KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee football had a historically bad offensive performance Saturday afternoon, and Coach Butch Jones made no attempt to deny it.
“We never established any rhythm, we did not establish any tempo, I don’t think we had any explosive plays,” Jones said. “It was as bad of an offensive performance as I’ve ever been a part of, and it’s inexcusable.”
Georgia (5-0) marched into Neyland Stadium and scored a 41-0 victory, silencing a mostly orange-and-white checkered crowd of 102,455.
It’s the first time the Vols’ football program has been shut out since Peyton Manning’s freshman year (1994), when Florida dealt Tennessee a 31-0 defeat in Knoxville.
The Vols (3-2) entered the game against No. 7-ranked Georgia with a 289-game scoring streak that ranked as fourth-longest in the nation.
Manning was on hand Saturday to be honored for his selection into the College Football Hall of Fame, holding a press conference on Friday during which he said he was “pulling hard” for Jones to get the program headed in the right direction.
It was clear from the onset it would take more than fan support to get the ball moving against the Bulldogs, who ranked No. 2 in the nation in defensive efficiency before the shutout.
Quarterback Quinten Dormady was intercepted on Tennessee’s first offensive play, and things got worse from there.
Georgia had 20 first downs to Tennessee’s 7, out-gaining the Vols 378 to 142 while forcing four turnovers.
Tennessee didn’t so much as attempt a field goal, as its deepest penetration into Bulldogs’ territory stalled out when senior center Jashon Robertson snapped the ball off his bottom at the Georgia 29, resulting in a lost fumble.
“ We had some opportunities to make some big plays on offense, we dropped a couple of interceptions, and I think everything snowballed from there,” Jones said. “We knew obviously that they are a very good defensive football team, but we expect to score points and move the ball on anyone.”
It was Tennessee’s worst shutout loss since dropping a 44-0 game to Georgia in Athens in 1982. It was also the Vols’ worst home shoutout loss since a 45-0 defeat at the hands of Vanderbilt in 1905 — save a “non-varsity” defeat during World War I to Sewanee (68-0 in 1918).
Jones said he’ll evaluate everything during the bye week. Tennessee returns to action on Oct. 14 at Neyland Stadium against South Carolina.
“Every position is up for a look in the bye week, so we have no starting positions,” Jones said. “W e have a group of individuals that understand our expectations here at Tennessee, and especially when we play in Neyland Stadium.
“There’s a tradition of excellence that we expect and that we demand. So, to me, if you’re a competitor, you can’t wait to get back to work. And again, it starts with us as coaches, of holding everyone accountable.”
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