Vols survive, but defense hits new low

November, 3, 2012
11/03/12
7:10
PM ET
The records -- both good and bad -- were falling by the wayside Saturday for Tennessee.

Quarterback Tyler Bray threw for a school-record 530 yards, and the Vols cranked out a staggering 718 yards of total offense.

But it was Tennessee’s defense (or lack of it) that was again the story. The Vols managed to escape with a 55-48 win over Troy at Neyland Stadium despite giving up 721 yards of total offense, the most they’ve given up in school history by nearly 100 yards.

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley didn’t mince words afterward.

“It’s a bad defense,” he said.

It’s not only bad, it’s seemingly getting worse. So much so that it’s a stretch to think that the Vols (4-5, 0-5) will be able to win out in their next three games against Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

In its past five games, Tennessee has yielded a total of 222 points and has been torched for 37 or more points in six of its past seven outings.

Dooley's job security was already hanging by a thread, and it’s going to be dicey for him to survive even if the Vols finish 7-5. But if they lose another one, he’s almost certainly gone.

Nobody close to the program thinks Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart has made a decision on Dooley’s future. Even though it was a win, the Vols’ performance Saturday won’t do a lot to help Dooley’s cause.

Equally troubling was that Neyland Stadium was as empty as it’s been in a long time, and according to conservative estimates, there were more than 30,000 empty seats in the stadium.

Other than an offense that has been pretty explosive most of this season, there’s just not much in the way of momentum in Tennessee’s program right now.

Hart has a tough decision on his hands, but the reality is that these next three games may make that decision for him.

Chris Low | email

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