Stephens is in his final season at Tennessee. He has waited a long time to be the lone running back with exposure for Tennessee, and he is making the most of it. The senior averages 137 yards per game and has three touchdowns this season. Stephens is averaging 4.6 yards a carry. The Vols have used his power running to lead the SEC in time of possession. Tennessee averages 34:49 minutes per game, the best time of possession in the conference.
On the other hand, Smith is a powerful back in a finesse system. Many thought that Smith would fall victim to Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt's fast pace offense, but that has not been the case. Smith has rushed for 100 yards in all three games that the Dawgs have played. Negative yards resulted in Smith having only 95 yards against Arkansas last week.
Despite the system that the Dawgs run, Smith continues to improve. In three games, he has almost passed Brett Millican, last season's leading rusher, in terms of total yards.
But his rushing has not allowed Georgia to dominate time of possession statistics. Georgia ranks 10th in the SEC, ahead of only Vandy and Kentucky in terms of time of possession. In fact, at this point in the season, because of the missed Houston game, Georgia's offense has spent the least amount of time on the field of all teams in the SEC.
It is no wonder that the lack of time on the field and the three-week lay off made Georgia look so sloppy last week.
Georgia knows that its well being this week depends on the running game. The Dawgs must stop Stephens, as well as Tennessee's time of possession domination in order to have a chance at the end of the game. Georgia will rely on its 17th ranked rushing defense to slow down the Vols. The Georgia offense will look to Smith to influence the outcome of the game by using his running to open up the passing game for David Greene. But that will be a tough task; the Vols are the number one team in the country at stopping the run.
Georgia and Tennessee meet up Saturday at noon.