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Heupel Details Odd Officiating Miscue In Tennessee’s Loss At Florida

Tennessee Football
Tennessee Football head coach Josh Heupel against Pittsburgh. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

The officiating in Tennessee’s 29-16 loss against Florida was so questionable that even ESPN’s Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit were critical of it Saturday night.

But one sequence was so odd and puzzling that Tennessee coach Josh Heupel dryly admitted he hadn’t seen it happen in a long time.

With Tennessee facing fourth-and-one at Florida’s 17-yard line in the third quarter, the Vols attempted to go fast and catch Florida’s defense unsettled. But the officials ran to the ball and stopped Tennessee from snapping the ball.

This typically happens when the offense is substituting and the officials must allocate time for the defense to substitute with them. Only Tennessee didn’t substitute. The official just kicked the ball which made them take time to re-spot it.

During that time, Florida ran its big defensive line package on the field while Tennessee waited for the official to move so they could snap it.

“I guess the official kicked the ball and moved the ball and re-spotted it and allowed them to sub,” Heupel said postgame.

More From RTI: Why A Trio Of Key Vols Didn’t Play Against Florida

Florida stuffed a Jaylen Wright run for a two-yard loss to preserve its 26-10 lead and take over possession deep in their own territory.

Whether Florida was able to substitute by rule in the situation is unclear and Heupel, who was visibly angry after the play, didn’t have any answers postgame.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an official kick the ball,” Heupel said. “We have to go check the rule book.”

Tennessee’s defense forced a three-and-out after the sequence and the Vols moved into Florida territory again before a questionable blindside block led to another turnover on downs. When Florida responded with a field goal drive which extended its lead to three scores, the game was all but over.

The Vols’ issues were far larger than the officiating Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. But the odd occurrence was one of a number of officiating breaks that went against Tennessee in the loss.

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3 Responses

  1. In the second half, there was a play when Tennessee had the ball. Milton threw a long pass downfield; and the ball was not caught due to pass interference that never got called. On TV, they showed the play two or three times; and, you could see the defender s arm wrapped around the receiver’s body and one hand pulling on back of his shirt.

  2. UT has problems —if Heupel is blaming the officials for losing the Florida game. HIs team is not as good as last years, and he knows it. He needs to make adjustments–to include replacing Milton at QB (last years second string QB). This is Milton’s 6th year and he is not going to improve enough to play in the SEC. Heupel needs to start Nico now and get him experience for next year. Why keep and ineffective QB who has at the most 10 games left in his college career. Instead of Florida not playing in a bowl game—it is very possible that that honor may go to UT.

  3. Yes, the refs made some mistakes, but Milton is still the same horrible quarterback he was when Hooker replaced him, and Tennessee finally started putting Ws on the board. I don’t understand why he is still starting. Isn’t the goal to win? Completing some passes does not give UT the threat they need to get Huepel’s offense clicking. He rattles easily under pressure, causing him to not hit his targets! It’s the coach’s job to put the best player in the game to give UT a chance to win. As far as I can see, it’s NOT Milton.

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