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SEC Off To 0-1 Bowl Start Following Vols’ Implosion

As the seconds ticked away and Tennessee held a lead, tens of thousands of Vol fans chanted “S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C,” at last night’s Music City Bowl.

And then they saw their team lose its second game this year following a victory celebration.  Call it “LSU Part Deux.”  North Carolina’s 30-27 double-overtime win over UT was bizarre if nothing else.

By now you know the details:

* Tennessee took a 20-17 lead with just over 5:16 left to play, but kicker Daniel Lincoln got off a low extra point attempt that was blocked.  And when doesn’t that come back to bite a team?

* After holding UNC on defense, the Vols went conservative on offense.  Instead of trying to gain a first down, UT coaches chose to run the ball three times, force Carolina to call its final timeouts, and punt the ball back to the Tar Heels with 31 seconds to play.  Tennessee’s punt sailed into the end zone giving UNC the ball at their 20 and half a minute to get into field-goal range.

* On the first play of the drive, Carolina connected on a 28-yard pass down the right sideline.  The receiver appeared to juggle the ball, but replays were not conclusive enough to overturn what was ruled a catch on the field.  Making matters worse for Tennessee, safety Janzen Jackson was flagged for launching himself at the receiver’s back and leading with his helmet.  One play, 43 yards, ball on Tennessee’s 37.

* As Carolina drove deeper into field goal range, Vol linebacker LaMarcus Thompson was lucky not to be flagged 15 yards for an obvious late hit in which he too led with his helmet.  But that didn’t matter…

* UNC coaches called one last run play — with no timeouts and the clock ticking — to try to get their kicker closer.  But confusion reined after the ballcarrier was stopped.  The Tar Heel kicking team tried to come onto the field, then were shooed away — tick, tick, tick.  Finally, quarterback TJ Yates snapped the ball and spiked it with one second remaining on the clock.

* But officials said the game was over.  Tennessee celebrated.  Only… the game wasn’t over. 

* After a check with the replay officials, it was noted that UNC did spike the ball with one second remaining.  The Heels were flagged 5 yards for having too many men on the field during the spike, but there is no 10-second run-off rule in college football.  As a result, UNC nailed a game-tying field with no time remaining.

* After the play, Vol D-lineman Gerald Williams threw his helmet and was flagged.  Now, why was that helmet toss flagged and LSU’s T-Bob Hebert’s not (an issue that became a big sticking point for UT fans after the Vols’ last-second loss at Baton Rouge in October)?  At the time, SEC coordinator of officials Rogers Redding told that the game was believed to have been over in Hebert’s case.  Assuming the same logic applied last night, Williams did not think the game was over (at least not when he tossed his helmet).  His helmet throw came as the two teams prepared for overtime. 

The loss was a kick in the pants for Derek Dooley and his Vols.  What other team has celebrated not one, but two victories this year only to have them erased?

With the loss, Tennessee falls to 6-7 on the season.  It’s the first time since the founding of the SEC in the 1930s that the UT program has suffered three losing seasons in a six-year span.

Some reaction:

* The details of the game.

* The rulebook played a huge role in Carolina’s win.

* As noted above, the Vols had plenty of chances to ice the game.

* Everyone in orange flashed back to Tennessee’s loss at LSU.

* Dooley said he “had a bad feeling when that thing hit zero (the first time) — and I didn’t celebrate.”

* On the lack of a 10-second run-off rule, UNC coach Butch Davis said:  “Our game isn’t the NFL.  I think ESPN Classic will probably be showing this 100 years from now.”

* On the bright side for Tennessee, the Vols’ freshmen played well again.


Jo in Georgia
Jo in Georgia

Go VOLS!!! Hold your head high knowing you played well! Hell hath no furry..... watch my Vols in 2011!!!!!!!!!!


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