Georgia knows what it has to do.
The Bulldogs need to go “old school” with Tennessee coming to Athens this Saturday afternoon for another SEC headknocker. All eyes will be on the Dogs and the Vols as they tee it up at 3:30 p.m. with a CBS television audience.
Georgia, fresh off a 31point defeat to Ole Miss, needs to go back to basics. The Dogs need to play some old time Georgia football. The Dogs need to establish the running game and pound away at Tennessee one carry at a time with junior running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
The Dogs have to win the battle on the line of scrimmage in order to have a chance to defeat the No. 11ranked and undefeated Volunteers. Georgia’s manhood will be tested against the 4-0 boys from “Rocky Top”.
The Vols are swimming in talent. They have size, depth and momentum – and the Vols are the first place team in the Eastern Division of the SEC. Tennessee knocked off Florida, 38-28 last Saturday in Knoxville. The Vols spent a lot of energy in defeating the Gators, and Georgia might be catching UT at exactly the right time.
But the Dogs are still going to need some downhill running from Chubb and Michel, both of whom were held to less than 100 yards against Ole Miss last week. Georgia has been getting pushed around on the offensive line as of late. The Dogs need some consistent run blocking and better pass protection from senior center Brandon Kublanow, sophomore guard Lamont Gallard (6-foot-2, 301 pounds), junior lineman Isaiah Wynn (6-foot-2, 280 pounds), and senior tackles Greg Pyke and Tyler Catalina (6-foot-6, 314 pounds).
The Georgia offensive line has given up 12 sacks this year. Freshman quarterback Jacob Eason of UGA is still learning the ropes and the college game. The last thing that Eason needs is a defensive tackle draped over his shoulders and a 250-pound linebacker lunging at his feet.
Eason will need to make some timely throws against Tennessee. Eason has passed for 780 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions this season. He isn’t perfect, but Eason has a big time arm. He has some velocity.
Georgia will also need a hyperactive defense on Saturday against Tennessee. The Vols have some devastating offensive skill with senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs (805 yards passing, 241 yards rushing), junior running back Jalen Hurd, senior tailback Alvin Kamara and junior wide receiver Josh Malone (17 catches, five touchdowns).
The Bulldog defense is not yet hitting on all cylinders, but that will need to change. Georgia will need to play some inspired defense against the Vols, and UGA needs to get a whole lot more out of sophomore defensive tackle Trenton Thompson, junior nose tackle John Atkins, and linebackers Davis Bellamy, Lorenzo Carter (6-foot-6, 242 pounds) and Raquan Smith.
They can’t afford to take any plays off against Tennessee. Georgia doesn’t want a repeat of last week when it lost to Ole Miss, 45-14.
Welcome to the SEC. Each Saturday brings more passion, heartbreaks and even some fourth quarter goal line stands. The Dogs might need one of those against Tennessee.
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer