Look....I don't really have much to say about this game. There's simply no way on God's green earth that the Vols should even have a chance coming into this game.
"DUKES! YOU CAN'T SAY THAT! They destroyed us last year, and they're down this year, which means they'll be playing with nothing to lose."
I don't care. The Dawgs will be playing with a fire. They lost against AL and are still stinging from it. They haven't forgotten about that drubbing in Knoxville and will be looking to bring some serious revenge. The Vols are reeling, and grasping at straws. The Dawgs are going to do everything they can to get their season back on track.
Bruce Feldman wrote that Terrence Cody and the AL defensive line derailed Knowshon Moreno's Heisman bid. Well, I hate to break it to Feldman...but the season ain't even half over....and Knowshon was at his best in the second half of last season. Now, TN brings the #13 rushing and #12 passing defenses into the game. So, the problems haven't been all on the D. But, looking at the competition UT has faced, I can't say they've really been challenged. UCLA is no offensive juggernaut. Neither are UAB, AU, or Northern Illinois. In fact, the only team they've played that has any semblence of a good offense is Florida...who has playmakers everwhere, but has struggled to put together great games. So, I believe Tennessee's defensive strength is a bit fluffed at the moment. We'll see how great they look against the DAWGS.
I'm not expecting much from them. They DO like to take balls away...they have 9 interceptions already this year. But, Stafford doesn't really like to throw them anymore. He has 1 pick. So, I like our chances in that matchup...especially with an extra week to get into a rhythm with his receivers. Plus, we have a new wrinkle in the passing game. At tight end this week will be former starting offensive tackle Kiante Tripp. That's Kiante Tripp....a 6'6 290lb tight end. Are you kidding me? Show me a cornerback who REALLY REALLY wants to tackle this guy. Of course, not too many corners are going to line up against him. Most likely, he'll be drawing coverage by one of UT's linebackers....most of whom are in the 225-240 range. That's a big difference. Plus, when Tripp lines up on running plays, he's giving us a two-tackle set on whichever side he's playing. That's big.
Oh, and did I mention the return of Brannon Southerland? For those of you who've felt our offense has a lacked a little of its traditional "power" style...you're right. Without standout fullback Southerland, we've relied much more on speed and misdirection. Nobody opens a hole the way Southerland does...and nobody catches balls out of the backfield quite like him. I for one love seeing Stafford lay one just in front of him, so he can catch it in stride and get that bowling-ball body of his headed downfield. He flat-out PUNISHES tacklers. It will be GREAT to have him back, entering the serious TEETH of this brutal schedule.
Our line is healthy, and has had another week of work to get ready. Brannon Southerland is back. We have a huge, athletic tight end ready to go. Our receivers are doing better than they have in years. Stafford is constantly improving. Moreno is ready to go. On offense, we should be looking pretty frikkin good....firing at mid-season form. I fully expect 35 points from the offense on Saturday.
Now, when UT has the ball.....they've been pretty bad. They've performed well in one game - against UAB. Well folks, UGA is no UAB. TN is #61 in the nation in rushing. With some really good runningbacks, they haven't been getting it done. UGA, despite giving up a hefty yardage total to AL is still ranked #4 in the nation against the run. TN brought back its entire line from last year, a line that gave up only 4 sacks in 2007. Well, they've been a good bit more pourous this year.
Also, UT is starting a freshman quarterback in his first game against an SEC defense. Last week, against Northern Illinois, he was 10/17 for 156 yards and a touchdown. That ain't gonna get it done against Georgia....and he's gonna face a much more fierce defense. I expect Martinez to be blitzing freely, to keep Stephens from finding a rhythm.
Now, Fulmer has no doubt watched the AL game tape. He's gonna know that we gave up a bunch of 10-15 yard passes at the beginning of the game, enabling JPW to gain confidence and first downs. He's gonna know that the UGA defenders have a tendency to draw fouls, so he may call quick throws, hoping to get some late-hit penalties. He'll mix the count up, hoping to draw the Dawgs offsides. I'd assume that the UGA coaching staff has spent the last week drilling their players on playing with poise. They'll have to - because the officials will be looking for reasons to throw flags...that's how it works when you have the reputation of a penalized team. It just keeps on going. So, it'll be interesting to see how Fulmer game plans the first few possessions.
I don't think TN's gonna be able to come out and push us around. I don't think Stephens is going to have the kind of efficiency that JPW had. I don't think TN's defense is going to be as stifling as AL's was. Simply put, TN ain't AL....and UGA this week, ain't UGA two weeks ago. Reality has set in. The weaknesses have been exposed, and have been worked on for two weeks.
The off-week couldn't have come at a better time. UGA's pride was hurt. Our players were hurt. We needed time to heal...time to be coached. Now is the time for the team that everyone expected to see run out of that tunnel week one to finally step up and play to its potential. Last year, TN stepped in and shocked UGA. I don't forsee the same this year. I forsee a good ol' fashioned grudge-match butt-whoopin. I forsee 41- 7, Dawgs on top.
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