It’s that time of year again, Dawg fans. Sometimes we’re up; sometimes we’re down. Sometimes Georgia players leave key body parts on the Neyland Stadium turf.
Last week, Mississippi State’s unexpected blow out of LSU led me to struggle with assessing Georgia’s chances. That’s not where I had trouble this week.
Jason Butt sums up Tennessee’s season to date as “a desperation touchdown pass away from being undefeated”, which sounds somewhat like a Georgia fan stretching to describe the 2016 team as a near miss or two away from a ten-win season. Things actually haven’t been that great. The Vols squeaked by Georgia Tech by virtue of a bad read by Tech’s quarterback on the last play of the game and struggled to put away UMass last week.
Georgia has shown itself to be the better team through four games. I looked hard for something for UT to hang its hat on today, and the best I could come up with was getting Georgia in third and four+ situations, where the Dawgs haven’t exactly torn things up converting for the first down. That’s hardly an earth-shattering observation, though.
All I keep coming back to for today are the intangibles. If Georgia dodges complacency, that’s a huge step towards a win. On Tennessee’s side, forget about Jones coaching for his job for a minute and consider that a loss means UT’s conference season is essentially over. That’s everything to play for, even before you get to the head coach. They’re going to be ratcheted up; the question is whether they can maintain that for a full sixty minutes.
I doubt it, honestly. There’s going to be a lot put on John Kelly’s shoulders, and while he’s a terrific player, nothing suggests he’s terrific enough. That’s a lot of pressure, and on the other side, if Georgia’s defense is capable of limiting the Tennessee rushing game and make the Vol offense one-dimensional, it’s game over. It may not be that way for a while, but I’ve got the feeling it will be by the fourth quarter, as Nick Chubb gets some measure of redemption and the Dawgs win by ten.
Comments on the game are welcomed, as always.