Offensive ineptitude: Drives stall close to end zone; Gamecocks capitalize

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley talks with quarterback Justin Worley (14) during first half action against South Carolina at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011.  (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2011

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley talks with quarterback Justin Worley (14) during first half action against South Carolina at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Game recap: South Carolina 14, Tennessee 3

AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers misses a catch near the end zone as South Carolina cornerback Marty Markett defends on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS/2011

AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers misses a catch near the end zone as South Carolina cornerback Marty Markett defends on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

Michael Patrick/News Sentinel
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley gestures during the first half of the Vols' game Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2011

Michael Patrick/News Sentinel Tennessee coach Derek Dooley gestures during the first half of the Vols' game Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

Chalk up another brutal October third quarter for Tennessee. And this time add a cruel twist.

No. 14 South Carolina ground punchless Tennessee into submission, 14-3, Saturday night at Neyland Stadium.

The soundtrack on Tennessee’s 2011 season is still stuck like a broken record.

The Gamecocks gobbled up nearly the entire third quarter with a 20-play, 98-yard scoring drive that lasted 11 minutes and 35 seconds and included six third-down conversions.

Connor Shaw got the final 5 yards on a quarterback draw for a 14-3 lead that appeared — and was — insurmountable given Tennessee’s inept offense.

“We’re not very good at anything,’’ said Tennessee coach Derek Dooley. “We’re not very good to beat anybody unless we get some things corrected.’’

Dooley digested an evening that produced only 186 yards of offense, a 2-of-14 third-down conversion rate and — for the second consecutive game — zero touchdowns.

Freshman quarterback Justin Worley struggled in his first start, hitting 10 of 26 passes for 105 yards. He was intercepted twice to nix scoring opportunities.

“Justin had a tough day out there,’’ Dooley said.

“We didn’t help him. We didn’t run the ball.’’

They tried: 21 attempts for 35 yards.

South Carolina could run it: 53 times for 231 yards.

The Gamecocks’ clinching drive started at their own 2. And here’s the cruel part — the Vols got there on Prentiss Waggner’s interception and 54-yard return but couldn’t take advantage.

Waggner picked off Shaw on the first possession of the second half and thrilled a crowd announced at 96,655 with a return that seemed destined to reach the end zone.

Maybe UT was going to exorcise its third-quarter ghosts in one electrifying play.

However, Waggner was tackled 2 yards short of the goal line and that 2 yards was more than Tennessee’s offense could handle.

After Tauren Poole was stuffed for a loss, South Carolina’s D.J. Swearinger made a diving interception at the 2 of a pass from Worley.

It wasn’t the first time in the game the Vols had first-and-goal and couldn’t negotiate a touchdown.

South Carolina fumbled away a punt return in the first quarter at the 18, after which Tennessee arrived at the Gamecocks’ 6, first-and-goal.

All that came from it was Michael Palardy’s 22-yard field goal.

“If you’d said before the game,’’ said Dooley, “that we hold ’em to 14 and the defense gives the offense the ball twice in the red zone I’d have taken that in a heartbeat.’’

Instead, more heartbreak.

The outcome left Tennessee (3-5, 0-5 SEC) with a four-game SEC losing streak in October for the second consecutive year.

During that stretch the Vols have been outscored 49-0 in the third quarter.

South Carolina (7-1, 5-1) remains in the driver’s seat in defense of its SEC East title.

The Gamecocks are 4-3 against Tennessee since Steve Spurrier took over in 2005.

“Well,’’ said Spurrier, “we won the ballgame somehow.’’

Carolina has lost All-SEC tailback Marcus Lattimore for the season but fill-in Brandon Wilds did a fair impression in his first start, rushing for 137 yards on 28 carries.

Wilds’ only blemish was a fumble that gave the Vols one last chance at redemption in the fourth quarter. It too fell empty.

A.J. Johnson recovered a Wilds fumble at the South Carolina 28 with 12:27 to play and UT down 11 points.

On the Vols’ first snap, Worley threw toward the goal line where Stephon Gilmore made the interception for a touchback.

“We had three huge defensive stands that they could have gotten 21 off of, or 17,’’ said Spurrier.

“They had three chances to score. We had two and we managed to get touchdowns.’’

The second interception was Worley’s exit. Matt Simms took over for UT’s last possession.

It produced three first downs but ended on a fourth-down incompletion with 6:33 to play, confirming another no-touchdown result.

UT, in fact, has produced only two touchdowns in the past four games, clearly missing injured quarterback Tyler Bray.

“We’re a very different team on offense now,’’ Dooley said. “Very different.’’

The first half ended 7-3. In short, South Carolina took full advantage of its best opportunity and Tennessee did not.

Tennessee had excellent field position throughout the first quarter but did precious little with it.

The first break fell UT’s way when South Carolina fumbled a punt return and John Probst recovered at the Gamecocks’ 18.

The Vols did advance for a first-and-goal at the 6, but got only the field goal.

South Carolina got a short field for its touchdown, thanks in part to a 27-yard Palardy punt.

It all came down to fourth-and-1 at the 23. Spurrier won.

The Vols sold out on stopping the run but Shaw rolled out and fired to a wide-open Rory Anderson for the touchdown.

Tennessee shoulda, coulda, woulda answered. Worley laid out a pass for what would have been a 44-yard touchdown to Da’Rick Rogers, but Rogers couldn’t make the catch.

“It’s kind of hard not to point fingers,’’ said defensive tackle Malik Jackson. “But we’re a team.

“We win as a team and we lose as a team.’’

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Comments » 421

UT2006 writes:

worst ut team i have ever seen

1volfanatic writes:

awful!!!

Billy_the_Kid writes:

We should have worn the black jerseys tonight we could not have looked any worse anyway.

tombo7 writes:

"Thank you, sir. May I have another?"

SUPERVOL writes:

Wow, our inept Vols have lost yet another game that was winnable if we had coaches who knew how to alter a gameplan when it isn't working. Worley should have been pulled in the 2nd Quarter to at least settle him down. We are like a hapless boxer going in the ring with the World Champ with this coaching staff!

KFDLaw writes:

We are the new Vanderbilt!

volsbandit writes:

I'm glad I took the gamble like CDD does with not going to the game....That was the worst coaching I've seen yet. Not getting a bowl bid is a real possibility.

VolinCalif writes:

OK. OK. So we start with Ark. and run the table.

govols1234567 writes:

Dooley sucks. We should have tried Simms from the start. Let him get a shot at an average opponent. Just aweful coaching and not a very impressive team right now... sick of excuses

vol75 writes:

Tonight on Animal Planet- "When Trolls Attack."

ScottEmge writes:

Go get Urban Meyer before someone else does and pay him whatever he needs to be our coach.

ETownVol writes:

Watching this team is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Love the Vols... just being realistic.

Gmoney58 writes:

We suck and it's not gonna change anytime soon.

TNORANGEDOGDAD writes:

Mammas don't let your babies grow up to be Tenn. Coaches
Let em be doctors and LAWYERS and such.

ACWLY writes:

What a pathetic effort, and the most disturbing thing is we keep getting worse and worse. Like it or not that stems from poor coaching. I've been a faithful Dooley fan but something is sadly wrong at Tennessee.

RomanRoomRedux (Inactive) writes:

A conclave of idiots

An idiot head coach, Dooley, with an idiot staff.

Idiots who pay the idiot Dooley 2 million a year.

Any idiot here who thinks what we just witnessed in in any way progress.

lowerbamavol writes:

we had ball on 18, 2, inside 30 2 other times and we get 3 points. I thought worley was right decision but i was wrong. i have no doubt that we would have won with Sims. And probably would have been up by 14 at half. worst offense i ahve ever seen. receives suck other #13, running backs are sunbelt level and qb is aweful. and then to top it off, playing calling is so predictable. have they ever heard of a roll out?

greg03#259145 writes:

I think it's time for the c-staff to get fined for stupid play calling(off@def)these young guys have enouth probs.w/o dumb calls they shouldn't be expected to make.

acd4476 writes:

love dooley's comments about the offense...""We fought 'em hard, but we're a mess on offense." Spoken like a true lawyer! He forgot to mention that the coaching staff is a bigger mess. A simple screen play would have torched the SC defense tonight in the 4th quarter

Vol-in-GA writes:

Sad, we are getting worse as season continues. 5-7, is probably very realistic this year.

TNORANGEDOGDAD writes:

in response to volsbandit:

I'm glad I took the gamble like CDD does with not going to the game....That was the worst coaching I've seen yet. Not getting a bowl bid is a real possibility.

Don't deserve a bowl bid and I don't know why we are even on TV.

rdrgtr writes:

I have been a huge UT fan my whole life. With the issues in basketball and the enormous dropoff in football, I think I am going to give UT athletics a break. It looks like I am not alone. 20 thousand plus empty seats at Neyland says I am not alone.

volsbandit writes:

in response to ScottEmge:

Go get Urban Meyer before someone else does and pay him whatever he needs to be our coach.

Agree.......maybe we can learn something from Alabama. I sure never thought we could, but it looks like we can.

bigdisbig writes:

Absolute WORST Tennessee team to EVER take the field in modern era. Terrible play calling, terrible clock management and terrible coaching overall. Worley looks like another Crompton. Poole needs to start wearing a skirt for he runs like a girl.
Most pathetic showing yet this year. They keep getting worse..........Vandy is licking their chops no doubt!

jsmithnga#207674 writes:

I have tried to stay positive and not criticize our team however tonight we saw why Spurrier did not recruit Worley and either our offensive coaches are clueless or this is the worst SEC team I can remember. The positive however is that I did not mind losing too much as I did not want GA to win the east.

Gmoney58 writes:

I am embarrassed to be a Vol fan....My last penny spent on a ticket. We are a FN joke.

volpreacher writes:

Worley wasn't great but wasn't bad either. He made some freshman mistakes but made some really good throws. I think UT's line has let the team down all year. There's no reason to not be able to run the ball. Granted Poole isn't a great back, but he doesn't have many holes either. If you guys want to jump ship, go for it. No one is throwing you a life line when these guys grow up and start whipping everyone in the SEC. If UT gets the class they are currently recruiting to sign, UT will win SEC East next year, guaranteed. A healthy Bray and Hunter and experienced team. It's going to be fun. Frustrating now, but next year, we can celebrate. Meanwhile, win out Vols. You have the ability.

Billy_the_Kid writes:

Don't worry all, Dooley will turn it around next year, we just have to be patient, he will coach em up. Dooley has the proven track record, you can see the potential he and his staff have by the performance they put on this evening.

/sarcasm off

pingkr62 writes:

in response to vol75:

Tonight on Animal Planet- "When Trolls Attack."

I agree! Of course it's still early in the show. The tears are only beginning. G.B.O.!!!

acd4476 writes:

#13-arnett from Saginaw, MI. Needs to start. Sit Da'Rick until he realizes hwo to run a damn route. Kid doesn't give a $$$$ about TN, only himself now that Bray is out.

givehim6 writes:

in response to KFDLaw:

We are the new Vanderbilt!

And Vandy is the new UT. Is it time to play MTSU yet? I'm ready for a win.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to UT2006:

worst ut team i have ever seen

Agree. And I have been watching 49 years.

tn88volfan writes:

NO COMMENT.....go vols

fearthehound writes:

I think anybody can look at any of my posts and see that I am a huge Homer Vol...and I think any body could see from any of my posts that I am a big Dooley fan, but after this game I am starting to second guess myself. I watched this game and came away thinking we could/should have won by at least 10 points. This was BAD COACHING period. Worley should have been pulled after the third series----if he should have ever played at all. If Simms had played this game we would have won. I'm beginning to think Dooley is too arrogant for his own good.

thor60 writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

OK. OK. So we start with Ark. and run the table.

Are you kidding? Start with AK, that's another loss. Especially after their comeback win to Vandy today.

shorttail writes:

they pulled sims for worley why not pull poole for the water boy

florida-volfan writes:

in response to UT2006:

worst ut team i have ever seen

yes i agree, in my 25 plus years as a fan the worst ive ever seen. This may be the year kentucky breaks the streak and we will have our hands full with vanderbilt. Hell I'm even concerned about middle tennessee, thats not that bad of a football team. Holy cow it can get worse!

ssgdebity writes:

This is by far the worst ofensive output of the season. At 4 times inside the 5 and nothing. 2 stupid interceptions. The defense was giving the game to us. As everyone has seen we are officially sec bottom feeders. We might get lucky and go to the toilet bowl. This is pethetic

volpreacher writes:

in response to jsmithnga#207674:

I have tried to stay positive and not criticize our team however tonight we saw why Spurrier did not recruit Worley and either our offensive coaches are clueless or this is the worst SEC team I can remember. The positive however is that I did not mind losing too much as I did not want GA to win the east.

Other than being able to run, Worley looked better on his throws than the SC qb.

acd4476 writes:

in response to TNORANGEDOGDAD:

Don't deserve a bowl bid and I don't know why we are even on TV.

is it too early to get the brown bags out like the Vandy and Kentucky fans?

volsbandit writes:

in response to TNORANGEDOGDAD:

Don't deserve a bowl bid and I don't know why we are even on TV.

Yep, we'd get embarrassed anyway.

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

South Carolina loses it's two best offensive players and instead of imploding in on themselves, they rise to the challenge and win.

Where have I seen this played out before...oh, that's right, we played this song and dance in front of UF and UGA...and LOST.

Let the Carnival of Excuses begin!

lowerbamavol writes:

have been dooley supporter. but fact is, other than defense playing very hard, this team has not improved. we cannot afford to make a change unless we are guaranteed a big name coach but this is pretty sad. Between us and KY for worst team in league. unbelievable... how did we get this bad.

TheCopper writes:

It just became official! Vols Suck!

volpreacher writes:

in response to Billy_the_Kid:

Don't worry all, Dooley will turn it around next year, we just have to be patient, he will coach em up. Dooley has the proven track record, you can see the potential he and his staff have by the performance they put on this evening.

/sarcasm off

And you will graduate High School.
sarcasm

JBruce writes:

Think we can forget any chance of a bowl game this year. Vanderbilt will spank us! I'm really stunned at what I am seeing... I can't believe this is what we are getting from the University of Tennessee.... Pathetic!

thor60 writes:

We will not make it to a bowl game this year, so it will at least spare us the heartbreak we had last year's bowl..getting to be familiar theme.. wait till next year.

florida-volfan writes:

in response to givehim6:

And Vandy is the new UT. Is it time to play MTSU yet? I'm ready for a win.

I would not check a win against mtsu, now way

VolinCalif writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

Absolute WORST Tennessee team to EVER take the field in modern era. Terrible play calling, terrible clock management and terrible coaching overall. Worley looks like another Crompton. Poole needs to start wearing a skirt for he runs like a girl.
Most pathetic showing yet this year. They keep getting worse..........Vandy is licking their chops no doubt!

Ky?

TheCopper writes:

in response to ScottEmge:

Go get Urban Meyer before someone else does and pay him whatever he needs to be our coach.

Even though I agree with you, I don't think Meyer would come.

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