The Tennessee game against Florida hung on the final play.
The Florida 63-yard touchdown pass from Feleipe Franks to Tyrie Cleveland as time expired to give the Gators a 26-20 win Saturday in Gainesville, Fla.
The play deserves a look back because it could very well might help write the narrative for the 2017 Vols season.
Only 13 seconds long. The video reply of the final play is a rough watch pic.twitter.com/kNvmPSr8pl
— Blake Morgan (@blakemorganSEC) September 17, 2017
Florida wanted an intermediate pass, and Tennessee had it covered. The play broke down and Cleveland adjusted his route to run deep.
“It’s one of those plays that comes around every so often,” said coach Butch Jones after the game.
“Unfortunately, they made the play and we didn’t”
Tennessee had a few opportunities to end the play with a different result, though.
Tennessee began the play in a four-man front with all linemen pursuing the quarterback with 9 seconds left in the game. A different philosophy from two years prior in Gainesville, when the Vols brought three players to pressure then Gators Will Grier who threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway.
The Vols got pressure and forced Franks out of the pocket to his right. He shakes of a sack from defensive end Jonathan Kongbo which would have likely sent the game into overtime. At this point, Cleveland begins to run down the field.
Franks then set his feet and launches the ball with 4 seconds remaining from the Gators’ 36-yard line towards the end zone.
Florida had two players deep and Tennessee had safeties Micah Abernathy and Nigel Warrior deep covering both receivers.
Abernathy turned his head around to locate the ball in the air and took the wrong angle to mark Cleveland. The angle allowed Cleveland to streak further down the field than any Tennessee defender.
“We have to stay as deep as the deepest,” Jones said.
“[Franks] stepped up and made a great play,” he added.
The ball drops right into Cleveland’s hands about 4-yards into the end zone with no time left on the clock.
Injuries have plagued the Tennessee defense this season. The call might have stayed the same, but the Vols did not have Jones’ preferred personnel group on the field.
“We were in our nickel, but with injuries, we didn’t have a dime,” Jones said.
Plenty could of scenarios could have changed the changed the final play and the game for the Vols. The team will have to assess the missed opportunities and move forward to Massachusetts next Saturday.