Tennessee fell to 1-4 Saturday night losing to No. 3 Georgia 43-14. The lack of pass rush plagued Tennessee, but the Vols’ receivers had a big night in the blowout loss.
Here’s how the Vols graded out in their third straight loss to Georgia.
Brian Maurer made his first career start Saturday night and it was a tale of two halves for the freshman.
The Ocala, Florida, native came out firing in the first half throwing for 205 yards and two touchdowns.
Credit is due to offensive coordinator Jim Chaney — who I thought had an excellent game plan Saturday. He kept the reads simple for his young quarterback. Nevertheless, Maurer was still impressive especially with his internal clock. He was a big upgrade over Guarantano when it came to getting the ball out his hands quickly.
The second half didn’t go as well for Maurer, as he threw for only 54 yards and an interception.
All in all, Maurer’s performance was solid considering it came against one of the nation’s best defenses.
Georgia came into Neyland Stadium Saturday night with one of the nation’s best run defenses. It lived up to the hype.
The Vols ran for just 70 yards as the Bulldogs turned the Vols’ offense one dimensional.
Tim Jordan led the Vols in rushing with 47 yards, but a good chunk of that came on Tennessee’s last drive of the night as Georgia worked in reserves.
Ty Chandler added 38 yards on seven carries.
Running lanes weren’t the biggest against the Bulldogs stout front seven, but yards after contact also wasn’t a strong suit for the Vols’ tailbacks, who were kept out of the end zone for the second straight game.
Welcome to the 2019 season Marquez Calloway.
The Vols’ senior receiver broke out Saturday including hitting the Bulldogs with a double move for a 73-yard touchdown. Calloway also pulled in a big third down reception on Tennessee’s second scoring drive.
In total, Calloway recorded 105 yards on three catches.
Jauan Jennings continues to be one of Tennessee’s best players and the man nicknamed “Dog” by his teammates and Vol fans alike had a big night against the Bulldogs Saturday.
Jennings hauled in seven catches for 114 yards and a 12-yard touchdown. The Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native’s ability to create yards after catch continues to be a strong suit of the Vols’ offense.
Saturday marked the first time since 2012 that two Tennessee receivers recorded 100 yards in one game.
Tight end Dominic Wood-Anderson also had his best game of the season recording 30 yards on two chain moving receptions.
The Vols’ young offensive line was outmanned at times Saturday night against the Bulldogs. Georgia recorded three sacks, including a missed assignment, that led to a Maurer fumble and Georgia touchdown.
A personal foul penalty against Wanya Morris also put the offense in a hole on a critical possession while the game was still in hand.
As previously noted, Tennessee couldn’t establish a running game and that started with an offensive line that struggled to move Georgia around.
Credit the group on Maurer’s touchdown pass to Calloway. That wasn’t a quick developing play and they gave Maurer time and a pocket to step into and throw. That’s something we haven’t seen much from this unit in the past.
It was a forgettable night for the Vols’ defensive line.
Georgia ran the ball at will Saturday averaging 5.8 yards on 41 rushing attempts.
It usually isn’t a good sign when your leading defensive line tackler is behind six other players in tackles including four defensive backs.
Tennessee didn’t sniff Jake Fromm in the backfield all night as the Bulldog’s signal caller had plenty of time to pick apart Tennessee’s defense.
Matthew Butler led the group with five tackles as Darel Middleton added four.
Tennessee struggled to stop the run Saturday and obviously a lot of that falls on the linebackers, but tip of the cap to Daniel Bituli and Henry To’oto’oo who both played nearly every snap at inside backer Saturday.
To’oto’oo tallied seven tackles including back-to-back tackles on third and fourth and short as Tennessee turned the Bulldogs over on downs early in the third quarter.
Georgia successfully attacked Bituli and To’oto’oo in the pass game finding D’Andre Swift four times and getting a pass interference drawn on Bituli.
Tennessee’s outside linebackers struggled to rush the passer Saturday, but credit Darrell Taylor for a tackle for loss and Quavaris Crouch for a quarterback hurry.
Jake Fromm was an efficient 24-for-29 passing Saturday night with 288 yards and two touchdowns.
The unit wasn’t helped by a pass rush that gave Fromm all day to throw.
Bryce Thompson looked better in his second game back from his early season suspension, and Nigel Warrior played well Saturday night with two pass break ups.
Brent Cimaglia finally missed his first field goal of the season and it didn’t come at the best time. If Cimaglia’s 47-yard try would have gone through Tennessee likely would have trailed 20-17 at half.
Instead, Georgia took a 26-14 lead into the half.
Additionally, it was a bad day for punter Joe Doyle, who averaged just 33.4 yards per punt and had a 12-yard shank in the first half.
It’s a sad fact about the state of Tennessee’s program when a 34-point loss to a rival at home isn’t an F performance, but that’s the reality of where Tennessee, and to a lesser extent Georgia, is at right now.
Tennessee made it a game for a half against a top five team and showed fight for 60 minutes in the loss.
The Vols also found improvement at the quarterback position which could be huge in the second half of the season.
However, the bad for Tennessee was evident Saturday. The Vols were dominated on both lines of scrimmage and struggled on special teams.