Late in the third quarter of Saturday night’s game between Tennessee and Vanderbilt, the Volunteers were staked to a 14-7 lead. On Vandy’s three-yard-line, UT appeared on the verge of adding a touchdown or at least a field goal to its lead. But Archibald Barnes stepped in front of a Tyler Bray pass at the goal-line, snagged it, and returned it 100 yards for a game-tying Vandy score. (Tennessee went on to win the game 27-21.)
But at the end of the play, game officials hit Bray with a 15-yard personal foul for going low on a Vanderbilt player during Barnes’ return. Asked about that penalty after the game by Jimmy Hyams of WNML-AM/FM in Knoxville (who’s made our site twice today), Bray said:
“Oh, the first guy came and tried to hit me and the second guy came and I was like, ‘Oh, no, I’ll take the penalty,’ and I just took his knee out.”
Is it possible Bray was kidding? That seemed to be Derek Dooley’s assessment during Tennessee’s media session today. But the fact that officials saw enough to call a 15-yard personal foul against UT’s quarterback suggests the “just kidding” defense is rather weak.
Bray is just a sophomore. Barring injury or unexpected demotion, he’ll face the Commodores at least once more during his career. So it’s likely Vandy’s players will be reminded of the quarterback’s comment and actions next November.
On a related note, officials last offseason used Bray’s throat slash gesture against North Carolina in the 2010 Music City Bowl as an example of the type of celebration that could result in a team’s touchdown coming off the board as part of a tougher taunting penalty.
For a quarterback, Bray certainly seems to have captured the attention of the SEC’s officials.