‘Rocky Bottom’ latest tune at UT
Posted: Monday, November 10, 2008 3:59 pm
By: By BETH RUCKER, Associated Press Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — It’s hard to imagine things getting much worse for Tennessee.
Consider the week the Vols have had: They learned their beloved coach was being forced out at the end of the season, then they were unceremoniously dumped 13-7 by Wyoming with bowl eligibility on the line.
On homecoming, no less.
“You’re always disappointed when you lose a football game, and you’re particularly disappointed when you lose one that you should have won, or could have won,” coach Phillip Fulmer said. “It’s magnified and complicated by this chain of events of this week.
“You just don’t want to finish up that way.”
With Vanderbilt and Kentucky still ahead, the Vols (3-7, 1-5 Southeastern Conference) could still reach a new low. They’re one defeat away from the most losses in the program’s more than 100-year history. Before this season, Tennessee had lost seven games only once, in 1977.
Aside from tying the record for losses, these Vols hold several more dubious distinctions.
They’re the first to lose to a Mountain West opponent. Averaging just 16 points per game, they’re the least productive since the 1964 squad, which averaged 8 per game. That was the last season Tennessee had four games in which it scored in single digits.
The Vols have made 47 bowl appearances, the second most in NCAA history, but will fail to earn a bowl bid for the second time in four years.
Tennessee also hasn’t finished last in the SEC since 1954, a season when the Vols went 1-5 in the conference. Unless they can find a way to win in their last two games, that’s exactly where they’ll be.
“You win some, you lose some,” a downtrodden Jonathan Crompton said after Saturday’s loss. “We are going to do the very best we can to send coach Fulmer out with these last two wins against Vandy and Kentucky.”
With the way the offense played against the Cowboys, nearly a four-touchdown underdog, wins against the SEC East Division foes hardly seem likely.
The Vols handed Wyoming, which averages a Football Bowl Subdivision-low 11.8 points per game, 13 points. That was all the Cowboys needed.
On the first drive of the game, Mike Neuhaus picked off Tennessee quarterback Nick Stephens and ran 55 yards before being tackled at the Vols 4. On the next play, Stutzriem rolled out of the pocket and tossed to Greg Genho in the end zone.
Stephens was picked off by Ward Dobbs with 9:03 left before halftime, and Dobbs’ touchdown gave the Cowboys a 13-0 lead. Jake Scott missed the extra point attempt after missing a 31-yard field goal try wide left earlier in the quarter.
Looking for something to prod the offense after Stephens’ second interception, Tennessee went to Crompton, who began the season as the starting quarterback.
After a few successful running plays, Crompton underthrew a pass, was sacked for an 8-yard loss and overthrew Austin Rogers on third-and-19, drawing boos from the Tennessee fans. Crompton finished 11-for-27 for 91 yards.
Fulmer said he would use Tennessee’s off week to consider his options at quarterback before facing Vanderbilt and Kentucky, his last two games after 17 years at the helm.
“Right now, we’ll look at anything,” he said.