The Vols travel to Athens to take on Georgia on Saturday and our staff predicted the outcome of the game for your reading (and gambling) pleasure.
According to Las Vegas, Tennessee is currently a 31-point underdog and the over/under is 51.5. Let’s get to it…
Celina Summers (@CelinaSummers):
Well, it’s hard to be positive right now, isn’t it? The fact of the matter is that this is a transition year…a push, and always has been. There are a lot of “if’s” in this game when considering the Vols. IF they can execute. IF they can protect the pocket. IF they can defend against a potent dual offensive attack. IF they can stop getting senseless penalties. IF they can avoid coughing up the ball six times. IF the Vols can come out on Saturday and demonstrate growth from last week’s debacle, this game doesn’t have to be a blowout the way almost everyone is predicting it to be.
If, if, if.
I think we’ll see growth. I have no doubts whatsoever that the product on the field this weekend will be improved over last weekend. But that’s not going to be enough against Georgia. At the end of the day, this will be another big loss for the Vols, but I look to see substantial improvements in play. This is a no pressure game because no one expects the Vols to win. Let’s see what that translates to on the scoreboard.
John Monroe (@MinisterofD):
This week the Vols start probably the toughest 3 game stretch of any team in the country. First up is Georgia. After a disappointing showing last week, Tennessee will look to avenge last year’s blowout to Georgia, which was the Vols’ first shutout loss in 20 years. Unfortunately, if you watched last week’s debacle, there’s a good chance of more of the same. The Vol offensive line is a mess right now and unless they get it together in a hurry, Jarrett Guarantano will be on for a long day. Much like Florida, the Bulldogs will look to hit Guarantano early and often. While Georgia may not have the success that Florida did early in the game, their defense will eventually run the show. With some drama created over the summer from a few UGA alumni, I look for the Bulldogs to have a little extra motivation. Tennessee’s defense will hold the Bulldogs in check for a while, but they can only do so much for so long before fatigue sets in. Expect Georgia to come close to covering the spread, while the Vols will hope to catch the Bulldogs sleeping and find a way to keep it close going into the 4th.
Jordan Burns (@VolSportsTalkJB):
Over recent years, Tennessee could take solace in the fact that no matter how bad they were playing, they would always go toe-to-toe with Georgia. From 2011-2016, each game was decided by one possession. Three of those by only three points with Tennessee winning two of them.
However, times have changed, and Tennessee and Georgia are headed in opposite directions. Georgia up, Tennessee down. The Vols had a chance in 2015 and 2016 to take advantage of Georgia being down and position itself at the top of the SEC East. But they instead came up short in each season and allowed UGA to get back on its feet and come back stronger than before. To put it in VFL Jayson Swain’s words, “Georgia lapped Tennessee.”
Last year, the Bulldogs rumbled into Neyland Stadium and handed the Vols a heart-shattering 41-0 beat down. It was Tennessee’s worst home loss since a 45-0 defeat by Vanderbilt in 1905. Vol Nation was left in shambles. Not to mention, it was the nail in Butch Jones’ coffin and a cold wake-up call that the black cloud had returned over Knoxville.
This time around, Tennessee is in a complete rebuild while Georgia simply re-loaded. It makes Tennessee fans very envious that Georgia can lose tons of talented seniors to the NFL, and fill those voids with no issue at all. Once you have reached that point as a program in the SEC, you’ve essentially reached the pinnacle.
And this time, the game is ‘Between the Hedges’ in Athens. Not good. Not good at all.
Let’s take a look at the Big Orange offense.
If Tennessee’s offense can’t perform against a bad Florida team at home with a sold-out crowd, there’s no reason to believe they can move the ball with any amount of success on the road against the No. 2 team in America.
The Vols defense? Also in trouble. Georgia’s rushing attack is nothing short of dangerous. They are averaging 250 yards per game, and rank 14th in the country in rushing offense. The Vols defense ranks 59th against the rush. While not completely terrible, Tennessee’s defense is still vastly outmatched in the trenches.
At least Georgia QB Jake Fromm is just a game manager, right? Not so fast. Fromm does rank 65th in the country in passing, but that’s only because the rushing offense is so successful. And last week, when called upon, Fromm came through. He went 13-23 for 260 yards. Not bad. Tennessee, with the exception of West Virginia, is not terrible against the pass. They rank 51st in the nation in pass defense. If the Vols want to stay in the game, this is where they may have a shot to do so.
At the end of the day, however, there’s just too much UGA for Tennessee to handle. The Vols keep it competitive and maybe close at halftime, simply due to the fact that Tennessee will probably be hyped up for the game.
But in the 2nd half, D’Andre Swift and Co. take over, and Georgia rumbles through Tennessee.
Matthew Dossett (@MatthewD9999):
This could be a painful game to watch for the Volunteer faithful. This is one of those games where Kirby Smart and Georgia might be able to just pick their score. The Bulldogs have stockpiled a mountain of blue-chip players in the last couple of recruiting classes. They have five and high four-star players all over the football field. Take quarterback for example. Let’s say Jake Fromm gets injured and comes out of the ballgame. They then insert former No. 1 high school dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields. And there are similar situations with plenty of other positions on the field.
To even have a hope of staying in the ballgame, Tennessee needs to play sound, near flawless football. Georgia has arguably the best defense the Vols will see all season long. Their defensive front is nasty and it could be jailbreak city all day long. Unfortunately, I don’t see Tennessee waving a magic wand and suddenly be able to block the Dawgs.
On the flip side, I think UGA will gash Tennessee with their rushing attack. It is worth noting that UGA offensive lineman Cade Mays for the Dogs may see a bunch of snaps for the Dawgs’ offensive line. He was a prized UT commit for about two years.
In the end, I think Tennessee gets boat raced.
Charlie Burris (@Charlie_Burris):
Well, this is just unpleasant.
Georgia is a 31-point favorite to beat Tennessee. The biggest spread in the history of the series by a large margin. And the most insane part is that two years ago, Tennessee won this game. IN ATHENS.
How did things go so wrong, so fast for UT?
We can contemplate that question another time and just chalk up this ridiculous situation to the utter and unbelievable incompetence of Butch Jones.
Anyway, let’s actually break this game down. Georgia’s offense is solid. Not as good as last year but still very effective. Tennessee’s defense is okay, not completely awful but likely not good enough to hold the Bulldogs down for four quarters. Tennessee’s offense is a dump. The o-line can’t block and that forces Jarrett Guarantano into bad passes and turnovers and it stunts the running game at every turn. Georgia’s defense, much like the offense, isn’t as dynamic as last season but it’s still very good.
Looking across all positions, there really isn’t a matchup where the Vols have an advantage and that does not bode well for providing any kind of hope for hanging in this game.
I’m not a doom and gloom guy when it comes to the future of this Vols team, I believe Jeremy Pruitt can put the train back on the tracks, but the fact of the matter is this: Right now, Georiga is better than Tennessee in basically every way. The Bulldogs roll and Tennessee welcomes the bye week with open arms.