CBS’ game of the week features a national championship caliber Georgia against Tennessee, one of the biggest rebuilding jobs in college football.
Here’s what to watch for Saturday:
Banged-up backs: Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Tennessee’s Marlin Lane are both banged up. Lane suffered a lower extremity injury against South Alabama, and he didn’t practice yesterday, while Gurley suffered a sprained ankle against LSU, and he’s day-to-day and unknown for Saturday. There’s not a massive drop off from Gurley to Keith Marshall, but depth does take a hit. If Gurley can’t go, UGA will run Brendan Douglas and JJ Green in addition to Marshall, while Tennessee will roll with leader Rajion Neal, Tom Smith, Alden Hill and Deanthonie Summerhill. Here’s to hoping both Gurley and Lane get healthy.
Related: Compare team rushing numbers
Opposite QB situations: Aaron Murray is playing as well as any quarterback in the country, while Tennessee’s situation remains volatile. In fact, the situations couldn’t be more opposite. Murray has thrown for 1,338 yards and 11 TDs through four games, and he’s torching secondaries with ease. Justin Worley, on the other hand, continues to be UT’s starter, and he’s thrown for 725 yards, eight TDs and six INTs. If Worley continues to struggle, especially against UGA, Butch Jones may elect to go with either freshmen Josh Dobbs or Riley Ferguson, although it appears that he either wants redshirt them or that neither have shown they can handle the job in practice. Given both struggling secondaries, both quarterbacks should have nice days through the air.
A letdown: We’ve seen teams have letdowns year to year, and the only way Georgia loses this game is if they have a letdown. Last Saturday’s emotional win against LSU is just that…last week. It’s easy to say a team has flipped the page, and it’s easy for any team to think they can waltz right into Neyland and beat the Vols by merely getting off the bus. Mark Richt is preaching to his team about a letdown this week and how they avoid it. Georgia will only lose to Tennessee if they beat themselves, which in the past, has shown to be possible. But this Georgia team looks different.
Related: Compare defensive statistics
Similarities: The similarities of both teams start and end on defense. Each defense is just good enough to be where they are right now. Georgia’s run defense is improved even from last season, as they held LSU to under 100 yards last week. The Bulldogs’ run defense is sixth in the SEC, allowing 126.75 yards per game. But the secondary play has been atrocious; the Dawgs are 13th in the SEC in pass defense, having given up nine passing TDs. Tennessee’s isn’t any better, and they are currently 12th in total defense, giving up 413 total yards per game. The secondary does, however, have an SEC-high 11 INTs; so, the Vols have been greedy and aggressive at corner and safety.
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