Key mistakes lead to another loss for Vols

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COLUMBIA, S.C. - November has long been the kindest month for Tennessee football. Likewise, South Carolina has served as a reliable trigger for late-season UT runs.

This year, apparently, there's no refuge to be found for the stumblin', fumblin' Vols.

In short, the first night of November looked exactly like September and October.

The Gamecocks subdued hapless, turnover-prone Tennessee 27-6 Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium, further damaging head coach Phillip Fulmer's case to remain the dean of SEC coaches.

UT (3-6, 1-5 SEC) gave away three turnovers, two of which led to South Carolina touchdowns, the third a meaningless field goal.

The Vols pecked out a modest 207 yards of offense against the SEC's No. 1-ranked defense and mounted only one scoring drive. It produced a 1-yard Arian Foster touchdown dive after the Gamecocks were coasting on a 24-0 lead.

"There's no worse feeling in the world,'' said quarterback Nick Stephens of UT's frustrations, "and I'm sure that nobody who loves Tennessee football likes this right now.''

A crowd of 81,731 sure liked what it saw. South Carolina (6-3, 3-3 SEC) celebrated only its third win over UT in 17 tries since joining the SEC in 1992.

Two of them have come in the past four years. The other, in '92, was the catalyst for the ouster of UT coach Johnny Majors and the promotion of Fulmer.

"It was a struggle,'' said South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier. "Tennessee is tough and we're not very good.

"It was a defensive game where turnovers made the difference and we got all the good ones.''

South Carolina amassed only 255 yards and matched UT's 11 first downs. However, the Gamecocks graciously accepted two easy touchdowns from the Vols.

Tennessee's string of three turnover-free games ended with a clatter and a clang in the second quarter.

South Carolina had already posted a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Stephen Garcia hit tailback Mike Davis for a 12-yard touchdown to cap a fast-paced 82-yard drive.

As the second quarter began, UT's Stephens was riding a streak of 106 passes without an interception since he took over the job four games into the season. He'll never forget his first one.

The Vols had just converted their third first down of a rare promising drive when the quarter changed. Momentum changed as well, on one poorly thrown ball.

At the Gamecock 40, Stephens intended to hit Josh Briscoe but was intercepted by Stoney Woodson. Woodson had a clear path 68 yards to the end zone to make it 14-0.

After the ensuing kickoff, Jonathan Crompton showed up under center for the first time since he was benched after the Sept. 27 Auburn game.

Crompton made it through one uneventful - and unproductive series - but his second brought another turnover.

Tailback Lennon Creer caught a short screen pass then fumbled. Captain Munnerlyn, South Carolina's All-SEC cornerback, scooped up the ball and raced 38 yards to the Tennessee 4.

On the next snap, Garcia connected with Kenny McKinley on a touchdown pass good for a 21-0 lead.

"That's the story of our whole year,'' said Tennessee offensive coordinator Dave Clawson. "We're just our own worst enemy.''

Given UT's season-long offensive struggle, the chances of overcoming a three-touchdown lead were negligible.

And no one knew that better than Fulmer, who rated his consternation with the offense thusly:

"On a scale of one to 10, it's probably 11.

"We're just not making any big plays.''

The Vols actually did make one, but it was wasted. Stephens returned for the second half and on the first snap found Austin Rogers on a 49-yard pass to the Carolina 31. The threat died, however, on a fourth-down incompletion.

Stephens finished 10-of-24 passing for 134 yards.

The running game showed a pulse, not much more. Five sacks reduced the rushing totals from 76 yards to a net of 34.

After the Gamecocks expanded their lead to 24-0 on a 31-yard Ryan Succop field goal, the Vols showed a brief flourish of competency.

An 80-yard drive (aided by two South Carolina penalties) set up Foster's first touchdown of the year with 4:09 left in the third quarter.

A two-point conversion failed, but two plays later UT got the ball back on Eric Berry's 11th career interception.

Per usual, Berry weaved 45 yards on the return to the South Carolina 44. It went for naught, though, when UT couldn't move the pile on fourth-and-1.

The Vols saved one more turnover for the fourth quarter: Dennis Rogan fumbled a punt return at the Tennessee 14.

The Gamecocks scored a touchdown, but had it wiped off by an illegal-formation penalty. Succup hit a 31-yard field goal for the final score.

Tennessee is back at Neyland Stadium on Saturday to play Wyoming on homecoming, knowing it has to win out to get to 6-6 and be eligible for a bowl.

"We're putting the effort into it,'' said Clawson, "it's just not clicking.

"But it's never final. We've got three more games to try to get it on track.''

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Comments » 568

mdvol writes:

After this week’s latest embarrassment, I resubmit my top 5 wishes for a new coach from last week….
1. Jon Gruden – will bring toughness and discipline which we sorely lack.
2. Mike Leach – offense sells tickets
3. Chris Peterson – would put the best players on offense
4. Mike Gundy – he’s a man. Plus, he would bring back Trooper
5. Jeff Fisher – 4 million and only 180 miles away

TommyJack writes:

So Mikey....Where do we go from here?

Voltillyafall writes:

No coach could win with that QB, offensive line, and receivers.

salocke#209467 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

So Mikey....Where do we go from here?

Might I suggest Thompson-Boling Arena for basketball?

ubershamu312 writes:

Phil, most Tennessee fans love you, you're a legend. Just bow out now. Look at Lloyd Carr. People in Michigan still love him. He's still involved in the program. You can do the same, but you have to be proactive in making the right decision for Tennessee fans, students, alumni, and the overall well being of East Tennessee.

smashmouth98 writes:

why did fulmer put Crompton in the game? He did nothing and was throwing into double and triple coverage. We totally wasted those series in which he was in there. Unbelieveable!!!!!!!!!!!1

jjhvols writes:

CPL can't say that the vol walk was good today. Congratulations, the game is over. You lost. You can go eat a dozen krispy kreme doughnuts now.

HardcoreHottie writes:

Pathetic.

volsare1 writes:

what else can u say lost for words heart broken this is it..have to announce monday retiring at end of season..adkins you are gone worst offense line ive ever seen in my life..so these great recruits we have know what we will be hiring at the end of year so they wont leave us..this is a scary time for ut football as we speak

gobigorange writes:

I always thought a team was susposed to get better along the way, but thanks to great coaching, this team is getting worse. I would like to see an anouncement Monday evening.

a10acfan1 writes:

This was like watching a very bad train wreck

Voltillyafall writes:

in response to smashmouth98:

why did fulmer put Crompton in the game? He did nothing and was throwing into double and triple coverage. We totally wasted those series in which he was in there. Unbelieveable!!!!!!!!!!!1

Looks to me like Nick got in a coach's face and yelled at him, so he was benched the rest of the half.

MiserableFloridaVol writes:

Sad stuff out there. Sorry Phil, you're a good man and I hope you can stick around in some capacity. It's been a nice run.

Mike Leach teams can't play defense huh? He is the Bruce Pearl of college football. A little out there and fun to watch.

FulmerForever writes:

If something crazy happens and we lose Phillip (God forbid) here is my list of candidates ranked in order.

1. Gruden - tough, a winner, and would be a great recruiter.
2. Sly Crooms - has worked miracles on the farm in Starksville, would be awesome with our resources.
3. David Cutcliffe - same as Crooms, would be awesome with some real resources.
4. John Zook - UF regrets losing him. The man knows the SEC like the back of his hand.
5. Steve Spurrier Jr. - 'nough said. Good offense in the genes.

DennisVols writes:

Ovt. 14, 2008 KNS
With Tennessee off to a 2-4 start and winless in three SEC games, athletic director Mike Hamilton refused to rule out a mid-season coaching change if UT’s football program doesn’t improve, but said he’d much prefer following his standard method of operations.

Well Mike do you se any improvements that would keep you from making this decision now?

hotrodvol writes:

It's time for a resignation, when is the press conference Mr. Hamilton.

conr1976 writes:

It's over. All the Phat Phil Phulmer supporters just need to shut up and realize that he's gone. If he DOESN'T come out tomorrow and resign, I'm going to be very disappointed and if he's not gone at the end of the season, this 32 yr vol fan very well may be done. It's time for a change. I'm tired of seeing the Great Pumpkin on the sidelines, clapping every time a player does something stupid. This is TENNESSEE! Tennessee football used to be something I was proud to be a fan of, but now my neighbors (Florida fans) don't even talk smack to me anymore....out of pity. It's just sad.

jobrando#216494 writes:

Why did Phil bench Stephen's for the interception? What are we missing? Either Stephen's was disrespectful or Phil has mental problems.

a10acfan1 writes:

No Heart or Emotion from anyone ( with the exception of EB )

salocke#209467 writes:

Jonathan Crompton taking snaps again! YIKES!!!!!!!!! How about giving BJ Coleman the next 3 games to audition for next year?

jr8657 writes:

completely pathetic. i have never seen such a mess on offense. we came out and looked good on the first drive and then we just went south. they should have never taken stephens out of the game. crompton is pathetic. they needed to turn stephens loose and let him make some plays or make mistakes...either way atleast it would look like there was some sort of a threat on offense. right now there is no threat on offense. we get behind by 2 scores and were done because instead of taking a few more chances we go deeper into a shell on offense and it just gets worse and worse. lets go down swinging for a change instead of leaving the bat in the bat rack before we go up to bat!!!!

WalkingClassic writes:

Fulmer has got to go. If it effects our recruits so be it, but our coaches are not preparing our players! I HAVE PLAYED MORE PREPARED KIDS IN ONLINE PLAYSTATION!!!

bleedingtoomuchorange writes:

And the bleeding continues...

HardcoreHottie writes:

Phil needs to take the reigns and FIRE CLAWSON NOW.

The defense is as solid as ever. The offense is actually losing games for us now, more than just not winning games as was the case earlier in the season.

The Clawson experient is/was a failure.

Phil, save your job, fire Clawson now.

Vols1998 writes:

in response to FulmerForever:

If something crazy happens and we lose Phillip (God forbid) here is my list of candidates ranked in order.

1. Gruden - tough, a winner, and would be a great recruiter.
2. Sly Crooms - has worked miracles on the farm in Starksville, would be awesome with our resources.
3. David Cutcliffe - same as Crooms, would be awesome with some real resources.
4. John Zook - UF regrets losing him. The man knows the SEC like the back of his hand.
5. Steve Spurrier Jr. - 'nough said. Good offense in the genes.

LOL! your writting this stuff just to get us to reply...funny. Cause, any sane person would not post this phooey!

SCRockyTop writes:

I never thought I would see a TN offense so bad... I am truly embarrassed to be a TN fan for the first time in my life. I have to live in SC with these white trash inbred SC fans. I don't know what to say anymore. I have season tix and I go to every game but, I have no interest in driving back to Knoxville this year. Makes me want to suck start a pistol...

MANVOL writes:

in response to TommyJack:

So Mikey....Where do we go from here?

I know from a reliable source that President Peterson has been praising the connecticut football coach Edsall to several boosters on a recent gathering. Intresting since that's where Peterson came from. Not my choice. But if the President is on your side that would help your chances.

TommyJack writes:

in response to MiserableFloridaVol:

Sad stuff out there. Sorry Phil, you're a good man and I hope you can stick around in some capacity. It's been a nice run.

Mike Leach teams can't play defense huh? He is the Bruce Pearl of college football. A little out there and fun to watch.

No they can't. Get back to me after the game.
Bruce Pearl? Leach has the personality of Ben Stein.

txsvol#372416 writes:

Mike Hamilton's Brain is scrambled: If the Vols go 1-7 in the SEC, does CPF actually have to blow out Wyoming next week to keep his job? What should I do if Wyoming actually upsets us? Fire him after the game, or at the end of the season? SAVol

Vols1998 writes:

in response to a10acfan1:

No Heart or Emotion from anyone ( with the exception of EB )

HEY! The DEFENSE has heart, can not play those many snaps and not get tired. Those boys are AWESOME!!

willoxxl writes:

I am glad our starting tailback got his first rushing touchdown in game 9 of the season. Do you think the best players are on the field?

DennisVols writes:

"Tennessee falls to 3-6, 1-5 SEC. That means, among other things, the Vols have zero margin for error in order to finish 6-6 and secure a bowl invitation"

I hate to be a bearer of bad news but no way does this team get a bowl invite with a 6-6 record. Too many other teams in the conference with better records to fill the spots. UT would not be a big draw anyway and no fan support to fill the seats.
I feel sorry for the seniors on this team. UT let them down by not providing the coaching, and leadership in the staff they deserved. Pulling Nick after one INT sealed the deal tonight for the game and the season.

WalkingClassic writes:

How good would Boyd, Giles, Oku, and Stokes look in a Mike Leach or Chris Peterson offense?

Laydbakvol writes:

Go Titans!

jfra1956 writes:

Enough is Enough. Fulmer had some good years,but it very clear the assistants around Fulmer is where the Power in the "T" was coming from. Cutcliff and Trooper should be running the show. A house cleaning is overdue,and it is going to take a couple of years to rebuild,but a housecleaning is the ONLY thing that will bring the Power back to the "T"

mdvol writes:

I didn't see Hardesty get a single snap at tailback. Was he hurt or did Fulmer forget again that he plays for us?

Jshoop writes:

I saw no organization to the offense today (again). This is sad because I said we would win all remaining games after the Bama game. Today I saw the defense upset at the offense. The defense was worn out as they stayed on the field. As much as I have supported Fulmer all year, it is clear that he needs to go. It is also clear that we do not have many playmakers on our team. I watched a little of the Texas/TT game between plays. They have playmakers. No one could win with our QB's and receivers and runners. They are slow and show no spirit. Sad state of affairs.

Love the Vols but time to make major changes.

budd#207344 writes:

If I am Stephens I tell fulmer TKMA and transfer. That was the sorriest thing I have seen in all my years of watching TN foootball

loudmouthofthesouth (Inactive) writes:

Chris Petersen (Boise State): Currently 31-3, 8-0 this season. Team ranked #11 (probably higher today after after beating New Mex. St. 49-0). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Pe...
Why not?
a. “But he coaches in the WAC,” some will whine. Remember, Urban Meyer came from the Mountain West (New Mexico, Utah, Air Force, other yawners).
b. “Calling a statue of liberty doesn’t make you a great coach,” another nagger says. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7Duuh...
Watch it. The statue of liberty was worth 2 points out of 44 they put up against Stoops and Adrian Peterson. Still not convinced, look at his record.
c. “That Fiesta Bowl Team was merely a product of Dan Hawkins’ recruiting.” In Petersen’s first year, he took them to a BCS. Recruiting doesn’t equal bowl games. Plus, recruiting is not our problem, developing the talent is. Petersen has continued to recruit well, and have you ever been to Boise?
WASHINGTON IS GOING TO SNAG HIM, IF WE DON’T. We have the resources to get him. If you’re looking for an exciting figure who’s on his way up, this is our man. As for the others named: Gruden, I like, but I can’t help thinking of the other NFL coaches who have failed miserably in college; Leach would be a great pick; Butch Davis, whose team is currently ranked #22, might be good; Jim Grobe at Wake Forest looked good early on, but his team isn’t even ranked and he barely beat Duke in OT today; Will Muschamp, DC at Texas, is a great coach, but he’s a freakin’ Georgia Bulldog; David Cutcliffe, No!!; Steve Spurrier—if you like him more than Fulmer, I question your loyalty.
There’s no easy solution, and there’s no Bruce Pearl of College Football. But, what we could take from that situation is that we need an up-an-comer, not some washed up coach. Imagine if we said, “A coach at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, NO THANK YOU!!”

Vols1998 writes:

Fumble, interception, fumble, penalty, more moving flags, can not get a first down on four attempts blah, blah, blah.

I am blaming this on the Offensive Coaches, not CPF, Chavis is doing great...why can't we give CPF credit for that? You have to give him all the credit, not just for the bad playing of the offense.

Go Vols! Fire Clawson!!

Jed writes:

Pathetic. No control over the team, no emotions by the players, no chance at anything respectable this season. The way Spurrier won tonight did not even challenge him. We have no team to speak of. Go Titans, Go Bruce's VOLS, Go find a coach that is coaching for today's game and not living in the 1990's. What have you done lately...huh Fulmer, I can't think of anything that would tell me we had a chance at an SEC championship in the last 7 years. When was the last time that UT finished the season in the TOP 10, any takers?

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to HardcoreHottie:

Phil needs to take the reigns and FIRE CLAWSON NOW.

The defense is as solid as ever. The offense is actually losing games for us now, more than just not winning games as was the case earlier in the season.

The Clawson experient is/was a failure.

Phil, save your job, fire Clawson now.

Look, Fulmer is running the offense. It is too much like the same old stuff for years for him not to be running it. Fire Clawson if you want, but Fulmer needs to be out first

a10acfan1 writes:

Vols1998....Was mainly talking about the players on the sidelines either smiling or expressionless, you know that defeated look. I agree with you on the defense being out on the field too long.

gaVOLman writes:

in response to conr1976:

It's over. All the Phat Phil Phulmer supporters just need to shut up and realize that he's gone. If he DOESN'T come out tomorrow and resign, I'm going to be very disappointed and if he's not gone at the end of the season, this 32 yr vol fan very well may be done. It's time for a change. I'm tired of seeing the Great Pumpkin on the sidelines, clapping every time a player does something stupid. This is TENNESSEE! Tennessee football used to be something I was proud to be a fan of, but now my neighbors (Florida fans) don't even talk smack to me anymore....out of pity. It's just sad.

What's sad is you giving up on the VOLS. I'm as down on Fulmer as then ext fan but I wouldn't ever quit on my team. Why don't you go cheer for the gators. Jerk.

AllVol2008#1353998 writes:

in response to FulmerForever:

If something crazy happens and we lose Phillip (God forbid) here is my list of candidates ranked in order.

1. Gruden - tough, a winner, and would be a great recruiter.
2. Sly Crooms - has worked miracles on the farm in Starksville, would be awesome with our resources.
3. David Cutcliffe - same as Crooms, would be awesome with some real resources.
4. John Zook - UF regrets losing him. The man knows the SEC like the back of his hand.
5. Steve Spurrier Jr. - 'nough said. Good offense in the genes.

Sir, I don't take any great issue with your post, but why in the hell would Florida miss Ron Zook?

This day was saved by Georgia's butt whoopin', and recruits will still come to UT when Phil is gone.

Why do the Texas Tech players look so much faster than ours? Our offense is an embarrassment to SEC football. It is a nightmare.

Phil has lost this team, and Tennessee football is irrelevant.

jandjhome#228397 writes:

5 and 7

Wyoming Win
Vandy Loss
CATS Win (This will be Fulmer's last game,it will one for the Gipper)

eduardo writes:

Ole Phil is not going to go without a fight, count on it! He is going to tell us about the great recruiting class that is in the offering. Who cares if youre the coach! The so called great recruiting class of '05 is looking down the double barrel of a losing season. Coacho Ocho must go! When your player of the game is the punter your in trouble man. If I hear Tim Priest say one more time you have a chance to win out and go to a bowl game I think I'll puke. Who cares if they win out! Who cares about division on this team! They are pathetic! Get rid of F$$lmer! Nowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FedUpVolFan writes:

in response to FulmerForever:

If something crazy happens and we lose Phillip (God forbid) here is my list of candidates ranked in order.

1. Gruden - tough, a winner, and would be a great recruiter.
2. Sly Crooms - has worked miracles on the farm in Starksville, would be awesome with our resources.
3. David Cutcliffe - same as Crooms, would be awesome with some real resources.
4. John Zook - UF regrets losing him. The man knows the SEC like the back of his hand.
5. Steve Spurrier Jr. - 'nough said. Good offense in the genes.

Now that's funny stuff. I don't care who you are!

jcvol#215939 writes:

in response to a10acfan1:

This was like watching a very bad train wreck

In slow motion

Alumni_06 writes:

TITANS

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