Following the loss to LSU, the Dawgs hit the road to face their old rival the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville. For both teams, this game will be key between getting their season back on track or continuing their fall from grace.
Who are these guys?
Tennessee is not a good football team. After struggling through their second losing season in the last 3 years, Tennessee fired long time head coach Phil Fulmer and replaced him with Lane Kiffin. Kiffin has ruffled many feathers in his short time in Knoxville, particulary jawing with Florida coach Urban Meyer. They have a solid coaching staff, including Lane's dad, Monte Kiffin, engineer of the Tampa Bay defense that won the Super Bowl earlier in the decade.
If football was only played on defense, Tennessee may be among the better teams in the country. Led by All-American Eric Berry, the Tennesse defense has proven its worth time an again. They even held Florida in check in Gainesville this year, a game many thought the Gators would put up 50 on the Vols. In my opinion, Eric Berry is the best player in the country and is a real threat to make a play every time he is on the field.
Conversely, the Tennessee offense is a complete train wreck. Running backs Montario Hardesty and Bryce Brown give the Vols a decent one-two punch on the ground. The two have combined for over 800 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns this year. If the Dawgs can shut down the Tennessee running game, they should have a good chance to win this game because the UT passing offense is anemic. Quarterback Jonathan Crompton is horrible and they have a lack of experienced play makers at receiver.
What are the Dawgs going to do?
Hopefully, the Georgia offense shows up early in this game and doesn't wait until the second half like it did last week. Georgia clearly has more talent on the field than Tennessee right now, but if we get into a defensive battle, it may be one that Tennessee can win. Despite the struggles, Georgia must try and establish a running game early. Without Caleb King, look for Washaun Ealey to get more carries this week and we may see Carlton Thomas for the first time in a few weeks as well.
Losing Tavarres King for the week will also hurt the Georgia passing game, as he has proven to be a viable down field option opposite AJ Green. That means that Rontavious Wooten and Marlon Brown may see an increase in their playing time. I know Brown will be hungry to play in his home state and show the Tennessee fans what they are missing out on. Despite the threat of Berry in the secondary, I think the Dawgs will continue to try and stretch the field with long passes to AJ Green and passes to the middle of the field to the tight ends.
Defensively, Georgia should apply a similar game plan to that it used last week against LSU. Crompton has proven to be shaky in the pocket, and if Georgia is able to get the kind of pressure it did last week, they should be able to produce a couple of turnovers. Rennie Curran will need to be everyone, as Tennessee will try to pound the ball with Hardesty.
What is going to happen?
If Georgia can come out and get a lead early in the game, they have a chance to blow Tennessee out. But if Tennessee can keep this game as a close defensive struggle, the Dawgs will be in for another close battle. I think the Dawgs will come out fired up after the loss last week and put Tenneesse away early.
Georgia 31, Tennessee 17