Georgia-Tennessee: Something’s got to give on third down

Can Tyler Bray pick apart Georgia's defense like Kellen Moore did? (Associated Press)

Can Tyler Bray pick apart Georgia's defense like Kellen Moore did? (Associated Press)

With the Dogs traveling to Knoxville this week, I decided to check in with my old friend Joey Ledford, who’s been living in the Peach State for many years but still owes his primary allegiance to the land where folks dressed all in orange aren’t necessarily wearing leg-irons.

Here’s Joey’s Volunteer take on this year’s Georgia-Tennessee game:

The Vols have made a lot of progress since last year. We have a lot more depth, and we have a surprising amount of talent considering how young we are. Get this as a football stat — next year, when you guys had really better look out for us, we will have 19 returning starters.

All that said, we suffered a major setback on our fourth offensive play two weeks ago against Florida. Imagine losing A.J. Green for the season in your first series against a conference foe. That’s the equivalent of what happened to us when Justin Hunter tore his ACL. This guy was going to be all-world and will be again when he’s back next year.

I know you guys love Aaron Murray, and he is a good quarterback with great mobility, but I wouldn’t trade Tyler Bray for him even if you threw in a D-lineman or two. Bray is on his way to being the best Tennessee quarterback since a guy named Manning. He has already broken a couple of Peyton’s passing records and many more will fall in the future.

Will Tennessee win? Last year when Junkyard bravely turned over this space, I boldly predicted a Vol victory only to see us come out brain dead one week after the Baton Rouge disaster. You might remember that one — we lost our major upset bid on the last play of the game because we had 13 guys on the field. This year, coming off a warmup over Buffalo, I see a close game that will probably be decided by special teams and that worries me because, believe it or not, yours have been better than ours.

But I think our O-line will handle your pass rush. You will stop our running game because so far we haven’t had one. Frankly, when your quarterback passes for more than 300 yards every game, your running game isn’t hugely important.

Our defense is a lot better than you guys think it is and it is good enough to shut you down when it has to. Florida got several short fields and had very little to show for it. I honestly believe we would have beaten them had Hunter not gotten hurt. To quote Mr. Munson, that was like a hobnail boot to our faces.

OK, here goes: Tennessee 35, UGA 34. Good luck, have fun in Knoxville and let’s hope nobody important to our teams gets hurt. It is still early and there is a lot of football to be played.

Saturday may see Isaiah Crowell finally break a long touchdown run. (Associated Press)

Saturday may see Isaiah Crowell finally break a long touchdown run. (Associated Press)

Thanks, Joey, for bringing up the hobnail boot play. That’s a nice reminder of the early days of the Mark Richt regime, when the Dawgs owned Neyland Stadium. P44 Haynes. Sean Jones. Ah yes, those were the days.

The last couple of trips to Knoxville have been pretty horrific for Georgia, however, so now would be a great time to flip that dynamic again.

I’ll admit this game is looking tougher for Georgia now than it did back at the beginning of the season, largely thanks to young UT quarterback Tyler Bray, who’s leading the conference in passing yards per game, touchdown passes and passing efficiency.

Of course, most of that has been against suspect competition, but the same knock can be used against Georgia, so I won’t go there.

The loss of ace receiver Justin Hunter isn’t to be underestimated, however, as I think Georgia is likely to devote a bit more attention to the Vols’ remaining receiving threat, Da’Rick Rogers, than Buffalo did last week, when Rogers had seven catches for 180 yards.

That’s pretty much the Tennessee offense right there, as the running game with Tauren Poole has been pretty dreadful, ranking last in the SEC.

Still, with Tennessee tied for the national lead in third-down conversions and the Dogs ranked second nationally in defending third down, something’s got to give.

Defensively, the Volunteers have been good but not great and have proved vulnerable to big plays. So far UT has given up a touchdown of at least 65 yards or longer in all four games.

Speaking of which, this might be the week Isaiah Crowell finally breaks a long one. And if Georgia’s offensive line can a) stay onsides despite the deafening Neyland Stadium noise and b) keep Aaron Murray from getting batted around and adding to the 13 times he’s already been sacked, Orson Charles and Malcolm Mitchell could have big days, too.

I think the keys to this game for Georgia come down to two things (besides, of course, not turning the ball over): Can Todd Grantham’s defense continue to get QB pressure in the absence of the suspended Cornelius Washington? And can Mike Bobo’s offense manage to put two consecutive halves of decent production together?

Basically, my optimism about this game comes down to this: Bray is good, but he’s not Kellen Moore, and Georgia’s defense with Bacarri Rambo (who didn’t play against Moore) is a lot better than it was in the first game. Plus, you’ve got to figure Georgia’s offense is overdue for a big second half.

If Jarvis Jones and Chase Vasser (or Ray Drew or whoever) can keep up the pressure on Bray and Murray can keep from serving up a pick 6 or two, I think Georgia notches another SEC win against Tennessee. But I think this will be the Dogs’ biggest challenge since the opening two games.

What about you? Feel free to share your thoughts on how the Dogs will do against the Vols.

Got a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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330 comments Add your comment

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
10:53 am

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
10:53 am

Second maybe

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
10:54 am

How about Third

JB Gibson

October 7th, 2011
10:54 am

Georgia by three.

Hot Dawg

October 7th, 2011
10:54 am

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
10:55 am

I’ll take 4th for a 1000 Alex

38 Yardline Dawg

October 7th, 2011
10:55 am

If the Dawgs can stay humble and remember that TN is the toughest opponent in recent history (and that wins over the Miss. teams aren’t all that great), maybe we can get a win. Too much confidence and the Vols will sneak up and pound us.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
10:56 am

Bill King

I’ll tell you whats gotta give

Its Bobo going to the concession stand in the 3rd and 4th quarter

38 Yardline Dawg

October 7th, 2011
10:59 am

Hmm…I’m actually for Bobo leaving so someone else, even Murray himself, calling the plays. :-D

Brooksdawg

October 7th, 2011
10:59 am

38-17 UGA…Dont see UT putting up more than that on our D. GATA

sic'em

October 7th, 2011
11:01 am

Tyler Bray’s numbers are all non-con home game numbers and two weeks to prepare for fla. Don’t complain about injuries to Wide outs as UGA has been w/out key defensive and offensive players every week and that will continue this week. The speed of a top SEC defense cathes up with TENN this week and a mistake free UGA gets a big win.

Bobby

October 7th, 2011
11:01 am

With all due respect to your friend…..Right now, Justin Hunter shouldnt be mentioned in the same breath as AJ Green. Go Dawgs.

What kind of boots did you say?

October 7th, 2011
11:04 am

Murray’s going to have a hard time passing with the Vols’ hobnail boots grinding his face.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
11:08 am

38 Yardline Dawg

I agree with that;

About the time we get to the 38 yd the only play that is called is hike

Salye

October 7th, 2011
11:10 am

Tennessee 37, Georgia 17

Tennessee’s quality players will overrun UGA’s hapless dummies.

And Israel Troupe will be penalized for urinating on the field. For goodness sakes, get the boy some Depends to wear under his red panties.

JB

October 7th, 2011
11:10 am

Been on Vacation….What did I miss?

UGA Insider

October 7th, 2011
11:11 am

Bill,

IC had a monster touchdown run last week but CMR wouldn’t ask for help from upstairs…no pun intended. IC was clearly in-bounds and sometimes I scratch my formerly full head of hair and wonder why CMR wouldn’t give IC the benefit of the doubt. Even if he was wrong it would have energized the young freshman that the coach had his back. CMR has gotten so bad at motivating his team. This is one place he has really fallen. Having that TD run called back was deflating. Bad move CMR.

DDawg

October 7th, 2011
11:13 am

I dont think our D is better than UF’s and they held TN to 23 points without Hunter. I think the Vols win a close one but we learn from the loss to beat UF (while the Vols lose to LSU and Bama).

DawginLex

October 7th, 2011
11:13 am

We win

Score and margin depends on how we approach the game

DawgNation

October 7th, 2011
11:14 am

JB Absolutely nothing. The same BS spewed on these blogs everyday by the same people. Just take a look at any past blog and you have the days missed on vacation covered.

Dawgs97

October 7th, 2011
11:15 am

Tennessee was a ONE dimensional team BEFORE Justin Hunter’s injury. What is your friend smoking exactly? Tennessee has NO running game and exactly one competent receiver, and I guarantee you, Rambo will be draped over Rogers like Paris Hilton to the Australian soccer team at a Hollywood night club.

Dawgs win big – this game will resemble the 2003 beatdown.

GeoffDawg

October 7th, 2011
11:17 am

“Frankly, when your quarterback passes for more than 300 yards every game, your running game isn’t hugely important.”

I remember some Ray Goff teams with that mindset. Didn’t work out to well in the W/L column.

Brooksdawg

October 7th, 2011
11:17 am

Insider—I agree that he was not out of bounds. IC is a winner and wants to pound a team when they are down. His frustration comes from his coach’s not having that instinct. I think UGA is MAN enough to win this one. GATA

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
11:19 am

JB

Lets see

You missed Bobo cant score in the second half or beat a ranked team thats all

DawgVoiceofReason

October 7th, 2011
11:25 am

UGA Insider,

Remember, the call on the field was that IC was out of bounds. The replays I saw didn’t look conclusive. They have to have conclusive evidence to overturn the call. Also, on a play that close, the player is not going to know whether they were in our out; they are not looking at their own feet. IC has no reason to feel slighted by Coach Richt.

RiffRaff

October 7th, 2011
11:26 am

Considering the Dawgs have the biggest O-line in all of football ( including the NFL ) they need to just run and pound the ball, eat up clock and keep Murray from throwing the ball ( and the game ) away.

DawgVoiceofReason

October 7th, 2011
11:27 am

correction: “in or out”

LCDawg

October 7th, 2011
11:33 am

This clown is smoking crack. Tennessee truly sucks…the only question is will UGA show up and actually play. This comes down to coaching and basically I think it’s obvious that our D is being coached up…Offense–not so much. Bobo needs to come out with a game plan and then make adjustments at half in anticipation of the other team doing so….sounds real tough doesn’t it?

Sparky Garfunkel

October 7th, 2011
11:35 am

Mad Dog 1

October 7th, 2011
11:36 am

I don’t think IC stepped on the line and CMR should have asked for a replay check isn’t why we have the D— thing. That said IC should have a great day don’t think the great pumpkins d can stop him. Hope our line will block better and AM gets rid of the ball insted of taking so many sacks. As always GO DOGS & GATA

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
11:38 am

Yea we have the biggest O-line that couldnt block Boise St nor Clowny and Ingram

UGA Insider

October 7th, 2011
11:40 am

DawgVoiceof Reason,

Did I ever say IC felt “slighted”? You miss the point. I meant that it didn’t matter if it was overturned or not but to give his young freshman the benefit of the doubt. That move would have given IC even more confidence but instead we just casually go back to the huddle and call another play. IC made a hell-of-a run and CMR just brushed it aside.

You CMR apologists won’t even admit when he does something wrong when clearly he is.

dawggirl

October 7th, 2011
11:40 am

Agree with RiffRaff, we definitely need to keep Tyler Bray off the field as much as possible. It’s also going to take a mistake-free game: NO turnovers, defense needing to turn those almosts into interceptions with a pick 6 or two thrown in.

King of the Ozark Mountains

October 7th, 2011
11:41 am

Vols win by at least ten points. A very depressing night for UGA fans, to be sure.

Skitty Fritty

October 7th, 2011
11:41 am

This is the biggest challenge since USC but if our goal is to win the East then it the championship goes through Knoxville & Jacksonville.
Basically, the Dogs have to win if they want to win the East.

Skitty Fritty

October 7th, 2011
11:42 am

Who’s favored and what’s the line?

OkieDawg

October 7th, 2011
11:44 am

This game is going to be close. It could go either way depending on which team gets the breaks or special teams. Losing Washington is a big deal. His bad decision could adversely impact the team and could make a certain coach’s seat a little warmer. So come on dawgs, come out fast and furious.

piermontdawgny

October 7th, 2011
11:48 am

dawgs win LARGE
40-16 Dawgs

JDawg1785

October 7th, 2011
11:48 am

Nice use of the online translator, Ponte. You have a few grammatical errors in your post. I’d be glad to discuss them with you if you are interested in improving your Russian.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
11:50 am

King of the Ozark Mountains

Stop drinking the moonshine you make

Bill Goldberg

October 7th, 2011
11:53 am

I agree with him. Murray sucks and I wouldn’t take him in a trade either.

JDawg1785

October 7th, 2011
11:53 am

With all due respect to the Vols, any offense would put up such dazzling numbers if three of their four games were against Montana, Cincinnati and Buffalo.

Regardless, Bray is a top-notch QB, Tennessee is a good team, and I’m expecting a battle.

McDawg

October 7th, 2011
11:56 am

alot of our sacks this year have come as a result of Jarvis Jones pressuring the QB from outside turing him inside to a collapsing pocket

as much as i have liked C. Washington -i think J. Jones has been the key to any newfound pass rush

McDawg

October 7th, 2011
11:58 am

yeah right Goldberg

McDawg

October 7th, 2011
12:00 pm

JB- what have you missed?? nothing much….. fire richt, murray sucks, hire some other coach, fire bobo blah blah blah

gbal

October 7th, 2011
12:02 pm

Let’s tee it up and play the game The way the last 4 have gone there is no way to predict the outcome. Might as well flip a coin, but I am pulling for the DAWGS.

Comment on yesterdays “Murray Sophomore Slump” ….

I like Murray and he obviously has grreat skills. However, I think he is missing something as a tough leader. He is young and the entire team is … but he does not seem to have the ability to motivate the troups.

I think UGA missed a great opportunitiy in the 3rd Q with 3 TD lead, the D playing lights out, and Murray having control problems…. to put Mason in the game to run with the 1st team. He should have been in at that point and I have a feeling that the team might step it up a notch with his presence. It could have also created some competition at the position and given Mason and the team confidence for the day in which Murray gets knocked out of the game.

I just have the feeling that we could take a step forward with Mason for some reason.

Also seems odd to me (is it play calling or Murray) ….

last year we were conservative and fell behind in the first half of games only to come on several times and open it up and make a closer game of it. This year we seem open in the first half but holding back in the second.

Big Albany Dawg

October 7th, 2011
12:03 pm

Bill concur. However, game planning by Bobo will be the tell tale sign if he believes Crowell can be the same RB in the second half of the game as he has been in the first half.

david

October 7th, 2011
12:04 pm

way to keep it classy salye. I think the line is UGA -1

Anon

October 7th, 2011
12:07 pm

Everyone is talking about Tennessee’s third down capabilities on offense, but against FL they were 4-12 on 3rd downs. Even UGA’s offense has had better third down efficiency against their SEC opponents this year.

AltamahaDawg

October 7th, 2011
12:13 pm

INsider, the ref blew the play dead. Doesn’t matter if he did or didn’t step on the line at that point. That is not reviewable. Did you leave the coaches meeting at some point for a few minutes? Wondering why you didn’t seem to know that.