Tennessee offensive vs. Georgia defense
Expect offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to come out with an early plan to run the football on Saturday. Tennessee leads the SEC in passing yards per game, but they will have to establish a ground game to have long-term success through the air. They won't come out and just try to pound it at Georgia, but they will try to get running backs Rajion Neal and Marlon Lane going early. That will slow down the Georgia pass rush and open up plays down the field for the Tyler Bray. If they are successful early, it could be a long day for the UGA defense and Bray will have the play action pass to turn to for big plays. An early ground game, more than anything, will give Tennessee a chance to mix it up enough to keep the Georgia defense off balance. If the ground game isn't effective early, expect the Vols to abandon it quickly. They can't afford many three and outs, and Chaney will likely put the game on Bray's shoulders at that point.
Tennessee defense vs. Georgia offense
Sal Sunseri is a very intelligent and creative defensive coordinator, but he also understands that he is a little undermanned in this one. Expect the Vols to come out aggressive with hopes of forcing the issue. Their best chance against the Georgia offense is to put pressure on Aaron Murray and make plays in the Bulldogs' backfield. The linebackers will be playing fast and aggressively knowing how dangerous running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall can be once they get to the second and third level of the defense. The Tennessee defense has been prone to giving up the big play in 2012, but they can't afford to worry about giving up the big play in this one. They will have to take chances and put themselves in a position to get off the field on third down. If the Vols can get off the field on third down with consistency, they will rest their defense and create a scenario where they can hide their depth issues. If they struggle to get the Georgia offense off the field, they could wear down quickly.
Georgia offense vs. Tennessee defense
Georgia has been successful this season with both the run and the passing game, and, except for the Missouri game, there seems to be a refusal to lean on one over the other. Expect Mike Bobo and company to come out and run their offense with multiple personnel packages. One of Tennessee's best defenders is 377-pound nose tackle Daniel McCullers, and he doesn't play in nickel situations. This will likely lead UGA to spend a lot of time in three and four wide receiver sets, and Bobo has shown he has no problem turning to these sets with regularity. Georgia has a big advantage against the UT secondary, so look for a similar game plan to what the Bulldogs used at Mizzou. They will use a lot of spread and attempt to execute both the run and the pass. If Georgia has early success with a balanced attack, they have shown that they can hit the big plan and gain steam as the team progresses. If they struggle to get one element of the offense going, then they shouldn't have a problem leaning on what is working.
Georgia defense vs. Tennessee offense
Through the first three games, the Bulldogs have played a lot of soft coverage to the wide side of the field. The main reason for this is the fact that Georgia has yet to face a pocket pass with the arm strength and accuracy to make those tough throws. Bray is capable of making that throw, so Georgia will have to be a little more aggressive to the wide side. Luckily for the Bulldogs, they will likely get All American safety Bacarri Rambo this week, and that will allow them to play with more aggressive looks at the line of scrimmage due to Rambo's ability to play over the top. Expect a great deal of combo coverage and a variety of cover two looks from the Bulldogs. This is also the first game in which Todd Grantham can bring pressure and not be overly concerned with what can happen if the quarterback escapes the pocket. Georgia should bring pressure from the middle quite a bit, and attempt to force Bray to move to his left to make throws. With all of the focus on UT's passing game, the Bulldogs can ill afford to ignore the run game, and they will likely lean on their front six, in nickel, and front seven, in base, to stop the run. Bray and the Tennessee offense will move the football and there is a strong possibility that they will at least one big play. Georgia will need to limit those big plays to win.
Tennessee is a very talented team on offense. They are strong up front, and with playmakers like Neal, Lane, Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter, Mychal Rivera, and Zach Rodgers, they will undoubtedly have some success. Last season, Georgia did a good job of keeping UT out of the end zone, but the Vols didn't have such a strong duo at the receiver position. Georgia wasn't at full strength either as they were missing defensive end Cornelius Washington and linebacker Alec Ogletree, who should be back for this game. This game will come down to who makes the fewest mistakes and how makes the most big plays. It is tough to pick Tennessee to be that team at home as the Vols have yet to prove they can beat good teams on the road. Tennessee will play fast and physical. They will make plays, but not enough plays. Georgia will assert itself as the better team in the second quarter, and take control of the game in the third quarter. Predictions: Georgia 38 Tennessee 17
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