Rapid Reaction: Tennessee challenges, falls to No. 12 Georgia
The Tennessee Volunteers suffered another heartbreaking loss to No. 12 Georgia in their annual SEC matchup Saturday. The Bulldogs held a 436-401 edge in total yards and a 31:47-28:13 advantage in time of possession. Tennessee’s defense forced Georgia to a 1-of-10 third down efficiency. Quarterback Justin Worley, who enjoyed a strong performance, was forced to miss the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter after suffering an elbow injury, but returned to orchestrate a successful late-game drive.
Here are a couple of thoughts on the game:
What it means: Tennessee fought through bad breaks to challenge a top-ranked team. The Vols were one or two plays away from pulling off a successful upset and definitely looked like the stronger defense. The depth at quarterback is thin as Nathan Peterman looked lost in Worley’s absence. The senior must stay healthy for Tennessee to pose any threat against SEC opponents.
What I liked: Jalen Hurd continues to progress each game. Hurd set a new season-best with 119 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries in his SEC road debut. However, Hurd’s fumble in Tennessee’s end zone proved to be a deciding factor and the one flaw of an otherwise stellar performance.
Who’s the man: Justin Worley. Aside from enjoying a career performance of 264 yards and three touchdowns in SEC play, the warrior mentality to return from an injury and will his team back into the game was enough to gain recognition. Worley orchestrated a 58-yard drive for Tennessee’s final score with 4:27 remaining. If Worley had stayed healthy, the outcome could have been much different.
Key Play: Josh Dawson’s fumble recovery for a touchdown. As Jalen Hurd lost possession in Tennessee’s end zone, the Vols effectively lost the game. Georgia held a 28-25 lead, which was extended to 35-25. Even after Tennessee’s last touchdown drive, the Vols found themselves out of contention as the Bulldogs ran out the clock.
What’s next: Tennessee will host Florida next week at Neyland Stadium. The Gators (2-1) are coming off a Week 5 bye and have won every game in the two teams’ annual matchup since 2004.