With his Vols up by six points, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones opted to go for one point instead of attempt a two-point conversion attempt after a third quarter touchdown extended the lead to 12. Tennessee got the extra point, but ended up losing to the Florida Gators by one. After the loss, Tennessee’s 11th straight against Florida, Jones was left with some questions to answer regarding his coaching decisions.
For starters, why the heck didn’t you go for two?
“Well a number of reasons and we were discussing that prior to the drive. If we did score whether we go for one or two, we have a chart that is pretty standard in football first of all and maps it all,” Jones explained, seemingly admitting he chose to ignore the chart he made sure to mention. “We just felt like at that stage in the game that we had great confidence in our defense of getting off the football field and allowing them to push the ball down the field so we felt very comfortable with the decision.”
Rule number one: When you lose to one school for 10 straight years, you never trust your defense with a quarter and a half to play to hold a 13-point lead.
Rule number two: Two weeks after experiencing the agony of defeat when victory was seemingly knotted up, you never trust your defense to hold a 13-point lead.
Rule number three: If you have a chart that tells you when to go for two points in your hands on the sideline, you follow the darn chart!
Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs shared his thoughts on whether it was good enough to go for one point after that touchdown.
“No, when you come on the road in the SEC the game’s never over,” Dobbs said.
Jones was also forced to address another questionable coaching decision that came back to haunt him earlier in the third quarter. Florida was in a fourth down situation (4th and 6 from the Tennessee 25-yard line) and took the field looking to line up in a field goal formation. Jones chose to burn one of his timeouts, fearing the Gators had a trick play in the works. Florida came out of the timeout with its offense and Will Grier completed a pass to Brandon Powell for a 21-yard gain and the Gators scored a touchdown on the next play.
Did Jones give his counterpart on the other sideline, Jim McElwain, time to rethink the decision to kick a field goal? McElwian did not admit to having a trick play ready, so it is difficult to say whether or not the Vols made the right call taking the timeout.
“We thought they were going to do a fake field goal so that is the one time that we did it,” Jones said after the game. “Another time is making sure we had the right personnel on the field in some different things we had seen from scouting.”
Jones may be a fine coach, but yesterday proved he is certainly not exempt from the trend of coaches out-thinking themselves in critical situations. Sometimes the best solution is the simplest solution.