One decision Saturday night showed why Derek Dooley is probably going to lose his job at the end of the season. But the game also showed that Vanderbilt is still on the rise
There was a moment in this game that all but objectively proved that, even after three years in Knoxville, Derek Dooley is not yet ready to be an SEC head coach. That was when, with his team leading 7-6 at Vanderbilt in an SEC rivalry game, Dooley completely lost his cool; he pulled Tyler Bray, one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the country.
On Justin Worley's first drive of the football game, he threw an interception that would lead to a Vanderbilt TD. Tennessee would manage a field goal before the end of the first half and bring Bray back to start the third quarter, but by that point the game already seemed like it was slipping away from Tennessee.
In the end, the third quarter would end up being the pivotal one, as Vanderbilt poured on 21 points to turn the game into a rout. The Commodores generated 442 yards of total offense, picked off the Vols' quarterbacks three times and made a move toward tipping the balance of power in their state for the first time in series history. Last year, Tennessee gutted out a win at home against an already rising Vanderbilt; this year, Vanderbilt had risen far enough (and Tennessee had fallen far enough) that it wasn't even close.
Zac Stacy churned out 85 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries in his final home game as a Commodore, tacking on two catches for 86 receiving yards. Jordan Rodgers had another one of his relatively average games (13-of-26, 245 yards, two touchdowns and an interception) -- but this team long ago showed they don't need Rodgers to do that much to win.
But for Tennessee, the only thing this game will really do is increase the pressure on the administration to publicly fire Dooley now rather than later. Dooley's decisions have brought Tennessee to its lowest point in decades, and now a bowl game is out of the question; the only thing to do is admit what the poorly-timed quarterback switch made painfully obvious.