Georgia Football 3 Keys: Tennessee

Three keys Georgia

The Georgia Bulldogs are very likely to make the College Football Playoff. Even if they lose to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game (which does not seem likely), they would still be 12-1 and would be hard to eliminate from the final four of college football.

By Matt Zemek

Everyone accepts that Georgia is and has been the best team in college football this season, the one team which regularly puts a thumping to its opponents every week instead of stumbling around and playing down to the level of its competition. Georgia’s defense is very clearly the best in the country, having allowed no more than 13 points to any opponent. This season has been Kirby Smart’s masterpiece, the embodiment of exactly how he wants his teams to play: ruthlessly physical, overwhelming on defense, not needing to take any real risks on offense. It is his dream season. Now come the Tennessee Volunteers, who have finally picked a head coach, Josh Heupel, who values offense and quarterback play. Tennessee had gone through a number of other coaches since Phil Fulmer who were not good teachers of the quarterback position. Heupel finally checked that box, and we can see the results. Tennessee scored 45 points against Kentucky and Mark Stoops despite having the ball under 14 minutes. The Vols certainly think they can solve the Georgia defense. Game keys for UGA begin with that fundamental challenge.

1 – Sic ‘Em

Let’s not overcomplicate things here. As Mike Tyson famously said, everyone has a game plan until they get punched in the mouth. Georgia has been punching opponents in the mouth all year, and this Saturday in Neyland Stadium needs to be no different. The Dawgs’ defensive line, like the rest of their defense, has performed at an elite level through nine games. Just go get ‘em. Get after Tennessee’s offensive line. Hit and harass Hendon Hooker, the talented Tennessee quarterback. Punch him in the mouth. Make him flinch. Get turnovers. Do what Georgia always does in 2021.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Punch the other team’s quarterback in the mouth (figuratively, since literally doing that will be a 15-yard penalty). Reap the rewards.

2 – Shut off the deep ball

Tennessee’s 45-points-in-14-minutes explosion against Kentucky was obviously built on huge pass plays. The Vols scored quickly on game-breaking plays and were repeatedly able to expose the Kentucky secondary. They will try to hit the big play on Saturday. Georgia must avoid the brief lapses which have plagued other SEC defenses which have been torn to shreds by the Vols’ newly potent offense. Saying this is very obvious. Actually going out there and implementing the game plan still needs to be carried out.

3 – Avoid complacency

Kirby Smart has successfully prevented his team from getting lazy or overconfident, so there’s not too much worry about this particular point. Moreover, this is a rivalry game between two SEC East schools who take great pride in their football prowess. One doubts that Georgia will soft-pedal this game. Nevertheless, Georgia has been hearing how great and wonderful and powerful it is. That can create a sense of invincibility. UGA must once again block out that noise and play the way it has been playing on defense for more than two full months. Tunnel vision is Georgia’s best friend.

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