B.J. Coleman due a shot?

In the late stages of Tennessee's loss to Wyoming last Saturday, one reporter turned to a writer from The Chattanooga Times/Free Press and said, "B.J. can't be any worse than this, can he?"

The reference, of course, was to B. J. Coleman, the redshirt freshman quarterback from Chattanooga who is stuck behind sophomore Nick Stephens and junior Jonathan Crompton this fall.

"I don't think so," The Chattanooga writer replied.

"It isn't possible to play worse than this," said another writer who overheard the question.

Several more writers nodded their agreement.

It's a safe bet that ringing endorsement from the press corps had no impact, but Coleman is about to get his first start of the season ... in Thursday's junior varsity game vs. Hargrave Military Academy. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 o'clock at Neyland Stadium. There is no admission charge but fans must enter through Gate 21.

Following the Wyoming debacle, Vol head coach Phillip Fulmer conceded that he and his staff will consider every option as they look to fix an offense that has scored just 22 points in the last three games – a 29-9 loss to Alabama, a 27-6 loss at South Carolina and the 13-7 loss to Wyoming.

If Coleman plays well vs. Hargrave, he conceivably could be starting again when the Vol varsity visits Vanderbilt Nov. 22. When your record is 3-7 and your head coach already has been forced to resign, what have you got to lose? And, as noted earlier, it would hard for Coleman to play much worse than Stephens and Crompton did vs. Wyoming.

Consider:

Starter Stephens completed just three of nine passes with two interceptions. On the first, he waited until the interceptor had a 20-yard head start to give chase. This enabled a plodding Cowboy defensive end to lumber 38 yards to the Vol 4-yard line, setting up a one-play drive for Wyoming's first touchdown. Stephens' second interception was returned 24 yards for a TD that proved to be the game-winner.

Crompton wasn't exactly stellar in his relief stint, either. His first pass, a flare to Kevin Cooper, landed at the fullback's feet. Three plays later, Crompton fumbled when sacked but Tennessee recovered. He finished with just 11 completions in 27 attempts for 91 yards.

Although the offensive line has been awful and the wideouts rarely have gotten separation, erratic quarterback play is a big reason Tennessee averages just 267.1 yards and 16.0 points per game this fall. To put that in perspective, the 2007 Vols averaged 401.5 yards and 32.5 points per game.

Crompton started Tennessee's first four games at QB, went 1-3, then gave way to Stephens, who has gone 2-4 in his six starts. Their poor play is clearly reflected in their statistics.

Crompton has completed just 50.6 percent of his passes with more interceptions (4) than touchdowns (3). His passer-efficiency rating is a woeful 93.73.

Stephens has been only a slight improvement, however. He is completing just 48.5 percent of his passes with 4 TDs, 3 interceptions and a 108.28 passer-efficiency rating.

Thus, that press-box question has some validity:

B.J. can't be any worse than this, can he?


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