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Vols Miss Opportunities in Shutout 41-0 Loss to No. 7 Georgia

(Photo via UT Athletics)

From the first play, there was little doubt that Georgia would beat Tennessee on Saturday.

Tennessee’s offense exuded little confidence and showed zero improvement from its abysmal performance against UMass a week ago. No. 7 Georgia, coming off a dominant win against Mississippi State, beat Tennessee in every possible way en route to a 41-0 beat down in Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

The Vols got aggressive on the opening drive, throwing to the outside in a five wide receiver set on the first play. But Quinten Dormady was picked off, and to the Vols ‘defense’s credit, they held Georgia to a field goal on that possession.

But that’s about all that went right for Tennessee.

In the first quarter, Tennessee’s defense looked alright. The defensive line was able to get good pressure on Jake Fromm, but Nick Chubb wasn’t beating the Vols either.

But the offense never had any momentum whatsoever. Quinten Dormady was 0-for-9 on passes targeted 10 or more yards past the line of scrimmage. He finished the day with just five completions for 64 yards.

On a few separate occasions, Dormady was picked off throwing the deep ball. A few of them were underthrown, but a couple could have been caught. Josh Palmer dropped a pass that would’ve put the Vols deep in UGA territory in the second quarter.

Those costly errors hurt the Vols. Without a big play, they never had a chance.

Butch Jones agreed.

“When you have opportunities to make big plays in the game, and you don’t, you lose those opportunities,” Jones said after the game in his post-game press conference.

The Vols dropped two interceptions on Georgia’s second drive. The Vols did recover a fumble deep in Georgia territory, but they coughed up the ball one play later.

Here’s the almost interception from Nigel Warrior in the endzone.

At the end of the day, Tennessee had a lot of “almost” big plays.

Jones said that throwing 50-50 balls up deep was a big part of the gameplan.

“We knew coming into the game we’d have to excel on 50-50 balls out on the perimeter,” Jones state “We’re going to find out who the true leaders are…the bye week is coming at the right time.”

Dormady agreed that the deep ball was important, but knew it was going to be tough to find any open receivers against a stout Georgia defense.

“It’s a really good SEC football team,” Dormady said after the game. “There’s no such thing as a wide open receiver. We just have to continue to go back, figure out what’s wrong and fix it so we can execute it better.”

Four turnovers  on offense didn’t help. Jones pointed to that to start his press conference when asked about the Vols’ overall dismal performance on Saturday.

“You’re not going to win very many football games turning the ball over four times,” he said.

Dormady couldn’t explain the sudden increase in turnovers when he was asked about them.

“Errant throws? That’s the only thing I can really say. I don’t know why other than that,” Dormady said. “They just outplayed us today. If you don’t execute and turn the ball over, you don’t stand a chance.”

Linebacker Colton Jumper didn’t think the shutout was indicative of how good Georgia is. It came down to missed opportunities on Tennessee’s side of play.

“I don’t think that score shows how bad we are or how good we are,” Jumper said.

Nick Chubb only ran for 109 yards. But he also wasn’t on the field a lot. Georgia’s first four running backs all averaged over five yards per carry. The Bulldogs ran for 294 yards on 55 carries, scoring four of their five touchdowns on the ground.

Two of those came from Jake Fromm in the first half. The freshman isn’t known for his running ability, but was consistently able to elude Tennessee’s pass rush and scamper for easy yardage. Tennessee’s two sacks came off miscommunication from the Georgia offensive line.

Butch Jones is worried about his offense, which hasn’t looked good in two consecutive outings at home. And he should be given the performances they’ve put up the past few weeks.

“Very concerned,” he said when asked how concerned he was about his offensive players. “We never established any rhythm or tempo. We didn’t have any explosive plays. We need consistency when we run the football. It was as bad an offensive performance I’ve been a part of, and it’s inexcusable.”

Jarrett Guarantano got into the game for the final quarter, and he was 6-for-7 for 16 yards. But he didn’t have many chances to make big plays.

Here’s the passing chart for both of the QBs.

The coaches didn’t ask Jarrett Guarantano to do much. But he made the most of his opportunity.

He’ll get a look at the starting job again in the bye week. As will everyone else on the roster.

“Every position is up for look in the bye week,” Jones said after the game. “We have no starting positions. The individuals that have the best week of preparation will have the opportunity to play.”

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