The Dawgs have a chance to get off the division schneid Saturday, as Rocky Top comes to town. To get a start on what’s about to arrive, you might take a look at this mid-season overview. Some high points from it:
Through three games, Tennessee’s allowed nine sacks after the veteran group that put four players on NFL rosters surrendered just 15 all of last season. A better comparison is perhaps the 2010 offensive line, also an inexperienced group, that also allowed nine in the season’s first three games, including six to Florida.
Against Oklahoma, Tennessee often stacked the box with up to eight defenders and used a variety of slants and twists on the defensive line, and it largely worked. With an undersized group, the Vols likely will have to rely on a similar blueprint for the power-run teams left on the schedule. Tennessee also must find more depth after using essentially six linemen so far.
If the Vols have to continue to gear their defensive game plans toward stopping opponents from running the ball, Tennessee’s secondary will have to manage being left in some one-on-one matchups. Against Oklahoma, the Vols allowed five passing plays of 20-plus yards, and eight missed tackles were a big reason why.
And my thoughts:
First, it’s not just sacks that are a problem. Check out how the Vols have done with tackles for loss allowed. That ain’t pretty. It’s also more than twice Georgia’s rate. Does that mean Georgia’s offensive line has performed better than Tennessee’s? Probably, but it’s just as likely to mean that Worley’s holding the ball longer than Mason and that UT’s running backs aren’t as good as avoiding tackles in the backfield as Todd Gurley. It’s probably going to be the case every week, but the biggest key to a win on Saturday is Georgia’s pass rush.
Stacking eight undersized defenders in the box to slow down the run reminds me of something Todd Gurley said: “Because if they want to put six or seven guys in the box I’m like, OK, do that. I like that though, because it’s good because if you get past that second level all you have is the safeties.” It brings to mind how Georgia ground down Clemson’s defense until the dam broke in the fourth quarter.
And as long as Georgia sells the run, you know what else that means. Butch Jones knows what else that means.
Finally, Jones is talking about starting as many as five true freshmen on offense Saturday. That’s a lot of green you’re asking to face a hostile SEC crowd on the road.