'The big chunk'

Here's an off-the-wall prediction for you: If Tennessee can muster three gains of 20 yards or more today against Georgia, the Vols will win. If not, they'll lose.

That's an oversimplification, of course, but the Vols must make some big plays to loosen up the Bulldog defense. Otherwise, Tennessee's only chance to score will be to execute for 10, 12, 14 plays in a row – something the Vols seem generally incapable of doing.

Tennessee's three touchdowns in Game 4 vs. Ole Miss, for instance, came on a six-play, 56-yard drive, an interception return and a five-play, 14-yard drive. The Vols' four longest possessions against the Rebels – 15 plays, 13 plays, 12 plays and 11 plays, respectively – resulted in a failed fourth-down try, a field goal, a missed field goal and another field goal. In short, four lengthy drives resulted in a mere six points.

Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders concedes that Tennessee's inability to break big runs and hit big passes makes his job as play-caller a bit tougher.

"It puts more pressure on you to try to make the right call every time," he said. "You're not getting anything easy."

Quarterback Rick Clausen conceded the point, adding: "It's frustrating. But at the same time we're moving the football. We're making plays, we're doing the things we need to do.

"That big chunk just hasn't occurred yet."

Sanders has been asked dozens of times why the Vols' big-play people aren't making big plays. His answer: "Some of it's been bad luck. Some of it's been lack of execution. We've had our opportunities. We just haven't taken advantage of them."

Having offensive linemen Richie Gandy and Cody Douglas close to full speed should help the Vols today against Georgia. Having a couple of Georgia defenders blow assignments or trip over each other might help, too.

As Sanders put it: "We need something good to happen."


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