Vol audio: Post-UCLA
- Phillip Fulmer’s post-game comments
- Defensive coordinator John Chavis talks about his defense’s effort against UCLA
- Dave Hooker interviews UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel about QB Kevin Craft’s turnaround
- QB Jonathan Crompton talks to the media
- Arian Foster talks about UT’s first half struggles on offense
- Dave Hooker interviews RB Montario Hardesty about his performance
- Dave Hooker interviews WR Josh Briscoe about UT’s offensive struggles
- S Eric Berry talks to the media about UCLA’s offensive turnaround in the second half
- C Josh McNeil discusses UT’s pass protection issues
Tennessee Stat Book
PASADENA, Calif. – All of a sudden these West Coast openers don’t seem like such a hot idea for Tennessee.
The script was different from 2007 but the ending was the same Monday night for the Vols after traveling across three time zones.
A year ago, UT came out on the short end of a 45-31 shootout up the coast against California in Berkeley.
This time, with a crowd of 68,546 watching at the Rose Bowl, UCLA scored a 27-24 upset in overtime when Daniel Lincoln’s 34-yard field goal sailed wide.
“I’m eternally grateful,’’ said UCLA’s Rick Neuheisel after his head-coaching debut at his alma mater. “It was a thrill to back on the sideline again.
“I’m grateful to the players for buying into the culture.’’
The 18th-ranked Vols (0-1) were a touchdown favorite but their culture on this evening included too many mistakes to put away the injury-riddled but pesky Bruins.
Tennessee barely got to overtime, as Lincoln hit a 47-yard field goal as time expired.
“We made enough mistakes tonight to lose three, four or five football games,’’ said UT coach Phillip Fulmer.
“Whether it was offensively, defensively or the kicking game … you can choose any one of them.”
UCLA went first in overtime, couldn’t move but took a 27-24 lead on Kai Forbath’s 42-yard field goal.
The Vols also failed to make a first down when a scrambling Jonathan Crompton was tackled at the 17.
That sent Lincoln back out to extend the game one more time.
The sophomore, who had already missed two long field goals in regulation, missed again and Tennessee was looking at a long trip home.
The Vols have an open date before UAB visits on Sept. 13.
“It did not come down to one kick,’’ Fulmer said. “You can’t put this on Daniel Lincoln.
“We just need to go back to work and see what we need to do to get better.’’
Monday night, not much happened offensively for either team in the first 53 minutes of regulation.
Then a lot happened in the final seven.
After trailing 14-7 at halftime, UCLA went ahead 17-14 on Raymond Carter’s 3-yard run with 6:51 to play.
Tennessee, which had been spinning its wheels in Dave Clawson’s debut as offensive coordinator, then drove 67 yards to retake the lead.
Montario Hardesty, who had scored from 11 yards out in the first half, went 20 yards this time and Tennessee led 21-17 with 1:54 on the clock.
The fat lady wasn’t ready to sing yet, though.
Instead, UCLA marched 70 yards for another go-ahead score.
Quarterback Kevin Craft threw four interceptions in the first half but he was finding only blue shirts in the second.
He hit tight end Ryan Moya for a 3-yard touchdown pass and the Bruins led 24-21 with only 27 seconds to play.
Crompton, struggling with his accuracy — 19-of-41 for 189 yards — hit two passes to hustle UT into position for Lincoln’s 47-yard field goal to force overtime.
The Vols had won six consecutive overtime games but their luck ran out this time.
Tennessee gained 366 yards in Dave Clawson’s debut as offensive coordinator and scored two offensive touchdowns, both by Hardesty.
The Vols other TD came when Nevin McKenzie returned a Craft interception 61 yards for a score just before halftime to put UT up 14-7.
“I don’t think we found any kind of rhythm on offense during the course of the evening,’’ Fulmer said.
UCLA amassed 388 yards of offense in Norm Chow’s debut as offensive coordinator, all but 29 of it on Craft’s passing.
UCLA also got an opportunistic score, when Sean Westgate returned a blocked Chad Cunningham punt 17 yards for a score in the first quarter.
Coming into the second half with a 14-7 lead, Tennessee seemingly was in control of the game. And it wasn’t too early for UT to start thinking another touchdown might be a knockout punch.
The Vols were on the verge, driving to the UCLA 6 on their opening possession of the third quarter.
However, Arian Foster fumbled and the Bruins recovered.
UCLA not only dodged the knockout, the Bruins’ offense came to life long enough to drive for a 41-yard Forbath field goal.
When the fourth quarter began, Tennessee’s lead, instead of growing, had shrunk to 14-10.
In short order, the Vols’ defense barely missed recording a safety, but Gerald Jones’ 33-yard punt return set up Tennessee only 26 yards from the end zone.
Instead of going forward, the Vols went backward when Crompton was sacked.
That’s when the real drama began.
The first half was a comedy of errors, though it’s doubtful either coaching staff was laughing.
Crompton threw one interception, fumbled a snap and was baited into a couple of false starts by UCLA’s defensive movement.
The worst gaffe, though, was in the punting game.
Facing fourth-and-6 at their 37 after two Crompton incompletions, Cunningham dropped into punt formation from his 37.
UCLA’s Akeem Ayers led a charge of Bruins that blocked the punt and Westgate scooped up the ball and raced to the end zone for a 7-0 Bruins lead.
Hardesty’s 11-yard TD run tied it. Late in the half, Lincoln’s second missed field-goal try, this one of 55 yards, left the Bruins 1:19 to kill.
They should have done just that. Instead, Craft tossed his fourth interception McKenzie’s way and the linebacker took it to the end zone.
The end zone, however, was a place the Vols didn’t visit often enough.
“These are things that are fixable,’’ Fulmer said.