As a personal rule, I generally choose to steer clear of blaming anything on the officials calling the game. It’s a tough job that not many people would want any part of. The fact of the matter is, if Tennessee’s defense shows up in the second half, the Vols win and we aren’t having this conversation. But they didn’t, and here we are.
With all of that being said, Jeremy Pruitt and Tennessee do have a legitimate gripe from Saturday night’s game. Rico Dowdle appeared to fumble this ball on the goal line in a key moment in the second half. Daniel Bituli came out of the pile with the ball, clear as day.
“Oh it was definitely a fumble” Jeremy Pruitt on the non-fumble call at the goal line. #Vols pic.twitter.com/5NNpIPxBXR— Trey Wallace (@TreyWallace_) October 29, 2018
The play obviously would have changed the game and could have perhaps ended up being a touchdown for Bituli.
On Monday, Pruitt offered his thoughts on the play.
“It definitely was a fumble,” Pruitt said. “I saw that. Unfortunately for the officials, they only have certain angles that they can see. If you look at it on our film, it’s obviously a fumble. It’s disappointing for me because I felt like I could see it from the sidelines. But they have a tough job to do just like we have a tough job to do. Those guys are doing the best that they can. The officials had nothing to do with us getting nine penalties.”
The initial thought on the play was that it was blown dead, meaning the officials called the play over with before a fumble happened. Pruitt says that didn’t happen.
“Nobody blew a whistle,” Pruitt said. “They just didn’t see the fumble. Counted him down. There’s no more coaches challenges, every play is reviewed by the officials. They’re limited to what views they have from the camera angles. From our sideline view, you can’t see anything. But you can from the endzone.”
It’s a frustrating moment that can’t be fixed now, but Pruitt maintained the fact that Tennessee simply didn’t play well enough to win the game. He’s absolutely correct in saying that, but it’s tough not to be frustrated with the missed call at the same time.