RTI Notebook: Rewatching No. 14 Tennessee vs. No. 3 Georgia

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    Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

    No. 14 Tennessee lost to No. 3 Georgia 44-21 on Saturday night in Athens.

    The Vols led 21-17 at the half thanks to two Jarrett Guarantano to Josh Palmer touchdowns. But Tennessee allowed Georgia to outscore them 27-0 in the second half off of three turnovers and comeback and win the football game.

    In the process of rewatching the game back on Sunday, managing editor Ben McKee jotted down his thoughts on the plays that led to Tennessee’s first loss of the season.

    First Quarter

    Georgia’s opening drive: Tennessee takes 7-0 lead on bad snap

    • What a gift for Tennessee as a result of the bad snap on the second play of the game. Great job by Kivon Bennett and Deandre Johnson hustling to recover the football in the end zone. Georgia center Trey Hill was benched last season due to bad snaps and it reared its ugly head once again. Hill’s first snap on the first play of the game was a bad one too that Stetson Bennett did a great job of hauling in.

    Georgia’s second drive: Bulldogs punt it away after Harrison sack

    • On 3rd-and-4, Bennett found Kearis Jackson for 17-yards on a simple slant in the slot. Shawn Shamburger was beat on the play.
    • On the following play, Jaylen McCollough delivered a great hit to jar the ball loose. Bennett was looking for Kenny McIntosh and it would have been a first down. Great job by McCollough to avoid targeting as well.
    • After McCollough forced 2nd-and-10 to set up a 4-yard rush for Zamir White, Roman Harrison comes up with a sack on 3rd-and-6 to force a punt. Great job by Harrison off the edge to beat the right tackle, but there was also great coverage down the field to force Bennett to hold onto the football longer than he should have.

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    Tennessee’s first drive: Vols go three-and-out

    • I found it interesting that Cade Mays started at right guard after starting at right tackle against Missouri. I believe this was in an effort to help Brandon Kennedy with his assignment on the interior, which was to block nose tackle Jordan Davis.
    • Not a great start for Trey Smith, who played as poor a game in a Tennessee uniform as we’ve seen. Makes you wonder if the labrum injury he suffered against South Carolina hampered him more against Georgia because of the step up in talent from Missouri. But on the first Tennessee offensive play of the game, he didn’t even touch the crashing defensive end who had a free run at Ty Chandler to stop him for no gain.
    • On 2nd-and-10, Jarrett Guarantano hits Ty Chandler for a gain of one on the bubble screen. Wanya Morris didn’t get out quick enough for the block and Smith was slow getting out as well.
    • On 3rd-and-9, Guarantano hit Cedric Tillman (who started after we didn’t seen much from him in the first two game) for a gain of six on an underneath crossing route. Didn’t get a chance to see on the TV broadcast if anything was open past the sticks.

    Georgia’s third drive: The Deandre Johnson drive, Georgia ties it

    • Kenny McIntosh ran for 13-yards on the first play of the drive and then for 5-yards on the next play to set up 2nd-and-5.
    • On second down, Bennett throws well over the head of George Pickens. Georgia would have faced 3rd-and-5 from the Tennessee 45-yard line, but instead, Deandre Johnson was called for roughing the passer and then ejected for targeting. It was a simply terrible decision by Johnson. He took three steps towards Bennett after he got rid of the football and basically head-butted him.
    • The penalty gave Georgia 1st-and-10 from the 30-yard line and three plays later, the Bulldogs tied the game at 7-7 on a 1-yard rushing touchdown from Zamir White. A 29-yard gain on 2nd-and-10 courtesy of a pass from Bennett to McIntosh set up the touchdown. Henry To’o To’o was beat inside in coverage, and Bryce Thompson and Trevon Flowers missed tackles.

    Tennessee’s second drive: Offensive line penalties stall drive

    • On 1st-and-10, Mays and Darnell Wright missed on their blocks and Chandler rushed for no gain.
    • Guarantano found Eric Gray out of the slot on a slant for a gain of nine on 2nd-and-10 to set up 3rd-and-1. Guarantano tried to find Josh Palmer deep on third down which fell incomplete.
    • Tennessee went for it on 4th-and-1 and got the first down out of the jumbo package on a 1-yard carry from Chandler. I personally didn’t like Tennessee taking a shot deep on third-and-short. If you knew you were going for it on fourth down, run behind your talented offensive line in a short yardage situation twice.
    • It begins to look like Tennessee really has something cooking following the successful fourth down play. Guarantano was forced out of the pocket on first down and managed to scramble for a yard, but Georgia’s Tyson Campbell was called for defensive holding, giving Tennessee a 1st-and-10 from its 46-yard line.
    • But then the drive goes downhill. Mays is called for a false start, but it was the entire offensive line that moved. On 1st-and-15, Chandler rushed for seven, and after Guarantano scrambled for two, Tennessee faced 3rd-and-6. Guarantano found Ramel Keyton over the middle of the field, but Wanya Morris was called for holding and the Vols then had to face 3rd-and-16.
    • Georgia brought a defensive back on a blitz on the third-and-long, forcing Guarantano to scramble and find Gray for a gain of five. Tennessee had to punt and Paxton Brooks delivered a beauty. A 50-yarder to put Georgia on its own 5-yard line.

    Georgia’s fourth drive: Bulldogs go 95-yards to take the 14-7 lead

    • On 2nd-and-9, Alontae Taylor was called for pass interference while Bennett attempts to go deep to Pickens, who had Taylor deep. Bennett’s throw was under-thrown and Taylor essentially close-lined Pickens while attempting to recover.
    • Kendall Milton rushed for five on first down following the penalty. Bennett then finds Florida State graduate transfer Tre McKitty for 19-yards. McKitty beat Banks in coverage.
    • Two plays later, Kurott Garland jumped offsides on 2nd-and-7. Bennett chunked it deep on the free play, but Matt Landers couldn’t come up with the catch. Flowers might have gotten away with pass interference. Regardless, Garland gave Georgia 2nd-and-2 and then White rushed for three to pick up the first down and bring the quarter to a close.

    Click ‘next’ to continue reading what went wrong for Tennessee on Georgia’s 95-yard touchdown drive.

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    Ben McKee is a graduate from the University of Tennessee and has a degree in Journalism and Electronic Media. He covers Tennessee football, basketball, baseball, and the Lady Vols for RTI, and he's also the host of the RTI Podcast. You can also hear Ben on the morning sports radio show "The Swain Event." He's the producer and co-host along with former Vol wide receiver Jayson Swain.