SEC report:

Dooley: I'm 'better' after Vols

By: Bob Holt
Published: Thursday, November 15, 2018
Derek Dooley, an assistant for the Dallas Cowboys instructs players during an NFL football minicamp on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Derek Dooley, an assistant for the Dallas Cowboys instructs players during an NFL football minicamp on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Missouri offensive coordinator Derek Dooley will return to Neyland Stadium on Saturday for the first time since being fired as Tennessee's coach with one game left in the 2012 season.

"Of course, we didn't get the results we wanted when I was there, but that experience there, 32 months, made me a better coach and made me a better man," Dooley told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in reference to his 15-21 record in three seasons at Tennessee. "In some ways, you're always grateful for every experience you get, and they gave me a great opportunity."

Dooley was the Dallas Cowboys' receivers coach the previous five seasons before returning to the college game at Missouri.

"I feel like I'm a lot better today than I was six years ago," Dooley said. "That's because of the experience I had in Knoxville."

Dooley is downplaying his return to Tennessee.

"I think about it objectively, without emotion," he said of preparing to face the Vols. "That's what you have to do.

"That first year after [getting fired], I thought about it a lot emotionally. Then over time you think about it more objectively and what did you learn from it. That was a real key game."

Missouri quarterback Drew Lock said Dooley hasn't talked to the players this week about returning to Tennessee.

"I think if you're a really good coach you don't necessarily show whether or not one game means more to you than other ones," Lock told the Post-Dispatch. "It probably means a little more, but he won't show that to us. He'll express to us how he felt during the week after the game is over."

Backing Gus

Auburn Athletic Director Allen Greene told media last week that Gus Malzahn definitely will return as the Tigers' coach next season.

But after Georgia beat Auburn 27-10, speculation about Malzahn's future -- despite having a $32 million buyout in his contract -- continued, so Auburn President Steven Leath confirmed his support.

"Well, I hired what I think is a first-class athletic director in Allen Greene," Leath told Auburn Undercover on Tuesday. "He's doing a first-class job, so I stand with Allen -- and Allen I think was pretty clear with his comments about Gus being here next year. So, I don't really have anything to add to that specifically."

Leath helped negotiate Malzahn's seven-year, $49 million contract after the 2017 regular season when Auburn beat Georgia and Alabama to win the SEC West.

Since then the Tigers are 6-6, including losing a rematch to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game and losing to Central Florida in the Peach Bowl. They're 6-4 this season after being ranked as high as No. 7 nationally.

Malzahn expressed confidence about his future during his weekly news conference Tuesday when asked whether he expects to return as Auburn's coach.

"There's no doubt," Malzahn said. "I'll be the coach, and we'll get this thing turned around. That's what we're going to do."

Jimbo and UAB

Texas A&M Coach Jimbo Fisher will face a team where he almost became the head coach 12 years ago when the Aggies play Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday.

Fisher thought he was going to be hired at UAB after the 2006 season -- he was LSU's offensive coordinator at the time for Les Miles -- but Alabama's board of trustees nixed a deal that was going to pay him $600,000 a year.

The board said it wasn't a fiscally responsible contract.

"It was something I was very seriously considering," Fisher told reporters this week. "I was very interested in the job, it just didn't pan out.

"They called back and said, 'No, we're going in a different direction, and it wasn't going to happen.' "

UAB boosters and fans were disappointed, and it was speculated the Alabama board -- which oversees all of the universities in the system, led by the flagship campus in Tuscaloosa -- wanted to keep UAB's program from growing by hiring Fisher.

There also is the theory that the board wanted Nick Saban -- who was about to leave the Miami Dolphins to become Alabama's coach -- to be able to hire Fisher as his offensive coordinator after the two had worked together for five seasons at LSU.

Fisher ended up going to Florida State as the offensive coordinator for Bobby Bowden, whom he succeeded as head coach in 2010.

The Texas A&M board of trustees was glad to approve Fisher's 10-year, $75 million contract to coach the Aggies.

"UAB was an up-and-coming program I thought had a chance to be really good," Fisher said. "It's in a mecca of football. It was a very enticing job, and I thought it had all the ingredients to be successful. Obviously, that proved to be true."

UAB hired Neil Callaway, who was Georgia's offensive line coach at the time, instead of Fisher. He was fired after going 18-42 from 2007-11 and is now Southern California's offensive line coach.

The Blazers, led by Coach Bill Clark, are 9-1 this season.

Byers' big stop

Missouri defensive lineman Akial Byers, a sophomore from Fayetteville, was credited with tackling Vanderbilt running back De'Shawn Vaughn for no gain on a fourth-and-goal play from the Tigers 1 in what turned out to be the key play in the Tigers' 33-28 victory last Saturday.

"We can't let nobody score on us from 1 or 2 yards," Byers said after the game. "It just looks bad on us as a front."

If Vaughn -- who finished with 182 rushing yards -- had scored, Vanderbilt would have gone up 35-26 on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Instead, the Tigers took possession and drove 99 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

SEC excelling

The top of the College Football Playoff rankings is filled with SEC teams -- and quarterbacks on other teams who used to play in the SEC.

There are three SEC teams -- No. 1 Alabama, No. 5 Georgia and No. 7 LSU -- in the top 10 of the CFP rankings, and three teams with former SEC quarterbacks -- No. 4 Michigan, No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 9 West Virginia.

Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson transferred from Ole Miss, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray transferred from Texas A&M and West Virginia quarterback Will Grier transferred from Florida.

Really, Kirby?

Georgia Coach Kirby Smart added a little extra fuel to the Deep South's oldest rivalry when he called for a fake field goal with 3:20 left and the Bulldogs leading Auburn 27-10, which ended up being the final score.

The fake field goal on fourth and goal from the Auburn 14 failed when kicker Rodrigo Blankenship's pass intended for tight end Isaac Nauta in the end zone was incomplete.

Auburn senior linebacker Deshaun Davis didn't appreciate Smart's call.

"That's what they do," Davis told reporters. "I'm not going to give an honest statement, so -- Kirby has got some words, so."

Smart, asked why he made the call with Georgia leading by a comfortable margin, said he didn't view the score that way.

"Seventeen plus three is what? Twenty," Smart said. "Twenty is what? A three-score game and you lose. So what difference does a field goal make? Does it make it anymore?

"If you don't get it, they're backed up. So the thought was they're going to take three touchdowns to beat us. We get that. It's all about point differential.

"It was something that was well thought out long before it happened and talked about during the drive."

Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn wasn't critical of the call when asked about it after the game.

"They coach their team and I coach ours," Malzahn said. "I don't have any comment on that."

Record receivers

Ole Miss' A.J. Brown and Auburn's Ryan Davis became the career leaders in receiving categories for their schools last week.

Brown had six catches for 127 yards against Texas A&M on Saturday to give him 2,711 to break Shay Hodge's record of 2,656 from 2006-09.

Davis had 13 catches against Georgia to give him 165 for his career to break Courtney Taylor's record of 153 from 2003-06.

Two-minute drill

• Texas A&M punter Braden Mann has 13 punts of 60 or more yards this season to tie an NCAA record set by Ryan Plackemeier of Wake Forest in 2005. Mann hit a 63-yarder against Ole Miss last week to match Plackemeier.

• Alabama's victories over LSU 29-0 and Mississippi State 24-0 were the Crimson Tide's first back-to-back shutouts of SEC teams since 1980 when they beat Vanderbilt 41-0 and Kentucky 45-0.

• Tennessee outside linebacker Darrell Taylor's four sacks against Kentucky last week tied Reggie White and Corey Miller for the most in a game by a Volunteer.

SEC TOP TO BOTTOM

Rank;(prev);record;comment

1;(1);Alabama;10-0;Saban will make The Citadel sound like Clemson

2;(2);LSU;8-2;Coach O will cook up Rice to go with his gumbo

3;(3);Georgia;9-1;Kirby now 2-1 against Gus

4;(5)Florida;7-3;Paul Petrino visits The Swamp

5;(4);Kentucky;7-3;Can't break through at Tennessee

6;(6);Mississippi State;6-4;Looking to bounce back from Bama shutout

7;(7);Auburn;6-4;Gets break with Liberty between Georgia and Alabama

8;(8)Texas A&M;6-4;Hoping to avoid upset against UAB

9;(10)Missouri;6-4;Lock passes for 253 yards vs. Vandy on 22nd birthday

10;(9);South Carolina;5-4;Can't hold 17-point lead at Florida

11;(11);Tennessee;5-5;Needs to beat Mizzou or Vandy for bowl eligibility

12;(12);Ole Miss;5-5;3-game losing streak since beating Arkansas

13;(13);Vanderbilt;4-6;Vaughn's 182 rushing yards at Mizzou not enough

14;(14);Arkansas;2-8;Hoping to quiet cowbells in Starkville

Player to watch

Texas A&M junior running back Trayveon Williams, who leads the SEC with 1,159 yards on 197 carries, will look to break loose against one of the NCAA's better rushing defenses Saturday when the Aggies play Alabama-Birmingham.

The Blazers are No. 15 nationally in run defense, holding opponents to an average of 106.5 rushing yards per game and 3.1 yards per carry. Williams is averaging 5.9 ypc and has rushed for 11 touchdowns.

Game of the week

Missouri at Tennessee 2:30 p.m. Saturday (CBS)

WHERE Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn.

RECORDS Missouri 6-4, 2-4 SEC;Tennessee 5-5, 2-4

RANKINGS Neither team is ranked in any polls.

LINE Missouri by 5½ points

Two unranked teams battling for fifth place in the East, and it's the game of the week?

Sounds odd, but it's that kind of week in the SEC, where there are only three conference games and the other two involve teams with a combined 4-20 SEC record.

A season after Tennessee went 0-8 in the SEC, first-year Vols Coach Jeremy Pruitt has his team in position to finish 4-4 in conference play with victories over Missouri and Vanderbilt.

The Tigers are trying to win their third consecutive SEC game after beating Florida and Vanderbilt.

Other games

Arkansas at No. 21 Mississippi State

WHEN 11 a.m.

RECORDS Arkansas 2-8, 0-6 SEC; Mississippi State 6-4, 2-4

TV ESPN

LINE Mississippi State by 21

The Citadel at No. 1 Alabama

WHEN 11 a.m.

RECORDS The Citadel 4-5; Alabama 10-0

TV SEC Network

LINE None

Middle Tennessee State at No. 17 Kentucky

WHEN 11 a.m.

RECORDS Middle Tennessee State 7-3; Kentucky 7-3

TV SEC Network Alternate

LINE Kentucky by 16

Idaho at No. 13 Florida

WHEN 11 a.m.

RECORDS Idaho 4-6; Florida 7-3

TV ESPNU

LINE None

UMass at No. 5 Georgia

WHEN 3 p.m.

RECORDS UMass 4-7; Georgia 9-1

TV SEC Network

LINE Georgia by 42

Liberty at Auburn

WHEN 3 p.m.

RECORDS Liberty 4-5; Auburn 6-4

TV SEC Network Alternate

LINE Auburn by 28

UAB at Texas A&M

WHEN 6 p.m.

RECORDS UAB 9-1; Texas A&M 6-4

TV ESPN2

LINE Texas A&M by 17

Rice at No. 7 LSU

WHEN 6:30 p.m.

RECORDS Rice 1-10; LSU 8-2

TV ESPNU

LINE LSU by 43

Ole Miss at Vanderbilt

WHEN 6:30 p.m.

RECORDS Ole Miss 5-5, 1-5 SEC; Vanderbilt 4-6, 1-5

TV SEC Network

LINE Vanderbilt by 3

Tennessee-Chattanooga at South Carolina

WHEN 6:30 p.m.

RECORDS Tennessee-Chattanooga 6-4; South Carolina 5-4

TV SEC Network Alternate

LINE None

By the numbers

0 -- Yards Alabama was penalized in its 24-0 victory over Mississippi State

1984 -- The last time Kentucky won at Tennessee

99 -- Yards Missouri drove for its game-winning touchdown in a 33-28 victory over Vanderbilt after the defense stopped the Commodores on fourth and goal from the 1

Overheard

"Why would we do that? I mean, to say this was not an important game or he doesn't need to play? I think we need to do a better job of the people playing around him, doing what they're supposed to do so he doesn't get hit. And he needs to do a better job of stepping up in the pocket and getting rid of the ball, which he had several opportunities to do."

-- Alabama Coach Nick Saban when asked whether he would consider sitting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who has a sore knee, against The Citadel

"Not a very good effort. It starts with me and really ends with me."

-- Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops after the Wildcats lost 24-7 at Tennessee

Sports on 11/15/2018

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