UCLA used some witch(Craft)

PASADENA, Calif. — The image was poignant.

There was UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft, surrounded by the media, talking about remaining calm. There, on the Rose Bowl’s giant video screen, was Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel being anything but sedate, whipping fans into a frenzy.

The reason for both photo ops could be seen in the faces of the Tennessee players as the 18th-ranked Vols trudged off the field after UCLA’s 27-24 victory in overtime Monday night.

“Look at Coach Neuheisel,” Craft said. “He’s driving them nuts.”

The emotion of the moment was oozing from Neuheisel, with a fireworks display as a backdrop, moments after Tennessee’s Daniel Lincoln hooked a 34-yard field-goal attempt wide left. It gave Neuheisel his first victory as head coach of his alma mater, with a soda pop bath from players a gooey reminder of the sticky situation his team had survived.

Yet, the level pulse Craft displayed in describing the game in monotone voice was just as symbolic.

Through the first half, Craft would drop back to pass and the Volunteers band would cue up “Rocky Top.” Four of his passes in the half were intercepted, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

Yet, it was Craft who was humming a merry tune at the end. He took the Bruins on two fourth-quarter drives that produced touchdowns, then waited out overtime. When Kai Forbath’s 42-yard field goal held up as the game-winner, Craft was unruffled in the postgame postmortem.

“I didn’t get rattled at halftime,” Craft said. “I have played this game before.”

Besides, he said, “the whole team came to me and said, ‘We got your back.’ Guys came up to me before the start of the second half and said the same thing.”

Comforting words that led to a half of discomfort for the Vols.

Craft completed 18 of 25 passes for 193 yards after halftime.

He drove the Bruins 80 yards, completing 6 of 6 passes for 71 yards. The drive ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Raymond Carter that gave the Bruins a 17-14 lead with seven minutes left.

It lasted five minutes, the time it took for the Vols to drive for a touchdown.

Craft shrugged when asked about the disappointment. “We went back to work,” he said.

He took the Bruins 70 yards, completing 6 of 8 passes for 66 yards. He finished it with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Moya that would have been the game-winner if the game had been Hollywood scripted.

But Lincoln, who had missed previous kicks from 51 and 55 yards, hit a 47-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.

"You know, if he’d made the kick in overtime to tie it again, we would have just gone back out there and tried to find a way to win," Craft said. “That’s what we do."

The Bruins indeed looked like survivalists. Their expectations before the game were low, with Craft, a community college transfer, at quarterback and an offensive line that was suspect.

Those fears played out in the first half. The Bruins were unable to run the ball, particularly after starting tailback Kahlil Bell was injured in the first quarter, and they finished with only 29 yards rushing. Craft was under near-constant pressure.

Neuheisel appeared to berate Craft on the sideline after each poor throw, especially after Nevin McKenzie returned an interception 61 yards to give the Vols a 14-7 lead with 23 seconds left in the half.

"He kept telling me, 'We can’t do that, you’re throwing too high,' '' Craft said. "He told me to settle down and take what they give us, go underneath. Coach (Norm) Chow (the offensive coordinator) and Coach Neuheisel made some great adjustments at halftime."

Neuheisel, though, said he never considered pulling Craft.

“I just went to him and said, ‘I threw four interceptions in my first game and (Coach) Terry Donahue waited three games before pulling me,’ ” Neuheisel said. “What was really gratifying was the kids rallying around him and believing in him.”

They had that luxury because the defense and special teams kept the game close.

Akeem Ayers blocked a punt and Sean Westgate returned it 17 yards for a 7-0 UCLA lead late in the first quarter. The Bruins’ defense bent at times but allowed only one touchdown through three quarters. Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton completed 19 of 41 passes for 189 yards.

“Defense is how we’re going to make our living this year,” Craft said.

Maybe, but it was Craft who cashed out a winner Monday.

“I love that guy,” defensive tackle Brigham Harwell said. “We believed in him and he showed we had a right to.”

© 2008 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 22

MidTennVol writes:

"He kept telling me, 'We can’t do that, you’re throwing too high,' '' Craft said. "He told me to settle down and take what they give us, go underneath. Coach (Norm) Chow (the offensive coordinator) and Coach Neuheisel made some great adjustments at halftime."

Can anyone deny we have our beloved PREVENT defense to blame for that fourth-quarter collapse? There it is, straight out of the opposing team's QB's mouth..."take what they give us, go underneath."

I'm no football coach or expert but I believe it's also sometimes called a "soft zone" where our corners play off the line giving receivers whatever they want short.

The idea is to not give up the big play over the top or deep (PREVENT that stuff -- BEND but don't BREAK).

One problem: the PREVENT defenes does not PREVENT short passes underneath -- slants and crossing routes, hitches, etc. So teams know to do that.

Yes, we PREVENT most bombs and long passing plays in the PREVENT defense. But we give up six, seven, eight shorter plays in a row, usually ending in six points with our defense back on its heels. We BEND all the way back to the goalline...and then some.

Every football coach in America who's ever watched us protect a lead knows that we ALWAYS fall into that PREVENT defense on late drives by the other's team's offense.

It makes me want to start laughing hysterically when I recall all the hype about this secondary over the past few weeks.

YES, they are PLAYMAKERS and ATHLETES. But, in my opinion, it's the SCHEME they are/were forced to play.

You had better believe that Norm Chow knew exactly what to do against our defense in the second half.

Being predictable on defense is just as deadly as being predictable on offense.

jadebuddy writes:

Yes we laid an egg at ucla...
But we installed a new offense, granted the results were bad.But Crompton is a first year starter whose confidence is going to be fragile
and booing and pissing and moaning will not improve that. UT has a young team we came away with very few injuries...except confidence..
UT played as bad as you can and still had a chance to win. Two weeks of practice and a much improved team will take the field against UAB

tngivem6 writes:

ban the prevent defense..you'd think Chavis would have learn from previous mistakes and loses from sitting back and making Joe Monatana's out of 3rd stringers...

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

3rd string QB with a 2nd string offense..ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!

TommyJack writes:

Am I the only one that noticed that Chief Chavis looked like he wanted to be somewhere else? Very inspiring. Not.

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

Clawson, Chavis and Foolmore had their pants around their ankles courtesy of Neuheisel, Chow, and Walker.

airship writes:

BOTTOM LINE. TOO MUCH CHOW FOR CHAVIS.

oldbasshead writes:

At first, I felt embarrassed by the loss, but today,not so much. Why? I don't think that anyone, who is not a UT fan, has any expectation that UT is an excellent football team. UT is perceived from the outside just like Miss St. or USC or Arkansas - a good team, but nothing special. Our boys played hard and the coaches did as good as they can do. From that stand point, I don't feel embarrassed anymore, just disappointed. I recently talked to a former Alabama player and I asked what he thought about UT. He said, "you don't go to UT if you expect to compete for championships". I think he is right even though we played in the SEC championship game last year because UT backed into that game after being killed by Florida, Alabama and Cal. Even the media recognized it by placing UT low in the current polls even though we had alot of returning players. I have also noticed that alot of UT's former players who graduated in the recent past are not fairing well in the NFL. Things are tough in college football and particularly in the SEC. UT is not in the uppper level of the SEC. Instead they are competing with Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Miss., Miss. St. Arkansa and USC for the middle ground and lower. Why, two things: 1) outdated coaching and 2) player talent not on par with talent in 90's. Will UT recover, not as long as Fulmer remains the coach. Will they take charge of the middle ground? Most likely for now, but not after Arkansas and Miss. St. get going.

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BigOrangeVol writes:

Cut and Erik would have hung 42 on that team. Now WE know what it feels like to be Dinked & Dunked into a loss.

Penalties and Third-Down Conversions killed us along with not turning UCLA mistakes into points.

I liked the new Offense and play-calling but our guys just didn't execute, period.

Oh well, it isn't a conference loss.

New QB, new OC and new playbook. The sun came up this morning; it will get better.

johnlg00 writes:

Scott, we saw almost nothing of Clawson's "new" offense. It seems clear that we decided not to tip our hand offensively, thinking we could win with basic stuff. The biggest offensive mistake was to go away from the running game when it was working, and ESPECIALLY when it was clear that that the passing game WASN'T working. I think Clawson is smart and hungry enough to learn from his mistakes. I am increasingly convinced that Chavis isn't and won't. CPF's loyalty to him, admirable in itself, is becoming a liability.

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

What happened to the "look" that Foolmore had in his eyes again for this year? He was rejuvenated, etc. ROTFLMGDAO!!!!!!!!!!!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

tngeoff - This geezer stands by his 7-5 predict from months ago.

You simply cannot ignore being outrecruited by the younger guns of the SEC. All you have to do is look at the scoreboards of the games. No one can make chicken soup out of chicken s###. They are doing the very best with what they have available.

Bet it was a long trip back, huh.

oldbasshead writes:

No way does Ga, Fla, LSU, Auburn or Alabama lose this game. USC, Miss St, Miss and Ky probably would have won. Vanderbilt and Arkansas would have lost. Where does that put UT.

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

Where is LargeMoronOragne and his bet that he put on the game and the season?

TommyJack writes:

Geoff: Not sure which one you mean.

Volalumnus writes:

It isn't that its too much chow.
Its too much Chavis.
Fulmer and Chavis need to go before the end of the season.

Doesn't anyone that makes decisions care about the UT football program anymore and not just poor ole Fulmer and Chavis?

These guys at very best now have split the vol nation.
They are no longer good for the program.

whistlinwingman writes:

I dont know why we are suprised or shocked about this. Chow and Neuhissel new that Chavis would give them the 10-12 yards over the middle with a lead in the 4th quarter. That is why the announcers kept saying that the UCLA coaches said,"If we keep it close in the 4th quarter we have a plan." I watched the game in flat AWE. UT was by far the most talented team on the field but were the LEAST prepared and WORST coached. For the past 4 or 5 years UT just cannot make adjustments. They come in with a game plan and if it works-good; when the other team makes adjustments-bad. I am just glad we will be the true underdogs for most of the SEC games we will play. Maybe they will pull an upset on FLA or GA and they will give Fulmer a raise and contract extension

Pac10Rules writes:

BOOYA !!!!
PAC 10 now 8-4 against SEC since 2000.
Wanna bet UCLA finishes worse than Cal did last year?
SEC is WAYYYY overated.
Y'all need to change SEC to Special Ed Conference.

TommyJack writes:

Geoff 12:35: I guess I have to, sorta, kinda.
Yes & No. OTOH, it was right up there among the WORST vol performances in memory. And I have a long (old) memory. Ricky and the Chow man had a great plan...but we did our part, believe me.
Would you agree?

gobigorange writes:

UCLA just used some piss poor defensive play calling to their advantage in 2nd half.

Laydbakvol writes:

Beat Florida and this will all go away.

budd#207344 writes:

Laydbak do you really think this team can beat florida? with what? a bat and gun?

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