Five Keys for a Dawgs’ Victory: Georgia vs. Tennessee

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Five Keys for a Dawgs’ Victory: Georgia vs. Tennessee

Georgia defense stuffs Volunteer ball carrier during the 2017 Tennessee game in Knoxville
Georgia defense stuffs Volunteer ball carrier during the 2017 Tennessee game in Knoxville

1 – Expect Tennessee’s Best

You know Georgia’s players have heard since the first meeting after the epic victory over Notre Dame how important it is not to overlook Tennessee. That should also go for the Bulldogs’ incredible fan base, which is extra important in this social media era when the players and supporters are more closely tied together than ever. Yes, it has been a disappointing year for Tennessee, but the Volunteers were in position to beat Brigham Young and had Florida pull away after not capitalizing on a couple of scoring opportunities. What every coach in Kirby Smart’s shoes for this game worries about is that the underdog all of a sudden hitting a couple of those plays and gaining a growing confidence after being told for two weeks they can’t win.

Brian Herrien (35) gives a Fighting Irish defender the stiff arm during the fourth quarter of the Notre Dame game, Saturday, September 21, 2019
Brian Herrien (35) gives a Fighting Irish defender the stiff arm during the fourth quarter of the Notre Dame game, Saturday, September 21, 2019

2Run and Jake

It’s a great formula for a talented offense. Run that football with these elite backs behind a strong offensive line and have that set up Jake Fromm for success through the air. Starting with the win over the Irish, the Bulldogs are now in a long and tough schedule stretch. Tennessee is the first of seven successive Southeastern Conference contests and then comes the regular-season finale at Tech. That means a lot of fourth-quarter games, which means that running game wearing down the opposition is vital. And when that running game is going good, Fromm is extra, extra good.

3N.O.T.

The Non-Offensive Touchdown. The best chance Tennessee has to pull off the upset is to get a special teams or defensive score and set up another touchdown with a big play. The best chance that Georgia has to pull away and win the game by ten or more points is to come up with a ‘pick-six’ or a big play in the kicking game that produces a score. Outside of Rodrigo Blankenship’s tremendous performance against Notre Dame, Georgia’s special teams struggled the last time out, most notably in the punt game, on both sides. If this is to be a championship team, Georgia’s punt game must improve rapidly.

Divaad Wilson (1)
Divaad Wilson (1)

4 – CBs vs WRs

One of the Volunteers’ biggest strengths is a talented, tall and big corps of wide receivers. That includes 6-3, 208 fifth-year senior Jauan Jennings, who is one of the best receivers in the SEC. Georgia fans need no reminder of Jennings’ skill set. He hauled in the 43-yard Hail Mary from Josh Dobbs to break the Bulldogs’ hearts on the final play of Tennessee’s 2016, a 34-31 win in Athens. Meanwhile, Georgia has been beaten up at cornerback. Tyson Campbell didn’t play against Notre Dame, and the Bulldogs other starter, Eric Stokes, was injured early in the contest. Will they be ready? DJ Daniel, Tyrique Stevenson, both newcomers, and Tyrique McGhee have all played well at the position, but the depth has been spread thin. Divaad Wilson and Mark Webb have been outstanding at Nickle and STAR.

5Chess Match

It’s no secret that there are a great many coaching ties on the Tennessee staff to Georgia. Both head coaches are also part of Nick Saban’s coaching tree. The Volunteers head coach Jeremy Pruitt was the defensive coordinator at Georgia for Mark Richt in 2014-2015. Jim Chaney was Kirby Smart’s offensive coordinator from 2016-2018 before moving on to Knoxville. The familiarity means there won’t be many secrets when it comes to strategy and tactics.

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