Normally I start this feature with what DOESN’T worry me about an upcoming opponent. But based on a new-found confidence in Kirby Smart and his players (which I’m seeing someone about), and combined with the horrors of the biennial visit to Tennessee, I’d like to try something a little different.
We all know the bad things that happen in Knoxville, and the suspect “planning” and “foresight” used to construct Neyland Stadium. Which only adds to the bad things that happen in Knoxville. See, I want to know what really detunes your banjo strings, so before we get to the official Munson-ing, vote in the poll and tell us the MOST deplorable characteristic of playing football at the UT cadaver lab.
What you dislike the most about UGA playing football vs. Tennessee in Neyland Stadium?
This poll is closed
All. The. Orange
Too many overalls. Some checkerboard.
The turf and what it does to Bulldog joints and ligaments.
Listening to "Rocky Top" incessantly
Annoyed at how often you ask yourself "Where do they FIND these people?" as you gaze around the stands.
Other: Explanation in the comments
Now forgive me, as I was weaned at the nipple of Larry Munson’s scratch on AM radio. So here’s what I AM worried about visiting the BearCatMinks of Tennessee:
1) Tempo. You may know that Tennessee ranks absolute last in time of possession among FBS schools. Did you know that they lead the nation in plays per minute? They hold a slight lead over Ole Miss at 2.89 plays every 60 seconds.
Coach Smart acknowledged the tempo issue in his press conference earlier this week, saying that although they’ve prepped for it, “It’s almost impossible to simulate in terms of your practice.” For a team that subs as liberally as Georgia, this game will present a different rhythm and present challenges to put Dan Lanning’s preferred personnel groups in place, and ready to execute. And that is exactly what Tennessee wants. They may not be super-disciplined, but they can keep hitting you until you make a mistake, don’t have a player confident in his assignment, and they will gash you or blow open a big play. UT has scored 7 times on pass plays over 70 yards this season, and that happens when your opponent slips up.
2) Two dimensional. The Volunteers rank 18th in rushing offense this season, and that sounds daunting. If UT is able to get the ground game going, they are extremely hard to stop. Just ask Mizzou, who surrendered 458 yards on the ground on 59 attempts.
After that game, Tennessee actually ranked 7th in the nation rushing, at 255 yards per game on 48 rushes on average. Since that game, their top 2 backs have gotten a little banged up (Tiyon Evans and Jabari Small). They’ve also faced some tougher run Ds like Alabama and Kentucky. So these last 4 games have dropped their averages down 10 attempts a game and about 80 yards of production. So if Georgia can indeed throttle the run game, it will make it easier to slow the UT tempo and momentum.
3) Hendon Hooker – that’s the way we found him, or we didn’t know he was there. Truly tasteless jokes aside. You know how I just laid out that UT’s rushing offense fell significantly from just 1 month ago? The opposite exists for their air attack.
Having finally settled on Hokie transfer Hendon Hooker at quarterback, the Josh Heupel offense has found its groove throwing the ball. After the Mizzou game, the Volunteers have increased their passing yardage about 50 yards a contest. Early in the season, the receivers in creamsicle were getting open consistently, they just couldn’t put the ball in their hands. That is not the case now, with Velus Jones and Cedric Tillman getting more than their share of catches, and putting the Vols near the top of the country in yards per completion.
Hooker is also a threat on the ground, being the team’s 2nd leading rusher in yardage, but far and away the most frequent runner.
Call me crazy, just don’t call me late for dinner. Sound off in the comments below what worries you about the Bulldogs of Georgia versus the Volunteers of Tennessee. And as always…