ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia coach Mark Richt expected his defense to endure growing pains during the course of the football season.
Fortunately for the No. 6-ranked Bulldogs, the offense has more than picked up the slack. Passing another big test with a 44-41 win over LSU, Georgia (3-1, 2-0 SEC) will try to make progress defensively Saturday at Tennessee.
"Every game's gonna be a barnburner 'til we really get more stout on defense and continue to get our special teams in order." Richt said.
Georgia ranks last in the SEC in scoring defense, giving up 32.5 points per game.
"Somewhere down the line, it's gonna catch up to us if we continue to give up big points like that," Georgia freshman cornerback Brendan Langley said.
Don't expect that to come Saturday at Tennessee. The Volunteers (3-2, 0-1 SEC) are rebuilding under first-year coach Butch Jones. Georgia starting quarterback Aaron Murray should be able to feast on Tennessee's defense, which ranks ninth against the pass giving up 249.8 yards per game.
Murray goes into this game only 99 yards shy of passing former Georgia quarterback David Greene as the SEC's all-time passing leader. Murray is at 11,429 passing yards for his career.
"It's definitely an honor," Murray said. "It's crazy to think about. I've never been a guy who's worried about stats, it's all about winning, winning, winning, but it's definitely an honor to be alongside some of those guys like Greene and (Florida QB Danny) Wuerffel. Guys who did some unbelievable things while they were at their colleges."
Meanwhile, Richt is concerned about Tennessee's deep, experienced offense line.
"This offensive line is the best I've seen this year," Richt said. "I do think they're the class of the league and maybe the country."
After a loss to start the season at Clemson, Georgia can't afford any more letdowns in order to reach its goal of returning to the SEC title game. Murray doesn't expect a letdown to happen against the Vols.
"We have a lot of momentum," Murray said. "I think the biggest thing is that we have great leadership and our leaders are really going to have to step up right now and make sure guys are staying focused. We've been practicing our tails off in practice, just getting after it, working and training hard, staying very focused in meetings and on the field. I think that's why we've been successful, because we are putting the work in right now."