The Southeastern Conference suspended three Florida players and one Tennessee player for the first half of their upcoming games for flagrant unsportsmanlike actions at the end of the Gators’ 29-16 upset of the No. 11 Volunteers on Saturday night.
The SEC on Monday said in a statement that Florida offensive linemen Damieon George Jr. and Micah Mazzccua and tight end Dante Zanders will be suspended for the first half of Saturday’s game against Charlotte. Tennessee defensive lineman Omarr Norman-Lott will miss the first half of Saturday’s game against UTSA.
“The suspensions were determined after video review and consultation between the Southeastern Conference Office, the University of Florida and the University of Tennessee,” the league said in a statement.
A scuffle broke out after Volunteers coach Josh Heupel called a timeout with seven seconds left and his team trailing by 13 points. On fourth down, Florida quarterback Graham Mertz scrambled and took a knee, but Tennessee defensive lineman Omari Thomas ran into Mertz and knocked him down. Both benches cleared, and Mazzccua threw a punch at Volunteers defensive back Kamal Hadden.
George shoved Thomas and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, and officials penalized Thomas for targeting.
George and Mazzccua started the first three games at right tackle and right guard, respectively. Zanders is a backup who has one catch this season.
Norman-Lott started the past two games at defensive tackle for the Volunteers and had 10 tackles.
After the game, Heupel defended his decision to call timeout.
“That sequence right there, we are trying to get the ball back,” Heupel said. “We are trying to take a shot at the end zone. I don’t know if you’re going to have enough time at an onside and maybe get a shot back. You are trying to finish and compete the right way.
“[Mertz] is dancing around. Do you want the targeting? Obviously no, but the guy is dancing around so you have to go tackle the guy, too. Do we want to be composed in that situation and all situations? Absolutely.”
It was Florida’s 10th straight victory over Tennessee at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville. The Volunteers last won at the Swamp in 2003.