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Florida vs. Tennessee, Theater of Operations: Those devilish little details

Florida's win over Tennessee swung on big plays. A series of little details show how it might have been a completely different game.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As you may have noticed, there was no Theater of Operations reviewing how Florida came back on Tennessee this week. (Losing Trevor hurts, y'all!) But I did want to get something approximating a film review of Florida's win over Tennessee up on the site before the game was more than a week old.

So I give you this: A Theater of Operations consisting of stills from not just the game broadcast, but Florida's field-level video of various things that happened during the game.

And in a game won by a single point, it's appropriate that it's all about the little things.

Little things like, say, Florida getting jobbed out of a fumble caused by Brian Poole after obliterating Alvin Kamara — who took two steps, and appeared to brace his shoulder for impact, after making a catch in the first quarter.

Poole Hit 1

I know you can't see the ball, but here's about where Kamara makes the reception, with the ball hitting him in the hands. Note that his left foot is about to come down, while his right foot is coming up.

Poole Hit 2

Here's Poole's moment of impact. Kamara hasn't just taken a single step; he's taken two, getting his right foot down, and his left foot has come off the ground again (though Poole has something to do with that).

Poole Hit 3

From an angle behind Kamara, it even looks like he's ducked his shoulder to absorb the hit — a "football move," right?

The ball was jarred loose on the play, and eventually fallen on by Quincy Wilson (who dove to get it after Alex McCalister tried and failed to scoop it on the run), but the play was ruled an incomplete pass on the field — and it wasn't reviewed by the booth, and Jim McElwain didn't challenge the call, so it stood. It looks like an egregious missed call to me, given Kamara's two steps and apparent attempt to make the "football move" of bracing for impact.

And, well, the ref was right there.

Poole Hit Ref

But, hey, okay: That's just Florida getting some bad luck on what should've been the first of four fumbles by the Vols on the day.

On the first drive, though, Antonio Morrison rocked Joshua Dobbs on a sack — and created the hidden, undocumented first of five Tennessee fumbles.

Morrison Sack Fumble

You couldn't see this on the CBS broadcast, because Dobbs's back was facing the field cameras, and the network didn't show a replay. But that ball is loose, and Dobbs was very fortunate that it didn't squirt out of his grasp; instead, he fell on it, and the play was ruled on the field as simply a sack with no fumble.

And then, two plays after the Poole hit, McCalister nearly pried what could've been a third fumble of the first quarter loose.

McCalister Sack Fumble

In some respects, Tennessee got very, very lucky that it didn't get avalanched early on in this game. Florida already led 7-0 at the time of the Poole hit and the McCalister sack, and all three plays would've given the Gators possession in Tennessee territory, had they recovered the fumbles. Instead, because fumble recovery is basically luck, Florida ended up with just one fumble recovery on what amounted to five true fumbles — two of them not showing up in the box score, one because of referee incompetence.

Still, Tennessee did well to come up with an answer, and did so after rope-a-doping Florida's defense. Of the Vols' 12 plays prior to their first touchdown of the day, nine attacked the area between either the left or right sideline and the outside of the corresponding hash, one was a Jalen Hurd run up the middle, and two (with no rollout action) resulted in the sacks pictured above.

Then, on the 13th play, Tennessee broke tendency, reversed field on its double pass from Jauan Jennings to Dobbs, and got a 58-yard touchdown out of it.

Of course, it helped that Jonathan Bullard was quite obviously held on the play.

Bullard Hold 1

And for an extended period of time.

Bullard Hold 2

And really obviously.

Bullard Hold 3

And while working toward Dobbs as the closest Gator to the ball.

Bullard Hold 4

At least it wasn't like the ref was in a perfect position to see Bulla ... oh.

Bullard Hold Ref

This wasn't the only missed hold on the day, I'd wager — Cece Jefferson got pretty egregiously held on Dobbs's helicopter-y run to pick up a first down on Tennessee's second drive, and I'm sure refs missed some on Florida, too — but a missed hold that obvious on that big a play is a painfully bad missed call.

Of course, the little things also helped Florida. You'll remember Will Grier's brilliant throw to Antonio Callaway for the game-winning touchdown for years to come, no doubt — but did you even remember his vital throwaway one play prior by Sunday afternoon?

Grier Throwaway 1

Mason Halter (squared) got beaten so badly around the edge by Jalen Reeves-Maybin here that he literally fell to the ground, and was reduced to watching Reeves-Maybin try to pull down Grier. But Grier, to his infinite credit, didn't try to high-step away from the Tennessee defender, and instead cocked his arm and threw the ball away.

Like, really, really away.

Grier Throwaway 2

It's hard to even see where the ball is — and this is after it bounced off the hands of someone on Tennessee's sideline — but that's about 20 yards downfield and six or seven left of the sideline. Grier managed to make a no-doubt throwaway with his arm alone while being sacked at the waist on a play where he could've easily thrown a ball to the defense or taken a sack.

And you know what happened one play later.

But Florida wasn't out of the woods. Tennessee drove into Gators territory with some quick throws and a Dobbs run that produced what should've been the fifth and final fumble of the day by a Vol.

Then Dobbs threw to Ethan Wolf in space on what would prove to be Tennessee's final offensive snap — and Keanu Neal made a potentially game-saving play.

Neal Tackle 3

Dobbs's throw is low, and forces Wolf to bend down and look it in at the Florida 33; this allows Neal to close in and hit a player who isn't going to be trying to avoid him.

Neal Tackle 2

Just one yard later, Neal has crashed into Wolf, stopped his forward momentum, and started driving him down and toward the sideline. This did two things:

  1. It stopped Wolf from gaining extra yardage, which would prove important.
  2. It confused the side judge — presumably the same one who missed the Kamara fumble, missed the Jefferson hold, and missed the Bullard hold, given that they all took place on that same sideline — enough that he gave a signal for Wolf being out of bounds (and thus stopping the clock) that began with just his right hand up, which he would have used to signal Wolf being down in bounds (and thus keeping the clock running).

I think the latter is sort of an honest mistake — but it seemed to confuse Tennessee, which somehow wasn't ready for the clock starting again when the ref placed the ball, something that would've happened whether Wolf had gotten out of bounds or not. Of course, Tennessee also managed to run just four plays in the final 1:26 of play, despite having two timeouts. Incurring two pre-snap penalties will help a team torpedo its chances of a game-winning drive, yes.

Neal's tackle probably saved a couple of yards on the field, and helped contribute to the second such penalty, which pushed Tennessee kicker Aaron Medley's attempt back five yards. And, well, we've already covered that the Vols inexplicably got a better spot for their second try at a game-winning field goal, but that kick was legal even if it was incorrectly spotted.

Where Tennessee FG Hit Net

This is where the ball hit the net on that field goal. It wasn't right by much at all, and Medley hit it hard enough to be good from 55 yards out. (His first field goal probably would've snuck over the bar, too.) I'm pretty happy that Neal's tackle didn't permit him to do more aiming on a 48-yarder, yes.

And, hey, it also produced this last little thing.

FG Reax

Little things are the best.