(I’ll be back with the column off today’s Georgia game soon. Until then, here are my three “Short Takes” on today’s game against Tennessee.)
• 1. Hold off on “great defense” declarations: Yes, Georgia has that potential. But on a day when the Bulldogs got two of their better players, safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree, back from suspensions, the defense had its worst game of the season. Granted, turnovers led to three Tennessee touchdowns (20 points). But the Dogs gave up far too many big plays, and few would’ve predicted the Volunteers would have 477 yards in offense.
• 2. Hey Herschel, look at the freshmen! We’ve addressed before that replacing Isaiah Crowell might be a concern. If that concern hadn’t been completely obliterated after the first four games, it certainly was against Tennessee. With former Georgia great Herschel Walker in attendance, Todd Gurley had first-half touchdown runs of 2, 1, and 51 yards (although he dropped a kickoff return out of bounds at the Dogs’ 1 to lead to a Tennessee touchdown). Keith Marshall blasted off for TD runs of 75 and 72 yards, and through three quarters rushed for 167 on nine carries (although he also had a fumble that led to a Vols score). So if Gurley and Marshall can just stop dropping the ball, the running game will be fine.
• 3. There’s a lot of to clean up: The Dogs will walk away with this win and be happy. They’re 3-0 in the SEC for the first time since 2005, which is the last season they won the conference title. But they can’t play sloppy on offense and special teams and loose on defense like they did Saturday and expect to win at South Carolina next week and against Florida in Jacksonville in four weeks. As talented as the Dogs are, there was enough ugliness Saturday to bring everybody back down to earth.
By Jeff Schultz
Some blogs from the digital jukebox