In-Game Blog: Vols Win 38-31

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    Joshua Dobbs-1Pre-game notes:

    • Representatives from the Citrus and Sugar Bowl are in attendance, as are scouts from the Cardinals, Jets, 49ers, Rams, Raiders and the Ottawa RedBlacks (CFL).

    • As expected, the Vols are wearing their Smokey gray uniforms with the gray helmets with the Smokey Mountain outline on them.

    • Dylan Wiesman is in uniform and going through warm-ups. He’s one of the players who has been “limited” in practice this week. We’ll keep tabs on the injured players (North, Wiesman, Phillips, Kendrick) leading up to the game.

    • Marquez North is on the field, going through warm-ups, but doesn’t look to be moving 100%. He’s listed as a “game-time decision.”

    • Defensive back Darrell Miller is not in uniform

    • Brett Kendrick (game-time) decision is dressed out with a large brace on his elbow. He did not work with the starters in warm-ups.

    • Kyle Phillips is in uniform, but at least in the drill we saw, he wasn’t doing any of the warm-ups, though he did run with the second-team defense

    • The starting offensive line we saw working in warm-ups was (L to R) Kyler Kerbyson, Jashon Robertson, Mack Crowder, Dylan Wiesman and Coleman Thomas. The starting receivers were Josh Smith, Jauan Jennings and Preston Williams.

    First Quarter: Just a terrible, terrible start for Georgia in this game, losing running back Nick Chubb to a gruesome-looking knee injury on the first snap of the game and is expected to be out for the game.

    Both teams really struggled to move the ball offensively early, accounted for just 26 combined yards on 12 combined plays over the course of the first few series. On UT’s third possession, the Vols started moving the ball. After a nice run/pass mix, Joshua Dobbs powered the ball down to the 1 on one of his best runs of the year. But then disaster struck. Tennessee didn’t pick up a blitzer, who blew up the play and then forced a fumble that was grabbed by Leonard Floyd, who took it 96 yards the other way for the early Georgia score.

    Tennessee responded with another nice drive, using impressive screen passes to Jalen Hurd (see video below) and Alvin Kamara to get inside the 5. Tennessee couldn’t convert from there though, settling for a short Aaron Medley field goal and cutting the lead to 7-3.

    Georgia got its offense going the next drive, getting two big plays from Sony Michel to lead the Bulldogs inside the UT 30 as the quarter expired. Tennessee clearly played better overall (137-62 total yardage edge), but mistakes plagued UT and gave UGA the early lead. The game dynamic clearly changed with Chubb, who was carted to the locker room, out, though, and it’ll be an interesting final three quarters.

    Second Quarter: Georgia leads 24-17

    It’s really hard to describe what happened during the second quarter. Basically, Georgia dominated the first 13:56, and then the Vols made a late move with a very nice 39-yard touchdown pass from Joshua Dobbs to Josh Smith on 4th and 8. The ensuing kickoff was fumbled by Sony Michel, and Joshua Dobbs was able to find Alvin Kamara in the end zone a few plays later on a two-yard pass to put the Vols squarely back into this game.

    The Vols were being woefully outplayed in all three phases of the game, but some late momentum has given this team a renewed sense of purpose heading into halftime. Ultimately, Tennessee still has a lot of work to do. Georgia has shut down the Vol rushing attack, and Dobbs has looked erratic at times on even the simplest of throws. If Tennessee is going to make this a four-quarter game, then they’ll have to stop Sony Michel and force Greyson Lambert to beat them. Tennessee’s offense needs to rely more on Dobbs’ play-making ability and less on scheme…trusting him to make the plays that are available to him. Here’s to an exciting second half.

    Third Quarter: The Vols got the ball first after a pooch kick to the 35, but could only muster one first down before punting it right back to Georgia, who then exchanged the favor three plays later, punting it back to UT.

    Tennessee took advantage of this opportunity. Dobbs found Preston Williams for a gain of 30+ yards and then Jalen Hurd rumbled inside the 3-yard line, setting up a Dobbs keeper the next play to tie the game at 24.

    After getting another stop, the Vols capitalized on offense again. They marched 56 yards on seven plays, highlighted by a 26-yard run by Dobbs that put the Vols in the red zone and eventually set up a third-down touchdown pass to Alvin Kamara from two yards.

    Georgia moved to midfield as the third quarter elapsed, setting up another nail-biter in Neyland Stadium. If Tennessee can pull off the win, it would be tied for the third-largest comeback in Tennessee history.

    FINAL: Vols 38, Bulldogs 31

    Insanity. Pure insanity. But the Vols made plays when they had to and finally won a close game against a good team. It took a lot of mental toughness for this team to go out, after a week of distractions, and play a full 60 minutes of Tennessee football. The game ball to Joshua Dobbs for just an outstanding performance (stats listed below), but the entire team, from top-to-bottom, really deserves a lot of credit for tonight.

    The next two weeks should be fun.