The Big Orange are coming off a loss to Florida in their SEC home opener. UT will be looking to earn its second straight win over Georgia at Sanford Stadium after prevailing 34-31 in 2016 thanks to a 43-yard Hail Mary touchdown from Joshua Dobbs to Jauan Jennings on the last play of the game.
Need to Know
Series History vs. Georgia
Saturday will be the 48th meeting between the Volunteers and Bulldogs and the 24th time the two programs have faced off in Athens. Tennessee holds the slightest of leads in the series with an all-time record of 23-22-2.
After 2016’s thrilling comeback win, the Orange and White are 11-11-1 all-time in games played in Athens. Six of the last seven meetings in the series have been decided by eight points or fewer.
There are a bunch of connections between the coaching staffs of these two programs. UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt served as the defensive coordinator for the Bulldogs in 2014 and 2015 while Vols’ assistants Kevin Sherrer (2014-17), Will Friend (2003-04, 2011-14), Tracy Rocker (2014-16) and Brian Niedermeyer (2015) have all spent stints on Georgia’s staff over the years. UGA offensive coordinator Jim Chaney (2009-12) and offensive line coach Sam Pittman (2012) have both coached at Tennessee in the past as well.
Running Back Group Continues to Produce
The Vols have implemented a running back by committee approach through the first four games of the season and have received significant contributions from four players in the backfield. Tennessee’s running backs have accounted for nine of the team’s 15 total touchdowns this season.
Sophomore Ty Chandler is averaging 73.3 yards rushing per game and ranks third in the SEC in yards per carry (6.3). Fellow sophomore Tim Jordan is averaging 59.3 yards per game and ran for a career-high 118 yards and a touchdown in the season opener vs. No. 17 West Virginia. Graduate transfer Madre London and true freshman Jeremy Banks are tied for the team lead with three rushing touchdowns apiece this season.
The Orange and White have already posted six plays of 50 or more yards on offense this season. The Vols had just four 50-plus yard plays all of last season.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jarrett Guarantano has completed four passes of 50 yards or more, two of them going to fellow sophomore Josh Palmer, who already has 65 more receiving yards then he did all of last season. Palmer is averaging 23.3 yards per reception this year, which ranks fourth in the SEC.
UT ranks first in the SEC in first downs allowed, giving up just 14 per game so far this season. The Vols also rank third in the conference in third-down defense, allowing opponent to convert just 24.5 percent of the time (12-of-49).
Vols from the Peach State
There are 15 scholarship players and 16 players total on Tennessee’s roster that hail from the state of Georgia.
Georgia enter Saturday’s game coming off a 43-29 road win at Missouri last week. The Bulldogs’ 4-0 start has them ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll and No. 3 in the Amway Coaches’ Poll after winning the SEC and reaching the College Football Playoff National Championship Game last season.
UGA is led by sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm and a dynamic receiving corp. Fromm has thrown for over 700 yards and nine touchdowns this season while completing 73 percent of his passes. His go-to target is Mecole Hardman, who has hauled in four touchdowns. At running back, Georgia is paced by the one-two punch of D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield, combining for four touchdowns and almost 500 yards on the ground. Georgia has also found plenty of success on defense and special teams, accounting for four touchdowns while holding opponents to less than 300 yards per game.