Jake Fromm played so well in last week’s game that it seemed he may be immune to traditional true freshman mistakes. That was not the case on Saturday. Even though the Bulldogs won handily, Fromm completed just 7 of his 15 pass attempts for 84 yards and a touchdown. Fromm threw one interception, but he also had two would-be interceptions dropped by the Tennessee defense. On the bright side, Fromm did have two rushing touchdowns as offensive coordinator Jim Chaney threw in a zone-read wrinkle into the playbook against the Volunteers. Fromm’s decision-making was off and on per Kirby Smart but Fromm made up for that by shaking off a couple big hits. Also of note, Jacob Eason was able to take the field for the first time since his injury in Week One. Eason primarily handed the ball off as Georgia ran out the clock.
Running Backs: A
Nick Chubb rushed for 109 yards on 16 carries in his return to Neyland Stadium after suffering a major knee injury there two years ago. While Chubb did not make it in the end zone, both Sony Michel and Brian Herrien did. Michel finished with 64 yards on 11 carries, and sophomore Elijah Holyfield had 51 yards on seven carries. All five of Georgia’s scholarship running backs got at least five carries and four of them had runs of over 20 yards. Despite a slow start, the group tallied 5.7 yards per carry for a total of 274 rushing yards.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends: B
The wide receivers did not have many opportunities to make plays as Georgia only threw the ball just 17 times. Javon Wims made the most of his chances as he hauled in three passes for 33 yards and had an amazing touchdown reception over former Bulldog Shaq Wiggins. Both of Terry Godwin’s catches were short passes, but he turned upfield twice and gained yards after the catch. Sophomore Mecole Hardman had a drop and didn’t get another ball thrown his way after that. The receivers did a good job of blocking for the running backs which helped that group excel.
Offensive Line: B
The offensive line started off sluggish and even looked overpowered in the first quarter. The running backs only gained seven yards on seven carries in the first quarter and a lot of that had to do with the offensive line not moving forward with consistency. As the game progressed, the offensive linemen got into a rhythm and by the end of the game, they were pushing around the Tennessee defensive front with ease. The three penalties, with the chop block being the worst, need to be fixed. Isaiah Wynn also gave up his first sack of the season. The line held the pocket for Fromm for the most part but did give up two sacks and a quarterback hurry. Still, the big gains on the ground added up to almost 300 yards rushing.
Defensive Line: A+
The defensive line played phenomenally. Even after losing Trenton Thompson early in the game due to a right leg injury, this group did not miss a beat. Three of the top five tacklers for the game was on the defensive line, and the unit combined for four tackles for loss and two sacks. What might be even more impressive is that the defensive linemen were able to shut down one of the best running backs in the SEC, Tennessee’s John Kelly. Kelly had just 44 rushing yards on 16 attempts and did not have a rush go over 8 yards. The defensive line also did a great job of limiting the amount of time that quarterback Quinten Dormandy had in the pocket, thus limiting the number of quality passes that the defensive backs had to defend.
Roquan Smith finished with the team-high 11 tackles and did a good job of dropping back into zone coverage during passing plays. Outside linebacker Davin Bellamy had two tackles for loss and a sack. His counterpart, Lorenzo Carter, recovered his third fumble of the season and Natrez Patrick picked up eight tackles for one of his better performances.
Defensive Backs: A+
Two interceptions and one forced fumble highlighted the night for the defensive backs. The most impressive play by the group happened on what could have been a huge gain for Tennessee. Kelly caught a short pass and turned it into a 44-yard pickup before Aaron Davis forced a fumble and JR Reed recovered the loose ball. Prior to that, cornerback Tyrique McGhee set the tone for the game as he picked off Quinten Dormandy on the very first play. Reed also intercepted Dormady and ran for 34-yards on the return. The defensive backs also registered six pass breakups.
Special Teams: B
Punter Cameron Nizialek averaged just 35.2 yards per kick, well below his season average, although he did have a 59-yard punt that made the Volunteers start on their own 12-yard line. Both kickers Rodrigo Blankenship and David Marvin made their respective field goals. Blankenship also had five of his seven kickoffs go for touchbacks.He had gotten up to 18 touchbacks in a row this season before Tennessee finally ran one out of the end zone. The return game for Georgia could be better, as Mecole Hardman had trouble fielding one of the punts.
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