- Defensive coordinator John Chavis
- Philip Fulmer
- QB Jonathan Crompton and DE Wes Brown
- Defensive back Jonathan Meeks
- Defensive end Leon Mackey
- Linebacker Marlon Walls
Vol Vent Line
As horribly wrong as Tennessee's season has gone.
As consistently inept as the Vols' offense has been.
As dramatic a week as the program has experienced.
In spite of all that, nobody thought this possible:
Wyoming 13, Tennessee 7.
"In this day and age in college football, anybody can beat you,'' lame-duck coach Phillip Fulmer said Saturday.
"Especially if you let them.''
The Vols let a 25-point underdog beat them before a disbelieving Neyland Stadium homecoming crowd announced at 99,489. A more accurate guess was 75,000.
In a scene reminiscent of the Florida and Alabama games, the only ones celebrating at the end were a 1,000 or so Cowboys fans.
"We did a great job today and I thought we deserved the victory,'' said Wyoming coach Joe Glenn.
The Cowboys (4-6) had lost their two previous tries against UT by a combined 89-24.
The tale on the scoreboard this time rivaled Fulmer's forced resignation five days earlier for the week's most shocking development on campus.
"We wanted nothing more than to win the game for these coaches,'' said an emotional junior defensive end Wes Brown.
Instead, Tennessee fell to 3-7. With two games to play, the Vols have already equaled the most losses in a season in program history, 4-7 in 1977.
There was nothing shocking about the way the game plan went off course.
Quarterback Nick Stephens threw two first-half interceptions to give the nation's lowest-scoring team - the Cowboys averaged 11.7 points per game - all the points they needed.
The first, on UT's opening possession of the game, was returned 55 yards to the Vols' 4. From there, Chris Stutzriem flipped a touchdown pass to Greg Genho on the next play for a 7-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Stephens cut out the middleman. Backed up at the UT 18 after Wyoming missed a field goal, Stephens threw into a crowd.
Linebacker Ward Dobbs was on the receiving end and rambled 24 yards to give the Cowboys a 13-0 lead.
"He made two decisions with the football that cost us 13 points,'' said UT offensive coordinator Dave Clawson.
Jonathan Crompton took over and finished 11-of-27 passing for 91 yards. One of his completions was an 8-yard TD pass to Gerald Jones in the third quarter to make it 13-7.
UT's only other threat of the afternoon came in the fourth quarter when the Vols drove for a first down at the Wyoming 21.
After a 2-yard Tauren Poole run to the 19 on first down, Crompton threw three consecutive incompletions, the last on fourth-and-8.
The Vols had one more possession but it penetrated only to the Wyoming 39. From there, Crompton was sacked, then threw three more incompletions.
When his fourth-and-18 pass was off target with 1:43 to play, the Vols were doomed.
"You're always disappointed,'' said Fulmer, "particularly disappointed when you lose a game you should have won. And particularly when you give the other team 14 (13 actually) points.
"If we don't throw those (two interceptions) we win 7-0.''
Left to its own devices, the Wyoming offense mounted only two threats, both of which came up empty.
The Cowboys drove to the UT 14 in the second quarter only to miss a 31-yard field-goal try.
They reached the UT 23 early in the fourth quarter but Tennessee stopped tailback Devin Moore short on fourth-and-3.
Still, the Cowboys outgained the Vols 266 yards to 219, and converted nine of 17 third-down tries.
"They ran the ball on us better (167 yards) than I thought they would,'' said Fulmer, "but overall, our defense played well enough to win.''
The offense did not.
UT had converted two first downs on its opening possession to reach the Wyoming 31 when Stephens dropped back to throw a quick screen pass.
Defensive end Mike Neuhaus deflected the pass almost as it left Stephens' hand, caught it and had clear sailing toward the end zone.
Lucas Taylor ran him down at the 4, to no avail, it turned out.
"It was just a good play by their guy,'' said Fulmer.
And Tennessee failed to mount another threat until Crompton led them on a 64-yard, 11-play drive in the third quarter to get on the scoreboard.
Three plays after UT's touchdown, the Vols got a lift when Dennis Rogan recovered a Stutzreim fumble near midfield.
It was not, however, a momentum-changing lift. The offense went three-and-out on its next two possessions.
Tennessee's fourth-quarter march to the Wyoming 19 came mostly on the running of Lennon Creer.
But on third-and-8, Crompton threw a little high for Denarius Moore. On fourth-and-8, the pass for Moore was a little low. Either would have been a tough catch.
"When you get in the red zone,'' said Clawson, it becomes a stacked box (by the defense to stop the run).
"You've got to be able to win matchups. You've got to be able to throw the ball down there.''
If not to your team, at least not to the other team.
Mike Strange may be reached at 865-342-6276.