Bud Elliott thinks he’s found it.
The line gives them a shot in this game. I want to see how much of it can translate. So far Tennessee is No. 3 in the country at avoiding third-and-long. To what extent Tennessee can continue that will be crucial in this game. And they’ve played two SEC defenses, though not good ones, but it’s not like they’ve played a soft schedule. Seven out of ten third downs faced by Tennessee are not long downs. That’s awesome.
And as a result, QB Jarret Guarantano has not been asked to face many passing downs. They have run the ball, thrown the short pass, and stayed ahead of the chains.
I have questions about Guarantano and the Tennessee receivers. I don’t know if Tennessee has difference makers outside.
So can Tennessee continue its avoidance of long down and distance? And how well will Guarantano and the receivers play in those situations? That will be a major key in this game because I suspect Georgia’s awesome defense will force a lot of leverage situations.
So far, the Tennessee passing game has been bad on third and five plus. Guarantano has dropped back 11 times in that situation. Twice they converted for a first down, three times he was sacked, and four times the ball fell incomplete.
Or, to put it another way…
So, is Guarantano a case of a quarterback who’s grown and figured out how to play the position, or has Jim Chaney done a good job of leveraging his solid offensive line play and running game to protect Guarantano from his inconsistencies? Either way, what can Georgia’s defense do about it?
Well, for one thing, there’s this:
And, finally, this.
Job One looks like what it always is for Smart and Lanning — stop the other guy’s running attack. Not an easy thing to do this week. As this tweet shows, it’s strength against strength.
Essentially, Jim Chaney is doing at UT what he did at UGA, albeit with less talent at the skill positions. Can Georgia’s defense take him out of his comfort zone? Or — and I know this is a somewhat weird thought — can Georgia’s offense be productive enough to accomplish the same ends?