Two years ago, Tennessee beat Georgia with a Hail Mary pass from Josh Dobbs to Jauan Jennings. Since that play, the Bulldogs have won a conference championship and came within a single play of a national title.
The Vols… have not.
Right now, Georgia is the class of the SEC East while the Vols are at the bottom of the division, and nothing that happened in this game changed those facts.
The Vols lost 38-12… Here are my five takeaways.
1) Tennessee luck
In the first quarter, Georgia faced third and long from the Tennessee 31. Darrell Taylor rushed Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm and stripped the football. Unfortunately for the Vols, the football bounced right to tight end Issac Nauta, who picked it up at the 40, and ran it all the way to the end zone.
It was the type of play that summarizes Tennessee football over the past decade. If you were to pick any team in the nation that a play like that would happen against, you’d have the Vols at the top of that list.
2) Tennessee didn’t quit
Last week against Florida, the Vols lost 47-21. There were moments in that game when you knew the Vols had no desire to keep playing, and it showed. Against Georgia, the Vols trailed 24-0 midway through the third quarter, and you got the feeling that Tennessee was about to lay down again. But it didn’t happen. A Jarrett Guarantano deep ball to Josh Palmer was followed up by a terrific catch and run by Ty Chandler, pulling Tennessee within 12.
The final margin of 26 points was not indicative of Tennessee’s effort. That’s a move in the right direction.
(On a side note, as many have mentioned on Twitter, the Vols also lost the season opener to West Virginia by 26 points. I’d love to know the mathematical possibility of losing three games by the same margin in the same season, especially a margin as odd as 26 points.)
3) Slow starts
We’ve mentioned this multiple times in these columns, but the truth remains. Five games into the season, Tennessee has scored a whopping 13 points in the first quarter of those contests. They didn’t score a single point against West Virginia, Florida or Georgia in the opening 15 minutes.
Tennessee simply isn’t explosive enough offensively to rally from significant deficits. With the schedule a brutal one in the weeks to come, the Vols offense must find a way to get out of the gate stronger if they are to snap what is now an 11 game losing streak in the conference.
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