The 2-0 Tennessee Vols look to continue their impressive start to the season. They face a daunting task on Saturday as the side travels to Athens to face the 2-0 – and No. 3 ranked team in the country – Georgia Bulldogs.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
Run the ball
The Vols will provide a test on the ground to a Georgia defense that has been unreal against the run this season. The running game went for 232 yards and four scores against Mizzou. Eric Gray and Ty Chandler combined for 195 of those yards and they give the Vols a solid one-two punch that they will use to attack the Bulldogs’ defensive front. Jarrett Guarantano is also an arch poacher around the goal line where his instincts often come into their own.
The Georgia run defense has been a beast so far this season. They have allowed just 116 total yards and have yet to give up a touchdown on the ground. They are also allowing opponents to rush for just 2.3 yards per carry – a crazy number in the world of college football. This battle will be one that helps decide the outcome of the game.
Continue the efficiency
Sometimes all it takes to win a game of football is to not beat yourself. This is especially true against the likes of Mizzou and South Carolina, where just not turning the ball over – while gaining three takeaways – and committing just nine penalties saw Tennessee in comfortable wins. One area that does need to keep getting betting is the Vols work on third down. There were improvements though, going from a 1-of-11 conversion rate against the Gamecocks to a much better 6-of-11 against the Tigers. There will need to be big plays against Georgia, but not committing mistakes is a base to work from.
Get after Stetson Bennett
The Bulldogs quarterback who came off of the bench against Arkansas to pick up the tempo and the win has been just what Georgia needed through six quarters of action. He has thrown for 451 yards and three touchdowns at a 65% efficiency rate, but he has avoided big mistakes with zero interceptions so far in his college career. He has, however, yet to be truly pressured and it will be interesting to see how he reacts if the Vols defense can lay in some hits and disrupt his timing. Young quarterbacks are always vulnerable to a mistake and Tennessee can capitalize here.