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

Joey

October 7th, 2011
3:19 pm

Flat Tire – don’t hurt the little girl’s feelings. I just reminded her of her team’s futility vs our pathetic team . . .

2-10 against ranked teams

October 7th, 2011
3:19 pm

Flat Tire… see? He said “missy sister”…..that’s how they pronounce Mississippi in India…

GT Joe

October 7th, 2011
3:23 pm

Coastal Carolina and the Missy Sisters. Now playing at Fred Sanford Stadium. Tickets available at Ticketmaster.com.

Sess Poole

October 7th, 2011
3:26 pm

It kills dawgtards that GT won the national championship much more recently than they have.

One of the posts above reminds me that UGA won the championship before Jan Kemp exposed the shameful remedial studies system that Dooley created to allow total dummies to play for four years without ever coming close to graduating with a degree. The sickening thing is that Richt is doing essentially the same thing, with UGA admitting most of his low class recruits as “conditional,” since they couldn’t get into a legitimate school with their grades.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
3:26 pm

Kiss the Ring

FSU when they won in 1993 played Notre Dame. Who do you think UGA played in 1980 for the NC moron

and Miami their 1983 schedule they played a bunch cupcakes and down teams that year and lost 28-3 to FL

Joey

October 7th, 2011
3:28 pm

No ma’am, we sell out games. Now about that big ole ad on the AJC Sports front page . . .

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
3:29 pm

Western Carolina and Middle Tennessee 2 FCS schools Tech has played
UGA has played 1

NCST, UNC, and Kansas have done what in college football

Dude your either a complete idiot or we are talking to an 8 yr old

Kiss the Ring

October 7th, 2011
3:31 pm

Flat Tire….you also played TCU in 1980 which based on todays TCU was impressive but then they won A game. Check FSUs opponents records that year if you ned to feel better about that weak title.

Ticketmaster

October 7th, 2011
3:32 pm

We have 12 UGA vs. Vandy end-zone seats for $75.00 each. Unlimited tickets available for Tech vs. Clemson at 3 for $99.00 (comes with free cokes & hotdogs).

Joey

October 7th, 2011
3:32 pm

Daddy always said “don’t argue with an idiot” Flat Tire. UGA won ever game on its schedule in ‘80. In that 4-year run, (and with 11 game schedules)the Dawgs won 43 games.

That’s weak, you doofus?

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
3:32 pm

GT Joe

Have they taken off the graffiti and hired more security at Bobby Bu Shay stadium

Im hoping to have a safe family atomosphere

Kiss the Ring

October 7th, 2011
3:32 pm

You are right about 1983 Flat Tire….AUBURN was robbed that year. We beat 5 top ten teams that year. We played FSU, Michigan, Maryland (with boomer) and texas. We also beat UF, UGA, Bama, UT as well.

Miami got the nod cause thye beat an overrated nebraska team.

GT Joe

October 7th, 2011
3:33 pm

Flat tire; what a complete and total idiot.

MTSU is not an FCS team. Moron.

Kiss the Ring

October 7th, 2011
3:34 pm

Joey…man you are an angry little guy aren’t you? Did I mention 1981 and 82? I merely mention the last time you sniffed the prom queens panties. 1980 was the last time you went undefeated and the schedule was a joke.

Kiss the Ring

October 7th, 2011
3:36 pm

At leats tech can say their weak claim to a national title happend when people were alive.

Red Rules

October 7th, 2011
3:36 pm

UT’s last opponent has beaten one team, Stony Brook! UTalso beatMontana and Cincinatti. Two of our wins came against SEC competition. I’m not scared of UT. They lost when they played a real team – UF. I’m not scared at all in fact. Bring ‘em on!!!

Gay Dawg

October 7th, 2011
3:37 pm

Does Knoxville have an “alternative” club scene? Man we are a long way from Athens!

Alphare

October 7th, 2011
3:41 pm

Dooley is on the hot seat. 2nd year and smashed by Florida like that? Remember Muschamp is only in his 1st year in Florida.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
3:43 pm

Kiss The Ring

Like I said there a plenty of teams that have won NC’s that ended up having easy schedules once the season played out

Now you need to send in some more money I hear Auburn needs the extra cash to buy another recruit

Kiss the Ring

October 7th, 2011
3:43 pm

Muschamp acts like an idiot on the sidelines. Man am I glad he turned AU down. Chizik is the shiznik.

icedawg

October 7th, 2011
3:44 pm

Agreed. The Dawgs could win if they don’t turn the ball over and the defense holds.

Kiss the Ring

October 7th, 2011
3:44 pm

Flat Tie….that hurts….LOL!

My point is UGA’s title ranks amongst techs and BYUs as some of the lamest ever,

Obviousdawg

October 7th, 2011
3:46 pm

if we can score more then UT we will win!

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
3:50 pm

GT Joe

Thinks Middle Tennessee is a powerhouse program

Tech should move into the top 5 in the BCS with that win

Nashville Dawg

October 7th, 2011
3:57 pm

I don’t think UT is ready yet for the BIG TIME. Maybe next year. They put up nice numbers against “WHO”?!?! and Couldn’t do “JACK” against UF and we all know now that UF isn’t very good. Sorry folks! Bray is no P Manning. We’ll see what kind of numbers he’ll put up these next 4 games. Won’t surprise me his numbers be just plain AVG after these 4 games.

For now, UGA is hungry and this will be the break out game.

UGA 31 – UT 20

Can’t we till tomorrow. I’ll be at the game and it’s gonna feel real good.

jay

October 7th, 2011
4:03 pm

Dooley shows more loyalty to UGA than Will Muschump and Dereck didn’t even go to UGA.

GT Joe

October 7th, 2011
4:07 pm

Mutts crack me up. Blame the Auburn NC on cheating. Calls GT cheaters.

I guess they should be happy: 3-2 with no real wins of note, but at least they have a Jesus freak head coach and they’re not on probation!

Dawg48

October 7th, 2011
4:09 pm

Gt Joe is a wanna be dawg fan

GT Joe

October 7th, 2011
4:10 pm

yes. I wanna be 3-2 instead of 5-0.

GT Joe

October 7th, 2011
4:11 pm

Yes i want to be vote-less in the coaches poll vs. #13.

GT Joe

October 7th, 2011
4:11 pm

yes, i want to have less votes that DOOK in the coaches poll.

Dawg48

October 7th, 2011
4:13 pm

Yea y’all have the mighty Maryland Terpsichore coming into town

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
4:13 pm

GT Joe

Tech fans crack me up they call out people who talk about cheating yet they just got caught and had to vacate their ACC championship

wow

5-0 with no real wins of note and we are pounding our chest

Obviousdawg

October 7th, 2011
4:13 pm

GT Joe…I dont think Auburns title last year hurt any fan base worse the UGA….it hurt them worse then bama and their red niecks poisoned the trees they were so mad.

Dawg48

October 7th, 2011
4:15 pm

Thier are more people at the varsity than at grant field on game days at grant field

Dawg48

October 7th, 2011
4:19 pm

Gt Joe when was the last time tech beat Georgia when they were not caught cheating.

Uh huh

October 7th, 2011
4:22 pm

If D. Rogers is still hanging with moose chicks like the one he was pictured all over the web with from last year, Dawgs win.
On second thought, Dawgs win anways. Time for Derek to go and get Barbara back in red….Love ya Babs!

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 7th, 2011
4:22 pm

Dawg48

There are more people using the bathroom at the Varsity than at Bobby Bu Shay stadium at historic Dump field

GT Joe

October 7th, 2011
4:23 pm

GT Joe

October 7th, 2011
4:24 pm

what exactly does bobby bu shay stadium mean? I dont get the reference. Tech doesn’t have country fools.

Now Fred Sanford stadium should make perfect sense.

Gay Dawg

October 7th, 2011
4:26 pm

UGA students are not rubes GT Joe….we have alarge open minded population in our student body. Some are rubes on the outside but lots are on the DL. ;)

Beast from the East

October 7th, 2011
4:30 pm

“I honestly believe we would have beaten them had Hunter not gotten hurt.”

Bill,
There is no doubt your friend Joey has been living in the Peach State for many years. He’s got the excuse making down just like a UGA lifer!

Dawg48

October 7th, 2011
4:30 pm

Gt Joe no matter how much you hate it being a tech fan you will always be a dawg! A under dawg every time you play georgia

Eaassyy

October 7th, 2011
4:31 pm

GT Joe, have you ever commented on a TEch blog? Or do you only troll on UGA blogs bragging about your win over a UNC team that “at one time” was voted in the top 25 in one poll?

Dang it must stink to be you.

Eaassyy

October 7th, 2011
4:32 pm

GT Joe is a troll plain and simple. No attention elsewhere in his life except UGA blogs.

Dawg48

October 7th, 2011
4:36 pm

Eaassyy. Think about how lonely gt joe he sits at grant field by himself on sat cheering on the mighty jackets

LagDawg

October 7th, 2011
4:44 pm

Depends on Bobo’s dreadful playcalling. This game will probably and hopefully get him fired. He needs to start at peewee football or on the playstation. He can probably learn a lot from either one.

truedawg

October 7th, 2011
4:56 pm

Dawgs win this one close. Bray is a good QB, but not enough people to throw too. UT won’t be able to run the ball, and won’t be able to stop the dawgs from running the ball. What makes this one close is the crowd noise and Bray. The only way the Dawgs lose this game is if they turn it over and beat themselves (see SC game). Better get the ball first and quite the crowd, then GATA! GO DAWGS!!!

NiceUni

October 7th, 2011
5:24 pm

UGA has no heart, so I don’t think they will win a close game. I guess it could be a blowout in either direction, but UGA makes too may mistakes for that to happen. I like how “Joey Volunteer” hopes no one “Important” gets hurt…I guess our “unimportant” scrubs can just break pelvis or something.

FLA DAWG

October 7th, 2011
5:53 pm

I wouldn’t trade Murray for Bray plus all the tea in China. Your buddy is honest to a point then he falls off the cliff with starry-eyed emotion for his team in his evaluation.

In fairness I have to say I can’t even guess who will win this game. I guess that says alot in itself. The Dawgs are loaded with talent but we have Richt, Bobo and Grantham on the sidelines. They have a Dooley. Their team is young and improving our team is a mix of young and experienced and we had one decent game.

The Dawgs should win this one but with our coaching staff I don’t think they can. Note how well the running game is established then Bobo decides to change up with passing. He is he!! bent on a balanced attack even if it means losing I guess.

I thought MSU would lay us out last week and I’m glad I was wrong. This game is such a close and difficult call that I have to go with recent history. That means the coaches lose this one for us again against UT.

My Dawgs lose by 7.