One thing is sure in college football, uncertainty. Tennessee lost to Georgia State game, and many, if not most, Georgia fans harbored the expectation that the Bulldogs would stroll into Neyland Stadium and obliterate a hapless group of Volunteers. Tennesse has SEC quality players and showed the conference that they could play with anyone when they are focused and executing.
The problem that UT faced is that Georgia has more good players (quality depth) that the Dawgs’ staff deployed in to wear down the Volunteers – and the plan worked. On the sidelines, one could see fatigue beginning to set in as the Vols tried in the second half to maintain the level of play that kept the game close in the first two quarters. By the fourth quarter, the frustration boiled over as tempers flared on the Tennessee sideline. Players barking at each other and their coaches was a symptom of the realization that Georgia’s superior depth had won the day.
The first half was a much different story, however. Tennessee was forced to live with the smirks and laughter that resulted from their loss to Georgia State and were ready to prove their talent to the college football world. And make no mistake, the Volunteers have talent on their roster. Added to the overall motivation to overcome a terrible start to their season was the fantastic play of a freshman quarterback starting his first game against the nation’s third-ranked team. Brian Maurer was dead calm and threw with accuracy while his offensive line protection held up, but injuries and exhaustion took their toll as the game wore on. Maurer finished 14 for 28 with an interception, threw for 259, and 2 touchdowns (one of 73 yards). The Dawgs sacked him three times. By the second half, he was continually under presser, and Tennesse was unable to run the ball, finishing with only 70 total rushing yards.
The 2019 edition of Kirby’s Dawgs rolls on. The season to date has not been spectacular, but we should not lose sight of the fact that these Bulldogs have a target on their backs. Every Saturday, they will get the best effort from each team of the schedule. There are no free lunches in the SEC – Saturday night in Knoxville was just another example of that truth. Don’t forget – Georgia is still undefeated and just blew out Tennessee by 29 points.
Chicken is on the menu next weekend!