Dogs-Vols: a Dooley coaching in Sanford Stadium, two win-starved teams, etc.
The Georgia-Tennessee game (12:21 p.m. Saturday in Sanford Stadium) at a glance:
- Familiar name in Sanford Stadium. In the stadium where his father coached Georgia’s football team for 25 years, Tennessee’s Derek Dooley will coach against the Bulldogs.
- Two victory-starved teams. The game matches two teams that still don’t have an SEC victory this season and two teams coming off bitter defeats. Georgia is 0-3 in the league (1-4 overall), while Tennessee is 0-2 in the league (2-3 overall). The Dogs lost to Colorado last week after a fumble denied them a shot at a potential game-winning field goal, while the Vols lost to LSU on the final play of the game. This will be the first Georgia-Tennessee game since 1906 that both teams enter with losing overall records. The 1906 game, by the way, ended in a 0-0 tie in Athens.
- Looking for signs of change. Georgia had more physical practices this week, donning full pads on the Monday following a game for the first time in a decade. The Bulldogs hope the extra work leads to improvement in blocking, tackling and overall physicality. Among other areas Georgia needs to show improvement: eliminating critical fumbles on offense and sharply reducing the number of explosive plays allowed by the defense.
A Georgia win would …
- Prevent the losing streak from reaching five games, which would be the Bulldogs’ longest within a single season since 1953.
- Raise the possibility of a rally to .500, what with the next two games against Vanderbilt (1-3, 1-1) and at Kentucky (3-2, 0-2).
A Tennessee win would . . .
- Give Derek Dooley his first SEC victory in his hometown of Athens, where he was born in 1968, graduated from Clarke Central High School and the UGA Law School and got his coaching start as a graduate assistant on Jim Donnan’s Georgia staff in 1996.
- Continue the Volunteers’ recent success against Georgia. (The Vols have won three of the past four meetings and four of the past six, including two of the past three in Athens.)
Keep an eye on . . .
- For Tennessee: Running back Tauren Poole, a junior from Toccoa, is one of 17 Georgians on the Vols’ roster. Poole has rushed for 100-plus yards in three games this season, including 162 vs. Oregon and 109 vs. LSU last week.
- For Georgia: Wide receiver A.J. Green had a productive season debut last week, catching seven passes for 119 yards and adding another 40 yards on an end-around run, despite Georgia not getting the ball to him in the first quarter and cramps that sidelined him for much of the third quarter. The Bulldogs hope and need to utilize Green for the full game this time.
The numbers game
- 15: True freshmen who have played for Tennessee this season, including two starters on the offensive line (Ja’Wuan James and James Stone).
- 220: Passing yards per game by Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, ranking third in the SEC.
- 191.4: Passing yards per game by Tennessee quarterback Matt Simms, ranking fifth in the SEC.
- Series record: Tennessee leads 21-16-2, including 10-8-1 in Athens.
- Last meeting: Tennessee routed Georgia 45-19 in Knoxville last year as senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton passed for 310 yards and four touchdowns.
The bottom line
Despite its 1-4 record, Georgia is an 11 1/2-point favorite over the Vols. Suffice to say, Mark Richt has never needed a win worse than right now.