Five Tennessee players to watch against Georgia

The (8-0) Tennessee Volunteers enter Saturday’s contest against the (8-0) Georgia Bulldogs as one of the hottest teams in the country. Why is Tennessee so good?

The Volunteers have scored a ton of points recently thanks to the unreal connection between quarterback Hendon Hooker and wide receiver Jalin Hyatt. Georgia, the last team to hold Tennessee under 20 points, will be without top pass rusher Nolan Smith.

The Bulldogs overcame losing a top pass rusher during the middle of the season in 2021. Can Kirby Smart and company do it again in 2022?

Georgia faces a big challenge against a red hot Tennessee team in the Bulldogs’ first game without Smith. Fortunately, the Bulldogs will be at home, which should help aid the defense.

Who are five Tennessee players to watch in the Georgia-Tennessee game?

No. 5 Wide receiver Cedric Tillman

Cedric Tillman had a big game against Georgia’s great defense last season. (Marvin Gentry/Getty Images)

Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman would likely be higher up on this list, but he missed four of the Volunteers’ games due to an ankle injury he suffered this season. Tillman had a big game against Pittsburgh earlier in the season when he hauled in nine catches for 162 yards and scored a touchdown.

Side note: one Tennessee receiver, Squirrel White, has to be on the all-name team in college football.

No. 4 Offensive tackle Darnell Wright

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t sleep on the importance of Tennessee right tackle Darnell Wright, who is projected to be a third-round pick in the 2023 NFL draft. Wright has had several dominant blocks recently.

Wright will need to run block well against a talented Georgia front. Wright was named the SEC’s co-offensive lineman of the week for his effort against Kentucky.

No. 3 Pass rusher Byron Young

The Knoxville News-Sentinel

We felt obligated to pick someone from the Tennessee defense. The Volunteers aren’t known for their defense. However, defensive end Byron Young leads the Volunteers with five sacks.

Tennessee needs to get some defensive stops no matter how good their offense plays. Byron Young is the primary pass rusher to worry about on the Volunteers and the only player on their team with over two sacks.

No. 2 Wide receiver Jalin Hyatt

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Jalin Hyatt worked his way into the Heisman conversation following his monster five touchdown game against Alabama. Tennessee needs another big day from Hyatt against Georgia.

Hyatt has 45 receptions for 906 yards and 14 touchdowns this year. 11 of Hyatt’s 14 touchdowns have come over Tennessee’s last four games. Georgia must limit the big play.

No. 1 Quarterback Hendon Hooker

(AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Tennessee star quarterback Hendon Hooker is a the head of the snake. Hooker is the Heisman front-runner. This season, the senior has 21 touchdowns and only one interception.

Hooker, who is projected as a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL draft, is a threat with his legs. He has accumulated 338 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns and must be respected in the run game.

Story originally appeared on UGA Wire