Date story was published: Sunday, November 19, 2000
KNOXVILLE -- It was a fitting end.
In a football season that has seen the University of Kentucky do little right, the Wildcats came out and displayed all of their shortcomings in yesterday's 59-20 season-ending loss at Tennessee.
The Cats had all the bases covered. Let's go down the checklist:
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* Defense. The Cats didn't exactly give outgoing coordinator Mike Major a grand send-off. They missed tackles, got burned repeatedly in coverage and failed to stop the run.
All in all, the Vols compiled 590 yards of offense on 54 plays, a Tennessee school-record average of 10.9 per play.
UK Coach Hal Mumme thought Major's resignation last Monday could have an inspirational effect on his defense, but he had no such luck.
"I was kind of hoping it would (inspire), but it looked like we came out a little flat," Mumme said. "We played a lot of the younger guys, and I think they might have been intimidated a little bit."
* Offense. Once again, UK piled up a bunch of yards with little to show for it.
Quarterback Jared Lorenzen passed for 328 of the Cats' 426 net yards, but they only found the end zone twice. Lorenzen was picked twice, both times by safety Steven Marsh.
"We haven't been at peak performance all year," Mumme said. "So we don't know what that's like right now."
* Special teams. Not much help here, either. UK got pinned back to the 10-yard line on the opening kickoff before going three-and-out on its first possession.
An announced crowd of 106,437 braved 30-degree temperatures to watch the Vols dismantle the Cats with a steady dose of senior tailback Travis Henry (18 carries, 139 yards) and true freshman quarterback Casey Clausen (362 yards passing, four touchdowns).
Henry, who needed 135 yards to overtake James Stewart and become UT's all-time leading rusher, got the mark on a 13-yard gain with 13:43 remaining in the game and went to the sidelines for good.
"This was a great statement for him," Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer said. "I'm bursting with pride. This was really special because he has come so far and worked so hard."
Henry provided one of many highlight-reel plays for the Vols in the closing seconds of the first quarter when he took a handoff from Clausen, broke into the open field, stiff-armed Patrick Wiggins to the ground and bolted 53 yards for a touchdown to give the Vols a 21-0 lead.
"He's a lot stronger and a lot better than we thought he was," junior linebacker Ryan Murphy said of Henry. "He was making us look silly at times."
That was just one of many exhibitions in poor tackling by the Wildcats. On UT's first possession of the third quarter, David Martin caught a pass from Clausen in the middle of the field, broke through a slew of arm tackles and stumbled his way into the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown reception that put the Vols ahead 45-13.
Clausen completed 16 of his first 17 passes, with his only incompletion coming on a misread by receiver Eric Locke.
Tennessee scored on its first seven possessions and didn't punt until the 5:48 mark of the third quarter. The Vols had a comfortable 38-13 cushion at halftime.
Receiver Cedrick Wilson caught two touchdown passes in his final home game, and reserve running back Travis Stephens added an 80-yard scoring run with 6:48 left in the game.
"We knew as an offense we had a chance to make some big plays," Clausen said. "I was just trying to get the team in the end zone."
For Tennessee, it was the fifth straight win after a 2-3 start. The Cats, meanwhile, saw their season mercifully come to an end at 2-9.
"Now that it's over, I think we're all just shocked," senior running back Derek Homer said. "With all the guys we had coming back, and going to two straight bowl games, I never, ever, thought we'd lose nine games."
Major's resignation is just one of several expected moves among the coaching staff. Asked about any potential shake-ups, Mumme would only say, "We will look at our staff situation as expeditiously as possible."