Can TennCan Tennessee Handle The Moment?
Can Tennessee Handle The Georgia Crowd?
That would be a definite no. Obviously, the crowd played a big, big role. Look, you can do all the mental exercises, pipe in all the noise, and all else during practice. But nothing can prep you for mentally being in an environment where you cannot hear yourself think if you have not been within it.
As was noted earlier this week, an 11 am kickoff in Baton Rouge and at Pitt is not a hostile environment. That’s not to say Tennessee is a bad football team. If things go a certain way, the Vols could slip into the CFP by December. But teams on the rise at some point meet a big moment, and Georgia made sure that Tennessee was not yet ready for that moment.
Can Georgia withstand Tennessee ‘splash plays?”
That’s the key to slowing Tennessee, isn’t it? Georgia dialed up the pass rush, for one thing, getting six sacks and eight tackles for a loss. Havoc, anyone?
Beyond that, the Vols had just one play through the air longer than 20 yards and two other receivers’ longest pass catch was between 11 and 20 yards, and no Tennessee receiver had an excess of 100 yards receiving.
Simply put, Georgia put on a clinic of how to slow down the Volunteers on offense - out-physical them.
Can Georgia Win The Turnover Battle?
Georgia for the second week in a row dodged a near-miss early on with a pass on the first Bulldogs drive thrown by Stetson Bennett that was nearly picked off. The Bulldogs even gave the ball away early. But if there’s a mark of this team that has really grown up as of late it is this - that it has an innate ability to overcome adversity. As gut-wrenching as having to sweat out a win at Mizzou was, that night may have been a turning point of this season as it showed how this team with new leaders and faces can dig deep when it has to.
Georgia did that against Tennessee, overcoming an early turnover to hold the Volunteers to a field goal. As to the turnover battle, Georgia won it 3-2, and the second-quarter interception thrown by Tennessee ending a drive on the Bulldogs' half of the field ended up adding to the kind of start Georgia needed and one that Tennessee did not desire.
Turnovers at inopportune times and how teams respond change big games, what Georgia did on Saturday reinforced that.