Tennessee 38, Georgia 31 Instant Analysis
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1. All of a sudden, Butch Jones can coach again.
Tennessee has had the talent, and it has had the ability, but it hasn’t had the experience and, apparently, it didn’t have the confidence. It couldn’t come up with a goal line stop against Oklahoma, it couldn’t come up with a fourth down defensive play against Florida, and it couldn’t get past the punching of Arkansas. But now the Volunteers got to do it in reverse, getting down early and with the season all but done down 24-3 and with Georgia rolling in the second quarter. One drive all but said enough is enough, going 53 yards in eight plays with one of the most decisive and confident-looking scoring drives of the year, finishing off with a 39-yard Josh Smith touchdown catch late in the first half. The turnover on the ensuing kickoff led to another touchdown as part of a run of 28 straight points to change everything around. And now Tennessee is back among the living, and now Jones can exhale – at least for ten minutes before having to deal with Alabama.
2. Hello, Joshua Dobbs.
It’s not as if the Tennessee quarterback hasn’t tried taking the team on his back, and it’s not as if he’s not doing a strong job of trying to make things happen, but this was his game. With 312 passing yards and three scores, and 118 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and with the way he kept making plays with both his legs and his arm, he ripped through the Georgia defense and he led the comeback by taking advantage of several key opportunities. Can he lead the way now to a win over the Crimson Tide? Do that, and all of a sudden his status goes to a whole other level – but this was a very, very key step.
3. Hello, Sony Michel.
Michel was supposed to be the big-time talent and running back recruit over Nick Chubb, but Chubb took the offense by the horns and became a star after Todd Gurley got hurt. Now it’s Michel’s turn after Chubb’s gruesomely horrible leg injury, and now it’s time to show why he might be the better pro prospect. He powered his way to close to seven yards per carry running 22 times for 145 yards, and with Greyson Lambert struggled with the passing attack, he was able to keep the Bulldogs alive. The schedule eases up a bit, and there’s still plenty of time for Georgia to bounce back and take the East, but if Michel doesn’t turn into a superstar, it’s not going to happen.