Tennessee football blame pie in Music City Bowl loss

Okay, the obvious blame does lie with the referees in the eyes of Tennessee football fans. There is plenty of truth to that as well. However, many people are at fault for their 48-45 overtime loss to the Purdue Boilermakers in the Music City Bowl as well, so we have to name everybody responsible. This is our blame pie for the Vols’ loss.

Warren Burrell: 30 percent

With Alontae Taylor opting out and Brandon Turnage hurt, this was Warren Burrell’s chance to prove he could be the future. Although it was one game, he failed miserably. He’ll probably bounce back next year, but it’s hard to ignore what haoppened.

Burrell had multiple pass interference penalties and allowed Broc Thompson to gain 217 yards receiving and two touchdowns, including a 70-yard score. One pass interference call on him was bad, but most were accurate, and he made far too many mistakes.

The rest of the pass defense: 25 percent

We can’t put all of this on Burrell. Everybody got torched. Don’t forget that tight end Payne Durham caught five passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns, Jackson Anthrop caught five passes for 74 yards and T.J. Sheffield caught three passes for 61 yards and a touchdown.

Aidan O’Connell gained 317 yards on Tennessee football to guys who weren’t Thompson through the air. UT did come away with three interceptions, but that didn’t outweigh the yards they gave up all game.

Short-yardage blocking: 25 percent

Offensive line and tight ends both get blame here. The pass protection improved, allowing two sacks, and that was in large part due to Jabari Small’s ability to pick up blitzes. However, blocking with less than three yards to go for a first down had too many breakdowns.

In the fourth quarter, UT failed on a 4th and 1, and they later needed to convert a 4th and 13 after getting a 1st and goal from the 2. Finally, the Jaylen Wright play came on a 4th and goal in overtime, but UT started with 1st and goal inside the three-yard line. This all proved costly.

Josh Heupel: 15 percent

He made a lot of good calls, but Josh Heupel cost Tennessee football on their final drive of regulation. It was 1st and 10 at the Purdue 49 with 32 seconds and three timeouts left. Heupel called two deep balls.

While one should’ve had a holding call on Cedric Tillman, not running it limited the yardage they could get to set up a game-winning field goal for Chase McGrath. This is why he had to try, and missed, a 56-yard field goal instead of a potential kick within 40 yards.

Aaron Beasley: 5 percent

Jeremy Banks was the best defensive player of the day. On the other side, though Aaron Beasley struggled severely. He allowed one of Durham’s touchdowns because he let up thinking a play was dead, and he struggled in coverage all day.

Beasley’s play was a huge part of the pass defense failing, so we had to name him individually as well. There was one big play he helped on, and it was his blitz from the left side to allow Byron Young to drop in coverage and get his interception, but outside of that, he didn’t do much.