Tennessee football blame pie in 38-14 loss at Florida

Tennessee placekicker Chase McGrath (40) during a game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.Kns Tennessee Florida Football
Tennessee placekicker Chase McGrath (40) during a game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.Kns Tennessee Florida Football /

Usually when you lose 38-14 to a better team, you can blame the way specific people and position groups played throughout the game. However, Tennessee football was a couple of miscues from keeping it close with the Florida Gators heading into the fourth quarter.

As we get set to hand out blame for the the Vols’ loss, those responsible for the key miscues will take up a lot of it. Sure, conventional wisdom says you don’t go by a few plays in a game that has over 140 from scrimmage combined, but this is a different case.

It was obvious, given how outmatched they are, that the Vols would have to avoid any miscues to be close, and they failed to do that. Who caused the key miscues, and which aspects were just dominated? That’ll all come out in our blame pie here for Tennessee football’s loss to UF.

Josh Heupel: 10 percent

Leaving two timeouts on the board at the end of the first half is inexcusable, especially when he was forced to try a 47-yard field goal to end it due to time expiring. Josh Heupel also got Hendon Hooker hurt on a flea flicker and punted on a 4th and 7 down three scores.

These were all crucial mistakes. However, Heupel’s blame is only down at 10 percent because his offensive play-calling would have been the only thing to keep the Vols in the game late if not for the miscues.

Chase McGrath: 15 percent

Up until this game, Chase McGrath had hit all three of his field goal attempts, two of which were beyond 40 yards. However, he hooked that 47-yarder we brought up as time expired in the first half. Jace Christmann hitting his 47-yarder for Florida is why it was 17-14 at halftime.

That was a huge deal. If McGrath hits that field goal, it’s only a one-score game after Florida’s first touchdown in the second half, and Tennessee football goes into the fourth quarter at worst down by two scores.

Cooper Mays: 20 percent

A low snap by Cooper Mays killed one of the Vols’ drives in the first half, the only time they had the ball with the lead. Mays had multiple other bad snaps in the game, and then a delay of game in the fourth quarter turned 4th and 2 past midfield to 4th and 7 with UT down 31-14.

Mays gets a pass for being rusty and getting hurt once again in this game, however, the Vols likely would have scored on at least one of those drives. With two drive-killing miscues, he’s got to shoulder some of the blame for what happened.

Jimmy Calloway: 25 percent

No play more clearly left points on the board than this one. Trailing 24-14 on their first offensive possession of the second half, the Vols had the ball 4th and 5 at the Florida 30. Josh Heupel called the perfect crossing route, and Hendon Hooker found Jimmy Calloway wide open over the middle.

Calloway dropped the pass. If he makes the catch, it’s a clear touchdown. That combined with McGrath’s field goal is why Tennessee football trailed 24-14 instead of being tied at 24 after that point. It would’ve been a huge play, and the Vols would’ve been within one score throughout the fourth quarter.

Interior rush defense: 30 percent

Okay, let’s be fair first. The defensive line and linebackers were outmatched, and the Florida Gators will do this to everybody. However, at the end of the day, they still allowed Emory Jones to rush for over 140 yards, and UF gained over 280 yards on the day.

Vols' top five performers in 38-14 loss at Florida. dark. Next

This was the one consistent failure for Tennessee football, and it didn’t come down to any miscues. The defensive tackles just couldn’t stop runs up the middle, and the linebackers couldn’t contain anybody. Although the secondary allowed Jones to be very efficient passing, their hands were tied because of what happened up front, so while understandable, they get the most blame.