Let me ask you guys a question.
How is it possible for Tennessee to get three CONSECUTIVE illegal formation penalties on the punt team?
Let me repeat that. The. Punt. Team.
Jeremy Pruitt should be asking some hard questions of safeties/special teams coordinator Charles Kelly after a humiliating first quarter meltdown in the punt game made the Vols look like they were absolutely clueless. After that, it was hard to imagine there would be a lot of positives to pull from the hot afternoon in Athens.
But there were positives.
One of the best things about watching a team in transition is seeing them put it together on the field. The Vols could have just laid down and let the Bulldogs roll right over them in the second half, but they didn’t. The touchdown drive that culminated with the Josh Palmer touchdown–that was watching a team turn the corner and properly executing. Jeremy Banks’s runs turned mean in the second half, which was good to see, although that was negated by the late fumble that led to UGA’s final score.
The defense seemed to be scrappier, more intense than what we saw last week. But after being on the field for 18 minutes in the first half, they were worn gradually down by a Georgia offense that was firing on all cylinders. A real bright spot was the emergence of LB Darrell Taylor, with two forced fumbles and three sacks on the day, including a massive sack of UGA QB Jake Fromm in the third quarter.
The real takeaway from the game happened in the last quarter and a half. All of a sudden, we were watching a REAL Tennessee-Georgia game, a game between bitter rivals who respect each other. No one expected the Vols to beat the #2 team in the country today. I don’t believe in “moral victories” in football, so that’s not what I’m saying. But what I, at least, saw on the field in Athens is progress: a much cleaner, efficient game plan; and finally, saw an improving Tennessee team on the field.
Running backs C
Wide receivers B
Offensive line C
Defensive line B-
Linebackers B+ (Darrell Taylor, however, gets a big fat A)
Defensive Backs C
Special teams C-