First off, this edition of Who has the Edge did not happen last week because this columnist legitimately thought to himself, “It is 0-4 UMass, no one is going to read that. The answer is ‘Tennessee’ in every category.”
Butch Jones, his staff, and the effort by the UMass Minutemen showed us that was not the case. Either way, let’s jump in a take a look at the Bulldogs against the Vols.
The weekly headache for the Tennessee fan base continues as there is no idea who will be taking snaps at any point during the game. Dormady will start, Guarantano “will get some playing time” as he does every week.
As we saw last week, Guarantano came in for three series as Jones was trying to give the offense a spark. Guarantano has not looked good in his limited playing time despite being much better suited for the offensive scheme than Dormady. Meanwhile, Dormady continues to start every game looking like it is the first time he has ever played football. Dormady needs to hone on his accuracy, as passes have consistently been behind wide receivers.
For Georgia, freshman Jake Fromm will be coming into hostile territory. He’s the definition of game manager at this time, especially with the running backs he has at his disposal. To paraphrase Boobie Miles from Friday Night Lights, Fromm just has to “exist in those two seconds between the snap and givin’ Nick Chubb/Sony Michel the ball.”
Fromm may get rattled by the atmosphere in Neyland Stadium, but Smart and Chaney won’t be asking him to do very much passing.
John Kelly continues to be a beast for the Vols. Unfortunately, he hasn’t gotten much help from the other skill positions and his position group is getting limited carries because of how well he has been performing. He is going to have a long day as Georgia is likely to stack the box to stop him.
Nick Chubb and Sony Michel continue to be a powerful 1-2 punch for the Bulldogs. You may get mad here, but do not be surprised if a third or fourth string back busts a big run for Georgia. It happens every year in the Georgia-Tennessee game. For the Vols, Carlin Fils-Aime or Ty Chandler need to step up so the focus is not solely on Kelly.
Wide Receivers vs Defensive Backs
As a team, Georgia has 45 catches for 664 yards. Tennessee has 77 for 899. When/if Georgia throws the ball, it is going to be deep and it is more than likely going Terry Godwin or Javon Wims. Tennessee can’t fall asleep on tight end Isaac Nauta either. He is a serious threat downfield.
Tennessee’s Marquez Callaway needs to find ways to get open. Yes, he’s made some exciting catches so far this season, but he only has 8 catches through four games. That needs to change as he is a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands. Tyler Byrd got some touches against UMass, hopefully that will continue.
Tennessee’s secondary continues to show flashes, but then comes back to the ground with a bad play due to miscommunication or bad tackling. Georgia’s secondary simply has to cover long enough for their front seven to get pressure on the quarterback. Georgia may not have higher total amount of catches, but they have been making the most of it when they bring it in.
Offensive Line vs Defensive Line
Georgia’s defensive front seven is nasty. They have been flying to the football and not giving quarterbacks time to do much of anything. Tennessee is expecting Jashon Roberston to be back and ready to play, but do not be surprised if there is a little rust there.
Georgia’s offensive line has been opening holes for their backs to run through. As a team, they average 4.9 yards a carry. Tennessee’s top defensive tackle Shy Tuttle is expected to return this week which will aid a run defense that is desperate need of some help.
An SEC game in Neyland Stadium. Checker Neyland. A fan base that wants a win against a Top Ten team. Smokey grey uniforms. Peyton Manning honored on the field.
Kirby Smart is going to stick with what they have been doing all season and that is run the ball. The only concern would be if offensive coordinator Jim Chaney gets a crazy whim and has Fromm start throwing the ball all over the field.
Butch Jones, on the other hand, could very well be coaching for his job in this game. That isn’t to say he’ll be fired on the spot if he loses, but it will make John Currie think some. Do not be surprised if Jones is more aggressive in his play calling and decision making than he normally his. He’s looking to get his team motivated and the fan bases excited after a disappointing win against UMass. If Jones gets creative and takes some chances, he might be able to catch Georgia off guard.