Strange: So bad! That says it all about 3-6 Vols

In the last 45 years Tennessee’s football team has only lost six games in a season five times. Which team was the biggest disappointment?

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Exactly two months passed between the night Tennessee ran onto the field at UCLA and Saturday night, when the Vols trudged off the field at South Carolina.

Aside from the continuing Eric Berry highlight reel there has been little to celebrate in that interim.

A program ranked in the top 25 on opening night has descended into a murky level of college football hell. I’m not saying it’s the last level because there could be worse to come.

A year ago, the South Carolina game marked a turning point for a troubled UT program. It was the first tentative step in a 5-0 finishing run to the SEC Championship Game.

There will be no turning point this time. Not for the Vols, and likely not for their coach, Phillip Fulmer.

Rather, a 27-6 loss to the Gamecocks was merely another reminder how miserable Tennessee’s season has become.

How bad is it?

So bad that in mid-game the public-address announcer in the press box reported that South Carolina held its first double-digit lead against Tennessee in an SEC game. Ever.

So bad that on the night UT was falling to 3-6, historical rival Alabama was going to bed knowing it was about to ascend to the No. 1 ranking.

Proof what the right coaching change can render.

So bad that with three games to play, the worst record in UT history is within reach.

The 1977 team went 4-7.

So bad Tennessee has never held a lead in any of its five SEC losses. Not for one snap.

The only time the Vols have been on the top end of the score in an SEC game was the lone win over Mississippi State.

So bad the Vols rank 114th in the nation in total offense — 272.4 yards a game.

If you’re wondering, UT is still more productive than Temple, Florida International, Vanderbilt, Washington State and Central Florida.

So bad Tennessee allowed more sacks Saturday (6) than in all of 2007 (4).

So bad that on the day the Vols fell to 1-5 in the SEC, arch-rival Florida repositioned itself into the national championship picture by demolishing Georgia 49-10.

Proof how a team can improve during the course of a season.

So bad that when Nick Stephens opened the second half Saturday with a 49-yard pass to Austin Rogers, the Vols couldn’t convert third-and-3 or fourth-and-3.

Maybe a touchdown would have changed the complexion of the game, maybe not.

So bad that after Berry’s 45-yard interception return into South Carolina territory, the Vols could not convert third-and-2 or fourth-and-1.

See above.

So bad that Berry has as many interceptions this year (6) as Tennessee’s quarterbacks do touchdown passes (6).

So bad that on the night Tennessee was digging itself into such a hole that it will have to win out to get bowl eligible, neighbor Kentucky was getting bowl eligible for the third consecutive year — for the first time since 1951.

So bad Tennessee hasn’t gained 300 yards in a game since UAB on Sept. 13.

So bad many UT fans didn’t bother making the trip on a gorgeous fall weekend.

Tickets were returned to South Carolina and there was plenty of room for the orange-clad fans who did show to spread out and get comfy in UT’s allotted sections at Williams-Brice Stadium.

So bad the Vols have rushed for only 70 yards — the past two games combined.

That’s 36 against Alabama and 34 against South Carolina. Hey, there’s something to be said for consistency.

So bad that Wyoming, UT’s homecoming opponent, had a breakout game, ripping San Diego State 35-10.

If the Cowboys can score half that many points Saturday, the Vols will be in trouble.

So bad something called the Papajohn’s.com Bowl has become an objective.

Mike Strange may be reached at 865-342-6276 or strangem@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 58

VOLorado writes:

This story makes us sound WAAAAAAAAAY better than we actually are.

indianacurly writes:

i say we should give him another year, eh wltv?

indianacurly writes:

i wish we played temple this year ...

andy112382#209793 writes:

Mike Strange use to be a motivational speaker in a previous life, didn't he?

indianacurly writes:

i bet we could beat the crud out of them with a last-second fg

indianacurly writes:

mike strange = zig zigler

BillsBrother writes:

in response to indianacurly:

mike strange = zig zigler

Just win one for the Zigler - Knute Rockne

threehundredbowler writes:

Dang,we are really bad.The offensive line play is the worst I have ever seen in my 34 years as a season ticket holder.We need change and in a hurry.

andy112382#209793 writes:

By the way, anyone who even had the slightest thought about Skip Holtz or the UCF coach.....please tell me you are watching this matchup between the two on espn....we would be better off keeping who we got!

andy112382#209793 writes:

My mistake, that was the USF coach people mentioned, but still wouldn't want him. I know, though, that people did mentino Skip.

BillsBrother writes:

Gloom, despair and agony on me, (Whoa-a-a)
Deep dark depression, excessive misery. (Whoa-a-a)
If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all, (Whoa-a-a)
Gloom, despair and agony on me.

Imagine_this writes:

There will be no bowl game for UT.
You can still watch and cheer for a Tennessee team when Vanderbilt plays in their bowl game.

Colliervol writes:

in response to Imagine_this:

There will be no bowl game for UT.
You can still watch and cheer for a Tennessee team when Vanderbilt plays in their bowl game.

Why would we want to do that?

No thanks, it will be basketball time soon so we'll have plenty to keep us occupied. As far as football goes, all we care about is getting a new coach. Anything else involving college football is only of passing interest to me at this point.

WeLoveTennesseeVols writes:

What did you celebrate last year? And the year before? And what about the year before that? Were people happy with the Tennessee Vols in 2001, 2, 3, 4 , 5 etc. In 1988, 89, 90? When were the Tennessee Vol fans really happy and celebrating?? Please tell us Vols fans what is your happiness level ???? How can we fill you up? Be like Michigan, Nebraska, and OHio State, all at the same time? Just be the powerhouse we want to be? Just snap our fingers and every pass is a completion? Have you people been watching too much TV or something? Please get in touch with reality and start celebrating yourselves and life around you. Do you need Philip Fulmer and the Tennesse Vols to revolve around?

caskew#218608 writes:

So bad that the 0-8 University of Washington is ranked above us in total offense. On a brighter side though, we are the highest ranked 3 win team in the nation at 61 according to cbssportsline.com..........

FedUpVolFan writes:

Cheer up!
We are now 7oth in the rankings.
UCLA is 77th!
Stay the course!

nicksjuzunk#646117 writes:

It's like being stuck in the elevator when someone passes really, really bad gas.

1. Initial shock.
2. Maybe I can hold my breath and get through this.
3. Oh shoot! This isn't going to end anytime soon... nervously shifting weight.
4. Defeat. I have to breathe! Inhale. Now the stench is inside of me and I can do nothing about it.

This season in a nutshell.

richvol writes:

Tennessee will always be able to get skill players...it's not a great recruiting class until we get several offensive and defensive linemen and that's not happening.

silvertr6 writes:

Boycott Fulmer football games, tickets, and merchandise.
Revenue loss is the one thing that will get a response from the powers that make decisions.

luckymacy#423360 writes:

The Receivers, what a joke.

I'd like to see someone compare the "skill" position players, especially Wide Receivers, to some previous ones. Too bad they don't chart 'choke routes and key dropped passes'. As a group, I've never been so unimpressed. Who was that Saturday that dropped a perfect pass down the middle beyond the first down marker while he had some separation and while there was still a chance to affect the outcome of the game? We TV watchers just looked at each other and just all agreed that this was their single weakest link in the chain. They don't have one person they can count on to come up big, even if the ball gets to them. No one who can go up for jump ball with ANY expectation of actaully fighting for it and catching it, no one who can get any TD worthy separation from a SEC caliber defense, no one who can catch a pass out of the backfield and make someone miss for a 10 yard gain (don't say Foster - he sucks frankly and would be a better blocker for a more dynamic back), the list goes on but the bottom line, they suck. There have been times the OL and QB did their part enough and there's been no one there to make the defense pay. You rush a combined 70 yards in two games when the other teams laugh at your receivers and play to stop the run. The skill players are just bad. No coach can win with lesser talent on offense in the SEC. You just can't. Garcia scrambling and SC receivers adjusting to get open on a couple of plays including a touchdown made all the difference. Typical though of a Fulmer team in recent years. No dymanics; No ad libbing when necessary, No obvious tactical adjustments, just empty headedness. The players just seem to have the Fulmer Lobotamy look 90% of the game whether on the sidelines or coming on and off the field.

This lack of Team style, lack of Offensive dyanamics, lack of being able to play 'chess' with the other teams once the game starts is what makes Fulmer completely out of his league in the SEC. Too bad he's buried in like a darn tick and pulling him out is going to be bloody brutal but completely necessary.

Vol_n_Bama writes:

Football teams are much like having kids...if you don't love them when they are bad you don't deserve them when they're good. And like my kids in their teens, I love the VOLS dearly but damn they're killing me. Loosing close games to good teams hurts but to never be in the games against mediocre teams is sickening.

carolinablonde writes:

Not so bad that our Coach doesn't still think we should go to a Bowl Game to be "rewarded" for a great season. He is as dellusional as the folks who still praise him and support him.

BobbyGraham writes:

Has anyone ever seen as many passes batted down at the line of scrimmage as we have had this year. We have to lead the nation in that category. Is it a product of the OL not keeping the DL occupied or is it the QB

pdhuff#552644 writes:

"There will be no turning point this time".

Telling, indeed.

On a positive note, the Ford F600 school bus is idling in Swayback this frosty AM as the boys have their ceremonial Bloody Mary. Soon they launch on a leisurely trek from Wyoming to K-town, complimentary ducats in hand.

There is a 7-foot rendering of a Clydesdale with saddle on the side. Life is good.

carolinablonde writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

"There will be no turning point this time".

Telling, indeed.

On a positive note, the Ford F600 school bus is idling in Swayback this frosty AM as the boys have their ceremonial Bloody Mary. Soon they launch on a leisurely trek from Wyoming to K-town, complimentary ducats in hand.

There is a 7-foot rendering of a Clydesdale with saddle on the side. Life is good.

My guess is that the marketplace will be flooded with free ducats to avoid the empty stadium illusion that we have all conjured up. Possibly free gifts to the first 50,000 (and possibly only 50,000).

Duke writes:

How much is the football program going to lose not going to a bowl?? How much has the program lost so far in ticket and concession sales? How much has the city of Knoxville lost in reduced visitors on game day? Just some thoughts here, folks. Not sure Hamilton is thinking straight on the revenue numbers. Recruiting? What kid in his right mind wants to put a possible pro career in jeopardy coming to a losing program? It will take two to three years to rebuild this program if the move were made today. Longer Hamilton waits, the further the program will spiral and the longer it will take to rebuild.

GreerVol22 writes:

This is what happens when players and coaches quit on each other.

carolinablonde writes:

in response to Duke:

How much is the football program going to lose not going to a bowl?? How much has the program lost so far in ticket and concession sales? How much has the city of Knoxville lost in reduced visitors on game day? Just some thoughts here, folks. Not sure Hamilton is thinking straight on the revenue numbers. Recruiting? What kid in his right mind wants to put a possible pro career in jeopardy coming to a losing program? It will take two to three years to rebuild this program if the move were made today. Longer Hamilton waits, the further the program will spiral and the longer it will take to rebuild.

That is exactly right. That is why it is so stunning to me that we keep Fulmer and still haven't heard a definitive resolution to this insanity.

carolinablonde writes:

odd

spencer1989#206886 writes:

It's soooo bad that Hamilton gives Phil a hefty millon dollar pay raise and life time contract....NOT. It's sooo bad that Phil convinces Hamilton in this morning's meeting that he can right this ship and win the NC next year. Hamilton bites the bait and decides to keep Phil. (Let's hope he doesn't get this crazy). And everyone....I'm just joking here!!
Honestly, as I watched the game on TV Saturday night, I asked myself two questions: Was Warren even in the game? And when have the VOLS ever looked so bad and unprepared?

99gator writes:

from tony barnhardt of the ajc.....

For Fulmer, it’s only a question of when: Based on the conversations I’m having with people around the conference, it appears it is simply a matter of time for Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer. All indications are that the decision has been made and that the details are being worked out. I wouldn’t expect an announcement this week because it’s Homecoming (vs. Wyoming) and Tennessee has an open date next week. Would Tennessee wait until the end of the season to make an announcement? Would that be the right thing to do out of respect for Fulmer? I would say yes but the competiveness of the upcoming coaching search might make Tennessee pull the trigger early. Again, I’ll try to prepare my Tennessee friends. If Tennessee goes looking for a new coach, it will not be an easy search.

blitzshoot writes:

in response to 99gator:

from tony barnhardt of the ajc.....

For Fulmer, it’s only a question of when: Based on the conversations I’m having with people around the conference, it appears it is simply a matter of time for Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer. All indications are that the decision has been made and that the details are being worked out. I wouldn’t expect an announcement this week because it’s Homecoming (vs. Wyoming) and Tennessee has an open date next week. Would Tennessee wait until the end of the season to make an announcement? Would that be the right thing to do out of respect for Fulmer? I would say yes but the competiveness of the upcoming coaching search might make Tennessee pull the trigger early. Again, I’ll try to prepare my Tennessee friends. If Tennessee goes looking for a new coach, it will not be an easy search.

I agree with the article. I am sure the details are being ironed out and yes, finding a new coach will be a nightmare.
Why come to UT and lay in the SEC...maybe someone will want the challenge.

tennisvol writes:

The band might as well stay home if they only play Rocky Top when TN scores a TD.

ect1983 writes:

in response to WeLoveTennesseeVols:

What did you celebrate last year? And the year before? And what about the year before that? Were people happy with the Tennessee Vols in 2001, 2, 3, 4 , 5 etc. In 1988, 89, 90? When were the Tennessee Vol fans really happy and celebrating?? Please tell us Vols fans what is your happiness level ???? How can we fill you up? Be like Michigan, Nebraska, and OHio State, all at the same time? Just be the powerhouse we want to be? Just snap our fingers and every pass is a completion? Have you people been watching too much TV or something? Please get in touch with reality and start celebrating yourselves and life around you. Do you need Philip Fulmer and the Tennesse Vols to revolve around?

Obviously, you do, because you are constantly on here----It would be gracious to say your posts are moronic.....I know you must be a walking joke, because your posts are hilarious. Your mother should sue the Ob that delivered you

knoxtenn writes:

The voters in this poll are either very young or very forgiving. The 0-6 start in 1988 was by far the most disastrous time for Tenn football in my lifetime. The 4-7 season ranks as my no. 2 horrible season.

Handyman writes:

I understand the emotion on this board, and in the past I was not so quick to jump aboard the woe-woe train. However, this year I am. Just three games into this season, I was immediately reminded of (not 2005!), but 2002 and losing three conference games (guess which ones!). Anyway, I remember watching all those games and thinking how weak the Vols looked on special teams. Even then, there was low grumbling about getting a ST coach, but "El Stubbo" Fulmer refused to consider it. That's a huge ego, of course, but it's not a problem when it's combined with a creative mind that can win the most important games. (Do you remember the Peach Bowl against Maryland that season?). Need I say anything more? It's time to Flush Fulmer. Could Hamilton be next?

Etacovda_00 writes:

I seem to recall getting "blasted" by a lot of people on here for predicting a 3 win season earlier this year....

TOOOOO funny lololololol

surfing_vol writes:

FIRE HAMILTON!!!

surfing_vol writes:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I'm serious. Talking about replacing Fulmer has gotten us nowhere over the last few years. Let the administration know that HAMILTON has to take responsibility. It's either Fulmer or Hamilton.

I got a fund raising solicitation in the mail Saturday (no kidding). I'll send it back with a letter telling UT that no funds until HAMILTON acts or is gone.

JohnnyVol writes:

in response to BillsBrother:

Gloom, despair and agony on me, (Whoa-a-a)
Deep dark depression, excessive misery. (Whoa-a-a)
If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all, (Whoa-a-a)
Gloom, despair and agony on me.

Sweet...Hee Haw reruns.

Maybe that is a good title for our season. UT Football 2008: The year of Hee Haw.

What do you think?

JohnnyVol writes:

in response to BobbyGraham:

Has anyone ever seen as many passes batted down at the line of scrimmage as we have had this year. We have to lead the nation in that category. Is it a product of the OL not keeping the DL occupied or is it the QB

Yes.

keithvol1971 writes:

in response to 99gator:

from tony barnhardt of the ajc.....

For Fulmer, it’s only a question of when: Based on the conversations I’m having with people around the conference, it appears it is simply a matter of time for Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer. All indications are that the decision has been made and that the details are being worked out. I wouldn’t expect an announcement this week because it’s Homecoming (vs. Wyoming) and Tennessee has an open date next week. Would Tennessee wait until the end of the season to make an announcement? Would that be the right thing to do out of respect for Fulmer? I would say yes but the competiveness of the upcoming coaching search might make Tennessee pull the trigger early. Again, I’ll try to prepare my Tennessee friends. If Tennessee goes looking for a new coach, it will not be an easy search.

For the record....my in-laws are huge Gator fans and my son loves the Gators and the Vols. I have been to Gainsville on several occasions and have come to respect the florida fans as a whole. However, there is one thing that gets on my nerves and that is fans like you that enjoy other peoples misery much like your current (Meyer) and former (Spurrier) coach at Florida. Either you don't have a job or a life because you are always on this site giving your two cents which the Vol fans on here could care less hearing from you. We know that your beloved Gators are superior to the Vols at this time so enjoy it for right now. Please get the ---- off of our site and mind your own business. I live in Tallahassee and have to put up with these arrogant Seminole fans. I listen to them complain about how horrible UF is and how they have the worst fans in America. I have defended you in the past but that will stop now after reading all I can handle out of you and your smug attitude and jabs you take at our team. We know we have issues but we don't need your comments and arrogant attitude reminding us. I watched your coach act like a 5 yr old little boy on Saturday by getting revenge on Georgia. I was embarrassed to let my son watch an adult who is supposed to set a good example for the kids humiliate another team and this has been happening all year. Florida has a GREAT team but making other teams and other coaches look bad is not the point. I see it has rubbed off his players and fans as well.

rab63 writes:

Offensive line was preseason pick to be the best in the country. Everybody returning from last year. Only gave up four sacks all of last year. Has anyone questioned any of them as to what's going on? They should know if there is any difference in blocking assignments or schemes. Is the new playbook too complicated? There has to be a difference somewhere between this year and last and the linemen themselves should be able to answer that question.

VolEagle writes:

in response to luckymacy#423360:

The Receivers, what a joke.

I'd like to see someone compare the "skill" position players, especially Wide Receivers, to some previous ones. Too bad they don't chart 'choke routes and key dropped passes'. As a group, I've never been so unimpressed. Who was that Saturday that dropped a perfect pass down the middle beyond the first down marker while he had some separation and while there was still a chance to affect the outcome of the game? We TV watchers just looked at each other and just all agreed that this was their single weakest link in the chain. They don't have one person they can count on to come up big, even if the ball gets to them. No one who can go up for jump ball with ANY expectation of actaully fighting for it and catching it, no one who can get any TD worthy separation from a SEC caliber defense, no one who can catch a pass out of the backfield and make someone miss for a 10 yard gain (don't say Foster - he sucks frankly and would be a better blocker for a more dynamic back), the list goes on but the bottom line, they suck. There have been times the OL and QB did their part enough and there's been no one there to make the defense pay. You rush a combined 70 yards in two games when the other teams laugh at your receivers and play to stop the run. The skill players are just bad. No coach can win with lesser talent on offense in the SEC. You just can't. Garcia scrambling and SC receivers adjusting to get open on a couple of plays including a touchdown made all the difference. Typical though of a Fulmer team in recent years. No dymanics; No ad libbing when necessary, No obvious tactical adjustments, just empty headedness. The players just seem to have the Fulmer Lobotamy look 90% of the game whether on the sidelines or coming on and off the field.

This lack of Team style, lack of Offensive dyanamics, lack of being able to play 'chess' with the other teams once the game starts is what makes Fulmer completely out of his league in the SEC. Too bad he's buried in like a darn tick and pulling him out is going to be bloody brutal but completely necessary.

I guess you've heard that Tenn new offensive play book has over 200 formations, while Alabama has only 20 different formations. I believe the offensive play book for Clawson is just too involved and complicated, and does not work. The players are always confused when the come to the line, showing a lack of confidence the play will go.

TommyJack writes:

in response to hiresanders:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The K on the helmet stands for Krappy.

VolsRoadRash98 writes:

in response to nicksjuzunk#646117:

It's like being stuck in the elevator when someone passes really, really bad gas.

1. Initial shock.
2. Maybe I can hold my breath and get through this.
3. Oh shoot! This isn't going to end anytime soon... nervously shifting weight.
4. Defeat. I have to breathe! Inhale. Now the stench is inside of me and I can do nothing about it.

This season in a nutshell.

LMAO

luckymacy#423360 writes:

in response to VolEagle:

I guess you've heard that Tenn new offensive play book has over 200 formations, while Alabama has only 20 different formations. I believe the offensive play book for Clawson is just too involved and complicated, and does not work. The players are always confused when the come to the line, showing a lack of confidence the play will go.

No but what I did hear was it was a relatively small package of plays to begin with this fall (compared to the Richmond offense) and that even those plays were totally whittled down and simplified after the first couple of losses while Crompton was still QB.

Orange4life writes:

so bad that I am reading this from my hometown newspaper

so bad that Strange and Adams where caught streaking together in their campaign to smear TENN football

So bad that I am still posting on this article

So bad that I can't wait for basketball

johnlg00 writes:

in response to rab63:

Offensive line was preseason pick to be the best in the country. Everybody returning from last year. Only gave up four sacks all of last year. Has anyone questioned any of them as to what's going on? They should know if there is any difference in blocking assignments or schemes. Is the new playbook too complicated? There has to be a difference somewhere between this year and last and the linemen themselves should be able to answer that question.

Even last year when they were getting so much credit for the low number of sacks allowed, they weren't very good at getting the strong push in the running game. We had a poor 3d-down conversion percentage last year, though better than this year since we could at least pass successfully on 3d-and-2. As I said a few weeks ago, I think our O-line was optimized for pass blocking rather than for run blocking, which anyone should have known would be more important this year. The poor performance in pass blocking this year is a combination of poor QB play, and likely the flip-flopping of the linemen from one side to the other has made them more uncertain of their blocking assignments. I thought our O-line was VASTLY overrated coming into this season and their play has proven it.

WVVOLFAN writes:

in response to keithvol1971:

For the record....my in-laws are huge Gator fans and my son loves the Gators and the Vols. I have been to Gainsville on several occasions and have come to respect the florida fans as a whole. However, there is one thing that gets on my nerves and that is fans like you that enjoy other peoples misery much like your current (Meyer) and former (Spurrier) coach at Florida. Either you don't have a job or a life because you are always on this site giving your two cents which the Vol fans on here could care less hearing from you. We know that your beloved Gators are superior to the Vols at this time so enjoy it for right now. Please get the ---- off of our site and mind your own business. I live in Tallahassee and have to put up with these arrogant Seminole fans. I listen to them complain about how horrible UF is and how they have the worst fans in America. I have defended you in the past but that will stop now after reading all I can handle out of you and your smug attitude and jabs you take at our team. We know we have issues but we don't need your comments and arrogant attitude reminding us. I watched your coach act like a 5 yr old little boy on Saturday by getting revenge on Georgia. I was embarrassed to let my son watch an adult who is supposed to set a good example for the kids humiliate another team and this has been happening all year. Florida has a GREAT team but making other teams and other coaches look bad is not the point. I see it has rubbed off his players and fans as well.

in defense of gator99, he normally does not pour salt in our wounds. i did't see anything wrong in his post. while i don't like the U of FL, i have no problem with gator99. he is informative, articulae and probably a guy i would drink a beer with. i don't like other posters that try to gig us, but i don't see that from gator.

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