Opponent Preview: Georgia Bulldogs

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    Record: 4-0
    Conference: SEC
    Head Coach: Kirby Smart, 2nd season (12-5 overall)
    Team Nickname: Bulldogs
    Location: Athens, GA

    Leading Passer: Jake Fromm — 43-of-69, 650 yards, 7 TD, 1 INT
    Leading Rusher: Nick Chubb — 59 carries, 371 yards, 6 TD
    Leading Receiver: Terry Godwin — 8 catches, 214 yards, 4 TD

    The Georgia Bulldogs come into this match-up as a top 10 team in the country. Georgia is riding high off of a 31-3 dismantling of Mississippi State, and freshman quarterback Jake Fromm has looked poised and at ease filling in for sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason.

    But this will be Fromm and the Bulldogs’ first SEC road test of the season. And it will be in front of a Checker Neyland crowd looking for something to cheer about after a rough couple of weeks for the Vols.

    A lot of the talk will be about Georgia’s offense heading into this game because of their quarterback situation. But the Bulldogs’ defense is as stout as it’s ever been in the series’ history.

    Georgia has the fourth overall defense in the SEC right now. They’ve allowed just 269.5 yards per game, and they’re allowing less than 100 yards per game on the ground (97.5 yards per game). They are giving up the third-fewest points per game in the conference too, only allowing teams to score 11.5 points per game.

    The Bulldogs’ defense hasn’t gone up against a lot of tough competition yet, but they looked stellar against a strong Mississippi State offense last week. And with the kind of offensive woes the Vols have been experiencing as of late, that has to be concerning.

    Georgia’s offense hasn’t been quite as impressive as their defense, but considering their starting quarterback got hurt in the first game of the year and they’ve been led by a true freshman for the second consecutive season, they’ve looked more than okay.

    Fromm has been efficient and has digested the offensive playbook well through the first few weeks of the season. It helps, though, when you have the type of running back depth that Georgia has.

    The Bulldogs have run the ball 183 times compared to just 76 pass attempts this season. Georgia has three legitimate rushing threats in Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and D’Andre Swift. Those three have combined to rush for 759 yards and all nine of Georgia’s rushing touchdowns on just 122 combined carries.

    Georgia’s offensive line has had its issues, but it’s generally been solid in run blocking this season and hasn’t been bad in pass blocking when needed.

    Fromm has attempted 69 passes and has been sacked three times. Compare that to Tennessee’s Quinten Dormady who has attempted 121 passes and has only been sacked twice. Once again, Georgia’s offensive line hasn’t been weak, but it isn’t quite elite when it comes to protecting the passer either.

    The offensive line for Georgia isn’t as good as its been in years past, but it’s far from bad. But if there’s an area the Vols can try and exploit when they’re on defense, it’s there. Georgia doesn’t have a ton of great pass catching options, but they have a stellar run game that can make up for it.

    Georgia is the heavy favorite to win the SEC East, and for good reason. They have a strong defense and a more than capable offense. The Vols will need to play a complete game on Saturday if they want to topple the Bulldogs off their top 10 throne.

    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.