Dooley said during his Monday news conference that leaving his goal-line defenders on the field was not an option once LSU inserted the three wideouts, even though the Vols were forced to rush three new players into the lineup.
"It's impossible to play this game if you don't match personnel," the coach said. "To think we're going to play goal-line defense against their personnel when they have three wides ... who's going to cover 'em? Are we going to put Malik (defensive end Malik Jackson) out there to cover one of their receivers?
"That's why they put the rule in ... when you (offense) substitute you've got (to give the defense a chance) to match."
With Tennessee leading 14-10 and facing fourth-and-one at the LSU 31-yard line in the fourth quarter, Dooley elected to go for the first down rather than have freshman Michael Palardy (who already missed from 45 yards) attempt a 47-yard field goal. The fourth-down play was stopped for no gain, and LSU then launched its game-winning 69-yard touchdown drive.
Dooley says he wouldn't have handled the situation any differently, even if senior kicker Daniel Lincoln (sidelined by a leg injury) had been available for duty.
"I really wouldn't," Dooley said, subsequently adding: "We had the momentum of the game. There's five minutes to go. I felt like if we got the first down you're going to eat up another couple of minutes and force them into a two-minute (offense)."
Dooley added that Tennessee faced better odds "of getting one yard versus the odds of making a 47-yarder on the left hash with a true freshman who missed his first one."
The coach also noted that going for the first down provided a better "return on the investment," adding: "The return on kicking the field is that you're giving it back (to LSU) with five minutes left. You're up seven (but) they've got plenty of time.
"The return on the fourth-and-one: They're really getting tight because you're penetrating and the clock's ticking. You're in total command of the game."