Vols 'gritted' one out

Justin Coleman

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Despite what some fans may have called an embarrassing 55-48 win Saturday in Neyland Stadium over Troy, Tennessee did something they haven't done in ages. They gritted out a win.

And while it may not feel all that great Monday morning, fans might want to consider the alternative. Remember that feeling Saturday afternoon after a loss to Kentucky? This team has shown a togetherness that the 2011 squad didn't.

"The team all the way back to last January just made a commitment that we are going to be a team and we are going to be together," head coach Derek Dooley said Monday. "That kind of commitment can't be only when things are good. You don't turn on your family when they do bad things or they do something that might upset you."

When the Volunteers were down late in the fourth quarter, they go down with the ship. Quarterback Tyler Bray provided a lifeboat that led the Vols to paydirt and sealed the game.

"What I am proud of is the team has been so together," Dooley said. "I told the team this, we won that game because of the chemistry that we have — not one guy pointing fingers or getting frustrated. The staff continues to stay together and throw the egos out the window to work together and that is all we are going to keep doing."

Bray, who was named Co-Offensive SEC Player of the Week, finished the contest with a Tennessee record 530 yards passing and five touchdowns and finally led his team to victory in a pressure situation.

"I thought Tyler was awesome," Dooley said of his junior signal caller. "The o-line did another good job. There are just a lot of good things going on offense right now. They have a little bit of mojo.

"Tyler for two weeks in a row has earned it on the practice field, he performed well for four quarters and he did something he has never done — he gets a notch now for bringing a team back in the fourth quarter, three minutes to go and winning the game. That is a big monkey off a quarterback's back to prove you can do that."

However, while Tennessee did manage a victory Saturday, the pain-staking hangover from a 721-yard defensive performance is still thumping on ever temporal lobe of every fan on Rocky Top, which is something Dooley and the coaching staff will confront immediately with radical changes.

"We have to figure out how to fix it and there are some significant things that we are going to do this week that I hope will help," Dooley said. "First of all, and maybe I should have done this a little earlier, but I am coming out of the offensive room and putting all my attention on defense. We are going to try and do some different things schematically to help take pressure off some our players and give them a better chance."

Dooley also mentioned some major game-day changes, which "could" include defensive play caller Sal Sunseri moving into the booth for Saturday's game with Missouri, who historically has one of the best defenses in the country.

"They haven't had the success that they probably anticipated, but the quarterback (James Franklin), he didn't play Vandy game, he didn't play Kentucky game, and he didn't play two other games," Dooley said. "He is obviously the real key to them. He will be there Saturday. They are playing great defense, they really are — big-time defense."

Watch video as Dooley and select players addressed the media Monday following practice at Haslam Field:

Derek Dooley

Herman Lathers

Justin Coleman

Cordarrelle Patterson

Marlin Lane

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