KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's coaching staff doesn't consider Derek Dooley's move to the press box a major hindrance as the Volunteers prepare for Saturday's game at No. 19 Mississippi State.
Dooley, 44, underwent surgery on his fractured right hip Tuesday afternoon and will work from the press box Saturday for the first time since his 2005-06 stint as the Miami Dolphins' tight ends coach.
This will mark the first time a Tennessee head coach has worked a game from the press box since Johnny Majors did it during a 40-0 victory over Cincinnati on Sept. 26, 1992, while recovering from heart surgery that forced him to miss the Vols' first three games that season.
"For us as a staff, we're trying to maintain our responsibilities the same way we always have," said offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who also will be in the press box as part of his usual game-day routine. "I talk to Derek on the headsets. Now he'll be sitting beside me. I don't anticipate any difference, quite honestly, when it comes to game day."
While Dooley missed Wednesday's practice to recover from surgery, his assistants downplayed the effect his move to the press box would have on the game. They don't expect the situation to change their own responsibilities much.
"He's going to be talking to me when the defense is on the field," defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri said. "He's going to be talking to Jim or one of the other coaches on offense when the offense is on the field. We're going to manage it just fine. Coach has it totally managed. We've already talked about it as a staff. We have a plan and we'll execute our plan."
The assistants don't expect any communication problems in regard to calling timeouts or deciding whether to accept or decline a penalty.
"It's real simple," Sunseri said. "We're all on the headset. If Coach says he wants a timeout, we give him a timeout. If he doesn't want a timeout, we don't give him a timeout. If he wants to accept the penalty, we accept the penalty. It doesn't matter. He could be standing right next to me, and we're on the headsets and he says, 'We're going to take it,' or 'We're not.' Whether he's here or he's up in the press box, it really doesn't matter."
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