A view from the sidelines - The Tennessee Game

ATHENS – A view from the sideline of Georgia's 19-14 loss to rival Tennessee.

During pre-game warm-ups Georgia did not look crisp at all. The Bulldog wide receivers were dropping a lot of balls. Also, the crowd was not into the game early the way they were last week against LSU.

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Tennessee's two long throws were nothing more than busted coverage and as a result, the Vols gained confidence. In post game interviews, Richt said he was disappointed that freshman Erik Ainge got confidence early in the game with the two big throws on the first drive for the Vols. His passes to Derrick Tinsley and Bret Smith were as a result, for the most part, or horrible Bulldog coverage. It was the first time this season the Bulldogs surrendered a touchdown on an opponents' opening drive.

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However, Ainge did a poor job of managing the clock at times. The Vols took at least two delay of game penalties during the game – both came at what appeared to be critical times.

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Georgia was dominated in the first quarter physically as well as in terms of time of possession. The Vols had over 100 yards of offense while Georgia managed just seven yards on six plays. The Bulldogs had more yards in penalties (11) than they did in actual yardage. The Bulldogs also had more penalties (4) than they had minutes of possession (3).

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The Bulldogs had a season-high 12 penalties (for 82 yards) today, this coming after last week when Georgia had just one penalty and no turnovers in the win over LSU, the cleanest game since 1997 when it had no penalties and no turnovers in a win over Northeast Louisiana. Earlier this season, Georgia had 102 yards on 11 penalties against Marshall.

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Another problem for Georgia was that Tennessee didn't have just one weapon to stop. Ainge was spreading the ball out amongst several receivers. The Vol running game was also using several different backs to pound Georgia's defensive line, which was getting no penetration, it seemed.

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Danny Verdun's recovery of Cedric Houston's fumble meant the Bulldogs are now +24 in turnovers margin since Brian VanGorder has taken over as defensive coordinator. It was also the first good thing that happened for the Dawgs in the game.

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D.J. Shockley's running ability was enough to shake up the Tennessee defense. The Vols didn't know how to defend the fleet footed signal caller – was he going to pass or run? They didn't know: seven plays and 63 yards later Georgia got on the scoreboard. However, Shockley's touchdown throw was anything but textbook. He had the ball in his right hand and it was being carried far away from his body. It appeared that he almost did a swim move over a defender to get away from him. That freed him up to find Fred Gibson in the middle of the Tennessee defense.

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After securing the ball, Gibson's momentum took him out of bounds into the back of the end zone on the closed side of the stadium. Just before the exit of the field there is a small concrete slab that leads to the Georgia locker room. Gibson's cleats slipped on the surface and the wide receiver nearly injured himself after the play by sliding into the fence that keeps fans from the field.

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Shockley looked good during that drive, but it really doesn't matter who the quarterback is if Danny Ware is biting off yards in chunks the way he did during that drive. Twice Ware ran for more than five yards on the drive. Although Shockley also loosened up the Vols with his 13-yard run one play before the touchdown throw, it was Ware's running the Vols had to honor; it helped move the ball down the field.

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Facing 3rd and three from the Georgia 43 on the scoring drive, Sean Bailey ran past the first down marker to make certain when he caught the ball it would be a first down.

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Brandon Coutu's worst kickoff of the year landed at the 10 or 15 yard line. But Tennessee's return man misplayed the ball and allowed it to bounce into the end zone for a touchback.

The misplay stymied the Vols' offense. Ainge's bunch moved backwards one yard in three plays before punting the ball back to the Dawgs.

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It may have happened before the ten minute mark in the second quarter, but the most and perhaps only significant hit on Ainge came from Will Thompson during the Vols' three and out following the Georgia touchdown.

Thompson hit Ainge so hard that the two were flung into the end zone during the play. But Thompson got up and ran back downfield to try to get into a tackle that would have occurred around the line of scrimmage, which was at the 20-yard line.

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Justin Harrell's forced fumble of Danny Ware probably killed Georgia's momentum enough so that the Dawgs were off balanced going into the locker room at the half. Georgia appeared to be in the midst of another touchdown-three and out-touchdown sequence that would have put the Vols, in my opinion, in too much of a momentum hole to climb out of.

The Vols didn't score any points as a result of the turnover, but they ate up more clock and threatened the Bulldogs by driving to the Georgia 23. James Wilhoit's field goal sailed right, but it was enough to get the Dawgs off track – as if they needed help from anyone other than themselves to accomplish that in the first half.

After the missed field goal, Georgia's momentum could have been sustained, perhaps, if Nick Jones had not jumped off sides. The penalty backed the Dawgs up, and forced them to climb out of a 1st and 15 hole.


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