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 KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -This isn't the kind of dream season Gerald Jones wanted.
The Tennessee receiver was involved in the team's rash of off-the-field disciplinary problems in the offseason. The offense has been inept, and Jones has struggled with an ankle injury.
Then he learned his beloved leader, coach Phillip Fulmer, was being pushed out after 17 years.
``This whole year feels like a nightmare to me. A bad dream,'' Jones said. ``I don't know what to do ... just get on my knees and pray about it.''
Tennessee players say their main goal now is to honor Fulmer by winning their last three games starting Saturday against Wyoming.
You can expect the Volunteers (3-6) to play at a different level against the Cowboys (3-6).
ople being frustrated.''
The frustration isn't just from Monday's announcement that Fulmer wouldn't return after this season. Tennessee's offensive problems have reached epic proportions in 2008.
With games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky to close the season, the Vols are just one loss away from only the second seven-loss season in the program's history.
The offense is on pace to become the least-productive in Fulmer's career. Tennessee is ranked 114 out of 119 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in total offense and scoring offense, averaging 272.4 yards and 17 points.
What's worse is the squad uncharacteristically hasn't shown improvement from the Vols' season-opening loss to UCLA to last week's embarrassing 27-6 loss at South Carolina.
``This year's been a bit different - not from a focus standpoint - but just because we haven't really been able to completely fix the problems of our offensive football team,'' Fulmer said.
Fulmer said quarterback Nick Stephens would still start on Saturday, even after being benched for a few drives against the Gamecocks for his reaction to his first career interception being returned for a touchdown.
Fulmer and offensive coordinator Dave Clawson were hoping that by returning Jonathan Crompton to the field, they'd inspire some better play out of one of the quarterbacks.
That didn't happen.
players focused on playing better instead of on their departing coach.
``You do what you do. We practice. We prepare. It's almost that the meetings and the practice are I don't want to say they're a diversion - but you've got to stay active and keep busy, and that's what helps you not think about what just happened,'' he said.
``And I think, to a man, everybody on our team, everybody on our staff wants to make sure that coach Fulmer goes out of here the right way. We just need to win some football games and have him leave here on a very, very positive and a very, very up note.''
A homecoming meeting with Wyoming might be the key to a better game.
The Cowboys are coming off their most productive game, a 35-10 win over struggling San Diego State. Their other two wins came against Ohio and North Dakota State - and most of their losses have been lopsided.
But, Wyoming did find a spark on offense behind redshirt freshman Chris Stutzriem, who started in place of junior Karsten Sween, who was recovering from an Oct. 25 concussion.
Stutzriem was 6 of 10 for 166 yards and a touchdown, earning him his second start even after Sween was cleared to play. Tailback Devin Moore ran for 234 yards and scored three touchdowns in the breakout win.
see those guys every week, so it's not anything new.''
Chavis' main concern is keeping his squad healthy. The defensive line has been especially plagued win injuries this season, with end Wes Brown struggling with a torn meniscus, tackle Walter Fisher playing with turf toe and tackle Dan Williams recovering from a high ankle sprain.
Backup defensive end Chris Walker and tailback Montario Hardesty are expected to sit out to aid recovery for injuries.
The Vols will be playing through pain, but don't expect any problems with motivation.
``I don't remember a moment where I just wanted to go play. I can't really explain how we feel. It's just crazy. I'm still kind of in shock, actually,'' defensive end Robert Ayers said.
``I go home and lay down, and I wake up in the morning like, 'Am I going to wake up from a dream?'''

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