Tennessee couldn't keep early lead, possession in loss to Arkansas

Another game got away from the University of Tennessee.

The Volunteers did not necessarily give away this one after they scored the first 14 points against Arkansas but ultimately lost 24-20 Saturday at Neyland Stadium. The Razorbacks simply played keep away over the final 30 minutes.

The Volunteers and Razorbacks were tied 17-17 at halftime, but UT had possession for just 8:03 in the second half. It had the ball more than that in the second quarter alone (8:47).

Arkansas outgained the Volunteers 236-90 after halftime and ran 41 plays (33 of them runs) to UT’s 24 over the final two quarters.

Three straight Razorbacks’ possessions consisted of at least 10 plays, one of which lasted more than six minutes and another that dragged on for more than five minutes. Tennessee’s longest possession of the contest took 4:09 off the clock.

"I think it's one of those games when we knew Arkansas stopped play as an offense,” UT quarterback Joshua Dobbs said. “I mean they like to run the clock out, and we saw that they had the possession most of the time in the second half.”

A look at the Volunteers’ second-half possessions:

Third quarter
• 8 plays, 49 yards (2:26), field goal
• 5 plays, 12 yards (1:12), punt

Fourth quarter
• 3 plays, 0 yards (1:06), punt
• 9 plays, 29 yards (2:42), punt

The impact was obvious.

Running back Jalen Hurd had 15 rushes for 89 yards in the first half but finished with 90 yards on 19 attempts. Tennessee was 2-for-4 in red zone conversions in the first half and never got there in the second. Dobbs completed just six passes for 86 yards after halftime. And so on. And so on.

Tennessee is now 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the SEC.

(Photo: UTSports.com)

Oct 5, 2015 7:21 AM

Tennessee doubles up on plan to memorialize Doug Dickey

Two areas of the University of Tennessee’s athletics complex will be named this weekend in honor of Doug Dickey, the long-time coach and administrator at the school.

The Doug Dickey Hall of Fame Plaza will be adjacent to a residence hall currently under construction on Lake Loudoun Boulevard and the Doug Dickey Hall of Champions, in the north hallway of the Thompson-Neyland Center, will be dedicated Friday afternoon.

“These areas symbolize our history of competitive excellence,” vice chancellor and director of athletics Dave Hart said in a release from the school. “It is entirely appropriate to name them for one of the finest leaders in Tennessee athletics history.”

Dickey was football coach at UT for six seasons in the 1960s and athletics director for nearly 20 years beginning in 1985.

From the University of Tennessee:

Upon completion of the new residence hall, this area will serve as the main entrance to the athletic facilities for all Tennessee student-athletes. The Hall of Fame Plaza will recognize all members of the Tennessee Athletics Hall of Fame, including all current inductees to the Lady Vol Hall of Fame as well as future classes for the combined hall. The Hall of Champions will recognize the tradition of competitive excellence for all Tennessee sports and will detail NCAA and SEC championship teams, Olympians, All-Americans and championship moments.

Oct 1, 2015 2:30 PM

Tyndall gets back to work as college athletics administrator

Donnie Tyndall is back at work. He’s just not getting paid.

The former University of Tennessee men’s basketball coach joined Tennessee Wesleyan College on Monday as volunteer Associate Athletic Director. His primary role will be event management.

According to the school, Tyndall and his wife, Nikki, have moved to Athens, Tenn. – roughly halfway between Knoxville and Chattanooga.

"I am very excited about my new position at TWC," Tyndall said in a release from the school. "I am thankful for this incredible opportunity.  This position will give me the chance to share my experiences with our student athletes and help them launch their careers. My goal is to help our college, our community and our students. I'm very thankful to the entire TWC family for welcoming me in. I can't wait to get started!"

TWC has 21 athletics programs and competes in the NAIA as a member of the Appalachian Athletic Conference.

"Coach Tyndall has a servant's heart," athletic director Donny Mayfield said, "and I appreciate his willingness to volunteer with our athletic department to aid in the supervision of our athletic programs and provide his insight with new ideas and experiences that will better serve our campus and community."

Sep 29, 2015 7:02 AM

Fourth-down failures doom UT in loss to Florida

The first thing to look at in the University of Tennessee’s latest loss to Florida is fourth down.

The Volunteers’ failure to make stops on fourth down was a significant factor in the 28-27 defeat, their 11th straight loss to their SEC East rival. The Gators converted three times on two fourth-quarter scoring drives, including on the game-winning touchdown – a 63-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-14.

“Yeah, I think the whole thing is fourth down,” coach Butch Jones said Saturday. “Three critical fourth down conversations that [if] we get off the field and we win the football game. It's particularly when it is fourth-and-long – fourth-and-(14) –  you have got to close the game out, you have got to get off the field and run victory formation milking the clock and the game is over.”

Actually, the Volunteers allowed the Gators to convert all five times they went for it in fourth down Saturday in Gainesville. The first was in the second quarter and turned out to be harmless. The next was in the third quarter and led to a Florida touchdown one play later.

A look at Florida’s fourth-down conversions Saturday against Tennessee:

Fourth-and-2 at the Florida 43 (6:35 remaining): Grier pass to McGee – 13 yards
Result: The next three plays were incomplete passes and Florida punted

Fourth-and 6 at the Tennessee 25 (6:12 remaining): Grier pass to Powell – 21 yards
Result: Florida scored on the next play and cut Tennessee’s lead to six (20-14)

Fourth-and-7 at the Tennessee 45 (6:25 remaining): Grier pass to McGee – 10 yards
Fourth-and-8 at the Tennessee 21 (4:20 remaining): Grier pass to Powell – 16 yards
Result: Two plays after the second conversion, Florida scored a touchdown and cut Tennessee’s lead to six again (27-21)
Fourth-and-14 from the Florida 37 (1:26 remaining): Grier pass to Callaway – 63 yards
Result: That play was the touchdown that made the difference.

This is not a Florida-only problem. Tennessee’s first four opponents have combined to convert nine out of 10 times on fourth down. Bowling Green was three-for-three and Oklahoma was one-for-two.

No team in the FBS has allowed more fourth-down conversions and only four (of 128) have allowed a higher percentage. However, those four – Texas, Syracuse, Kansas and New Mexico State – have faced 11 fourth-down plays combined. None have faced five fourth downs on the season – let alone a single game.

"Some of those fourth downs we wish to get back but you just have to keep playing ball, and that's what we're going to do,” defensive back LaDarrell McNeil said. “We are going to keep playing ball and keep moving forward."

(Photo: Getty Images)

Sep 28, 2015 6:16 AM

Vanderbilt transfer could have big role in Florida-Tennessee game

Josh Grady alternated between quarterback and wide receiver during his three years at Vanderbilt.

He might end up doing both in his fourth game for Florida.

Because Florida suspended two players this week, including quarterback Treon Harris, Grady, who transferred in May, is listed as the backup quarterback for Saturday’s game against the University of Tennessee (2:30 p.m., CBS).

“Yeah, he'd been doing it anyway in some of the packages we have, so glad he's here,” first-year coach Jim McElwain said Wednesday, according to The Gainesville Sun.

In the first three games the 6-foot-, 200-pound Florida native exclusively has played wide receiver. However, first-year coach Jim McElwain said he and his staff could find opportunities to play Grady.

“We've worked some special packages with guys back there with the quarterback that maybe aren't traditional quarterbacks,” McElwain said. “Maybe we'll see a little bit of the Gatortail this week."

Gatortail is Florida’s version of the Wildcat, and according to The Sun, Grady was the primary quarterback in that set throughout preseason camp.

Grady signed with Vanderbilt as a quarterback but after a redshirt season in 2011 he played wide receiver and Wildcat quarterback for the Commodores. He returned to quarterback prior to the 2013 season and saw limited action that fall before an injury sidelined him. He returned to wide receiver in 2014 but did not catch a pass in eight appearances.

This season he has caught one pass for 25 yards, completed the only pass he attempted for three yards and ran the ball twice for 21 yards.

Sep 24, 2015 10:26 PM

In terms of series dominance UT, Florida even — for now

Now that the University of Tennessee has lost 10 straight to Florida, the Volunteers and Gators are even.

Oh sure, Florida still has the edge in the all-time series between the Southeastern Conference rivals with 25 wins in 44 meetings.

However, the Gators’ current run of victories matches the one Tennessee put together in the early days for the longest in the history of the rivalry. The primary difference is that UT’s 10 straight wins were spread over 37 years, whereas the Gators have made winning this game an annual things for the last decade — so it only seems like forever since the Volunteers won one of these games.

As if they needed any more motivation for Saturday’s contest in Gainesville, Fla. (2:30 p.m., CBS).

"I'm here to win every game, so I don't really think about [the streak],” UT quarterback Josh Dobbs said Monday, according to the school’s athletics website. “You know, history's history. Our goal is to go out there and make new history this weekend. I play to win every game, and I'm excited to play [Florida] again.”

A look at the 10-game winning streaks Tennessee and Florida have produced against one another:


Tennessee’s 10                  


Florida’s 10      


Tennessee 24, Florida 0


Florida 16, Tennessee 7


Tennessee 9, Florida 0


Florida 21, Tennessee 20


Tennessee 13, Florida 12


Florida 59, Tennessee 20


Tennessee 13, Florida 6


Florida 30, Tennessee 6


Tennessee 32, Florida 13


Florida 23, Tennessee 13


Tennessee 13, Florida 6


Florida 31, Tennessee 17


Tennessee 14, Florida 0


Florida 33, Tennessee 23


Tennessee 40, Florida 0


Florida 37, Tennessee 20


Tennessee 26, Florida 12


Florida 31, Tennessee 17


Tennessee 9, Florida 7


Florida 10, Tennessee 9

Florida’s average margin of victory in the last 10 games is 14 points (the average score is 29.1 to 15.2). Tennessee won the first 10 by an average of 10 points (15.3-5.6), which adjusting for offensive inflation in the game might be even more dominant.

Last year, the Volunteers came awfully close to ending Florida’s run at nine games. They led 9-0 at the start of the fourth quarter before allowing Florida to rally.

For what it’s worth, the Gators’ 10th straight loss to Tennessee, back in 1953, was a near miss (9-7). They scored a decisive 14-0 victory the next year — on the road, just as Tennessee will attempt to do this weekend.

“I don't really care about the win streak at all,” UT linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin said. “We can only focus on what we can do now. This is a new team. We've only got 12 guys that have ever been down there ... A lot of guys have never even played Florida. We're not really focused on that right now. We're just focused on being the best team that we can be."

Whether they admit or not, they no doubt would like to be good enough to beat Florida.

(Photo: Matthew S. DeMaria/Tennessee athletics)

Sep 23, 2015 3:23 PM

UT to create all-encompassing athletics Hall of Fame

The University of Tennessee has a rich, albeit scattered athletics history.

That’s about to change.

A UT Athletics Hall of Fame, which will incorporate the current Lady Vol Hall of Fame, will be created and the first class will be inducted next April in conjunction with the spring football game, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported Wednesday.

"We'll induct a fairly large class of males, obviously, because we don't have any,'' Dave Hart, athletic director and vice chancellor, told the newspaper. "We'll continue to annually induct females as well.''

The Lady Vol Hall of Fame, created in 2001, currently has 73 members but has not inducted anyone since 2013, when discussions began on a project to honor the university’s entire athletics history. Currently, the various programs individually recognize All-Americans, retired numbers, etc. but there is no all-encompassing tribute to athletics achievement.

Hart told the News Sentinel that a location for a Hall of Fame building has yet to be chosen.

Sep 17, 2015 6:53 AM

Jones figures UT came out on plus side of loss to Oklahoma

Butch Jones made football seem like a math problem Monday.

The University of Tennessee football coach reasoned that Saturday’s 31-24 double-overtime loss to Oklahoma at Neyland Stadium was a clear indication that the Volunteers continue to take steps in the right direction.

“We were one play away from victory,” Jones said. “Like we tell our players, two to three plays can define a game and four to six plays can define a season. I thought we had eight to 10 plays that defined this game.”

Got that?

In English, the Volunteers (1-1) led 17-0 early in the second quarter and were up 17-3 at the start of the fourth. They allowed the Sooners to score two touchdowns in the final 8:20 of regulation, the second with 40 seconds remaining. After they opened overtime with an eight-yard touchdown run from Jalen Hurd they allowed Oklahoma to score two touchdowns of its own and failed to answer the second.

Heartbreaking as all of that was, Jones said it was a far cry from last season’s 34-10 loss at Oklahoma, a game he called “non-competitive.”

All things being equal, therefore, the way the third-year coach figures it, it all adds up in the Volunteers’ favor.

“I will tell you this: As a caretaker of Tennessee football, I refuse to allow any negativity to creep in or around our football program,” Jones said. “We have way too much positive going on, and we have to get some things corrected. We will work immediately to get those items corrected and continue to move forward.

“Just like in life, everything is how you look at it. Everything is how you perceive things.”

Yeah but numbers never lie. He can call it a positive – and believe it – but that won’t make it a victory, which is what many fans of the program counted on throughout much of that contest.

(Photo: Donald Page/Tennessee athletics)

Sep 14, 2015 2:44 PM

Limited number of tickets to Battle at Bristol to be made available

Bristol Motor Speedway announced Thursday that “a few thousand tickets” for the Battle at Bristol football game between Tennessee and Virginia Tech will be available only at the racetrack for one day, Oct. 2. That same day an online ticket lottery will commence.

In each case, purchases will be limited to a maximum of four tickets.

The game, scheduled for Sept. 10, 2016, will take place at the track and is expected to draw more than 150,000 spectators.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, each school was allotted 40,000 tickets (Tennessee’s share is sold out) and the facility had another 70,000 to sell.

“There are a few tickets left,” speedway general manager Jerry Caldwell said, according to the newspaper. “We have held purposely to get to this point, that we could have some to sell locally and a lottery to offer others.”

From the News Sentinel:

The online ticket lottery, at BattleAtBristoltix.com, will run from Oct. 2 through Nov. 2. Track officials will pull names and fill orders from the lottery beginning Nov. 3. Fans can choose from $40, $50 or $80 tickets.

Allocation of the tickets sold on-site and through the ticket lottery will take place “in early 2016,” according to a press release. More than 150,000 fans are expected to attend the game.

“We’ll release the specific number,” Caldwell said. “We’re still putting some fine touches on some of the infield seating.

“(That will) make it fluctuate slightly, but it will be just north of 150,000.”

Caldwell added that the Oct 2 on-site sale is designed to be “loyal to our local customers.”

Sep 11, 2015 7:28 AM

Tennessee defensive lineman suspended for Oklahoma game

University of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones said Wednesday that junior defensive tackle Danny O’Brien is suspended for Saturday’s game against Oklahoma – and possibly beyond – for an unspecified violation of team rules.

“It's ongoing, and we'll see,” Jones said. “We're going to support Dan through this whole deal, but there's just no timetable. I don't want to sit here and tell you it's one game. I don't want to sit here and tell you it's six games. It's going to be the ebb and flow and it could be ever-changing.”

O’Brien is a 6-foot-2, 301-pound nose tackle who started 12 games in 2014. He finished with 23 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and one sack. He had two tackles and a sack in this season’s opener against Bowling Green.

With him out, Jones conceded the Volunteers are “going to have some youth” on the defensive front for the matchup between ranked teams. Freshmen Shy Tuttle and Kahlil McKenzie will be considered to start and certainly will play.

“You know, I feel for Danny,” Jones said. “Danny has done some, you know, very good things in our football program. I've seen the progress that Danny has made since day one that we walked in the doors. So we are working through it with him.”

Senior wide receiver Pig Howard was suspended for the Bowling Green game due to a violation of team rules but has been restored to the lineup this week.

“I'm the caretaker of Tennessee Football and we have standards and expectations in our football program,” Jones said. “Everything is based on choices and there is consequences for your actions. Were never going to short change that, we're never going to take a back seat to that.”

(Photo: Donald Page/Tennessee athletics)

Sep 9, 2015 1:33 PM