Derek Dooley sent a strong message to the entire football organization following Sunday's practice with his team.
Fourth and one - that is the motto and you have to live it every day in the mind of Derek Dooley.
"If it's not fourth and one every day you come to work then you are not doing your job right," Dooley said. "That's how I feel. Fourth and one for the national championship every day, and that's how it's got to be."
Dooley has placed high expectations on everyone in the program - everyone from coaches to the water boy.
"I told them after practice there are high expectations on every thing we do," he said. "I don't care if it's the player, the trainer, the coach, the manager, the video guy, the facilities or the equipment, it doesn't matter.
"We have high expectations, and we demand perfection. When we don't meet those expectations, we aren't looking the other way."
The head man strives to have everything perfect, right down to the placement of each trash can. Dooley will continue to send that message until everyone in the organization understands the message.
"I have been sending it for six months and I am going to keep sending it 'til everyone understands," he said. "And I mean in the whole organization. If a trash can is supposed to be facing a certain way in the building and it stays in that area that's what I expect. And if it's not, then I am going to be on somebody."
While mistakes may be made, Dooley's way requires complete commitment in order to produce success.
"We all need to put those expectations on ourselves," he said. "That doesn't mean we aren't going to make mistakes, but in order for us to get to where we need to be that's what it takes - a total commitment to excellence in everything we do."
While the message was strong following practice, the head coach said that really isn't his style, but sometimes it must be done.
"When we say don't flip your hips 'til you cross the line ... if you continue to not do it the right way, you're not smart, so you can't play, or you don't care," Dooley said. "It's one or the other. We had to get a little feisty out there. I don't like doing that, it's not really my style."
During the first day of full pads practice Derek Dooley had high praise for his defensive players.
"We installed short yard and goal line today, which is always a fun and physical practice," Dooley said. "It's the first time to really get after it live. The defense did a great job today in practice."
High on Hughes
Unfortunately for the head coach he hasn't seen much from any of his defensive tackles with the exception of Montori Hughes, and the coach likes what he sees.
"I don't have a sense for what any of the defensive tackles can do other than Montori," he said. "Montori is a really good player. He plays with great reckless abandon, he is a competitor and he has tremendous competitive fire. We need to get more guys like him."
Just days after returning to the field following a suspension, Marlon Walls looks to be sidelined for an extended amount of time following a rupture of his Achilles heel. This was the same injury that sidelined Ben Martin just two days prior to Walls' injury.
"Our Achilles heel so far has been our Achilles heel. Marlon, he looks like he is going to be out for a while, same injury as Ben (Martin)," said Dooley.
With the injury of Marlon Walls, depth at defensive tackle is a big question mark. Victor Thomas has been moved back to the defense from the offensive line in order to assist with the depth issue.
"We moved Victor (Thomas) over, we moved him back to the defense," Dooley said. "That's the only real personnel moved we made up to this point."
But defensive tackle isn't the only question mark. Dooley said there is only one position where the Volunteers are plenty deep. You won't guess it, either.
"We have zero depth anywhere, except for the training staff," he said. "This is the deepest training staff in the history of college football."
Loss and Opportunity
With the loss of two potential starters, opportunity abounds on the defensive line for those who may have been a little farther down the depth chart.
"You can't sulk too long," Dooley said. "Injuries are a part of it and you just adjust and move on. It doesn't mean you don't hurt for the guys that are injured, but they will be fine. It's opportunity, one man's loss is another's opportunity."
High Risk Yields No Rewards
Derek Dooley's defensive backfield is also a little thin, much due to the fact that Dooley and his staff chased a few high-risk academic recruits this past spring - something Dooley said was a necessary evil given the timing.
"We have three guys that we signed that aren't here," he said. "It hurts us, but that's what happens when you take high risks, which we don't like to do. Last couple of weeks we took a couple of risks. "