Third-down blues

Tennessee's football coaches call third down "money down," but the Vols failed to cash in for most of Saturday's 27-14 loss to Georgia.

The Big Orange converted just 1 of 6 third-down opportunities in the first half and 3 of their first 13. It wasn't until their final drive – essentially facing a prevent defense – that the Vols clicked on their last two third-down tries to finish a near-respectable 5 of 15.

Why did Tennessee have so much trouble on "money downs" against the Bulldogs? Eight of their third-down situations required gains of 10 yards or more. Converting on third and four is one thing; converting on third and 10 or more is an entirely different challenge. Just ask Vol offensive coordinator Randy Sanders.

"You get third and 10, third and 11, third and 12 or more against a team like Georgia, your punt team better be ready," he said. "On average , if you convert 15 to 20 percent of those, you're doing pretty good."

That may be true but the Georgia game saw Tennessee convert three of eight times on third and 10 or more, which comes out to 37.5 percent. Illogical as it sounds, the Vols actually performed worse when they had fewer than 10 yards to gain, going just two of seven (28.6 percent) in those situations.

Here a recap:

FIRST QUARTER

3rd and 14: Rick Clausen to Robert Meachem gains 11 yards

3rd and 2: Incomplete pass

SECOND QUARTER

3rd and 15: Clausen to Gerald Riggs gains 13 yards

3rd and 10: Incomplete pass

3rd and 6: Clausen to Bret Smith gains 23 yards

3rd and 6: Clausen pass intercepted in end zone

THIRD QUARTER

3rd and 3: Incomplete pass

3rd and 11: Clausen to Riggs gains 13

3rd and 14: Clausen to Jayson Swain gains 18 yards

3rd and 1: Illegal block nullifies 11-yard run by Riggs, results in 15-yard penalty

3rd and 16: Meachem drops 16-yard pass from Clausen

FOURTH QUARTER

3rd and 3: Clausen to Josh Briscoe gains 15 yards, Briscoe fumbles, Georgia recovers

3rd and 6: Clausen to Swain gains 3 yards

3rd and 10: Incomplete pass

3rd and 10: Arian Foster gains 10 yards

3rd and 8: Clausen to Meachem gains 24 yards and a TD


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