Nick benched for tirade, not pick

As upset as Tennessee's offensive coordinator was about the "pick six" his quarterback threw Saturday night at South Carolina, he was even more upset about the tantrum he threw afterward.

That's why, moments after sophomore Nick Stephens tossed the first interception of his college career – returned 68 yards for a touchdown by the Gamecocks' Stoney Woodson – Vol aide Dave Clawson ordered the sophomore quarterback to take a seat on the bench.

Stephens, who was blocked off his feet during the interception return, was shouting animatedly as he jogged to the sidelines after the play. The strong-armed QB was then benched – not because of his disastrous out route but because of his disturbing outburst.

"You're upset when you throw a pick," Clawson said. "As well as our defense has played, you hate to give up points on the board on offense. But, to me, the reaction to the interception was unacceptable.

"You just don't do that. It was embarrassing to see that reaction to it. After that, I did not want him taking the next snap. Hopefully, he learned a valuable lesson from it."

The coordinator was so displeased by Stephens' show of anger that Clawson inserted backup Jonathan Crompton at quarterback for the Vols' next three series. Tennessee managed one first down during this span – that coming when a pass ricocheted off Gerald Jones and was caught by Arian Foster for a 26-yard gain.

As Clawson noted: "Certainly, the switch (to Crompton) didn't help us at all."

Stephens apologized for his tantrum following the game, acknowledging that the outburst was juvenile and stupid.

"He should've," Clawson said. "That was inappropriate. You can't take back what happened. Hopefully, we don't find out again because, hopefully, he doesn't throw another pick six."


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