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15 Thoughts Has 41 Reasons to Rejoice, NOW WITH DONUTS!

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NCAA Football: Georgia at Tennessee
Celebrate.

Yeah, I was worried before kickoff. And, no, we didn’t totally escape the injury house-of-horrors known as Neyland Stadium (Fact: General Neyland was actually a Corporal) as Reggie Carter (concussion?) and Trent Thompson (knee, MRI pending) without the prerequisite casualties that are sadly inevitable every damn time we go up there. But history was made, donuts (edible and scoreboard!) were evident, and our defense made yet another statement: They’re real and they’re spectacular. I only heard Rocky Top played twice: Once for them, and once for us. Was this a perfect game? Hardly. Still much work to do. Was this a perfect result? Absolutely.

1. Interception on the first play of the game? Why yes, please! Tyrique McGhee jumped the route on a slow-to-develop throw. That was elite.

More on this in a bit...

1a. There was a point in the first quarter where a slight seed of doubt crept into my consciousness right after Jake Fromm threw an interception and set Tennessee up at the Georgia 27 yard line. The Georgia teams of any season going back to 2013 probably would have allowed a score right there, and if so, it’s a ballgame. This didn’t happen. What did happen was a new wrinkle in Butch Jones’ offense: The Butt Fumble. Lorenzo Carter pounced on the ball, and threat averted. I believe that was the Vols deepest penetration of the game.

2. Video evidence is beautiful...

3. So, yeah, the offense was a bit too cute early (poor execution didn’t help) and the Tennessee defense did play with spirit throughout the game, so credit them for showing up. However, the start of the game could not have been scripted better. Tyrique McGhee’s interception on the first play resulted in a quick Rodrigo Blankenship 38 yard field-goal. Who knew that 3 points would be all we needed. LOLOLOL.

3a. Damn, though. Sony Michel was wide open down the left side, wasn’t he? Jake Fromm will begin to see this in the future, but he sure locked onto Isaac Nauta who slipped. That was just some bad KneeLand luck, there. Please work on wheel-route stuff this week because it’s been there, amirite?

4. More on the offense later. I don’t know what else to say about our defense other than it is really becoming elite. These guys are all on the same page. The aforementioned McGee just grew up before our eyes. J.R. Reed should be getting some All-SEC first-team love. Deandre Baker, even when he bit on a stop-n-go route, recovered just in time to break up a crucial pass that Reed hauled in and set up our third touchdown of the game. That was the moment when I began Happy Drankin’™. Maybe Tennessee will score at some point in the game, maybe not; but it was just a matter of time when the offense - warts and all up to that point - would begin to assert themselves, which they did. The defense, however, wasn’t going to stop dominating. Defense wins championships.

5. The entire interior of the defensive line were simply magnificent. When Thompson left the game, we did not miss a beat. Julian Rochester and David Marshall just jammed them up all day. I saw Michail Carter pushing some dudes around, too. We retrograded their offensive line and filled running lanes all afternoon, but Tyler Clark was playing on another level and seemed to especially get amped-up when two frustrated Tennessee linemen roughed him up, resulting in offsetting personal foul penalties (no harm done, Tennessee had to punt anyway). Then, Clark just went beast the rest of the day. This kid is special.

5a. Roquan Smith had 6 individual “stops” yesterday. Badass. Lorenzo Carter can sniff out a fumble from 22 miles away. I believe Natrez Patrick had his best game of the season, too. Man, our linebackers are fast.

6. Back to Fromm and the offense again. Georgia’s second touchdown of the day, when Fromm tucked it and run untouched for 11 yards after his receivers were all covered was made possible by Nick Chubb who gained, on 3 consecutive carries, 14, 23 and 5 yards. After D’Andre Swift carried half the Vol defense 22 yards down to the Vol 10 yard line, Fromm did his thing and scored from 9 yards out. Later, after J.R. Reed’s interception on the Vols ensuring possession, From scored again from 4 yards out on a designed keeper around the left side. This dimension of Fromm’s game is what could ultimately distance himself from Jacob Eason in my humble opinion. I don’t know how often we want our QB running, but it’s good to know that those lanes are there...and they’ve been there all year. Just another thing for opposing coordinators to have to contemplate.

7. As Georgia went into halftime with a 24-0 lead, Tennessee’s fraternity row was quiet. I’m still pissed about the total lack of class displayed by certain members of the Greek society up in Knoxville and the reprehensible Nick Chubb banners. I’m also truly dismayed that some adults in authority didn’t force these clowns to remove their garbage (perhaps it eventually came down pre-game...I just don’t know). But I do know this and I believe I’ve actually touched on this before regarding UT: As someone in position to influence hiring and firing in my job, I would certainly have to think twice about hiring anyone from that school just based on this. Fair? Not entirely, but the world ain’t fair. Don’t stack the deck against yourself. Remember, UT Youth: On the internet, stupid is forever.

Delta Tau Delta (left pic) at UT-K. Grow up. You’re men now. Act like it.

8. Rodrigo Blankenship’s new nickname is MoRodMoney. I just made that up. I think he only had one kickoff that was returnable. C’mon, his leg was tired. Lots of extra-points and such will do that to you. Cameron Nizialek didn’t have his best day, and did shank a 20-yard punt that didn’t hurt us, but he was also punting a lot from the vicinity of mid-field. He also nailed a 59-yarder to pin the Vols deep. I’m not worried about our kicking game.

9. Every one of our running backs are starters for any other SEC team, except for Alabama. Maybe Auburn. We’ve got 3 great ones in Nick, Sony and D’Andre. Brian ran hard and it was good to see him score on great 2nd effort. Elijah Holyfield is not an average running back, either. This kid plays very hard and made the best of his chances.

10. We all know about the historical context of shutting out the Vols and giving them their worst home defeat in Neyland Stadium since the Lincoln Administration. And I absolutely am divesting myself from anymore drama in Knoxville. I will say this: The Tennessee program is on the precipice of becoming irrelevant. Certainly in the near future and perhaps beyond. If they’re a stock, they’re GE: Once dominant but weighed down by their own hubris. They’ve been mismanaged for well over a decade now and missed their window of opportunity last year. I doubt it was ever really there. And I’ll say it again: We’re going to whip you again next year. Donuts, bricks, 5-Star of Life...all that crap is just tiring. I imagine the average Tennessee fan is just flat exhausted from all of it.

11. We really didn’t play a great game offensively, but when we focused on executing and turned to our main running backs, we ground them down. Jake Fromm is learning, but is still a freshman. It was good to see Jacob Eason knock some rust off and take a few snaps. I still can’t get used to the idea of real depth just about everywhere, but here we are. And if our current state of recruiting is a guide, I’d better get used to it. Yeah, if we’re a stock, I’m buying as much as I can get my hands on. Good times.

12. Kirby Smart loves his team and his staff. He absolutely deflected any notion that this was “his” defense and gave all the credit to Mel Tucker.

12a. I’m a very happy otter this morning. Enjoy.

13. Quinten Dormady was 5/16 for 64 yards to Tennessee receivers. That’s a 31.25 completion percentage.

14. On a positive note, Dormady was 2 for 2 to Georgia “receivers”. That’s perfect, son!

15. Yeah, these 15 Thoughts are a bit all-over-the-place this morning, but my synapses are firing as if I drank 20 Red Bulls last night and for the first time in a few years, I didn’t have “Rocky Top” cycling through my head as I tried to sleep. I could get used to this. In fact, I think I will.

BONUS THOUGHTS:

  • Damn, Ole Miss. You guys okay?
  • Clemson is pretty good again.
  • I watched Texas A&M and South Carolina. Both sides are underwhelming, but I’m actually pulling for Kevin Sumlin. He could end up with a decent record but probably won’t survive, or just might leave on his own accord. I wonder if he’ll stay in the SEC? Word has it there’s going to be some openings soon.
  • I believe Ed Orgeron will be fired before Butch Jones. LSU ain’t stupid, and they’ll get the first best available coach while Knoxville fiddles...
  • Bye, Felicia...

I’m going to allow myself to worry about Vanderbilt. I’m more comfortable this way. It’s our first noon start next Saturday. Vandy did not look very good against Florida, but had their moments. Still, we need to go up there and make it another “business trip.” I’m sure there will be plenty of tickets available. And I’m sure the Red ‘n Black will be well represented.

That’s all I got. As Always,

GO DAWGS!