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.

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330 comments Add your comment

Gay Dawg

October 7th, 2011
2:40 pm

I am bringing Terry ot the game! We will be in the dawg section. Let me know if you see us.We will be the ones making out like two love birds!

Unranked but still rank

October 7th, 2011
2:40 pm

And I forgot about red panties. You have those to comfort you.

djdawg

October 7th, 2011
2:41 pm

Flat Tire

Call it what you will. Im a fan of the team, whether we are good or whether we are bad. I will NOT jump on the bandwagon when they are good and then bash them when they are bad.

2-10 against ranked teams

October 7th, 2011
2:41 pm

Sorry AltamahaDawg for the typo, Entire team vs Entire offense…..it it better or more acceptable to send the Entire Offense only????

Joey

October 7th, 2011
2:43 pm

Flat Tire, not to mention the invasion of really, really good coaches into the SEC. Saban (LSU), Myer, Saban (UA), Miles, Spurrier, Pitrino.

Kiss The Ring

October 7th, 2011
2:44 pm

Man UGA blows against ranked opponents. Wow…0-2…while Auburn…well we are 2-0. Winners win even when they are the youngest team in college football!

2-10 against ranked teams

October 7th, 2011
2:45 pm

djdawg….again, love your loyalty and sense of pride. But is it acceptable to watch your beloved child fail over and over again (at least since 2005) and NEVER criticize b/c he is your child???

That leads to an “entitled” child…..

djdawg

October 7th, 2011
2:46 pm

Im out. Yall enjoy the games!!!! GO DAWGS!! GATA!!!!

2-10 against ranked teams

October 7th, 2011
2:47 pm

Agreed Joey…..part of the problem is that over the past few years, Richt has coached like it is still 1997 at FSU….it worked pretty well early in the 2000 decade…the game has evolved….he didn’t

Joey

October 7th, 2011
2:47 pm

Kiss this – and stick your ill-begotten ring where the sun don’t shine. And, everybody says “we are the youngest team in college football!”

Kiss The Ring

October 7th, 2011
2:48 pm

UGA is fighting USCe for the Chicago Cubs of college football.

AltamahaDawg

October 7th, 2011
2:48 pm

It’s acceptable to be accurate. You CLEARLY meant to say that he “sent” players from the bench “to” to enzone. Thats not even close to a typo. Is 11 players on the field “entire” anything? As I recall he wanted them to (as we all know the dogpile celebration penalty to be). Your version is simply inaccurate both in the actual account and the intentions. Didn’t like it is fine. I was there, I loved it. But it’s opinion. You were attempting to distort it to make a point, when the gentleman corrected you, he was not totally false.

Kiss The Ring

October 7th, 2011
2:49 pm

Uhhhh Joey….our roster IS the youngest

ARdawg

October 7th, 2011
2:51 pm

GT Bob

That was my point. I agree with you by the way. But, you did seem to be pooh poohing on UGA and TN’s schedules while they have both played top ranked teams (albeit lost) and Tech has yet to play one. It is college football and anything can happen and most who have followed it as long as I, know, rankings mean very little once the ball is kicked off. UGA and TN have something which to gauge each other because of “who’s connected to who” kind of thing. GT doesn’t have much of a clear picture there. You guys are 5-0 and congrats. I hope you are 11-0 when we meet but, the 5 teams you’ve beaten doesn’t register much for your strength of team in real time

P_The_Ricker

October 7th, 2011
2:51 pm

Your buddy is a homer and proved his lack of knowledge in predicting a Tn win last year. End result couldn’t have been further from the truth.

UGA 31 UT 13

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
2:52 pm

Joey

So I guess UGA cant afford to get a good coach right

We just are stuck in the mud KY program

You do know UGA is 3rd in wins in the SEC and3rd SEC championships

But I guess we have to be a mediocre program now

afan

October 7th, 2011
2:53 pm

um. actually everyones roster should reflect the same age. Now starters age is different. But all teams should reflect roughly the same ages.

GT Joe

October 7th, 2011
2:53 pm

ARDawg: UNC was #25 in the coaches poll when we played them.

Kiss The Ring

October 7th, 2011
2:53 pm

3rd in UGA championships…most of them are 30+ years old! Congrats on all those 1960 SEC titles. BTW – the 1980 national title was a joke. You played NO ONE! 4-7 record was your opponents.

GT Joe

October 7th, 2011
2:54 pm

For all the people yapping about schedule strength: the voters take that into account when voting. GT is #13, even with it’s schedule. and UGA gets not a single vote, even with it’s schedule.

Thank you. Carry on.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
2:54 pm

djdawg

So Im a bandwaggon fan because I want better for a program that has every tool it needs to compete for championships WOW what loser thinking you have

Oh how is it that I bash the program when talking about Richts tenure

GTBob

October 7th, 2011
2:55 pm

Heh… No, I’m not really a Tech fan. You see, I have this ingeniously devious plan to impersonate a Techie on these blogs and make all of the nerds look like absolute fools.

OOPS? You mean that microphone is live?

Uh Oh…

2-10 against ranked teams

October 7th, 2011
2:55 pm

Altamaha Dawg, last time I played football, the players on my side of the football was my “team”……Since it worked so well, maybe we should do that after every TD, huh?

Whatever, my point is why does Richt have to resort to crap like that, uniform changes, etc to motivate his team?? How about teaching and coaching discipline and resiliency instead of fluky gimmicks to get the job done

Kiss The Ring

October 7th, 2011
2:55 pm

GT Joe….UGAs SOS is garbage…they play no one this year. The best team they play is some school in idaho.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
2:56 pm

4-7 record was your opponents

that made sense

2-10 against ranked teams

October 7th, 2011
2:57 pm

Man….I wish the Tech fans can blog about their team on their own website instead of here on the big boy blogs….quite annoying really when the adult fans are talking….

Gay Dawg

October 7th, 2011
2:57 pm

All you red neck homophobes wanting Richt to be gone need to stop. We lost to two great teams.

Besides…Marc Richt has always been great to the abnormally large gay student body population at UGA!

Kiss The Ring

October 7th, 2011
2:59 pm

UGA’s opponents had an average record of 4-7 in 1980…..Flat Tire focusing on grammar to avoid the harsh reality that UGA even at their peak was a joke!

ARdawg

October 7th, 2011
3:01 pm

“But, but, but, UNC was #25 when we played them” Boo fricken hoo. Dude, in the world of rankings there is the top 5 and everybody else.

duronimo

October 7th, 2011
3:02 pm

Georgia’s usually done at halftime. Last year they were out of shape. Who knows what the problem is this year. The Dog’s haven’t been fun to watch since the Hawaii game when they actually played an entire game. With that said, The track record in addition to taking the second half off, is for Murray to be both good and bad. He’ll probably cost us the game again. I’m also looking for the usual trash talking between plays. Crowell has latched on to that tradition very quickly.

LLoyd Christmas

October 7th, 2011
3:02 pm

WE LANDED ON THE MOON!!

Kiss The Ring

October 7th, 2011
3:03 pm

ARdawg….UGA fans of all people should not use the “but but but”….UGA fans invented the “but but but”

But but but Nick Fairley tried to kill Aaron Murray
But but but Cam newton was paid!
But but but you may have went undefeated but you did not win the title in 04.

Classic!

I Crowell

October 7th, 2011
3:04 pm

I gonna run all day long and keep it real yo!

GTBob

October 7th, 2011
3:05 pm

But, you did seem to be pooh poohing on UGA and TN’s schedules while they have both played top ranked teams (albeit lost) and Tech has yet to play one.

The thing is though, we know nothing about these top ranked teams you speak of. I am giving Boise St the benefit of the doubt because of their coach and QB, but do we really know whether Florida or South Carolina are any good? Florida played one top team and got destroyed. South Carolina has looked pretty bad all season and changes QB’s every week. I just have a hard time classifying those teams as top teams at this point. To me they are at the same level as UNC until they prove otherwise.

2-10 against ranked teams

October 7th, 2011
3:06 pm

“He’ll probably cost us the game again. I’m also looking for the usual trash talking between plays. Crowell has latched on to that tradition very quickly”

……..yes he has…..it’s become a UGA tradition, sort of like an annual uniform change…..

AltamahaDawg

October 7th, 2011
3:06 pm

Well no, I think that was a very specific situation. Every TD would not be wise.

Just seems to me, that if you are trying to make a broader point, you don’t give it much credibility by intentionally distorting the truth to make it.

GT Joe

October 7th, 2011
3:08 pm

2-10: big boy football? LOL. Since when is losing the a mountain west team “big boy football”. Since when is beating coastal carolina and the missy sisters big boy football? Crack me up.

GTBob

October 7th, 2011
3:10 pm

The fact is that UNC could easily beat the Falcons. What’s even more impressive is the fact that Tech would win 9 out of 10 against the Packers. Them’s the facts and I don’t care what anybody else thinks.

Joey

October 7th, 2011
3:10 pm

Just remember, techie one of those 2 wins made you cry like a baby.

2-10 against ranked teams

October 7th, 2011
3:10 pm

AltamahaDawg….I re-read my original post….don’t get the whole “intentionally distorting the truth” bit…..

Anyone else interpret my original post about the Florida endzone celebration as the way AltamahaDawg did???

Or is he being just a touch defensive b/c he “liked” it…..what was there to “like” about it?? Should we teach taht stunt to our high school players, Pee Wee football?

Truly study the game of football, the trends and what's going on

October 7th, 2011
3:10 pm

`
Another ‘Must Win’ game for Georgia.
.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
3:12 pm

Kiss The Ring

So I guess your an Auburn fan

I guess it took Auburn 50 years to gather enough money under their couches to buy a good team

And want to talk about records give me a break there are plenty of teams that won a national championship that played lousy teams those years moron

Miami and FSU top the list GT follows close behind and you can add plenty of USC teams as well stupid

2-10 against ranked teams

October 7th, 2011
3:15 pm

GTBob….pick up ball….go home

No one here wants to talk to you….

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
3:15 pm

GT Joe

Since when is losing to that team your talking about called big boy football at GT

LOL

Son you might ought to shut your computer down for the day. You have to be a complete idiot making that comment

Joey

October 7th, 2011
3:16 pm

I don’t even know what the debate is about – but there were about 30 players in the endzone celebrating and dancing at the UF game ‘07. Just my $.02 . . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnsC5ZxnD_8

ARdawg

October 7th, 2011
3:16 pm

Kiss the ring = Troll

GT Bob

No argument here guy. We should have beaten SC with relative ease. We couldn’t get out of our own way. The jury is out on SC and FL. Up until Florida played Bama they looked good on TV and were undefeated. The FL/TN game was especially impressive then FL lays an egg against Bama. Bama is good, but not generally as good as they looked against FL, It’s a tough read. I never thought SC was good. Basically the same team AU destroyed in the SECCG. Sportwriters and coaching assistants really don’t have a clue IMHO on who deserves rankings and who doesn’t. Both have too much tunnel vision and both most years are wrong until it becomes obvious

GT Joe

October 7th, 2011
3:16 pm

Big boy football: winning against coastal carolina and the missy sisters.

2-10 against ranked teams

October 7th, 2011
3:17 pm

Flat Tire…..don’t mind GTJoe….that’s what they think college football is…….in the country of India

Kiss the Ring

October 7th, 2011
3:17 pm

Actually it took 7 years to get the best team in the land again. If you don’t think 2004 team was the best then maybe you should look at the NFL rosters with with players still playing and starting who were on it.

FSU when they won in 1993 played Notre Dame OOC, an undefeated Tommy Frasier Nebraska and Miami. Miami played notre dams and oklahomas when they won. How where they weak?

Now 1990 Tech will give UGA 1980 a run as weakest champions.

We honor her name

October 7th, 2011
3:18 pm

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for the special tribute to Saint Jan Kemp, the noble self-sacrificing lady who singlehandedly tried to clean up the evil mess that Vince Dooley created in Athens. That evil persists even thirty years later, but Saint Jan gave her all to exposing Dooley as the fraud that he was. It’s lamentable that there isn’t a modern-day Saint Jan to take on Mark Richt and bring him down too.