Okay, the obvious blame lies with the referees in the eyes of Tennessee football fans. There is also a lot of truth in this. However, many people are also responsible for their 48-45 overtime loss to the Purdue Boilermakers at the Music City Bowl, so we have to name everyone responsible. It is our blame for the loss of the Flights.
Warren Burrell: 30%
With the withdrawal of Alontae Taylor and the injury of Brandon Turnage, it was an opportunity for Warren Burrell to prove that he could be the future. Even though it was only a game, he failed miserably. It will likely bounce back next year, but it’s hard to ignore what has happened.
Burrell suffered multiple pass interference penalties and allowed Broc Thompson to gain 217 receiving yards and two touchdowns, including a score of 70 yards. A pass interference call on him was bad, but most were accurate, and he made way too many mistakes.
The rest of the pass defense: 25%
We can’t put all of this on Burrell. Everyone was set on fire. Remember, tight end Payne Durham caught five passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns, Jackson Anthrop caught five passes for 74 yards, and TJ Sheffield caught three passes for 61 yards and one touchdown.
Aidan O’Connell gained 317 yards on Tennessee football against guys who weren’t Thompson in the air. UT came away with three interceptions, but that didn’t make up for the yards they gave up the entire game.
Short-term blockage: 25%
The offensive line and tight ends are both to blame here. Pass protection improved, allowing two sacks, and that was largely due to Jabari Small’s ability to pick up blitzes. However, blocking with less than three meters to go for a first try had too many breakdowns.
In the fourth quarter, UT failed on a 4th and a 1, and then they had to convert a 4th and a 13 after getting a 1st and a goal of 2. Finally, Jaylen Wright’s play came on a 4th and a overtime goal, but UT started with 1st base and the goal inside the three-yard line. It all turned out to be costly.
Josh Heupel: 15%
He made a lot of good choices, but Josh Heupel took a toll on Tennessee football in his last regulation campaign. He was 1st and 10 at the Purdue 49 with 32 seconds and three time outs. Heupel called two deep bullets.
While one should have had a call waiting on Cedric Tillman, not executing him limited the distance they could get to set up a winning basket for Chase McGrath. That’s why he had to try, and missed, a field goal of 56 yards instead of a potential kick from less than 40 yards.
Aaron Beasley: 5%
Jeremy Banks was the best defensive player of the day. On the other side, although Aaron Beasley struggled severely. He cleared one of Durham’s touchdowns because he stopped thinking a game was dead, and he struggled to cover all day.
Beasley’s play was a big part of the pass defense failure, so we had to name him individually as well. There was one big play he helped out on, and it was his left side blitz to get Byron Young to drop the cover and get his interception, but other than that he didn’t. a lot.