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Tennesee’s mental errors cost Vols in thrilling Music City Bowl

Ryan Taylor, Herman Lathers, Marsalis Teague, Butch Davis

How appropriate on so many levels.

First and foremost, like Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl, North Carolina absolutely, 100-percent earned this 30-27 win over Tennessee. All the credit should, and surely will, go to Butch Davis and his players.

It should also be pointed out that UNC quarterback T.J. Yates is one helluva gamer. For all the NCAA distractions from earlier this year, coupled with the criticisms of his inconsistencies and cries for a change at QB, Yates has persevered and led a dramatic 31-second comeback at the end of regulation.

And, for that, I applaud him wholeheartedly.

However, it should also be noted that North Carolina got a little help, too — and no, not from Big Ten officials. While the last 30 seconds of the game included a few more flags and official reviews than one would hope, none of the calls were really that egregious. If anything, Tennessee might have gotten away with a few unsportsmanlike conduct calls against quarterback Tyler Bray.

The personal foul, leading-with-the-helmet penalty on Tennessee  after Todd Harrelson caught a 28-yard pass from Yates on North Carolina’s final drive of regulation was justified, and there was no sufficient evidence to overturn the call on the field of a catch.

Arguably, there could have been another personal foul penalty on Tennessee for a late hit one play later on a 12-yard completion to UNC’s Dwight Jones.

And, yes, there was one second left on the clock when Yates spiked the ball, even though UNC had too many men on the field in what quickly became LSU 2.0 for Tennessee.

The personal foul penalty on Tennessee at the end of regulation, which was assessed 15 yards in favor of UNC in the first overtime, didn’t appear to be  fully explained, but it ultimately became part of a larger theme:

Simply put, Tennessee committed too many mental errors and allowed North Carolina to stay in the game.

With that said, there may not be a guy I feel for more than Vols coach Derek Dooley.

Dooley has had a lot thrown on him as a first-year coach at Tennessee, and all things considered, has done a really great job. He was handed a young team with not a lot of depth and a handful of NCAA probes, yet managed to get 6 wins in the toughest conference in college football.

And he wasn’t awarded any breaks, either. In many ways, Dooley was the anti-Les Miles.

All in all, though, North Carolina’s game-winning field goal in double overtime was a fitting end to what has been a tumultuous season for both the Tar Heels and the Vols.

Surely, it’s one that won’t be forgotten, either.

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17 Responses to “Tennesee’s mental errors cost Vols in thrilling Music City Bowl”
  1. atxcane says: Dec 30, 2010 11:49 PM

    Eh…unsportsmanlike non-call was good I think. He was blocked into the guy by #49 (I *think*). The end of regulation unsportsmanlike was for roughing the kicker I think.

    And yeah, Bray did get away with non-calls on his last TD with the throat-slash and ‘salute’. The ensuing INT was punishment enough though.

  2. brownstown2 says: Dec 30, 2010 11:59 PM

    That Bray kid exemplifies the power of Karma. From cocky little twerp showing up the UNC sideline to crying on his own sideline. All within five minutes. LOfL.

  3. johnnyhose says: Dec 31, 2010 12:58 AM

    Who cares that was an AWESOME game, not only because I had the heels-1 and over50, (thank god for OT, 31 in the 1st half and 9 in the last 4 minutes of the 4th quarter) but just the last 1:30 was heart stopping for what ever side you were on.

    Oh I also had the lady cardinal hoop team money line of +200 on a 100 for 200 and I have u-dub +13.5 and teased them with unc. I had the cuse too, thank you big ten officials.

    What a great evening of college football and lady hoops.

  4. Ben Kercheval says: Dec 31, 2010 1:01 AM

    agreed, johnnyhose. Great, great day of football.

  5. chickey191 says: Dec 31, 2010 2:53 AM

    Great game but only because of the outcome. Both teams looked like pop Warner clubs at the horrible cluster f?@$k at the end. Dooley needs to get a grip on his young squad and I am a Vol fan of many years. They will be goodnin a couple of years if the Vol faithful give him a chance. At least Kiffin is gone!!!

  6. rw1979 says: Dec 31, 2010 7:23 AM

    Hey Ben Kercheval I was at the Music City Bowl game and you’re completely wrong about the Big 10 officiating crew’s call at the end of regulation! While NC’s offense was on the field in the waning seconds of regulation, the referee should have been standing over the football while they substituted their field goal unit in. Without any timeouts left, the game clock should have run out and as far as I’m concerned, TN got the victory! Typical Big 10 bias against the SEC as far as I’m concerned. Sure, TN made plenty of errors as did NC but when you’ve got a referee who stuttered and stumbled on calls throughtout the game and a crew that threw flags (when they shouldn’t have been thrown) and didn’t throw flags (when they should have been thrown), then it says a whole lot about the quality of this crew!!! Another “geographically-distant” conference (i.e., Pac 10, Big 12, etc.) should have officiated this game!!! Total injustice to TN!!!

  7. tradertrik says: Dec 31, 2010 7:34 AM

    That was the most fun I’ve had watching a football game in I don’t know how long. I really don’t follow either team, but it was exciting nonetheless. The Vols will live and will be much better next year. UNC – great win!

  8. overratedgators says: Dec 31, 2010 8:31 AM

    rw=typical whiny ass SEC homer. They lost, dude. Accept it and move on.

  9. mitifinenoles says: Dec 31, 2010 8:34 AM

    Hellfire and Damnation for the ACC………..I believe that was an earlier post from you. Must be tough being right all the time but you can learn to live with it.

  10. chachooga says: Dec 31, 2010 9:49 AM

    Ben K you have got ACC issues. Let me help you “UNC mental errors almost cost them the game” would fit the title…..goodness man Davis running with 16 seconds, the RB laying on the ball?!?!, the coach sending out the FG team….that is mental.

    #15 from UT was spearing all game, finally got called. Too bad for him.

    Half squad ACC UNC beats UT….an SEC power?!?! not quite. But hey Ben the ACC is just plain horrible right.

    Look at your headline above for BIG 12 power Nebraska….oh they got “outlasted”

    Go Tarheels! Things good get ugly today for the ACC with UM and FSU, but I’m hopin for victories!!!even in the snow!!!

    Big 12 is 1-4 Ben, write a post or something!

  11. WingT says: Dec 31, 2010 10:35 AM

    It was a very physical, hard fought game. I just hate to see a game end the way this one did in regulation. As RW pointed out, the refs should have stood over the ball while substitutions were being made. Also, the refs should have thrown a flag on the last play for too many players on the field – UNC had about 15 guys on the field when the ball was snapped and spiked. The penalty would have ended the game.

    I am just at a loss as to how the refs don’t see 15 players on the field. The only thing I can think of is that they just were not a very good officiating crew. They couldn’t handle the pressure at the end of the game and stay focused and do their jobs. This happens sometimes and you just hate it for the kids that were playing.

    Congrats to UNC – looks like you finally got some “good luck” after a tortureous year.

  12. edgy says: Dec 31, 2010 10:37 AM

    I feel bad for Dooley, who turned this team around and got them into a bowl but on the other hand, I feel great for Davis, whose team had to overcome a variety of issues to get into a bowl. Easily the best job of his career.

  13. squabbbler says: Dec 31, 2010 1:23 PM

    @WingT: Also, the refs should have thrown a flag on the last play for too many players on the field – UNC had about 15 guys on the field when the ball was snapped and spiked. The penalty would have ended the game.

    They did throw a flag for too many players on the field. They backed them up five yards and they kicked the tying field goal. That’s not the issue. The issue is the fact that, with obviously too many people on the field, and without setting the offense, you can snap the ball and stop the clock, and just be backed up five yards. College coaches have always adhered to the philosophy (not a rule anymore!) that you had to hurry up and get your offense back to the line of scrimmage, set them, and then snap the ball in order to spike it and stop a running clock. Obviously, not true. Now all you need is for the center and QB to run up and snap it to stop the clock, regardless of where the other players are and how many people you have on the field. You’ll get backed up five yards, but you’ll stop the clock giving you one more shot. That’s BS.

  14. brownstown2 says: Dec 31, 2010 4:38 PM


    Yeah, the officials are biased. I especially liked it when they stuck it to UTenn by not calling a late hit after the 2nd-to-last play before the FG attempt. Remember the one where the guy was on the ground for a full second before taking a helmet in the back?

  15. WingT says: Dec 31, 2010 7:45 PM

    Thanks for clearing that up – I missed that. I agree with you that it is a BS rule.

    I thought that there was an automatic runoff of the clock in the event of an offensive penality at the end of the game. Do you know under what conditions a penality causes a clock runoff?


  16. edgy says: Dec 31, 2010 8:00 PM

    The NFL has the rule, I don’t think that college has adopted that.

  17. WingT says: Dec 31, 2010 9:23 PM

    Thanks Edgy…

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