Watching with Ward
Tennessee Stat Book
NASHVILLE - Gerald Jones needed a rules tutorial.
When the Tennessee receiver got one before an official review was over, he knew bad news was coming.
The Vols were at the center of yet another chaotic finish with extra players on the field, and after already having one potential win ripped away from them this season due to their own penalty, Jones expected the worst in a 30-27 loss in double overtime on Thursday night in the Music City Bowl at LP Field.
Now the best he and coach Derek Dooley can hope for is that the next time a situation like the one that plagued them twice this season comes up, the rules will protect them.
"That's why they have a 10-second runoff rule in the NFL, and we don't have it in college," Dooley said. "We probably should get it, probably should get it.
"It was chaos again, they run a bunch of guys on the field and nobody - the umpire doesn't jump up to stop and allow a substitution. They allow them to snap the ball and they get a penalty. That allowed them to bring their field-goal team on and kick it with one second. I don't know what else to say."
It was a similar response to Dooley's post-game press conference after a brutal loss at LSU, though that time it was the Vols who had too many players on the field - allowing the Tigers one final snap to pull out a 16-14 victory.
The defense was obviously on the field then as well, but this time it was the Tar Heels (8-5) who had extra bodies lined up for a last-gasp spike to stop the clock to try a kick that would force overtime. If the game had been played under professional rules, the game would have been over due to 10-seconds being taken off the clock because of the infraction. But under NCAA rules, North Carolina was given one final tick thanks to the same penalty that had doomed the Vols (6-7) when they did it.
Even worse to Dooley, he was again left to wonder why the officiating crew didn't stand over the ball to allow him enough time to change his personnel.
"Well, when they ran guys on the field, the field-goal unit, the rule states that the umpire should step over the ball and allow a substitution to happen," Dooley said. "You know, I don't know. I guess there wasn't enough time to do that. What do you say?
"We had a lot of chances prior to that."
At another level, the Vols would have already done enough that they wouldn't need to worry about a missed extra point or a couple costly turnovers.
And if Jones does make a roster next year in the NFL, he won't need a teammate like David Oku to tell him how the scenario should be playing out.
"I had no idea, actually Oku told me that was happening when they spiked the ball - yeah, they get the penalty, but they still get the ball," Jones said. "They still get the chance to have another play because there was time on the clock. I was like, 'Wow.'
"It hurts, man. You can't explain the feeling that it is on the field, this probably hurts a little worse because it is my last game and I did play my heart out. Unfortunately I didn't get to go out with a bang. It sucks. I'm not the one to judge anybody or have any say so in how the rules are (applied), but you know, this thing happened to us twice in one year, man. Something needs to be different."
It might be a year from now. But it won't help the Vols get over either loss this season.
Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward