Here’s a couple of quick thoughts on the Bulldogs’ win over the Vols.
What it means: Georgia moves to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the SEC, and Tennessee moves to 3-2 overall and 0-2 in the SEC. Most, including me, thought Georgia would win this football game rather convincingly. Guilty as charged. Tennessee fought hard to the end, but three late fourth quarter turnovers by Tyler Bray cost the Vols a chance to pull out the win. The same talking heads who are quick to criticize the SEC for low-scoring games were criticizing the defenses because neither could make a stop. What gives?
What I liked: Georgia’s freshmen running back duo was dominant. Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley combined for 294 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Both guys could start for several SEC teams, and we could be looking at the best running back duo in the SEC. It’s debatable, of course, against Alabama and LSU’s duos. But Gurley and Marshall are as exciting as any two running backs to watch in the SEC. The Bulldogs present a very balanced offense each and every week.
This was a little different Tennessee football team than we saw against Florida. They did not quit in the second half, especially when Georgia went up 43-30 midway through the third quarter. The Vols could have tucked their tail between their legs and run, but they fought hard to the end and left everything on the field, especially a couple of plays Bray would like back. But that’s football.
What I didn’t like: Both defenses and special teams did not show up. It was literally a track meet in Athens. The offenses combined for 1,038 yards and 95 points. But it was sure fun to watch until the end, wasn’t it? Georgia blew a 17-point first-half lead, but give credit to Tennessee for fighting. And where were the special teams? Tennessee gets a punt blocked and missed a huge field goal late in the third. Likewise, Georgia had an extra point blocked and missed another one.
Who’s the man: How about two men? I have to go with Gurley and Marshall as players of the game. Marshall didn’t even get his uniform dirty all night, and Gurley is a man-beast playing out there. Marshall ran for 164 yards and two touchdowns, while Gurley rushed for 130 and three touchdowns. They both combined for 8.65 yards per carry.
Key play: Jordan Jenkins’s strip fumble on Tyler Bray in the fourth quarter with the Vols driving looking to tie the game has to be the play of the game. Georgia recovered to eventually secure the win. All three of Tyler Bray’s turnovers in the fourth quarter were costly, but the fumble was definitely the key play late in the game.
What’s next: Tennessee gets a much-needed bye week before traveling to Starkville to take on Mississippi State, and Georgia travels to South Carolina for a pivotal SEC East road game. This is the first of two very big games for the Bulldogs in the East this season, with Florida being the other obvious monster game. Every team has to survive one or two games like this over the course of a season, and Georgia definitely survived this one.