Offense's confidence crashes with errors

Drew Edwards

Emotion is no substitute for confidence.

All through the week leading up to Saturday's homecoming game against Wyoming, Tennessee had plenty of the former after UT coach Phillip Fulmer announced Monday he would not return as head coach for an 18th season.

But on offense, confidence was in short supply.

After a 13-7 loss to Wyoming in Neyland Stadium in which the Vols' offense was responsible for all 20 points on the scoreboard, confidence is all but out of stock.

"Sometimes you get that feeling when you're not playing well of 'Here we go again,' " offensive coordinator Dave Clawson said. "I'm sure to some degree that's kicked in."

It didn't take long.

On UT's opening possession, quarterback Nick Stephens made the first of two bad decisions that led to being benched for the second week in a row.

On second-and-6 from the Wyoming 31-yard line, Cowboys defensive end Mike Neuhaus batted Stephens' pass in the backfield and corralled it before taking off 55 yards to the Tennessee 4.

One play later, the Cowboys had a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game. And what little confidence the Vols' offense had was shaken.

For an offense that has produced plenty of stomach-turning plays this season, Saturday was another lowlight.

After three punts, Stephens threw another interception that Ward Dobbs took 24 yards for Wyoming's only other score.

"We don't force balls backed up at Tennessee," Fulmer said.

But after 10 games - and a record-tying seventh loss - the Vols are simply that bad offensively.

Jonathan Crompton entered for UT's next drive and stayed on the rest of the way. The embattled junior, who started the Vols' first four games before being benched in favor of Stephens, led an 11-play, 64-yard touchdown drive to open the second half.

That drive fell 1 yard short of UT's 65 total offensive yards in the first half, but it wasn't enough to make up for those two costly mistakes by Stephens.

Ball security had been Stephens' biggest strength through his first four starts. Aside from fumbling on a sack against Northern Illinois, he hadn't turned the ball over until the South Carolina game the previous week. His sixth career start Saturday was the worst statistical day of his career.

Stephens finished 3-of-9 passing for 27 yards with two interceptions.

"The book on him is just making bad decisions," Clawson said. "It's easy to say it's one thing. Those (interceptions) are two individual plays he made terrible decisions on."

Despite the miscues, UT still had a chance in the fourth quarter to avoid its first loss to a team from the Mountain West Conference. Crompton drove the Vols to the Wyoming 19 before UT failed to gain on three consecutive plays - all incompletions to Denarius Moore.

"I'm a quarterback," said Crompton, the only offensive player made available for interviews following the game. "I throw the ball. I'm not a running back. If I feel I can run, I'll run. But I felt like (Moore) was open. It's a bang-bang thing. You've got to make a quick decision."

Tennessee, which has an open date before facing Vanderbilt on Nov. 22, got productive days from Lennon Creer (82 yards on 16 carries) and true freshman Tauren Poole (44 yards on 11 carries) in the absence of its top two tailbacks, Arian Foster (thigh bruise) and Montario Hardesty (stress fracture).

But what's plagued the Vols since their season began with an upset loss at UCLA on Sept. 1 has been turnovers and quarterback play.

Clawson, who said coaches discussed playing third-team quarterback B.J. Coleman, said some of the blame for UT's quarterback play falls on him.

"I coach them," he said. "I'm responsible for them. That's on me. I have to do a better job with those guys."

Crompton said afterward the blame for UT's loss to Wyoming shouldn't fall on receivers or offensive linemen or coaches.

"I don't know what to say because we're out there busting our butts," he said. "For anybody to say anything - (receivers) dropped a pass here or they dropped a pass there, I don't want to hear that at all. I don't want to hear anything about the O-line this or the O-line that or the defense. I especially don't want to hear anything about the coaches. We were just trying to win the game and we came out on the short end."

Fulmer took the long view.

"Offensively, we just didn't get it done," he said. "Again."

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Comments » 65

volfan4life25#231291 writes:

WE suck... again.

luckymacy#423360 writes:

"Offensively, we just didn't get it done," he said. "Again."

That's quite an understatement, coach, even from you. Tonight crystalized what a lot of people are going to remember most about you and your typical teams.

Underachieving to the bitter end.

VolFaninTriCities writes:

What a horrible showing for the Vols today. I have never seen a team with no heart like this one. What a waste of so many scholarships on athletes who roll over and give up because their stupid feelings are hurt. GET OVER IT and play like your getting a free education and like you should be for the thousands of fans who support you. What a joke this team is.

TommyJack writes:

What do we, or more importantly, the staff, have to lose by using BJ?

HeckuvaStandpoint writes:

"I'm a quarterback," said Crompton, the only offensive player made available for interviews following the game. "I throw the ball. I'm not a running back. If I feel I can run, I'll run. But I felt like (Moore) was open. It's a bang-bang thing. You've got to make a quick decision."

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, huh. At least Fulmer taught Crompton on thing...how to deliver post game comments that leave the listener/reader going "Wha? WTF did he say? He CANT be that dumb can he? "

This team needs a Publicist too....but scratch that....no need to re-arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic

Did anyone ask about the "magic dust"? Is the program out? What about the famed Crystal Ball? I heard - from an inside source - Rodgers dropped it last week!

rusty_shackleford writes:

From little league to the NFL, an offense is only as good as it's QB. Great QBs can play on lousy teams, but great teams don't have lousy QBs.

jdpvol writes:

agreed this is what phil's teams are, and will be rememberd for, even the winning teams were always perceived as underacheivers, never being coached up to there potential. That is coaching, or the lack of.

hotrodvol writes:

It will nice when this mess is over.

MillisaAnn writes:

This was awful and embarassing too.

Coach Fulmer play Coleman or Gerald Jones at QB.

FWBVol writes:

"I'm a quarterback," said Crompton, the only offensive player made available for interviews following the game. "I throw the ball. I'm not a running back. If I feel I can run, I'll run."

No young Mr. Crompton, you are not a running back, but you are supposed to be the field general and do what you can to help us win.

Your mentor, Heath Shuler, was a quarterback and when he had the chance he'd tuck the ball and run because he knew his job was to get the team in a position to win.

Do you think Tee Martin stood there saying "I'm the quarterback and it's my job to throw," in 1998 when we won the National Championship.

Do yourself a favor and don't give us any more explanations, we all know you haven't lived up to the hype you had coming out of high school, and even the most patient of fans are fed up with the garbage.

JACK8254 writes:

Yes, Virgina, Crompton is that dumb. This team leaves us all bemused , frustrated and angry. Who would the NLF want to draft from these quitters, except for Berry?

UrbanCryer writes:

in response to rusty_shackleford:

From little league to the NFL, an offense is only as good as it's QB. Great QBs can play on lousy teams, but great teams don't have lousy QBs.

dont tell the ravens they won a superbowl with trent dilfer

khelton657 writes:

Crompton is a certified idiot....sheeshh....

bobbarbilly writes:

As this ball of yarn becomes more and more unraveled, it appears more and more that David Cutcliff was the binding thread.

MikeTheTiger writes:

Can Crompton be fired?

Mr. Hamilton, please look into that and get back to us on Monday.
Thank you

PS don't forget to fire bob kessling and bobby denton while we are at it.

MikeTheTiger writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You don't need a professor to tell you that!

shoalcreekvol writes:

"I don't know what to say because we're out there busting our butts," he said. "For anybody to say anything - (receivers) dropped a pass here or they dropped a pass there, I don't want to hear that at all. I don't want to hear anything about the O-line this or the O-line that or the defense. I especially don't want to hear anything about the coaches. We were just trying to win the game and we came out on the short end."

Cromp, this is why the coaches made you stop talking earlier in the season. B/c every time you open your mouth something arrogant pops out and the whole world suddenly realizes you're CLUELESS...

Ironcity writes:

You got that right coach it does fall on you when your the QB's coach. Not sure what it takes to get Coleman in the game but if what Crompton and Stephens have done all year isn't enough, then Coleman must really be bad.

tennisvol writes:

Let's give ole Phil time to look at the film and find out what is wrong. Also, he will have two weeks to get the team to work hard in practice before the Vandy game.

Ironcity writes:

in response to MikeTheTiger:

Can Crompton be fired?

Mr. Hamilton, please look into that and get back to us on Monday.
Thank you

PS don't forget to fire bob kessling and bobby denton while we are at it.

I am with you on Kessling. I can't imagine a worse announcer at a D1 school. There is no way anyone listening to him has a clue to whats going on. It must be hard for the color guy(I think its Time Priest) to have to cover for him on EVERY play.

CoverOrange writes:

It is now obvious that Phil's family is completely dysfunctional and flying apart at the seams. Stephens was thrown under the bus, Crompton claims it wasn't his fault. Better start BJ in two weeks cause those guys are likely to pick up the ball and go home in a huff.

shoalcreekvol writes:

in response to UrbanCryer:

dont tell the ravens they won a superbowl with trent dilfer

Dilfer was average, not lousy. There is a difference. I didn't really know the difference b/c I thought our recent average QBs were lousy, but now I fully understand the difference. This team would be 7-3 with an average QB.

shoalcreekvol writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Tnman, you did it. You made me put the knife down for a minute and just laugh. Thanks. I needed that.

bobbarbilly writes:

This team should not be called "Vols". Fightin' 'possums is more apropos. Ok...just 'possums.

coach75 writes:

watching tex tech and ok state and i would take either coaching staff over the one we have. oc's are make ours look like pee-wee coach.

burpee_von_rotweiler_IV writes:

in response to FWBVol:

"I'm a quarterback," said Crompton, the only offensive player made available for interviews following the game. "I throw the ball. I'm not a running back. If I feel I can run, I'll run."

No young Mr. Crompton, you are not a running back, but you are supposed to be the field general and do what you can to help us win.

Your mentor, Heath Shuler, was a quarterback and when he had the chance he'd tuck the ball and run because he knew his job was to get the team in a position to win.

Do you think Tee Martin stood there saying "I'm the quarterback and it's my job to throw," in 1998 when we won the National Championship.

Do yourself a favor and don't give us any more explanations, we all know you haven't lived up to the hype you had coming out of high school, and even the most patient of fans are fed up with the garbage.

Pouty lip Compton just needs to shut up. Kentucky freshman QB Randall Cobb ran in 3 TD's today against Georgia. Oh yeah, he is from Alcoa and UT wasn't interested in him. But that shouldn't suprise anyone.

khelton657 writes:

Another brillliant PR move, letting Crompton speak for the team...."I don't want to hear anything about the O-line this or the O-line that or the defense. I especially don't want to hear anything about the coaches. " This guy has a talent for making something horrible even worse.

murrayvol writes:

in response to TommyJack:

What do we, or more importantly, the staff, have to lose by using BJ?

His redshirt maybe?

TommyJack writes:

in response to murrayvol:

His redshirt maybe?

He already played in the UAB? game.

tngilmer writes:

in response to murrayvol:

His redshirt maybe?

He was redshirted last year. This is his first year of eligibility. Why is he not playing? Could be because the OC or HC are idiots.

khelton657 writes:

Fairly strong vote of no confidence in Stephens from Clawson , "The book on him is just making bad decisions,"

tloutn writes:

Dave Clawson is the worst coach in the history of Tennessee football. See ya'.

vol98champ writes:

After 3 minutes---Wy7--ut0. That is the earliest I have ever realized that the game was lost. No way this team could score more than 7 points. I believe Brian Mullen forecast a 41-0 Tenn win. What in the world is he smoking?

SandySpringsVol writes:

Help Wanted Ad for Monday's KNS:

WANTED
College Quarterback
No Experience Necessary

Must be able to effectively manage ridiculous game plans using haphazard play-calling behind an offensive line that can't or won't block.

Needs to complete passes to wide receivers that have only moderate speed, cannot get separation from defenders, have difficulty remembering routes, and drop balls routinely. Passes must be more than 2-4 yards in length.

Must execute hand offs and pitches to running backs while they are being tackled in the backfield by defensive linemen (see comments on offensive line above).

Must be able to meet with press and not sound like a cocky bigmouth before the game and a whiny loser after the game.

Interested candidates should send resume to:

Quarterback
UT Athletics
P.O. Box 15016
Knoxville, TN 37901-5016

BuckheadVol1 writes:

Stay the course Crompton! Someone please give this young man public speaking lessons.

winbigvols writes:

Crompton, you don't have a clue. Worst quarterback we have ever had start at UT. I would rather have Nick throw 2 interception for touch downs than to hear you be interviewed.

If I was Fulmer I would also tell my offensive cordinator, if you call him that, I never wanted to see him again. He has ruined his legacy. In just 11 months of working at UT. Fulmer you deserved a better exit but the hire of Clawson was the worst hire ever at UT. Trooper Taylor could have done a better job and I hate to say that. It is what it is and we just need to move on.

pms151 writes:

Seasons not over yet. We still have to watch the tape and work like heck.

SandySpringsVol writes:

Prediction:

Vanderbilt 17 Tennessee 7
Kentucky 31 Tennessee 6

Worst season in Tennessee history at 3-9.

seaplane#216536 writes:

Still think it's a bad idea to put the green jersey on the quarterbacks during spring and fall practices. When they know they're not going to get hit the wrong kind of confidence is gained. When the live bullets start showing up, they panic, resulting in what we've been seeing all season.

khelton657 writes:

in response to winbigvols:

Crompton, you don't have a clue. Worst quarterback we have ever had start at UT. I would rather have Nick throw 2 interception for touch downs than to hear you be interviewed.

If I was Fulmer I would also tell my offensive cordinator, if you call him that, I never wanted to see him again. He has ruined his legacy. In just 11 months of working at UT. Fulmer you deserved a better exit but the hire of Clawson was the worst hire ever at UT. Trooper Taylor could have done a better job and I hate to say that. It is what it is and we just need to move on.

Not a big Trooper fan here but he would certainly get in their faces when they screwe up or laid down on him, something none of the present coaches will do...and the view never changes.

givehim6 writes:

in response to SandySpringsVol:

Prediction:

Vanderbilt 17 Tennessee 7
Kentucky 31 Tennessee 6

Worst season in Tennessee history at 3-9.

I second that prediction. I came up with a solition, some one with PR needs to contact Vandys and UK's athletic departments and work out a deal that we will surrender on terms that the record shows 14 to 7. All our offence seems worried about is not being shutt out anyway. That way all we have to worry about is finding a new HC and get ready for 2009.

VolsorCat writes:

Even without the Fulmer dismissal, this team still struggles yesterday. Planning for next year needs to take place. If Coleman can't crack the lineup with the quarterback play we have seen thus far, we need to sign 3 QB's for next year and be clear that they won't see another snap. Playing the full second string, Wyoming shouldn't even be on the same field. NIU could have easily turned into a loss! UT was as inept in that game as every other game minus maybe MS State. There comes a point in time where PRIDE takes over and people suck it up. I don't care what is going on, PRIDE should push the players to better efforts. If not for UT and not for Fulmer, for their own internal PRIDE. Get your rears out there and play every play 100%. No interviews, no talking, just action on the field. There is no need for more interviews. This is a disgrace.

invisiblekid writes:

"We don't force balls backed up at Tennessee," Fulmer said.

Eric Ainge disagrees with that statement, pointing to the '05 LSU game as an example. Always the player, never the play-calling to the bitter end.

invisiblekid writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

It is now obvious that Phil's family is completely dysfunctional and flying apart at the seams. Stephens was thrown under the bus, Crompton claims it wasn't his fault. Better start BJ in two weeks cause those guys are likely to pick up the ball and go home in a huff.

What are you talking about? Crompton has a great career ahead of him as the wedge buster on kickoffs.

blitzshoot writes:

in response to SandySpringsVol:

Prediction:

Vanderbilt 17 Tennessee 7
Kentucky 31 Tennessee 6

Worst season in Tennessee history at 3-9.

Agree, no reason to think Tennessee will score more than single digits. ESPN reported last night that it was the first Tennessee team since 1964 to score signel digits in three straight games.

invisiblekid writes:

"I don't know what to say because we're out there busting our butts," he said. "For anybody to say anything - (receivers) dropped a pass here or they dropped a pass there, I don't want to hear that at all. I don't want to hear anything about the O-line this or the O-line that or the defense. I especially don't want to hear anything about the coaches. We were just trying to win the game and we came out on the short end."

In other words, Crompton doesn't want himself or the team to be coached and he doesn't want them to be accountable for the worst loss by this program in a generation. And here I thought Rick Clausen was as bad as it could possibly get for UT at QB. Shame on me.

invisiblekid writes:

in response to seaplane#216536:

Still think it's a bad idea to put the green jersey on the quarterbacks during spring and fall practices. When they know they're not going to get hit the wrong kind of confidence is gained. When the live bullets start showing up, they panic, resulting in what we've been seeing all season.

I don't know that it was so much the green jersey that was the problem. 1st team offense going against 2nd team defense and then forcing the defense to stay in base formations with no blitzing all Spring and Fall apparently didn't help.

movol53 writes:

in response to rabidvolfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yes this will probably be UT's worst football season ever (we still have two games to go) but Fulmer also took UT to a perfect 13 - 0 season. That had never been accomphished at UT before. This season saddly is just football karma payback for the perfect season.

QB_10 (Inactive) writes:

in response to tloutn:

Dave Clawson is the worst coach in the history of Tennessee football. See ya'.

I agree he is a deer in headlights...good luck coaching at UT-Martin, oh yes they won't want him either they put up 20 points on Auburn...

Bufforange00 writes:

What we need is a few Randy Sanders bubble screens and some Cutcliffe dink and dunk to build their confidence. They would make crompton look like moses collins.

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