Dogs-Vols looks like an offensive showdown

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray has put up some gaudy passing numbers. (Associated Press)

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray has put up some gaudy passing numbers. (Associated Press)

Despite the two touchdown point spread, Georgia fans know the rivalry with Tennessee is a tough one and frequently confounds expectations, so I don’t believe anyone in red and black is taking this game for granted.

But how do the invading hordes in orange pants feel about it? For the Rocky Top viewpoint, as usual, we go to my old Volunteer friend Joey Ledford

I’d like to thank my old buddy Bill for asking me to come play in his Junkyard for the third straight year. I’ve spent more years in Georgia than I did growing up in Tennessee and I love it here, but I will always be a Volunteer.

I can’t help but think a lot of Dawgs are overlooking us, gazing down the road at those Carolina Chickens. Rather than be angry about that, it is fine with me. We like being overlooked. Smokey can bite back and finally, Coach Derek Dooley has enough players to make this a game.

Let’s start with our offense. Tyler Bray is a tremendous passer. Note I didn’t say a quarterback, because he’s got to lead us to victory over some tough SEC rivals before I will consider him an elite quarterback. That said, the Kingsburg, Calif., junior has put up some seriously gaudy numbers. He has averaged 325 yards a game so far this year with 12 touchdowns against 3 picks. We have run the ball much better this year, averaging 172 yards a game. As Coach Richt pointed out this week, we have piled up more yards over four games than any other team in Tennessee football history, and we’ve averaged 38 points.

We match up well with you guys since your secondary is a wee bit suspect, though I recognize your suspended players will be back. I like our receivers over anybody’s in the SEC despite the fact Dooley kicked Dalton bad boy Da’Rick Rogers off the team. Junior Justin Hunter, who is 6-4 and doubles as a long jumper, has caught 30 passes for 410 yards. JC transfer Cordarrelle Patterson fits in right where Rogers left off. He’s a physical 6-3, 205 and can really run. We also have an excellent tight end, redshirt senior Mychal Rivera, who can catch it over the middle.

Georgia fans hope to see some more of this Saturday. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Georgia fans hope to see some more of this Saturday. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Rajion Neal, who may be the fastest guy on the team (he’s run a 4.36 40) and is also one of the strongest, is our No. 1 tailback. He’s from Henry County, by the way. We’ve done a lot to improve the running game, but it’s still not what we want, especially on 3rd and short. You may want to prepare for our wildcat package though, which so far has featured three different QBs, including sophomore linebacker A.J. Johnson from Gainesville, a hard-hitter you guys didn’t actively recruit and appears to be a bit motivated for Saturday.

We finally have some size on the defensive front. We’ve had a hard time coming up with a nickname for our nose tackle, Daniel McCullers.  “Man Mountain” has been used, and somebody on ESPN called him “Smoky Mountain.” Dan, another JC transfer, is an honest 6-8 and 360. Our defensive coordinator, Sal Sunseri, who also coached Terrence Cody at Alabama, says McCullers is a lot more athletic. The other two guys on our 3-4 front are 300 and 288.

Along with Johnson at linebacker, we have fifth-year senior Herman Lathers, an inspirational team leader, and Curt Maggit, a speedy 240-pound sophomore. Both of these guys have been banged up, but they are getting healthy just in time for the Dawgs.

A.J. Johnson is the Volunteers' defensive leader. (Associated Press)

A.J. Johnson is the Volunteers' defensive leader. (Associated Press)

Like you guys, we worry a bit about our secondary, especially when it comes to speed. We lost one safety to injury, but our leader back there is senior corner Prentiss Waggner, who has eight career picks, and Southern Cal transfer Byron Moore, a redshirt junior safety, who has three so far this year.

On special teams, our placekicking has been nearly as exciting as yours. We’ve missed three extra points and don’t have a field goal longer than 37 yards. But we’ve settled on a walk-on who is 5 for 5 on field goals and hopefully we’ve stabilized a bit there. And unlike two years ago in Sanford, we can now catch a punt, so no freebies for you there.

I’ve picked the Vols the last two years, and since I have such a horrible record as a picker, I’ll try to continue my streak by taking you guys this year. I do think the Vols will cover.

Good luck on Saturday and be nice to me. I’ll be the guy in the orange shirt.

Thanks, Joey!

My UT friend is right that the Vols’ offense is likely to be the most challenging Georgia has faced so far this season. If Bray is allowed to sit back there in the pocket, he can pick the Dawgs defense apart, and pass defense is where UGA has been shakiest so far this season — though the expected return of Bacarri Rambo and the shifting of Sanders Commings back to cornerback does make me feel a bit better.

Also, Bray doesn’t handle pressure well, his decision-making can be suspect (not just when he’s chunking bottles at cars), and he has shown this season that he sometimes has difficulty keeping his emotions in check when things don’t go well. That’s where Georgia’s defensive front and game-changer Jarvis Jones should be a key factor. I expect Todd Grantham to bring the heat early and often and in unexpected ways.

The other key for Georgia is making Tennessee’s offense one-dimensional, and despite Joey’s optimism about the strides the Vols’ running game has made of late, the Dawgs have been pretty tough against the run. And that was without Alec Ogletree, who should bolster the rushing defense even if he’s a bit rusty after his four-game suspension.

If Todd Gurley continues to break tackles, it could be a long day for the Vols. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

If Todd Gurley continues to break tackles, it could be a long day for the Vols. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

On defense, Tennessee should be a step up from Vanderbilt, but in their first year of going to the 3-4 alignment under former Alabama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri they’ve been up and down and susceptible to the big play. In the first four games, the Vols have allowed 20 plays of 20 yards or more and in the last game and a half have given up scoring plays of 80, 75 and 70 yards.

SEC offensive leader Georgia, on the other hand, has specialized in big plays this season, in both the passing game and the running game. I’m particularly excited about seeing how the Dawgs’ tailback corps of Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall and Boo Malcome do against a Vols defense that has given up more yards per rush than any SEC team except Auburn.

And seeing Malcolm Mitchell get more playing time as part of Georgia’s deep and talented wide receiver corps should be fun, too. If Aaron Murray can keep from coming out too hyped up, the Dawgs’ passing attack could have a big day.

If there’s a wild card in this game, it’s likely to be special teams. Georgia fans have been holding their breath when the Dawgs are receiving a punt and even when it’s time to kick a PAT. Mark Richt talked this week about the need to improve in both aspects of the game, so here’s hoping we’ll see things settle down there.

Bottom line: I expect Tennessee’s offense will keep them in the game for at least three quarters, but as long as Georgia doesn’t turn the ball over, I believe the Dawgs will pull away after the fans in Sanford Stadium hold up those four fingers.

What do you think?

Got something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics? Or maybe a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

106 comments Add your comment

[...] Read the rest of this great post here [...]

DIT

September 27th, 2012
10:36 am

Put pressure on Bray with Tree and J.J. early is the key. No pressure and we could be sunk. I see us coming out flat after last weeks game. Just seems to be a pattern from past years. I sure hope I’m wrong.

SC Old Dawg

September 27th, 2012
10:37 am

He gives new meaning to the term “Runs like a Gurley”

Nick

September 27th, 2012
10:43 am

As always, this game is circled on my calendar since I live in Tennessee. A third straight year of superiority over those around me would suit me just fine. BTW, they are already whining about getting rid of Dooley after gushing over him after their 2-0 start. Typical…

Go Dawgs!
GATA!

jablonski

September 27th, 2012
10:48 am

Dawgs by 3 td’s. Dooleys team quits. Watch the FL game.

chilidawg

September 27th, 2012
10:50 am

Dawgs pull away late. We finally have depth.

GATA= Get After That @ss

September 27th, 2012
10:51 am

I love football season

beanster

September 27th, 2012
10:52 am

UT will actually lead UGA 14 – 7 at the end of the 1st quarter. 2nd quarter the D wakes up. UGA 20 UT 14 at halftime. Offense gets it going in the 3rd quarter to pull away. Final score: UGA 41 UT 27 Oddsmakers were right all along.

Dawgs 5-0

September 27th, 2012
10:52 am

I agree that UGA will pull ahead in the fourth. I think we get a comfy 17 point lead by running the ball in the fourth. The 3-4 defense needs a monster at DT, and by monster I mean you have to be at least 320 and preferably more than that. Tenn does have one guy….one guy…I repeat one guy that fits that position. This is why UGA has been effective, because we have two. It helps the DT position to remain much more fresh in the fourth quarter. I think by 4, their line is exhausted both on offense and defense, and UGA has their way in the 4th scoring 17 maybe 21 unanswered points, but belive me, this will be close until then.

Doggie in NC

September 27th, 2012
10:52 am

Dawgs are at home, so I expect them to be out of the gate quickly. The noise will be a problem, to some degree, for Tenn. Expect it to stay close for a half, then we pull away, if we avoid the turnovers. GO DOGGIES!

[...] webmaster@technorati.com wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

[...] webmaster@technorati.com wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

Dawg Haus

September 27th, 2012
10:54 am

UT usually puts up a good fight even when the Dawgs beat them, but a fully-loaded Georgia defense and stout running game will prove too much for them. I see this one panning out like the Missouri game: close for a while and then Georgia taking over late. Go Dawgs!

Fridawg

September 27th, 2012
10:56 am

I think we finally see our full on pass rush this week. Jarvis should be freed up to get Bray knowing that Tree and Rambo are behind him. Dawgs win big by taking advantage of the UT 3-4 in its first year. Remember when Grantham first arrived? Everybody exploited the big play opportunities.

JAWS

September 27th, 2012
10:57 am

Vols win the toss and defer…Dawgs take the opening kickoff to the house and its all over from there. 24-7 halftime. Final = 44-20

Saldiven

September 27th, 2012
10:57 am

You know, I’m not sold on whether or not the game will be as much of a shoot-out as some of the prognosticators believe. I’ve been looking at UT’s stats, and the one time they have faced an SEC opponent, they were held to 20 points and 340 total yards. UGA’s offensive stats have, for the most part, been against lower tier opponents, too. I have a feeling that total scoring will be a lot less than most seem to expect.

G-Dawg

September 27th, 2012
10:57 am

Dawgs get inside Bray’s head…and Tenn loses focus. Defense tries to carry them…but wont last 4 quarters.

[...] webmaster@technorati.com wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

robodawg

September 27th, 2012
11:00 am

I agree with your prediction, Bill. We should take this game in the 4th quarter if not sooner. I think we stop their offense more than they stop ours. This is our game to lose. Just play hard, make good decisions and protect the ball.

I love to beat the Vols. GATA!

beanster

September 27th, 2012
11:01 am

Note to random and various Moms who have been sitting in Section 126 Row 23, seats 4-8 for the past couple of weeks: This is the UT game. I will be yelling. Loudly. I am sorry if I scare your children. I am not doing it on purpose. I promise.

SSIgator

September 27th, 2012
11:03 am

“Dogs-Vols looks like an offensive showdown”
___________________

Well, it is certainly offensive.

Top Row Dawg

September 27th, 2012
11:04 am

The Vols have stepped on the nose of some of our best teams……

1) I start with the 1968 SEC champion Bulldogs with Bill Stanfill and Jake Scott. The famous last second come from behind tie. Dooley’s 1968 team finished first in Litkenhous poll, giving Georgia a claim to the national championship in that year. Tennessee had won that poll a year earlier (or later I forget). Georgia finished the regular season undefeated but lost to Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl for a #8 AP finish.

2) Then we come to the 1992 game when UT surrendered over 600 yards of offense – but the seven turnovers by Georgia turned the result. Heath Shuler vs. Eric Zeire. After losing a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter, Tennessee was forced to come back with less than five minutes remaining in the game.A young Heath Shuler faced 4th-and-14, down 31-27 with just over two minutes left. After a QB draw 25 yards later, the Vols were still alive. Shuler made another clutch pass to get the Vols inside the ten, before taking in the go-ahead touchdown with just under one minute remaining. Georgia would only lose to Florida later that year on another 4th and long QB draw. Alabama won the National championship beating Florida in the 1st SECCG. Georgia went on to a 10th place finish beating Kirk Herbstreet and Ohio State in the Citrus Bowl.

3) Arrgh 2004. The 17th ranked Vols were double-digit underdogs at No. 3 Georgia. Problem is, someone apparently forgot to tell the young Vols that they had no business winning this game.True freshman quarterback Erik Ainge threw four picks in an absolute thrashing by No. 8 Auburn (34 -10) one week prior to Tennessee’s visit to Athens. Georgia had a punt return TD called back for holding. Tennessee outlasted Georgia 19-14 and broke a 4 game losing streak. Georgia finished #6 that season after losing to National Champion LSU in the SECCG.

4) Then the toughest loss……2007. The unranked Vols were flying way under the radar following two losses in their first four games. Their lone wins coming against Southern Miss and Arkansas State. No one gave the Vols much of a chance against the No. 12 ‘Dawgs and their QB/RB tandem of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno. When the score was 28-0 at halftime in favor of the Vols, however, Tennessee was no longer flying under the radar. Tennessee went on to win 35-14, halting Georgia’s winning streak in Knoxville at three. The Vols, on the strength of the winning head-to-head tiebreaker with the Bulldogs, went on to win the SEC East. Georgia would not lose again that season finishing #2 after a Sugar Bowl win over Hawaii.

So 4 top ten teams UT has conquered. Don’t let up guys, fans, make some noise.

Our time, our season, no regrets!!!!

Columbus Dawg

September 27th, 2012
11:12 am

Dawgs need to run the ball effectively, especially in the second half. Keep the ball away from Bray and he can’t do much damage. Returning players need to be on their toes. I know they have been practicing, but practice is practice, not an SEC East rivalry game. The Pumpkins would like nothing better than knock off the Dawgs. From here on out, perception is everything. Moving up in polls is now officially a beauty contest. Georgia needs to make it look easier than Florida did, especially on D. The D is where UGA will be compared to Florida State from here out. A score similar to that against Mizzou is needed and expected. Dawgs must strive to cover spread every week from now on. Richt needs to get a mean streak and quit worrying about hurting the other team’s feelings. He should have scored sixty on Vandy, but was too… to do it. He did not learn this from his old boss, Bowden would run up the score every chance he got, because he knew the importance of perception as related to poll positions. Bowden was interested in winning national titles, not just division titles.

Old Dawg

September 27th, 2012
11:14 am

I see UGA making more plays on defense than UT, so it’s the Dawgs in a squeakier.

After the struggles UGA has had with the UT in the past, I don’t see anyone overlooking them.

Dawgs 5-0

September 27th, 2012
11:17 am

I can tell you that anyone who doesn’t think Tenn will put up a fight is a fool. These guys are good! Not geat, but good. Does anyone else remember the 90’s? They owned us! I remember when we finally beat them in 2000, and the only other time I have been that excited was when we beat Florida back in 97. We can’t afford a let down. For the first time in history, UGA has Tenn down and we need to keep them down like they did us in the 90’s.

[...] the rest of this great post here Be Sociable, Share! [...]

Desert Fox

September 27th, 2012
11:40 am

The D was the game changer for the dawgs in the MO game and I believe the same will be true against TN. GA will need some gimme’s in the way of turn overs from the D to add points on the score board. TN has the tools to score on offense and even at full strength our D may be a little rusty w/Rambo and Tree playing their first game in 5 weeks. If GA can continue running the ball effectively as it has been it will open the passing game which the dawgs have mastered since the season began. Get it going fast, no mistakes on special teams, sustain it for 4 qtrs and the dawgs add another W and confidence heading into the seasons biggest game against SC. GO DAWGS!

RxDawg

September 27th, 2012
11:50 am

About the only thing I can’t see happening is a route in favor of UT. But I suppose even that is possible… Regardless, we know a lot about both of these teams, but there is a lot we don’t know as well. I said early on that a team with a good passing attack could really burn us, and UT has that. So let’s lace em up and GATA. I saw a post online somewhere “stay humble, don’t stumble”.

CHDawg

September 27th, 2012
12:00 pm

UT has been a persistent spoiler for us. Hopefully, the Dawgs play mistake-free ball and take care of business. First game we have our D back, and that should be interesting to watch. Nice analysis by Bill and his hillbilly friend! Go Dawgs.

Joey

September 27th, 2012
12:03 pm

I feel certain Tn will attach our defense where Ogletree and Rambo are located just because they have not played this year. They may be rusty and therefore Tn qb may be set up for attacking them.

No Bozos

September 27th, 2012
12:03 pm

A strong running game with some effective (short to medium) passes and a tough D SHOULD allow us to win comfortably.

However, long incompletions on first down and other assorted bizarre play calls could make this close or cost us a game.

Lonnie

September 27th, 2012
12:04 pm

Top Row. U are so right! This is a critical game for us and based on our past that is how we should look at each game this season. I do think the leadership of Jarvis and the incentive of tree and Rambo coming out strong is going to propel us to victory. Will be another battle in the war of the SEC.

bill arp

September 27th, 2012
12:06 pm

Going to be tough a game. They can put up some points.

UGA-33, UT-29 (Both teams with a missed PAT)…

Dawg Haus

September 27th, 2012
12:16 pm

I like how CMR has been showing the team the 2004 UT game this week. The Vols deserve 100% of the team’s attention. No looking ahead to the chickens!

ARdawg

September 27th, 2012
12:20 pm

It’ll look tough early. Murray has the ability to put the Vols away with offensive firepower in the first half. Whether he will or not is the question. Bray and the Vol receivers will eek out a few TD’s along with a few FGs. Does UGA score 40+ again? I say yes. There is a statement Murray has yet to make and he might do it this game. That’s guiding an unstoppable offense against a lesser opponent. The defense can make a statement but the Vols will move the ball. By halftime there should be no question who wins this game but TN might keep it close a while longer 48-24 Dawgs

OkieDawg

September 27th, 2012
12:32 pm

Bobo holds the key. If the new Bobo shows up with a good mix of spread, pistol and power formations, we will have too many weapons and looks to defend. However, if the old Bobo shows up with 2 short runs up the middle and then a long incompletion to set up a 3rd and 12 for the QB draw, then we could be in trouble.

I know, giving the key to Bobo is SCARY!

UGA Insider

September 27th, 2012
12:39 pm

If you put immense pressure on Bray he will fold.

The game is as simple as that.

The Dude

September 27th, 2012
12:44 pm

Tennesse will beat Georgia by two touchdowns, then Georgia will have the wheels fall off and lose to South Carolina by four touchdowns. I don’t blame you Georgia fans for pulling for your team, but some of you really underestimate Tennessee.

ARdawg

September 27th, 2012
12:47 pm

Okie
I really like what I have seen from Bobo thus far this year. He does have more go to offensive weapons than I can ever remember. His conservatism is now wide @zz open. Fresh power running game, many talented receivers and Murray who appears to have finally come into his own. A smorgasboard of attack. In the last 7-8 years we have been limited. Qusimoto could be successful with those weapons

ARdawg

September 27th, 2012
12:48 pm

Dude, your nerds will struggle mightily with Middle TN ST. Hopefully you get the win

Columbus Dawg

September 27th, 2012
12:49 pm

Some are saying that Bobo will be up for a mid tier head coaching job at season’s end, don’t know the validity of it, but it could be giving him motivation to become less predictable, as most on blogs have labeled him. The good line play and upgrades at running back position are making it easier for him as well. The new found success in the running game is helping Murray’s play action to a huge degree. TG already very impressive before Vandy game, now KM has had highlights, this will make him want more… You can tell by the absence of the loud mouth Bama folks that they are taking notice of Georgia’s new, overall improved football squad. Trending up… Georgia Bulldogs!!!

Dawg Haus

September 27th, 2012
1:02 pm

The dude does not abide.

mad~catfish

September 27th, 2012
1:05 pm

Tennessee always gives us a tough game i do not care what there record is. and there is just something in the air between the two schools..they beat us like step children for years and then a bunch or drunk idiot’s from Athens tore down our goal post and destroyed the most sacred thing of all the HEDGES! because of a victory over the great pumpkin…..not to ever forget a LEGEND was born against these guys that highlight is still showed today….don’t takes these guys lightly..we can worry about frying the chicken next week!!!! i would much rather concentrate on hearing a coon hound screaming in pain about 7:45 sat night!

WDE

September 27th, 2012
1:06 pm

@Dude I think you might be over estimating UF…I see this being a pretty close game and lower scoring than most expect.

ARdawg

September 27th, 2012
1:10 pm

Columbus,
I would question that however, should UGA win the conference, some would certainly take notice. He is set up for success. I have been one of his strongest critics for the last 4 years. I’ve not seen anything about his game planning I liked until this year. I wonder how it relates to the talent

ZinoDawg

September 27th, 2012
1:12 pm

@The Dude – SC could only score 17 against Vandy but they will beat us by 4 TD’s?

Time to put the bong down and get back to work.

OkieDawg

September 27th, 2012
1:17 pm

Combine Gurley and Marshall and you get Gurshall. Probably old by now, but I just saw it on another site.

NCDawg

September 27th, 2012
1:26 pm

Bray can’t stand to get hit. If the Dawgs pound him early and often the game is pretty much over. He needs grass stains on his jersey. I sure hope I see him walking off the field with that “game over dude!” look he had against Florida. He can sling the ball for sure but he needs to be able to take the heat if he wants to be considered elite. I can’t wait to see what our D looks like with everybody on the field.

RxDawg

September 27th, 2012
1:28 pm

Okie, that’s not all. #3 Gurley + #4 Marshall = #34 Gurshall

mad~catfish

September 27th, 2012
1:28 pm

I ACTUALLY HEARD A RUMOR ABOUT BOBO FOR THAT GEORGIA STATE JOB….and i have also heard about kirby smart for arkansas or kentucky.