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Everything Tennessee Coaches Said About Georgia This Week

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Tennessee football is looking to put last week’s disappointing loss against Missouri behind them as they prepare to host No. 2 Georgia at Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Head coach Josh Heupel met with the local media on Monday before inside linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary and running backs coach Jerry Mack met with the local media on Tuesday. All three coaches talked plenty about Tennessee’s loss at Missouri while also beginning to discuss the unbeaten Bulldogs.

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Josh Heupel

On how Tennessee can get the run game going again against Georgia

“Yeah, part of it’s the way the game ended (against Missouri) and the type of scenario that you’re playing out. But a bunch of it is, you know, us doing a great job, communication, fundamentals, running backs pressing the hole, doing a good job of reading things too. It was a combination of all those things the other night.”

On if the opportunity Tennessee has against No. 1 Georgia on Saturday makes it easier to move on from the Missouri loss

“Yeah, I think no matter what you do the previous week, you gotta put the game behind you. Certainly we understand the quality of the opponent is that’s coming to town this week. Our guys understand who they are, what they’re about and the way that they’re gonna play. Will be a great test for us.”

On how Georgia compares to last year’s Bulldogs team

“They got really good players across the board. Defensively, big, strong, athletic upfront. They can run. They cover extremely well on the back end. They don’t miss tackles. You see ’em in in close quarters and in open space. They tackle extremely well. Offensively, they got dynamic playmakers. A few of those guys are just getting back and getting truly healthy right now. But the quarterback’s playing extremely well, really efficient and accurate. He’s done a really nice job.”

Jerry Mack

On what makes Georgia’s run defense so effective

“The number one thing that stands out is the ability to rotate so many different people at the line of scrimmage, on that front seven. When you look at their defensive line, look at their linebacker core, the biggest thing is there’s constant new bodies. As we go through all the film for the year there’s always a new body— new defensive lineman, new linebacker. They also do a really good job of shedding blocks. Those guys do a good job of two gapping and playing through the defender and making sure they shed and get to the ball carrier. Obviously the speed is something that jumps out at you as well across the board. All those guys can run but that’s just one thing that stands out.”

On Georgia’s linebacker core without Jamon Dumas-Johnson

“Really physical. A really physical bunch. Not just those two guys but the entire group of linebackers. They’re active, they’re athletic, they do a really good job of flying to the football in pursuit and then when they get there they know how to finish plays. When you play a team like Georgia, one things is it’s going to be tough to get yards after contact because they are so physical, they are so strong. So that’s going to be a great challenge to guys like Jaylen Wright, Jabari (Small) and Dylan (Sampson) to make sure they have great pad level and are making sure to drive their feet on contact. Because those linebackers at Georgia don’t want to give you anything. They’re stingy and we have to do a great job of matching that intensity.”

On if there’s a difference between the starters and backups

“Nah. I feel like you stick one of them in and they all look about the same. They’re all flying around.”

On Georgia’s defensive line’ pre snap movement

“A lot of that is on the quarterback position. Just to make sure he gives the offensive line time to go ahead and ID the fronts like he’s supposed to. A big part of that is on the quarterback but as a running back position, we have to make sure that when they do stem we have to understand how the fits change a little bit, how the protection rules may change some if they do decide to stem. More about just when we start a drive— and also when it’s a potential clock stopper too we have to make sure we see the movement and are still alert of our pre snap keys.”

Brian Jean-Mary

On why Georgia’s pass protection is so good

“They’ve only given up nine sacks in 10 games. One, I think their offensive line does a tremendous job. They have really good players up front and he (Carson Beck) is really good with the ball in hand. He knows when to get rid of it. He recognizes pressures and he’s athletic enough to get out of the pocket and extend plays which is something that obviously teams are going to struggle with because of the athletes they have on the perimeter. When you go with the tight ends, wide outs and even the running backs in the passing game— he has some great outlets in the passing game and can extend plays and recognizes defense’s intentions pre snap. I think it all starts with him. He’s doing a really good job.”

On how they limited Georgia’s tight ends a season ago, why Tennessee is so good against Brock Bowers

“You said that, I didn’t *laughs*. To me, he’s one of the better tight ends— I’ve been doing this for a long time— he’s one of the better tight ends I’ve seen in person and on video. The natural pass catching ability, the ability to separate is as good as most wide receivers. I’m not going to sit here and say we designed a defense to try and slow him down, I don’t think anybody can but I think the targets come as the offense sees to target him. I think Georgia has won two National Championships for a reason because they adjust to what defenses are doing. Give them all the credit in the world. (Bowers) Came back against Ole Miss last week and was able to catch a touchdown pass. Didn’t look like he skipped a beat. If you ask anybody on our defense, we know how talented he is and our hope is to contain him. I’ll never sit here and say we were able to stop him. I think that’s a credit to what Georgia does that they’r going to take what defenses are giving them and they have talented players at a bunch of different spots that they can attack defenses in different ways.”

On Georgia’s running backs

“Really talented group. I thought they probably had one of their better performances (against Ole Miss). I know they have been banged up and have had a couple different guys in the backfield. I thought they played a complete game last week against Ole Miss. I thought (Kendall) Milton looked like he’s starting to bounce back. I know he was a little dinged up but he had some real explosive runs. And I’ve been saying since last year that I think Daijuan Edwards kid doesn’t get enough credit for how well he runs the ball. You can tell there’s a high trust factor with him. They put him in in critical situations and he does an unbelievable job of one cut, making the first guy miss. They’ve had a high standard at running back these last couple years and I don’t see any difference this year.”

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