Rocky Top Awaits

Nick Chubb set the school season mark for yards per carry as a true freshman last year and is on a pace to potentially surpass that mark this year. In fact, Chubb sits at second in the Heisman Trophy race after he ran for 136 yards and a touchdown on twenty carries. He had only two less yards than the SEC Player of the Week (Henry of Bama had 138). Throw in Sony Michel getting a tough 53 on just nine carries, and we ran remarkably well against a top rush defense Saturday.

The passing efficiency was our glaringly poor statistic. Our starter was 10-24, with a pick late. His first interception of the season. Lambert has protected the ball well this year.

The defense was reasonably strong actually compared to the out of hand score of the loss (38-10), when you consider that 14 points were yielded directly by the special teams and offense, which also put our D in consistently bad positions over a defining second quarter, where we were outscored 21-3 overall, after being edged 3-0 in the first quarter.

24 total points for a game is an average but certainly not considered a bad point giveaway for a team defense stat line. Without clicking, Alabama’s offense had scored 30+ against comparable Power 5 conference quality competition (Ole Miss, Wisconsin). Our D was statistically good on 3rd down and not the main problem overall.

When things start to go wrong, we must gather ourselves and execute effectively with composure. Get better QB play and we will be okay. Any time your loss is to a top team nationally and, even bigger, when that loss falls out of division, it is clearly the best possible scenario for a one-loss team. We lost one game and still have our destiny in our hands. Next up: at Tennessee, Mizzou, (in) Florida, Kentucky – all SEC East games and only one a (true) road game. It’s a good schedule this year, where we could play nine games in the state of Georgia (a full ten if we ended up in the Peach Bowl).

Troubling that special teams ghosts of seasons past seemed to rear their ugly head again, a week from Rocky Top, though. We just can’t afford big busts in the third squads with our margin for error gone. That type of breakdown generally falls to coaching.

Coker just did it in Athens, but not many first-time starters in SEC road games get wins. Lambert got his at Vandy, but we’d all classify Nashville as a non-standard SEC home environment. Georgia fans had many of the seats and the Commodores were coming off a rebuilding year and are who they are.

Tennessee is a program in a bottle. A program waiting to happen, again, and this game has been marked in ink on their schedule for years. They came razor close last time we were up there, but Murray was too clutch. Is Greyson? Is Greyson Lambert clutch? We don’t know. That was a bad passing game for the whole team. Malcolm and Reggie Davis and true frosh Terry Godwin – who may be good enough to move into the role of the secondary receiver on the team now – each had three grabs. Mitchell had fairly decent yardage.

Non-receivers had -5 yards on two catches. We must get the tight ends the ball, especially Jeb Blazevich. We must get the ball to our athletic fullback Quayvon Hicks moving in space. We must hot route Michel in a position where he’s a threat to break one. These are the type of shorter pass completions that get first downs and grow a quarterback’s comfort level in games. Especially in games where your completion percentage is low. You have to hit some of those to have a shot at winning. Our targets there are unusually skilled this year, so Georgia had better capitalize on that. Look for it Saturday at 3:30p.

Richt is usually good in these have-to-get-a-win road games and has a strong 10-4 career mark versus UT. This newer rivalry series was not played every year historically and has ebbed and flowed to sit at 21-21-2. Georgia had a slight advantage over Tennessee in 1989, when UT went on a horrid nine win tear over eleven seasons. Then starting in 2000, the Dawgs won four in a row. They had a troubling 4-2 stretch over us, as they closed the gap on Richt. Recently, we have owned them for five straight. Lots of close games.