Fighting but failing

UT rushes for 1 yard, falls to 0-3 in SEC

ATHENS, Ga. - The evidence was condemning, up one column of the stat sheet and down the other.

All the numbers added up to one obvious conclusion: Georgia dominated Tennessee Saturday at Sanford Stadium.

If there were any question lingering in the autumn dusk by the final horn, it was this:

Why wasn't it any worse?

The score, that is.

The 10th-ranked Bulldogs paraded up and down the field but somehow came away with a modest 26-14 victory over a UT team that seemed to be on the brink of getting routed.

Not that Georgia was complaining.

"I'm so thankful for this win, I can't even tell you,'' said Georgia coach Mark Richt. "I'm sure the Bulldog Nation is pretty excited.''

That's no doubt because the Vols had knocked off ranked Georgia teams the past two years.

No knocks this time.

Georgia (5-1, 2-1 SEC) remains in the thick of the Eastern Division race and remains on the fringe of the national championship picture.

Tennessee, meanwhile, continues its nosedive.

The Vols (2-4) begin an SEC season at 0-3 for the first time since 2000.

"I'm not going to do anything but keep fighting,'' said UT coach Phillip Fulmer.

The 2000 team kept fighting and won its final six regular-season games to earn a Cotton Bowl berth. A comparable about-face doesn't appear doable in 2008 for a team that remains in a deep offensive funk.

Georgia outgained the Vols 458 yards to 209, had 29 first downs to UT's 10.

The Bulldogs' offense was on the field 42 minutes, 4 seconds, compared to 17:12 for Tennessee.

"It's just unbelievable that we have struggled as much as we have struggled offensively,'' said an obviously distressed Fulmer.

Sophomore quarterback Nick Stephens, making his first SEC start and second overall, threw a pair of touchdown passes, to Gerald Jones and Lucas Taylor.

But the Vols were strictly one-dimensional. The running game produced a net 1 yard in 15 attempts.

"I don't know where our running game has gone,'' said Fulmer.

"They (Georgia) flat committed to stop it. That's what we've gotten the past two weeks and I'm sure that's what we'll get in the future.

"Nick competed. He made some plays and we rigged up some plays that worked fine. But he's not getting a lot of help from the running game.''

Stephens was 13 of 30 passing for 208 yards.

His first TD pass was a 2-yard flip to Jones and came three plays after a 60-yard bomb to Denarius Moore.

That cut Georgia's lead to 13-7 with 2:23 left in the half.

Then the Bulldogs muffed Britton Colquitt's kickoff and were pinned at the 3 to start a drive with 2:17 on the clock.

Despite all Georgia's numerical supremacy, Tennessee was on the brink of seizing momentum.

The next step? A defensive stop.

What happened instead was a 97-yard Georgia touchdown drive.

Stafford, who would go on to a career passing day of 310 yards, didn't need much help but he got it. First, Demetrice Morley, and then DeAngelo Willingham, were flagged for personal fouls, a net gift of 30 yards.

When Stafford fired a 9-yard TD strike to Mohamed Massaquoi with 9 seconds on the clock, Georgia was back in the driver's seat with a 20-7 lead.

"That drive killed us,'' said Fulmer, "absolutely killed us.''

It was typical, though, of Georgia's success moving the football against a UT defense that entered the game ranked fifth nationally.

The Bulldogs drove into the Tennessee red zone (inside the 20) on seven of their first nine possessions.

Punching it in the end zone, that was a different story.

Georgia's opening drive ended in a 1-yard touchdown dive by fullback Brannan Southerland.

Four others, however, ended in Blair Walsh field goals.

Two more ended in Tennessee interceptions.

The first pick, by defensive end Robert Ayers at the UT 15, set up the Vols' first scoring drive.

The second came in the third quarter when Eric Berry snatched a Stafford pass 6 yards deep in the end zone and decided to bring it out.

He raced 54 yards to the Georgia 46 before being tripped up.

"Bringing it out like that isn't what a coach would (want to) do,'' Fulmer said. "He may have seen an open field. I'm glad he did.''

Given the short field, UT's offense managed a brief spark. Stephens completed passes to Jones and Taylor, then found Taylor in the end zone from 12 yards out for the touchdown.

With 5:37 left in the third quarter, Tennessee somehow trailed only 20-14.

Georgia, however, went back to work, marching off an 11-play drive for another Walsh field goal and a 23-14 lead.

After a three-and-out by the Vols, the Bulldogs ground out a 17-play drive that consumed 10:55.

That it produced only a fourth Walsh field goal was incidental.

"We've been saying the last two weeks we've got to get off the field, but we didn't do it,'' said UT linebacker and defensive spokesman Ellix Wilson.

"Any time you're on the field that long, it's going to catch up with you. I don't care who you are.''

The losses are catching up, too. The Vols will try to change their momentum Saturday night when Mississippi State visits.

"This is all we've got,'' said Berry. "We don't have no choice but to bounce back.''

Mike Strange may be reached at 865-342-6276.

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Comments » 192

MANVOL writes:

Defense could not get themselves off the field. We will never know how the season could have turned out if Phil had not been stubborn and replaced crompton in the UCLA game. Stephens has some swagger to him. Sorry Phil wish you could have turned it around. enjoy retirement. Bryan Kelly the Bruce Pearl off the grid iron would be a great hire,...

WYLOVER writes:

UT is a debacle.

VWCJR writes:

For Heaven's sake people, the problems are quite simple:

1. Lack of discipline;
2. A nauseatingly cavernous gap in talent with Top 20 teams caused by no less than 7 years of weak recruiting (Yes, weak recruiting! All the people who say "Fulmer sure can recruit" must care more about what Rivals.com says than the Florida, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Alabama scoreboards.)
3. Lack of team/player leaders (see 1 and 2)

I have been a Fulmer defender for 15 of his 17 years but I cannot defend him or anyone on his staff any longer (Sorry Chief) because the only way to correct the problems is to sweep the program clean. (See Bruce Pearl for reference. Remember? Pearl came here and started kicking players off the team immediately because he had a vision.)

Fulmer no longer runs the Football Program. It runs him. His successor list should be very short as we cannot afford to experiment with OC's/DC's or coaches who have a "good year". We need a program builder, nothing less:

1. Bob Stoopes;
2. Butch Davis;
3. Mack Brown;
4. Frank Beamer.

Fulmer's buyout is $5.8 million. If we need a bridge coach to get us through a couple of years until we can pay him what he has earned and pay a one of the coaches above enough to lure him away; I suggest Cutcliff for help in discipline or Tommy Bowden for a recruiting name. Neither of these guys should have more than a two year K loaded with incentives. If the program clicks, great. If not, we go after the Men of the Game.

God bless the team, players and coaches. It's strictly business. UT Football is the only real Football interest in the State. Ask yourself as a fan, what would you rather have? Three Titan Superbowl Rings or another UT National Championship? Thanks. I've said enough.

linebam writes:

Officiating didn't beat us... but it was BAD!

adah398 writes:

***Warning*** The article below will scare you. I agree with it, Fulmer is here to stay.....we might as well get used to it. Bring on basketball season!

http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.d...

kesterja#235578 writes:

The officiating was, indeed, a debacle. But, so was our offense, and outside of the red zone, so was our defense. What a butt-kicking we just took! It is truly discouraging when we can't get more than one yard rushing. And our O-line is the strength of the team?

kantanuuv writes:

I looked good in my Red n Black cap this afternoon. And for at least the next week the Dawgs will be my new favorite team in the world.

A gutsy performance on the part of UT's power smash-mouth running "attack" - one single hard-fought yard to be proud of.

Remember before the season began, and Mr. Foster needed 450-some-odd yards to become the all-time rushing leader at UT, and it was all just a formality? After chipping away at that record with 3 yards against the Dawgs, I think he still needs about 400 yards six games into the season. Never fear - the November Creampuffs are on the horizon, and he will undoubtedly own that career record (which amounts to one good year from a Wisconsin running back). Next year we'll be enjoying Mr. Foster's dazzling style in the Arena Football League.

What is more amazing is that Mr. Foster, while juking and driving and spinning to travel all those 3 yards, didn't fumble. You all can be proud of these little moral victories as the UT program enters a rebuilding decade.

Mr. Fulmer (sill your head coach, I understand) may be a bit peeved about no fumbles, because that performance didn't really quite fit the current UT system: ball control offense to the opponent's 2-yard line followed by a strategic fumble to "pin 'em deep," personal fouls on defense to keep the strength of the team on the field, and frequent 3-and-outs to wrangle the recovering alcoholic punter 2nd Team All-SEC honors

Now where is my Mississippi State cap...?

eduardo writes:

Best effort, officiating was a debacle. You guys are in total denial. This team offensively only got 1 yard rushing. Lucky to have gotten 14 pts. No sustained drives. A qb who completed only 13 passes for 200 yds. A defense who cant get off the field and gave up 500 yds of offense. Now how can you say that team gave a quality effort? This coach has got to go. Coacho Oacho must go!

Colliervol writes:

in response to VolnFlorida:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Did the "bad calls" cause that ONE YARD RUSHING? Or the legitimate stupid Personal Foul penalties on Williams and Willingham? Or the 10 men on the field trying to punt? Or the offense continually going 3 and out and keeping our defense on the field for most of the game?

Spare me the excuses. I'm tired of them.

UTVolsFan writes:

How much more misery can Vol fans endure? Please Mike Hamilton, end this!

adah398 writes:

There are roughly 107,000 that attend a game at UT when we are worth watching. Fulmer's buyout is $5.8 million. If we all chip in, that would be $55 per person to get him out of here. Who should I make my check out to?

richvol writes:

I feel bad that Eric berry has to waste his eligibility on a Tennessee team this poor. With all the good athletes in this secondary it's a shame they aren't coached how to cover properly. Stafford really exposed the weak secondary technique that has been in effect at UT for years now.

The offensive line didn't make a hole at any time and were just plain whipped by Georgia. They are so ineffective it's sad.

Stephens did a commendable job and shows a lot of upside in spite of the O-line.

The defensive line played hard and well at times...I was really proud of Ayres.

It's scary to think what Alabama will do to us. The excess of penalties is a lack of discipline that can be laid at the feet of the coaching staff.

MANVOL writes:

in response to VWCJR:

For Heaven's sake people, the problems are quite simple:

1. Lack of discipline;
2. A nauseatingly cavernous gap in talent with Top 20 teams caused by no less than 7 years of weak recruiting (Yes, weak recruiting! All the people who say "Fulmer sure can recruit" must care more about what Rivals.com says than the Florida, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Alabama scoreboards.)
3. Lack of team/player leaders (see 1 and 2)

I have been a Fulmer defender for 15 of his 17 years but I cannot defend him or anyone on his staff any longer (Sorry Chief) because the only way to correct the problems is to sweep the program clean. (See Bruce Pearl for reference. Remember? Pearl came here and started kicking players off the team immediately because he had a vision.)

Fulmer no longer runs the Football Program. It runs him. His successor list should be very short as we cannot afford to experiment with OC's/DC's or coaches who have a "good year". We need a program builder, nothing less:

1. Bob Stoopes;
2. Butch Davis;
3. Mack Brown;
4. Frank Beamer.

Fulmer's buyout is $5.8 million. If we need a bridge coach to get us through a couple of years until we can pay him what he has earned and pay a one of the coaches above enough to lure him away; I suggest Cutcliff for help in discipline or Tommy Bowden for a recruiting name. Neither of these guys should have more than a two year K loaded with incentives. If the program clicks, great. If not, we go after the Men of the Game.

God bless the team, players and coaches. It's strictly business. UT Football is the only real Football interest in the State. Ask yourself as a fan, what would you rather have? Three Titan Superbowl Rings or another UT National Championship? Thanks. I've said enough.

Bryan Kelly: the Bruce Pearl of the Grid Iron. The cincinatti coach has won at every level.

TommyJack writes:

in response to adah398:

***Warning*** The article below will scare you. I agree with it, Fulmer is here to stay.....we might as well get used to it. Bring on basketball season!

http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.d...

Wow. Read it and weep.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

It is simple. The Fulmerites have what they wanted.

Just to stir the dying embers of a football program.

They can no longer turn their head.

Ennui...

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Wow. Read it and weep.

I was close. Sadly.

stormblast writes:

Personal fouls didn't help things.

Deangelo, forgets he's playing football and decides to ride the Georgia player as if he was in a rodeo.

Gerald Williams forgets he's playing football and thinks he's fighting Kimbo Slice.

Cooler heads didn't prevail in this.

Penalties hurt (the fair ones and the lame-duck disgraceful officiated ones too). But, here's what really failed us:

1. Our offense can not sustain any kind of drive. Stephens, thank you Nick, is trying. He's getting no help on the field.

2. Our coaches can not call any kind of plays at the appropriate times (how many 3 and outs did we have again?).

3. Our defense was on the field way too long again. Georgia had the ball over 42 minutes...unacceptable. Eric Berry...warrior.

4. Penalties, penalties, penalties.

5. Our coaches are one thing...but if our players can not play sound, fundamental football...then they should not have even rec'd a scholarship.

We need Will Muschamp. If not him, Butch Davis, Jim Levitt, Paul Johnson.

Pathetic.

GREEKDAWG writes:

You are right the officiating was bad holding in the end zone should have been a first down and not half the distance to the goal sosubtact three form UGA score and add seven,,,Classless act By Gerald{Mike Tysonish}Williams,,GOOD LUCK THE RST OF THE WAY!!!!!!!!P>S.saw PHat Phil and Chavis waddling in to the Golden Corrall in Athens

hogan writes:

For any human being to get on this or any other site and talk about improvement, effort, or any thing positive about the GREAT PUMPKIN, you have to be an idiot, or mentally challenged. Phil has finally taken us to the WORST team in the sec.

Colliervol writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Agree plasticman. I'm trying my best to figure out how the coaches thought Crompton was better than Stephens if they were watching the same things in practice that I've seen the last two games. Just another in a long line of "playing favorites" or playing the upperclassman who's paid his "dues". Never mind that Stephens is obviously the more talented QB.

TommyJack writes:

VWCJR: A bridge coach is really an incredibly bad suggestion.

Colliervol writes:

in response to TommyJack:

VWCJR: A bridge coach is really an incredibly bad suggestion.

Ditto TJ. And so is Skip Holtz or Tommy Bowden. Sheesh.

jandjhome#228397 writes:

I guess this means we won't be going to a bowl.

orangecountry21 writes:

I agree with richvol. I feel soooo sorry for Berry.

Colliervol writes:

in response to adah398:

***Warning*** The article below will scare you. I agree with it, Fulmer is here to stay.....we might as well get used to it. Bring on basketball season!

http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.d...

With all due respect to Mr. Climer, Phil got the chance to "fix Vol ball" after 2005 and he deserved that chance. After three years, where are we now? No closer to it being fixed, that's for certain. Why should he get another 2 to 3 years to fix it?

Like him though, I do wonder if the powers that be have the stomach to do what's needed and also where the money will come from in the economic climate we are in.

TommyJack writes:

in response to Colliervol:

Ditto TJ. And so is Skip Holtz or Tommy Bowden. Sheesh.

yessir

DarthVol writes:

Never fear. Anger/frustration eventually turns into apathy. At that point, none of this will matter.

As I stared into the abyss today (lately referred to as the *tv* when the vols are playing) I realized...I'm very close.

Stumps writes:

in response to adah398:

There are roughly 107,000 that attend a game at UT when we are worth watching. Fulmer's buyout is $5.8 million. If we all chip in, that would be $55 per person to get him out of here. Who should I make my check out to?

I'll be at the Miss St. game, it's our annual trip to TN. I'll pitch in $165 for me and my 3 kids. We're already spending $$ on the hotel, tix and Calhouns ribs, oh, and Mary's Hot Tamales.

ckcacopelan writes:

Folks, give me a break. Did you know the the following?

1. This Senior class was the #1 SEC and National recruiting class.
2. The last 4 years (before this game) UT has won 54% of it SEC games.

This is not officating issues. This is not player recruitment issues. This is a coaching issue. I have defended Phillip for many years but the facts are what they are, we are on a serious decline.

The issue we should be concerned about is want impact will this decline have on the other sports. Luckily basketball is projected an increase but will it be enough to compensate for the loss on the football side. Finding a Bruce Pearl on the football side will be tough ( the Bearcat coach is not that person).

Lastly, I ask this to every one, are you excited about UT football more this year than you were a year ago? 2 years ago? 10 years ago?

Doobz15 writes:

in response to adah398:

***Warning*** The article below will scare you. I agree with it, Fulmer is here to stay.....we might as well get used to it. Bring on basketball season!

http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.d...

I heard from a source very close to the inside that there are a number of rich alumni who are willing to pay for a buyout of Fulmer's contract. One in particular who said he would buy it out himself. Money is not the issue. His job is not safe.

olozbal#646632 writes:

Anybody else already doing the "man, I bet we'll be pretty good next year" game? With Stephens, Hardesty, Jones, Berry, etc. we should be better. I know it's lame already writing off this season but I'm used to it.

I love to watch Eric Berry play. The guy is a bullet, one of those guys who come along every now and then you know is a sure NFL player. Now I just watch him play instead of our lame team.

Anybody else notice whenever Fulmer is yelling at players they just ignore him and give him a look of utter disrespect? Wow.

imw8n4u writes:

I think I only cheered 5 times during the whole game:

1) First Play
2) Ayres' Int
3) Stephen's Bomb
4) Berry's Int
5) Berry's KO on Moreno

What a horrible waste of a beautiful October day in TN

sbgovols#218409 writes:

in response to adah398:

There are roughly 107,000 that attend a game at UT when we are worth watching. Fulmer's buyout is $5.8 million. If we all chip in, that would be $55 per person to get him out of here. Who should I make my check out to?

Please be sure to let me know when you find out. I might even offer to pay someone else's $55 share too.

sectionOMan writes:

Please Phil, do the right thing for the program and fall on the sword. We do not deserve to be put through this and watch the once proud tradition we have taken to a place it should never be. We realize now you took a few years off and your heart was not in it any longer. The players on the field are not competitive with the ones across the line from them and you owe it to them and us as fans to bow out gracefully before this gets any worse. You owe us that!

Doobz15 writes:

Did anyone watch the Oklahoma/Texas game? Did you notice the players on the sideline? They were standing and encouraging one another. Did you watch the Tenn/Georgia game? Did you notice that after our first 3 and out half of the Tennessee players were on a knee and had the look of a dying calf in a hail storm? There is zero discipline and leadership from our head coach. I hope for the sake of UT football that our AD notices the same.

stormblast writes:

in response to orangecountry21:

I agree with richvol. I feel soooo sorry for Berry.

Here, here.

Berry is a man playing on a team of children right now.

CRFVols writes:

can't wait to hear those words......It's BASKETBALL time ...in Tennessee!!!

sectionOMan writes:

RIP Tennessee Football....it was a good ride.

orangecountry21 writes:

Fulmer is out of here. Hamilton will take too much phooey to keep him.

RockyTopReign writes:

Bottom Line:

Offense sucked

Defense sucked

Special Teams sucked

Discipline sucked.

Colquit should not see the field again. a personal foul after being suspened?!?!?! always doing something to screw up.

Gerald williams, Willingham and Colquit should have to stand in the middle of the field while the whole team runs about 4 hours of sprints around them in practice.

Fulmer will not be fired and if you want him fired it will mean one and a half more years of misery.

john Gruden is the answer but may not be able to afford him

The only reason we had the no. 1 recruiting class 4 years ago was Crompton. That's what recruiting numbers means. Develop Players!!

JMP_Vols writes:

in response to adah398:

***Warning*** The article below will scare you. I agree with it, Fulmer is here to stay.....we might as well get used to it. Bring on basketball season!

http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.d...

Saw that article.

Climer's right. Clawson will be canned at seasons end and ultimately be the fall guy for the team's struggles this year.

Vol fans don't like accepting it, but realistically Fulmer will be back next year.

Colliervol writes:

As much as I hate to say it, the solution is to get a new, innovative, high energy coach that can get the job done. Phil is getting paid $2.4 million a year and I'd like you to tell me exactly what we are getting for that? Go ahead, I'm waiting.

The last I checked this is the first time we've been 0 and 3 in the conference in how long? We are on the bottom looking up at EVERY team in the SEC. Does that make you proud. Evidently, it doesn't take much to make you happy. Most of us, on the other hand, don't expect mediocrity for $2.4 million a year for the coach and a $90 million athletic budget.

Any more questions, bright boy?

Ralph_Crampton writes:

QUIT COMPLAINING YOU GUYS, THE VOLS ON THE VERGE OF BEING BLOWN OUT...INSTEAD BEGAN PLAYING IN THE TRADITION OF THE GREAT VOLUNTEER TEAMS OF THE PAST THEY BEGAN TO BATTLE AGAINST A TEAM THAT WAS MUCH SUPERIOR IN TALENT...AND A LITTLE HOME COOKING OFFICIATING HUNG IN THERE> IF YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT OUR TEAM AND COACHES, GET IN THERE AND COACH YOURSELF.

CRFVols writes:

in response to DarthVol:

Never fear. Anger/frustration eventually turns into apathy. At that point, none of this will matter.

As I stared into the abyss today (lately referred to as the *tv* when the vols are playing) I realized...I'm very close.

I already just don't care. I even missed kick off today as I was out with my daughter in no hurry to get home. I don't have game day jitters as before. I just don't even care. I sat tonight talking and watching tv realizing that our loss to UGA didn't even bother me...it was expected.

It's very sad that someone who's as big of a fan as me has come to this point. Someone needs to do something...and do it soon.

T4TXT4TN writes:

Why did we let Trooper Taylor go? He's a great coach. Our WRs & RBs were good when he coached them. I think Fulmer let him go bc he doesn't know what a good coach is or he knew and was worried about his job. I think Trooper should be an option to replace Fulmer next year. He'd be cheap and he knows our guys.

volsbandit writes:

in response to WYLOVER:

UT is a debacle.

absolutely right. don't blame the refs, geogia definitely didn't need any help. it should've been 21-7 at halftime. the whole coaching staff just needs to be fired. we need to start over...plain and simple.

thegreatpumpkin writes:

in response to VolnFlorida:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Crack legal in Florida now or are you just risking it??? Keep smoking that stuff and drinking that koolaid

volsbandit writes:

1 yard rushing?

ArmyVol writes:

This user will effective today no longer read or respond to posts made by Fulmerites regarding the Tennessee football program.
This refusal notice is based upon the following criteria: 1) I refuse to take fitness advice from fat people 2) I change the channel on TV when liberals
start talking about Capitalism 3) Recent scientific evidence has confirmed the earth is round 4) OJ is guilty 5) I don't drink kool aid offered to me by men who were
recently abducted by space beings 6) I've never been to a bar with Adam "Pacman" Jones 6) I've never played dungeons and dragons 7) I don't believe in the tooth fairy
or the Easter Bunny 8) There are no Miley Cyrus posters in my room 9) I can spell "mom" backwards 10) During the past month I have both read and comprehended a book.

Email Mike Hamilton. Don't get apathetic...changes have to be made.

RockyTopReign writes:

Does anyone else notice that we kind of tiptoe when taking the field. I guess hoping no one will see us. That drives me up the wall to see a team not fired up out of the tunnel at the start of the game or at the half.

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