Offense shines in Dooley’s return to Knoxville

Missouri scored 50 points behind a coordinator who was fired by the Vols in 2012.
Offensive coordinator Derek Dooley talks with members of the media after football practice on Tuesday, September 18, 2018.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Derek Dooley walked out of the tunnel to a familiar sight.

Six years ago, Dooley came out of the tunnel of Neyland Stadium as head coach of Tennessee facing Missouri.

Dooley fell at the hands of the Tigers on an Andrew Baggett field goal in the fourth overtime before a blowout loss to Vanderbilt the next week lead to him being fired.

After a rocky tenure in Knoxville, the coordinator’s return to rocky top was smooth sailing as a Dooley-led offense ran over the Volunteers and lit up the scoreboard in a 50-17 win.

“For him it was probably a big game,” Emanuel Hall said. “I’m glad we got to go out there and put up a ton of points so if anybody’s won it is definitely coach Dooley right now.”

Drew Lock had over 257 yards through the air and Larry Rountree had 135 yards on the ground in an all-around dominant offensive performance that might have surprised fans in Knoxville after Dooley’s hiring.

“I was getting mentioned by people saying, ‘You guys have Derek Dooley now. Here he goes down the drain. Oh, there goes Missouri,’” Lock said. “All this talk, all these unverified accounts, all these volunteers.org and 247vols and stuff and now we’re here with what happened today.”

It could have been an emotional day for any coach but Dooley didn’t rub in his revenge.

“He was excited for our team to win the game,” coach Barry Odom said. “He was the first one to mention to me that we have to get back to work.”

Dooley’s offense hit a snag early when they struggled in the red zone during a dominating opening quarter. Missouri outgained Tennessee by over 130 yards but had only a 6-0 lead to show for it.

Tyler Badie got the offense back on track with clutch plays, taking his second carry for a five-yard score in Missouri’s first trip to the end zone. Badie’s score gave Missouri a 13-7 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Badie also did damage through the air, catching two screen passes to move the chains on third down and jump-starting an offense that had stalled in Tennessee territory. On the second catch, Badie’s pants began to slip after he broke out of a tackle.

He nearly exposed himself, but after keeping his footing he continued to expose the Tennessee defense to keep another drive alive. Four plays later, a field goal would bring Missouri's lead to 26.

“I have fun watching him,” Lock said. “It’s hard for me to carry out my fakes when Badie is in the game because of the slippery thing he does out there making guys miss tackles.”

A couple drives later, Missouri still held a 43-17 lead with 3:44 left in the game, but instead of running the clock out, Dooley called a pass play and a fourth-down pass from Taylor Powell was incomplete.

Dooley didn’t air any anger towards his former employer during the week, but it appeared he might have gone for the jugular.

“Before the game, he told us it was just another game and he wasn’t making a big deal out of it,” Kevin Pendleton said. “But it’s human nature, you know that it meant something to him and meant something to his family.”

A pass interference call bailed out Powell’s incompletion and Simi Bakare scored the game’s final touchdown two plays later to complete a dominant performance from the offense.

“That’s huge for him, he just beat the team that gave him a job opportunity,” Paul Adams said. “He was feeling it this week too, he wanted to win really badly and I think he did an incredible job play-calling tonight.”

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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