a tough time finding running room against that OU defensive front and will have to pass the ball a ton in this one.

    Houston:  I know I’m in the minority, but I actually think Tennessee can give Oklahoma some trouble this weekend if they don’t shoot themselves in the foot with early turnovers and penalties. I certainly am not expecting them to win but, like Reed said, the talent difference isn’t as bad as most people think. I think it’s all about how this team responds in their first road game of the year. If they can come out early and protect the football and maybe force an OU punt or a turnover, then I think this young team could get some confidence and ride the wave to a close game. And if they make it into the 4th quarter within striking distance then there is always a chance.

    As far as carries, if Hurd has 20 of them then Tennessee has probably won the game and he passed 20 while trying to run out the clock. I agree with Reed that Tennessee will have to make their yards through the air in this one. OU’s front seven is big and talented, and given Tennessee’s lackluster performance in their first two games I just don’t think OU is the team that they hit their stride against.

    What’s the one road game you wish Tennessee would schedule just so you can go to that stadium?” – Doug Brooks

    Daniel: These are some of the out-of-conference places I’d like to see a game at some point in my career: Stanford, Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, Ohio State, Clemson, FSU, Oregon (I wasn’t able to travel last year), Penn State, USC and Wisconsin. Also wouldn’t mind a neutral-site game at Jerry World in Dallas.

    Houston: Probably Texas if both teams were really good. Austin is a great city and that would be a really fun game to attend with the whole “UT vs. UT” smack talk that would take place all week.

    I really wish I could have gone to the Oregon game last year – that one seemed like an awesome trip from everyone I spoke with. Playing Southern Cal in L.A. would be a fun trip. I’ve got some friends there so that would be a good time. For some reason I’ve also always wanted to see what Madison, Wisconsin was all about, so throw them on there and maybe Arizona State as well.

    I will say that I never want to see a game at Penn State, Iowa or Kansas.

    Reed: As far as destinations, I always like California trips. But you asked about stadiums. I’d love to see the Vols play at Notre Dame again. I missed the last trip up there and am still kicking myself. Ohio State and Michigan would also be very high on my list.

    “Will the offense show some new formations, such as a 2 back set?” – @RockyTop10EC (also @NavyRedneck asked if we could see Jalen Hurd and Marlin Lane on the field at the same time)

    Daniel: The two-back look is likely in their arsenal and, yes, it would make sense to use it this week with Pearson out and Wolf questionable. Both Lane and Hurd are capable of splitting out at receiver as well, so there’s some flexibility there. All in all, I wouldn’t expect anything to change too drastically formationally speaking. They’re not in a situation like last year where if a WR or TE goes down, they have to change the offense because they don’t have other options. But they’ll want to throw a few wrinkles at Oklahoma I’m sure.

    Houston: I think you’ll know pretty quickly if Tennessee’s coaches actually think they have a chance to win this game. There are a lot of things that we saw in the preseason formation-wise that they haven’t shown yet. There are also a lot of route combinations in the passing game that haven’t been called to this point as well. So, if the Vols line up in new looks or if certain players are being featured more than they have been through two games then you’ll know that the staff was saving them specifically for Oklahoma. Remember, they have a bye week to prepare for UGA, so don’t be surprised if there are some very specific looks on both sides of the ball that were implemented over the summer that will debut this weekend in Norman

    “When choosing hand-woven sacks for hops transport, what’s your preferred material? Burlap or a more exotic blend?” – Ryan Wooden

     John: Ah, yes, greetings Ryan. You’re obviously speaking of the conversation that transpired during our happy hour on Friday when you and your like-minded associates questioned my decision to opt for a Miller Lite over one of the microbrews y’all hold so dear. Here’s the deal: if I’m drinking a beer, odds are there are at least three or four just like it to follow. So the last thing I wanna do is get all barleyed out and feel like shit for the rest of the day. So while you boys and some random guy in a turtleneck named Gunther extol the virtues of the hops that make your hefeweizen sublime, Ima pour half an ice-cold ML down my gullet. Have fun assessing the body of the pale ale with the ever-so-slight afterbite, but just know y’all sound like a couple of dipshits at Starbucks debating which double-grande-skinny-half-caff-decaff-caff to order before rushing back to your post at the genius bar.

    BUT, to answer your question, you misconstrued the joke I made on Friday. Because the material of the sack is not what’s important when transporting your precious hops. Nor is it merely the fact that it’s handwoven. It’s that it must be handwoven by Tuscan virgins, thus assuring the purity of said hops. (Good time last week.)

    Are there cameras advanced enough to capture the speed at which Eric Striker will run around Brett Kendrick on Saturday? – Tyler Pello

    Daniel: No, because I don’t think Kendrick is going to play. I think they’re going to go (L to R) Kyler Kerbyson, Marcus Jackson, Mack Crowder, Jashon Robertson and Coleman Thomas (and I realize you asked this question before practice yesterday when we saw the new look in drills). But to the point of your question most likely, I do think the Oklahoma defensive front is going to get a ton of pressure on Tennessee. We were tossing around an over/under for sacks yesterday in the media room and 5-to-6 was about what we settled on. It could be bad.

    “Is it ok for the program to be set up to get DESTROYED on national television? Why wasn’t this bought out?” – @BucketHeadTN

    Reed: I’ve been the conductor of the buyout Oklahoma train for years. Playing a top-10 schedule when you haven’t been to a bowl in three years is borderline insane. Now, the Vols couldn’t control their SEC opponents this year, but adding No. 3 Oklahoma on top of an already daunting schedule was ill-advised. I wrote about this at length prior to the season and you can read that piece here, but here’s a short summation of my thoughts. Of the teams that played top-10 schedules last season, only three made it to postseason play. Three. There’s no doubt the Vols are facing an uphill battle back to bowl eligibility. Even if the game is close (I don’t think you’re looking at an Oregon-like drubbing Saturday), wouldn’t you rather play a middling ACC foe and get to 3-0 for the first time in nearly a decade? By nearly every metric, Tennessee is playing a top-10 schedule this season.  Defending champ Florida State’s schedule ranks 47th per the NCAA. No. 2 Alabama’s ranks 95th and No. 3 Oklahoma’s ranks 93rd. If teams in the hunt for a spot in the college football playoff aren’t playing top-10 schedules, why should the Vols?

    “With the potential hiring of Dooley, will SMU be the first school to be issued the death penalty twice?” – @BigOrangeButch (we got a similar question from Stu Davis, also asking if Mama Dooley will intervene)

    Houston: I don’t think there is any real chance that he ends up there, I mean, look at all of the success they are having in Dallas right now. Who would leave that brewing dynasty?

    In all seriousness, two or three phone calls from SMU’s athletic director would quickly alert him to the football abyss his program would spiral into if he were to hire the Doolander. It’s fun to talk about, but would never actually happen…..Right?

    “Do we not have anyone that can take Justin Coleman’s place? He gets burnt anytime he doesn’t have help over the top.” – Jeremy McCann

    Daniel: In fairness, the coaches ask a lot of him. He plays nickel and then bumps outside to more of an outside cornerback spot in other situations. He even got some reps at safety in the spring, though we haven’t seen that look this fall. So while he has been burned a few times, I think what you see is what you’re going to get at cornerback for now. Malik Foreman and Emmanuel Moseley are likely the next two up at corner, but, at this point, I don’t see one of them taking many snaps from Coleman. I thought somebody like Rashaan Gaulden might step up and take some reps, but he’s out with some form of hand/wrist injury at this point.

    Reed: The simple answer, right now, is no. Their three best corners are Moseley, Williams and Sutton when it comes to coverage, but Moseley is still undersized and struggles to tackle in run support. I still think he should see more snaps, as Coleman hasn’t been great against the run either. I get why they’re leaving Coleman in, but he’s the biggest liability the Vols have when the opposing team passes.

    “Is there legitimacy to the SMU rumors or is it just speculation?” – Doug Brooks

    Daniel: Ultimately, I don’t see him landing there. The source of the rumors is a report from @footballscoop (a fantastic follow on Twitter by the way), though others who have put out candidate lists haven’t included him. Personally, I would love to see it. I miss his quotes and stories.

     When are we going to get Reed Carringer on the Butch Jones show? – Mason Brown

    Daniel: He would absolutely crush it in that role. On a somewhat related note, our RTI Digital Studios are getting closer and closer to being finished, so you’ll get a chance to see him do more video analysis, interviews and breakdowns very soon.

    John: Yes, as Daniel already alluded to, our digital studios are literally under construction by a team of industry professionals as we speak. We’ve been talking about it from day one, but I’m not sure people fully grasp what we mean when we say “digital studios.” We’re not talking about a neat place to shoot YouTube videos on a Sony Handycam with Earl and them. We’re talking about a place where we will use state-of-the-art lighting, audio and video equipment to capture HD-TV-quality video, all shot on a set that will look every bit as professional as any you’d see at any TV station across the country. These brief, digestible and high-quality videos will be as informative as they are entertaining, and will automatically populate on our free app.

    So while you may not see Reed this season on the Butch Jones show, you will most certainly be seeing him — along with the rest of our crew — on RTI TV soon enough, my friend. Thanks for the question, Mason.