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The matchup has been talked about for the past two weeks, even when some folks didn’t want to look ahead. How will the Georgia defense handle the fast-paced Tennessee offense? You could easily flip that around and ask how the Vols plan on stopping the Bulldogs aggressive strategy with Stetson Bennett.
It’s certainly easy to sit back and point out that this game could end up in a shootout, but that’s being one-sided. There are too many variables between these two teams to count. This game will come down to which team can execute the best and win the ‘middle eight’. It’s as simple as that, with two quarterbacks who are in control of their team’s game plan.
We all witnessed Tennessee torch Kentucky with the same play, twice, as Jalin Hyatt whipped around the outside and found open grass. It was the same exact play that the Vols ran against the Wildcats in 2021, which led to Velus Jones Jr. scoring a touchdown.
The problem Tennessee will have this weekend is that Georgia usually doesn’t make the same mistake twice.
Opposing Coach On Tennessee Offense
When Kirby Smart called the Vols offense ‘unique’, he wasn’t lying. I spoke with one head coach this week who has already played Tennessee. He mentioned how difficult it is to prepare for.
“You don’t know where it’s coming from. The weapons they have on offense, including number four (Tillman) will confuse you in space. Just when you think the defense has picked up on the motion, they find a way to cause problems down the field. Look at how many different teams have been confused by the way Josh has them line up. You don’t see that very often. Hell, I had one receiver probably a foot away from me on the sideline.”
Georgia Will Be Tough To Handle Behind Stetson Bennett
The Vols aren’t the only team with a dangerous offense in this game. Led by Stetson Bennett, who has taken advantage of another year as the starting quarterback, the Bulldogs have a dangerous one-two punch with their rushing attack.
Not only is Stetson comfortable in his command of the offense, he has two massive targets to alleviate any trouble. Where Tennessee could get taken advantage of would be across the middle, as TE’s Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington are deadly.
Brock Bowers is one of those guys, becoming a monster in 2021, while somehow playing better this season. Though extremely hard to bring down, Bowers also has the hands of a veteran wide receiver. Seeing what he did against Florida last weekend was only a glimpse at his overall talent, just watch for yourself.
Overall grit, followed by a fantastic rushing attack should cause Tennessee’s linebacking corps some worry. Yes, the Vols took care of Kentucky’s combo of Will Levis and Chris Rodriguez, but Stetson Bennett has more poise in the pocket. He’ll beat you deep on a play-action or scramble for 20 yards to pickup a first down.
Also, the Bulldogs have their own group of receivers that will make you pay, even with AD Mitchell still battling back from injury.
The Rankings Will Take Care Of Themselves
I saw a lot of fuss about the playoff rankings released on Tuesday night, especially Georgia fans wondering why they were ranked third. Tennessee folks were on cloud-nine as the graphic was revealed, while the Bulldogs can use it as motivation – if they actually need it.
It doesn’t matter. The only thing I took away from the first CFP rankings of the season was the fact Tennessee could lose a close game this weekend and still be in the top-5. The Vols strength of schedule has helped them mightily, while Georgia has the lopsided win over Oregon. Whoever wins this game on Saturday will be sitting in the drivers seat for a spot in Atlanta. The other school will be praying for someone else to slip up.
We are one day closer to the biggest game in the SEC, with massive implications on the line.