Know, Think and Don't Know: Tennessee Game

ATHENS - Dean Legge’s list of what we know, what we think we know, and what we know we do not know.

What We Know

Every team in the SEC East has lost a game this season - four of the seven teams in the division have at least one conference loss. In fact, South Carolina and Georgia were the only two teams in the division to win this weekend - the only two. The division is full of potholes. South Carolina’s opening-weekend loss to Texas A&M won’t look pretty as the season goes on… even though the Aggies might be the best team in the SEC. You can’t lose by 24 points at home and think it was anything other than a blowout. Georgia followed that up by letting the Gamecocks upset them in Columbia. Florida lost by three touchdowns at Alabama. Missouri lost to lowly Indiana. Vanderbilt lost to Temple by 30 - at home. Tennessee lost by 24 at Oklahoma. Perhaps only Kentucky has performed each week, but the Cats lost at Florida in overtime.

Georgia is still the best team in the SEC East. It should still get to Atlanta. But Carolina and Missouri will still have something to say about that in the end. Steve Spurrier keeps insisting that his team is not very good - and some of that is coach speak - but some of that is reality, too. For now, however, the Bulldogs just need to win as many games as possible and let the chips fall where they may.

What We Know

Tennessee is better, but struggles on the road. The Vols are averaging 240 yards per game passing (10th in the SEC). The Vols are 13th in the SEC in the run game averaging 130 yards a game on the ground. Offense is a struggle for the Vols. Tennessee scored only ten points against Oklahoma in their only road game of the year. Last year Tennessee averaged only 14 points a game on the road.

What we think we know

Brice Ramsey, pretty clearly, is Georgia’s backup quarterback and will go into the 2015 season as the starter. There’s not much comparison between Ramsey and Faton Bauta. Ramsey had nearly as many drops (2) as Bauta had attempts (3) on Saturday. It would be very odd to see Mike Bobo scrap the offense he’s run for his entire career in favor moving to a spread and starting Bauta. Perhaps the argument could be made that Bauta could come in and give the Bulldogs a mobile threat at quarterback. But if Georgia wants to run the Wildcat, apparently Sony Michel is going to run that set for the Dawgs. Ramsey has the ability to strike the ball down the field in a way no one on the roster can right now. He’s raw, sure, but its obvious he has the capability to make any throw you want.

What We Know

Georgia’s defense is ranked No. 25 in the country in total defense and No. 28 in scoring defense. Georgia’s 3rd down defense, too, has improved. The Dawgs are ranked 28th in the country in that category. No, the offenses Georgia has played in the first three games of the season have not been what they were last year, but the defense, still, has improved. The Bulldogs rank 45th in passing yards allowed - which is the team’s weak link. But you can see the improvement on the field that’s come as a result of new players and coaches in red and black. What’s most notable is that Georgia gained three turnovers (2 fumble recoveries and one INT) in three games last season. This year the Bulldogs have forced four fumbles and have gotten five total turnovers. That’s improvement.

What we don’t know

When Justin Scott-Wesley, Jonathon Rumph and Malcolm Mitchell will return to play. Its becoming pretty obvious that Justin Scott-Wesley is serving at least a four-game suspension. That means he wouldn’t return this week, and the earliest he could play would be vs. Vanderbilt. Rumph, as always, is a mystery. Mitchell hasn’t been seen at practice in some time. If this team is going to win the East and beyond at least two of those guys need to contribute or this offense won’t be capable of coming close to its potential. Is Blake Tibbs a lost cause at this stage?

What we don’t know

Is the transition on Tennessee’s front (both fronts really) going to be too much to ask for the Vols this season? It seems like it, but the Vols have played okay in their three games of 2014 so far. They were not supposed to beat or really compete at Oklahoma, and they didn’t. The performance against Utah State was much better than expected, but the two-touchdown win over Arkansas State wasn’t awe inspiring. The reality is that Tennessee’s season starts this week. The Vols had last week off. They get Georgia this week and Florida next in Knoxville. The three-game stretch of at Ole Miss, vs. Alabama and at South Carolina will either move the Vols forward or make folks in the Smoky Mountains wonder how long this brick-by-brick build job is going to take. Tennessee has a brutal schedule - too brutal. But Tennessee is Tennessee - this isn't a program that’s got no tradition. Any year is important, but a coach’s second season tends to set the trajectory of the program in the modern day SEC. This is an important time in Knoxville, and they will give Georgia their best shot.

What we think we know

Everyone is going to give Georgia their best shot, and the Dawgs had better be ready. South Carolina always gives Georgia its best game. That’s becoming the case more and more in the conference, and Georgia needs to start getting used to it. Smaller programs like Mississippi State are always going to be up to play the likes to LSU - even if the Tigers’ eyes are always looking towards the Tide. You have to be in your moment - and worry about you… not the scoreboard.

What we don’t know

Where Mike Ekler gets his energy from. Dude is getting after it on the sideline. I’ve heard the tales of Mike Bobo’s voice screaming with fury during games. I find it hard to believe Bobo is ready to run onto the field and hit someone the way Ekler literally does with his players after they leave the field. The Troy game was Ekler’s first of the season on the field. Mark Richt talked about Ekler “doing some coaching, but also bringing energy” when he decided to come onto the sideline during games. Yeah, he’s bringing energy for sure. He’s ready to roll - no doubt.

What we know

No good games this week. Otherwise why would ESPN pick South Carolina vs. Missouri for College Gameday? Was another lame trip to the Dakotas out of the question? The best game, nationally, this week is on a Thursday night. But I would have gone with Arkansas vs. Texas A&M at Jerry World. In terms of the SEC, Cocks-Tigers and A&M-Hogs are decent. I will be interested to watch Vanderbilt at Kentucky and Memphis at Ole Miss. I know those are lame, but there is a curiosity for me about Kentucky and Memphis right now.

What we think we know

This is a new time in college football. That ESPN’s “power rankings” (whatever that is) ranks Georgia in the top four nationally after this weekend shows that winning matters, but how much you win by and how little you lose by matters. Only one one-loss team in the AP Poll, Michigan State, is ranked in front of the Dawgs - but the Spartans don’t have a win over a top 25 team and play in the Big Ten. Meanwhile, Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M and Ole Miss all have to play one another. Notre Dame-Florida State and Oregon-UCLA are set for October. Georgia, if it can win, will skyrocket up the rankings considering how many teams above it play one another soon. The same goes for South Carolina, but the Cocks play at Auburn on October 25th.

Long season.

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