Mark Richt holds a 4-1 record against Tennessee. Before him time the Bulldogs had struggled the previous 15 years to beat the Vols. What changed? Special teams.
Every year the Bulldogs have topped the Vols there has been a game-changing moment on special teams or defense. In their lone loss against the Vols, in 2004, Georgia shot itself in the foot on special teams with a missed field goal and a holding call on an 85-yard kickoff return. In 2001, Damien Gary scored on a punt return. In 2002, Georgia blocked a field goal and a punt, which resulted in a safety. In 2003, the Bulldog special teams did not register a score, but Sean Jones returned a fumble the length of the field to score a touchdown just before the half. Last season Thomas Flowers returned a punt for a touchdown to win the game for the Dawgs. The way Georgia's offense is producing right now the special teams will have to do something for them to win.
4. Can Kregg Lumpkin get another 100-yard game – this time against a run-stopping SEC team?
In the recent past Georgia has struggled against the Vols on the ground. Establishing a running presence is mandatory in big-time SEC contests. Lumpkin is Richt's top weapon on offense right now, but he only carried the ball 13 times against Ole Miss. Most of Lumpkin's damage came at the start of the game and at the start of the second half. Lumpkin is going to need steady work to get to the 100-yard mark – more carries are needed. Look for Lumpkin to get the bulk of the carries against the Vols (Ware and Brown will get carries, too, but not as many). Still, Georgia's offensive line will have its hands full against Tennessee's defensive front.
3. Is there a real problem with Georgia's run defense?
In short, yes. Steve Slaton and Pat White did a number on Georgia's defense last season, but the doors to the beat-up-Georgia-on-the-ground club seem wide open right now. For the second week in a row Georgia's defense allowed a not-yet-heard-of runner to hurt them all night. Tennessee's backs are more talented than any of the others Georgia has seen so far this season, so the defense had better get ready for a long fight. If the defense is going to have to save the Dawgs again Saturday night stopping the run is a critical part of that.
2. When will the wide receivers step up?
Demiko Goodman did all he could do to put the Dawgs over the top against Ole Miss, but even he dropped two very catchable passes. Mohamed Massaquoi has become a ghost this season. Kenneth Harris seems to have vanished as well. A.J. Bryant has become Georgia's steadiest receiver, but even he has a drop or two of late. Where are the playmakers in Georgia's passing game? I'm not sure there are any. If there are any they are not showing up – the Tennessee would be a good place to start.
1. Who will start at quarterback?
This, again, is the question of the week. Georgia's offense is sputtering like never before under Mark Richt. Like the end of the Colorado game, Georgia's offense needs a spark. It got it against the Buffs when Joe Cox won the game. But Cox had a dreadful effort against Ole Miss, which did nothing more than muddy the water of the starting quarterback situation. Now Richt must decide if he will go with Matthew Stafford, who played the bulk of the game against the Rebels, or coming-back-from-injury Joe Tereshinski. If Tereshinski, a senior leader, is healthy, look for him to split time with Stafford, but to get the start. Tereshinski might not have the arm of Stafford, but he's been in a huge game before – the Dawgs need him now.