Okay, skipping straight to the bottom line, my heart and my head both see a Georgia win today.
My head notes that while last week proved to be a bad match of Georgia’s strengths against Alabama, this week is just the opposite. The Dawgs should be able to run on Tennessee and should, in facing a weaker offensive line today, have some success against UT’s running game. If Georgia can get back to playing to its strengths, that should make Lambert a better quarterback and perhaps the field position battle swings more in Georgia’s favor, too. (That would help negate the sinking feeling I get every time Barber punts.) That all adds up to a comfortable win.
In response, my heart feels, fine, but… special teams and Tennessee’s running quarterback make this a much closer game than pointing to Georgia’s strengths might show. It’s more prudent to expect Georgia to win, but not cover the 3.5 line.
It’s the intangibles that add real intrigue to how the day plays out. Does Georgia bounce back emotionally and mentally from being seal-clubbed last Saturday? What kind of attention is Tennessee paying to Booch and the coaching staff after blowing three big leads, partly due to some questionable game management decision, and after dealing with that physical altercation story this week?
As to the latter, I’ve got no idea, but it’s worth remembering something I pointed out in a post from a couple of months ago about Georgia’s five-game winning streak over the Vols.
Yes, every one of the last four games came down to a one-score margin.
- 2014: 35-32
- 2013: 34-31
- 2012: 51-44
- 2011: 20-12 (Note: UT scored with 2:45 left on the clock in the fourth quarter.)
But you know what else every one of those four games sported? A big (at least two scores) Georgia lead.
- 2014: 21-10
- 2013: 17-3
- 2012: 27-10
- 2011: 20-6
This team has recently had a bad habit of relaxing against Tennessee. Maybe it’s time to take the Vols seriously for a full sixty minutes. Try hanging on to that big lead, guys, or stay focused by struggling for the game’s entirety.
If it’s Georgia that does the mouth punching early on today, how do both teams respond? How does the Neyland Stadium crowd respond?
Aside from the win, my wish list today is pretty short. First and foremost, Schottenheimer needs to get Lambert settled down and comfortable. It’s going to be a longer season than we expected if there is less confidence in the starting quarterback this year than there was in 2014. Second, I expect that Pruitt’s had a fair share of coachable moments with his charges in the secondary after their disappointing play against Calvin Ridley. Sounder play from the DBs would be nice to see – and if Georgia is successful in controlling the UT running game, necessary to keep Tennessee from taking charge.
That’s all I got. What say you?