"We had nine critical plays that were negative in the Georgia game," he said earlier today. "Of those nine, eight were killers. When you play a good team like Georgia and you have eight plays that absolutely kill you, you're not going to win the game.
"Maybe in years past, you could have eight bad plays but only one or two of those are costly. But it seems whenever we have a bad play, it's extremely costly and kills a drive."
Clausen didn't elaborate on which plays qualified as "killers" but two of them probably occurred on consecutive snaps in the second quarter. Down 7-0, the Vols drove to the Georgia 15-yard line. Bret Smith broke free in the middle of the Georgia end zone on second down but Clausen slightly overthrew him. Then Clausen was intercepted on third down, and the Vols came away without so much as a field goal.
Another "killer play" occurred when an 11-yard gain by Gerald Riggs to the Georgia 19-yard line was nullified by a 15-yard chop-block penalty against Vol center Rob Smith. Probably another killer play came on the ensuing snap, when Robert Meachem dropped a pass at the Bulldog 28-yard line that would've produced a key first down.
"We're playing pretty well as a whole," Clausen said. "We just have a few plays here and there that are killing us right now."
The Vols had better fix this problem if they hope to win Saturday's game at Alabama. The Tide, 6-0 and ranked No. 6 nationally, has enough defensive talent to stop Tennessee, so the last thing the Vols can afford to do is stop themselves. Clausen is hopeful the Big Orange will get its attack on track.
"Eventually, things will start clicking," he said. "Right now, they haven't been. That's unfortunate because we know what's at stake and know we can win football games. We need to keep plugging and keep focusing on the little things because it's the little things right now that are killing us."