Was Florida Offsides in the Final Seconds?

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    Photo By Austin Perryman/Tennessee Athletics

    Looking back at the film from Saturday’s Tennessee-Florida game revealed a great deal of missed opportunities on the Vols’ side of things. And the Gators weren’t without their miscues either. But one play in particular stood out, and it was the third down play before the Gators’ game-winning 63-yard touchdown.

    Florida nearly mismanaged their way into overtime in the final seconds of the game by thinking they picked up a first down with 35 seconds to go when they were actually marked a yard short. The offense wasn’t ready and was in disarray as they tried to figure things out before the snap.

    Once they got the snap off, Florida picked up just enough to get a first down and called a timeout with nine seconds left on the clock. But should that play have ever happened in the first place?

    A screen shot of the play shows that the Florida wide receiver at the top of the screen was lined up offsides as he had his hands up in the air trying to hear the play being called.

    Gary Danielson, the color commentator for the game on CBS, had time to circle the receiver before the play was snapped, pointing out that the receiver didn’t know the play being called. What he didn’t notice at the time was that he was also pointing out the offsides of the receiver.

    But no flag was thrown, and the Gators were given the first down.

    Since the play was taking place within the final minute of the half, the penalty would not only have pushed the Gators back five yards, but it would’ve caused a 10-second runoff of the game clock as well.

    Florida did have two timeouts at that time, and they could’ve burned one to make sure the runoff didn’t happen. But who knows how the penalty would’ve affected things, if at all?

    That offsides penalty, called or not, doesn’t change the fact that Tennessee had multiple opportunities to win earlier in the game, and the missed call doesn’t excuse poor play-calling by the coaches and bad execution on the field.

    The missed call may leave a sour taste in the mouth of Vol fans, but it shouldn’t be the one thing they point to as to why the Vols lost in the Swamp on Saturday. There were plenty other reasons why that happened other than a blown call late in the game.