There are all sorts of areas that we can point to as important factors for Georgia to come out on top Saturday at Tennessee (3:39, CBS).
Ask 10 different people, you may get 10 different answers.
We didn’t go that route, but we do have five worth mentioning for Bulldog success that we wanted to talk about in today’s keys to the game.
• Get off to a fast start: We mentioned this last week against Mississippi State, and this holds especially true against the Volunteers.
Tennessee is struggling on offense right now, and any quick surge by the Bulldogs offensively is going to put that much more pressure on quarterback Quentin Dormady who has had his ups and downs.
The Bulldogs caught Mississippi State’s attention with a perfectly executed flea-flicker on the game’s first play. Georgia probably won’t resort to that against the Vols, but the Bulldogs can make just as big of a statement by taking their first possession and driving down for an early touchdown. Putting the onus on Tennessee’s offense right off the bat could be the just the thing to get Georgia rolling toward it’s second straight SEC victory.
• Control John Kelly: At this stage in the season, running back John Kelly is probably the Vols’ biggest offensive weapon.
Four games in, Kelly leads the SEC in rushing with 450 yards and six touchdowns, and truth be told, is probably the best running back the Bulldogs have faced to date.
At 5-9 and 205 pounds, Kelly is a hard-nosed runner with a low center of gravity who has proven to be very tough to tackle. No doubt the Bulldogs – who rank third in the SEC in rushing defense – will focus on the Tennessee junior.
Call me Captain Obvious, but slowing him down would obviously help Georgia’s cause.
• Don’t worry about the past: This holds true on a couple of fronts. Georgia can’t be so fired up about avenging last year’s Hail Mary that it forgets to play with the kind of fundamentals that has gotten the team to this point.
For my perspective, I don’t believe that will happen. The Bulldogs talk about being “humble and hungry” and coaches seemed to have truly gotten through to the players when it comes to forgetting the past and focus only on the task of playing football the way Kirby Smart wants it played.
Just play fundamentally sound football. That needs to be Smart’s only message. Execute the game plan and don’t make silly mistakes – that’s it.
• Don’t worry about the crowd: This applies mainly to Jake Fromm, but after watching the freshman for four games now, it’s hard to see this being much of problem.
Yes, this will be Fromm’s first road SEC game and, quite frankly, his first true road test after the 50-50 crowd split at Notre Dame.
Nevertheless, Fromm comes off as nearly unflappable and it’s hard to imagine him being so rattled by playing at Tennessee that it’s going to affect the way he plays.
Not saying it couldn’t, but if Fromm struggles, it’s going to be due to Tennessee’s defense, not his surroundings. We’ll see.
• Pressure Dormady: After four straight weeks of playing quarterbacks best described as dual-threat performers, Dormady is the first true pocket quarterback that the Bulldogs will have faced this year.
To Tennessee’s credit, the Vols have only allowed two sacks of Dormady through four games, while the Bulldogs come in eighth in the SEC with eight sacks for losses of 60 yards.
Due to the style of quarterbacks they’ve played, we haven’t seen defensive coordinator Mel Tucker call for a ton of blitzes. That could change against the Volunteers.
With the secondary playing better in man coverage than many projected it would, Tucker may be a bit more aggressive than we’ve seen this year. Dormady has been picked off four times in four games, and some extra pressure just might be the ticket for one or two more picks, which would certainly be huge.