Changes needed in Knoxville

By Wes Holtsclaw

STAR CORRESPONDENT
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   ATLANTA - Considering the circumstances, could things be any worse?
   Tuesday's night's 30-3 loss to Maryland was the first time the University of Tennessee Volunteers have been held without a touchdown in a bowl game since 1957.
   The 27-point loss is the largest ever for the Vols in a post-season matchup. Then there's an 8-5 season after being ranked third in the nation coming into the year, and becoming the national football laughing stock of national media.
   The Tennessee Volunteers earned an 'F' all around for their play Tuesday night at the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. But if any of us had watched carefully all season long, the clear indications were there.
   From the beginning of the season, fans had riddled the team and criticized offensive coordinator Randy Sanders.
   After this game, it is evident that several shakeups need to be made in the Tennessee coaching staff by next season, or the Volunteers will be playing to the level of Vanderbilt.
   With the offensive talent that has come through Knoxville the past few seasons, there have been national championship caliber squads come through and fall.
   Many people blame injuries to the team as an excuse. However, the Volunteer defense was still ranked 8th in the nation coming into this game.
   With linebacker Eddie Moore missing the contest Tuesday, the Vols had 19 different starters miss 71 total games. The bulk of those were defensive starters.
   Therefore, where do you point the blame? Exactly, like I said earlier, the offense.
   Many people believe Sanders has done a great job at Tennessee and credit him with the big National Championship win.
   However, had Sanders held the position that entire season instead of current Ole Miss head coach David Cutcliffe, chances are the Vols would've never brought the trophy home.
   Tennessee only beat two teams with winning records this year, and the Vols were trailing a poor Rutgers team at halftime.
   The Volunteer offense has struggled considerably, while the defense has given solid efforts throughout the majority of its contests under Tennessee coach Philip Fulmer.
   The credit to the past successful Tennessee teams has to go back to Cutcliffe's reign in Knoxville, as his offensive coaching methods were used up until the last two seasons.
   Coach Fulmer is one of the best in the nation, but his ability as an offensive style head coach is also questionable since he was an offensive line coach before he took the position.
   Although many Vol fans were lobbying for the alternative choice, you really can't blame Jason Witten's decision to possibly turn pro after a season like they just had.
   With teams such as Fresno State, Marshall, Miami, Auburn, Alabama, Florida and Georgia on the schedule next year, what makes you think Tennessee is going to be any better?
   We can all hope for better results, but until some desks are emptied in Knoxville, there will be a lot of empty seats in Neyland Stadium.
   So Doug Dickey, Coach Fulmer, do what's best. Move Randy Sanders back to quarterback coach and get someone in there who can successfully run that offense!