Keys to the Game

Josh Kendall takes a look at the keys to the Georgia/Tennessee game, and he weighs in with a prediction.


Georgia rush offense vs. Tennessee rush defense
The Volunteers have struggled to stop the run in the last two weeks, giving up 264 yards to Auburn and 217 to South Carolina. Auburn's Carnell Williams had 185 yards last week, but the Bulldogs have gained only 193 yards on the ground as a team in the last two weeks. Georgia coaches aren't sure they can run right at anyone, and they probably won't try today.

Tennessee rush offense vs. Georgia rush defense
Georgia isn't paying much attention to the Volunteers' last game against Auburn, in which Tennessee's tailbacks carried the ball just nine times and the Vols had just 4 yards rushing. "We know enough about Tennessee to know they want to run the football and they do it very well.," VanGorder said. "We've played the run well but not as well as you might think based on the statistics." The Bulldogs are third in the conference and 14th in the nation in rush defense (82.4).

Georgia pass offense vs. Tennessee pass defense
If they had to be completely honest, Georgia's coaches would probably say they feel confident they can throw the ball against the Vols. Tennessee is seventh in the conference in pass defense (200.8) and they gave up more than 280 against both teams they've played who throw the ball effectively (Florida and Marshall). If Reggie Brown is healthy, he and Fred Gibson can exploit Tennessee's man coverage tendencies.

Tennessee pass offense vs. Georgia pass defense
The Vols opened up their offense out of desperation last week and "they did it so well that it really concerned me," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. Using lots of no-huddle, Tennessee threw for 355 yards against a good Auburn defense. Georgia's defense, at least its secondary, might be a little better, though. If Tennessee is ineffective running the ball, VanGorder will send safety Thomas Davis on blitzes often and make it tough for UT quarterback Casey Clausen.

Special Teams
The last two games in this series, Georgia has won thanks in part to special teams. Two years ago, Damien Gary returned a punt for a touchdown. Last year, the Bulldogs blocked a punt for a safety and blocked a field goal. However, Georgia is struggling on special teams this year, and Tennessee is playing as well in this area as it has in three years. UT punter Dustin Colquitt (48.6 yards per kick) is the best special teams player in the conference. Georgia doesn't want it to come down to special teams again.

The Bulldogs pulled out a dramatic victory on their last trip to Knoxville, but the fact remains that it's their only win their since 1980. This Georgia team hasn't shown the poise of the last two on the road, losing 17-10 in its only conference home game of the season, and Richt remains concerned about his offense's consistency. Neyland Stadium isn't a good place to get well. Tennessee 24, Georgia 16.

Key to the Game
A healthy Reggie Brown would make a tremendous difference for the Bulldogs. In the last two games, one played without Fred Gibson and one played without Brown, Georgia has struggled against the blitz and man-to-man coverage. In the first three games of the season, the Bulldogs took advantage of blitzing teams and man-to-man with regularity, and at least part of the reason was they had two standout wide receivers. It's much tougher for defenses to single cover two great receivers rather than just one.

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