Dooley's press conference transcript

Derek Dooley responded Monday during his weekly press conference, and he was very up front about what went wrong Saturday night against nationally ranked Oregon. Go "Inside" to read what he had to say about his team's performance in the press conference transcript.

Well, we'll just go ahead and recap a little bit of the (Oregon) game since we've had a chance to watch the film and review everything.

"I think two big points really stick out. One was a considerable amount of breakdowns as it relates to doing what you're supposed to do, doing your job the way you've been coached to do it and doing it the way you did it all week in practice. There were so many times out there where guys -- you all heard me use the term ‘rat trap.' Jimmy asked what does that mean. Well, we saw some rat-trapping going on where you do something a certain way Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and then you get out in the game and you do something completely different.

"We have a lot of work to do as it relates to staying disciplined and trusting your technique, trusting what we're asking you to do and then going and doing it and not feeling like you have to do something different. That was noticeable.

"And then the second thing was what I hit on at the end of the game, and that was our ability to manage the adversity that hit us. There were two kind of defining moments. One was how we managed the last three minutes of the half. I said it in my postgame, especially defensively -- a bad look in their eye. You know as much you try to get them respond, something's there.

"Then what was incredibly noticeable, and the data supports it, is how we played after the interception. When you look at prior to the interception we had 45 plays. We had 322 yards. We were averaging over 7 yards a play, no turnovers, no sacks. Now we didn't score as much as we'd like to, but we were really moving the ball well against a good football team. After the turnover, we had 20 plays, and we went 10 yards, two sacks, another hit on the quarterback, penalties, just a totally different squad. That tells you right there we didn't manage the bad event at all.

"I think it's just focusing so much on results. We're focusing so much on the scoreboard that when things aren't going our way on the scoreboard, we get frustrated and then we lose sight of what we need to do to win the football game. So a long way to go on those two points, and we're going to learn from it and move on and grow.

"Players of the week were Tauren Poole, no surprise, Nick Reveiz, no surprise, and Daniel Lincoln again. Our only real injury situation right now is Cody Pope, who's got a stinger, so he's a day-to-day guy. I don't know, maybe get Cody his own reality show. Got a lot of drama around Cody Pope. I don't know what we'd call it. You all can think of something.

"Not really much to say about the next opponent. We all know so much about them. We know who they are, we know how we played against them in the past, and really my biggest focus is on how we compete. I have a lot of respect for the team we're playing. They've sort of set the standard, if you will, in the last five or 10 years in the league. But if we're focusing our energy too much on them -- we have so much work to do internally, how we compete, and that's all we're going to keep focusing on. Until we fix those things, it doesn't matter who we play. So I'll leave it at that."

You talked about playing the scoreboard. Is there a concern that players don't realize they're doing that?

"Well, I think the first step is, it's like addiction. You've got to acknowledge that something happened. I mean, we can't get beat 21-0 in the fourth quarter when it's a 14-point game and not acknowledge something might have happened here mentally. That's Step 1. Step 2 is maybe learning about what happened, and then (Step) 3 is what are some steps to correct it.

"I think the bulk of them probably know the wind came out of our sails when the interception happened. And if the data doesn't -- I don't know what else to point out. We were just getting outworked. We got sloppy. We got careless. The effort was bad, the toughness was bad. We were just a bad football team in the fourth quarter."

On Luke Stocker's involvement in the offense:

Well, we threw him about seven balls that first game, and for whatever reason he didn't have big numbers. We had some things designed for him this week, but this week was going to be a little bit less because of what they did schematically. We'll have some more next week, but we need Luke to be a part of this offense. We need to get him the ball more, and he needs to play better. He had a shoulder injury so he missed a lot of practice last week, and I think it showed. We've got to do a better job on our end of giving him a chance, and Luke's got to do a better job of playing well."

What about the middle of the field? Was Matt not looking that way or was that by design?

"That was a little bit by design. We just felt that our best chance to win the football game was establish the run game, which we did a great job of, and win one-on-one outside, which we did at times. We had some shots that we missed that we could take. We had a shot there going in the red zone. We had three guys wide open, and we didn't get it. We had a shot to Luke down the sideline. He's running wide open, and we didn't hit it. That was our plan. That was what we were going to do to win the game, and for a while there the plan was working pretty well.

"Where we were stung a little bit is that gray area. I call it the gray zone. We talk about the red zone, but there's a gray zone that gives me gray hairs. That's why I call it the gray zone. It's when you get to about the 30, inside the 40, you know, when you're in that, are we in field goal range, are we punting, are we going for it? It drives you nuts. We even worked on it in camp. The gray zone. I don't know if anybody calls it that."

The results-centric mentality, have you experienced anything like that before?

"Oh yeah. Everywhere."

How does that set in?

"It just takes time and education and then when you get in that situation again, how are we coaching them? What are we saying to them? Do we play our way out of it? I think over time it comes. There's not a pill they can swallow, and they're not going to tomorrow wake up and say, ‘I can fight through adversity.' I mean, you've got to go in there and you've got to get some again and play a little better next time. Then you do it again.

"The good news is we've got plenty of adversity ahead of us. We're not going to have to be short of that situation again. We've got plenty of opportunity to work our way through adversity. That's the good news."

Talk about your offensive line.

"Doing some good things in the run game. We had some protection breakdowns that hurt us. On the interception, we had a bad -- on something that was pretty simple and we've done a million times in practice. And we got spooked. That's where experience hurts us, and it's where just trusting what you do hurts you."

Do you feel like your young offensive line showed up in a big, national-spotlight game?

"I thought they did good. I thought that's what I was just saying. They did good. I tell you, Ja'Wuan (James) really played, that was really pleasing to see him play better against a good football team. You're starting to see his progress. You're starting to see (JerQuari) Schofield, who's a freshman, play better. Dallas Thomas, who's a sophomore -- those three guys really are sticking out."

Will Darin Gooch get more playing time because of Pope's status, and is he doing anything extra to get in better shape?

"Who, Darin? Is he in bad shape?"

I thought he came in overweight.

"He was a little heavy. Darren came in, and he was pretty good player when he was light, and all of a sudden he goes, ‘Uh-oh, I'm going to the SEC, so I've got to get to 300 pounds.' Then he can't move. So we're trying to lean him up. But he goes in there and competes pretty good now. A year ago, he was out in community college. He was sitting there in June lifting weights getting ready for Butte (College), you know. And here is. He's out there playing against Oregon. But he's competing hard. We're not afraid put him in a game. He's played two games. We'll just see what Cody does."

If Cody's limited this week, does Gooch get all the reps?

"Yeah. I think we're going to go with Gooch right now and Carson Anderson behind him. We repped James (Stone) a lot. We just feel like James is better backing up left guard and left tackle. It's hard. It's hard. We don't have a center."

How did the staff do administratively Saturday, given it was the first time you guys have faced adversity?

"Well, we ended up moving away from coaching football to cheerleading the fourth quarter, which that's not what I want to be. We've got plenty of that. The administration was fine. There weren't any issues from there. I don't think that's hurting us."

How handcuffed are you guys in third-and-long situations? How big of a detriment is that?

"We always like to stay ahead of schedule, and our goal is to stay out of third-and-long because you've got a better chance of making it. We're struggling a little bit on third down because we're struggling a little bit throwing the ball in the dropback game. There's a lot of reasons for that. It's not just the quarterback, you know. It takes good protection. It takes a good snap. It takes good, fast routes, recognizing the coverage, delivering the football and then catching it. We've got to get better at that, and usually when you look at your pass effectiveness, if it's not very good, your third down is probably not very good either. Once you get third-and-four-plus, 80 percent of the time you're going to be throwing it."

Do you find yourself screaming and then telling yourself, ‘These are young guys, I've got to pump them up?'

"You mean not be negative?"


"When I'm screaming, I'm not always negative, I don't think. But yeah, there's a balance. Sometimes we all need a foot in our tail, and sometimes we need a pat on the back. Obviously, whatever I did didn't work. So we'll regroup."

Florida's got eight interceptions already. Does that affect your game plan?

"What the other team does affects our game plan every week, so yeah. We're going to see why they're creating those interceptions and what can we do to try not to put us in that position. I forget who asked about our pass game last week. What they were doing in the middle affected our game plan. We didn't want to throw a lot of balls over the middle because that's where they created a lot of turnovers. Like I said, for a while we were rolling good and then we just let the game get away. It's not going to affect us to where we're scared to do anything. It's really more about just being sound in what you're doing and not going out there reckless and making dumb mistakes."

Tauren (Poole) has talked a lot about having to be patient to get his turn. Obviously, Montario Hardesty had something to do with that. But when you see him running the way he is now, is it hard to believe that the opportunity's never been there for him?

"It's hard for me to say that, Austin. Hardesty, the guy went in the second round, and I've never seen Bryce (Brown), so it's hard for me to say if it was deserving or not. What I will say is he's taken advantage of his opportunity as well as anybody. And if everybody on our team had the competitive character and the personal character that Tauren Poole has, we'd have a heck of a little squad. He's a special guy. When I say special, I don't mean that God has blessed him with all this ability. He is to me exactly what every competitor should strive for, and that's to play to your capacity as a player. And Tauren's playing to his capacity.

"That's all we can ever shoot for is to the best we can be. Some of us, being the best we can be isn't good enough. That's OK. You can still be proud of yourself. The shame of it is when we are talented and we have been blessed, and we don't play to our capacity. That's where we need a lot of work on."

Oregon players were commenting that they thought Tennessee players were getting really tired. Is that a substitution issue, a conditioning issue? How do you see that?

"I think it's a lot of things. I think it starts with a psychological issue, that what happened before the half energized Oregon. It energized them. So they go in and they could probably see what it did to us psychologically. And we allowed it to affect us. I pin it more on that than most things. When you shut it down mentally, it's hard to go out there and put your heart into it and give great effort.

"There is a reality that we do have some depth issues, and I don't deny that. We've got a lot of guys running down on special teams. We're thin. That affects them when they're out there. We still didn't get a lot of snaps. The defensive guys, a lot of them didn't get more than 40-50 snaps. I think it's more psychological than anything."

So you're not worried about conditioning?

"I'm always worried about it, but we've had the same conditioning regimen for quite a while, and these guys are in pretty good shape."

Can you talk about Jeff Demps?

"Special guy. Speed and you better wrap up. That's what these guys have. They've got a lot of speed. The team speed is unbelievable. You see it on special teams. They've got a couple playmakers, and they make you pay if you give them too much space."

Talk about the way they use him.

"They know what they're doing. So they'll move those guys around, get him the ball out of the backfield, throw it to him, pop him out. You've just always got to be conscious of where he is."

Are they faster than Oregon?

"I don't know. It's hard for me to make that call. Oregon was pretty fast."

What's the biggest difference between the spread that Oregon runs and Florida's?

"That's a good question. There's a lot of differences, there really is. I think certainly with a new quarterback, Florida's done a little more pro style than they've done in the past. A lot of their spread stuff -- there's a lot more gap schemes that come with it, where Oregon didn't do any gap schemes. So it's a little bit of a different attack in a lot of ways, but then there's a lot of similarities. There are a lot of different spread families out there."

Is it unusual to see Florida under center a little bit more? That almost never happened when they had (Tim) Tebow.

"When you get new people, you've got to adjust a little bit. That's probably what they're doing. We'd be in the gun more if we could shotgun it a little bit better. You've just got to adjust to what your people can do so you don't screw the game up."

Is there an unknown because they haven't really found their offensive identity yet?

"They got after it pretty good last week, that second-half. You take the last drive of the first half and then the second half, I think anybody'd be happy with that. They put it on them pretty good, so I think they feel like they have found it. But there's always unknowns because they're going to have new wrinkles, and it's still the third game of the season."

Did the freshmen receivers look like they knew where they were supposed to go?

"They did fine. They did good. We didn't give them a lot of chances to make plays. We've got to give them some more opportunities to do some things. I mean they did some freshmen things out there that you would expect, but it didn't really impact the game one way or another."

They were picking up checks and so forth?

"They were fine. You know we try to keep it pretty simple for them. We haven't put too much on them."

On Corey Miller and his move into the starting lineup:

"He was doing better. We did that just because it was a function of him playing well and also what they did on offense. Him and Jacques (Smith) are both doing really well, and I hope they continue to get better. We'll figure out who we're starting on d-line later in the week. We're not doing that intentionally. I hope you all don't think that. It just depends on who we're playing and how they go that week."

When you look at Florida's offense, do you think of it as more of a finesse offense or physical?

"They're physical, and they've got some big linemen. They bring in an extra lineman at tight end and knock you around. And then they get the ball to the fast guys in space and make you pay. I think they can do whatever they want."

How different is the challenge of rallying a young team from a 35-point loss as opposed to an older team, and how much can the older players do to help this along?

"I don't know the answer to that because we need the older players to learn from it, too. I mean, I wouldn't say our older guys know how to do it either. So maybe the young players might help older players."

What's the status of Michael Palardy?

"It's day-to-day. He's got a little groin (injury). I expect him to be fine."

How did Janzen Jackson play?

"Janzen, I think he struggled a little bit at how fast things had to happen. When the play's over, you've got to look over and get the call. You can't get up, look around, adjust your pads, and then, what's happening? Uh-oh. It was hard for him to realize, when the play's over, get the call because they're coming right back. He was out of position a lot. He didn't play his best game, and he missed a couple tackles. Went too low on some guys. He'll play better."

On Marsalis Teague/Eric Gordon at cornerback:

The guy who's in the first play sometimes isn't -- you know what I mean? I know y'all make a big deal out of it, but Teague's been good. We just decided for that game, let's start Teague. It wasn't anything Eric did. Eric played a lot."

Where are you with punts?

"The punt coverage that one punt was ridiculous. We had four guys who are supposed to nose up the ball. I've never seen anything like that. It's just everything to do with the state of our team right then. Chad has been inconsistent, so we need him to be more consistent. He's hit some beautiful punts, but then when we need it, we need to hit it, too. We're just kind of going game-to-game."

Do you have any concerns about Simms staring down his receivers?

"I haven't really had that concern too much. Are you referencing the batted balls or are you referencing -- what leads you to think that?"

It just appears as though he's focused on one side, and that's where he throws it.

"Well, he is focusing on one side for a reason. But there's two or three guys over there that he can throw it to. A lot of it depends on the play. Sometimes some of those slot plays, it is throw it to one guy and then here's your check down. It just depends on the play. We have not done a lot -- we did some the first game -- where he can get back and see what's happening out there. He had a couple of batted balls that he could have avoided. He didn't play his best game."

The missed opportunities in one-on-ones, was that on the quarterback or the receivers?

"Both. It was a lot of things. Protections. It was the quarterback. It was receivers. We hit Justin on a big play, we hit Zach on a big play down there. Seems like we had one other. Did we have one other? That was it. We needed about four or five, and we had our chances to.

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