KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It has been said that for a football team to be at its best, the seniors need to have their best season.
That isn’t happening at Tennessee, and the Vols are not playing their best.
Georgia humbled Tennessee by a 41-0 count on Saturday, leaving Team 121 with the unfortunate legacy of having suffered the worst varsity team home loss since 1905 when Vanderbilt scored a 45-0 victory in Knoxville.
Senior cornerback Emmanuel Moseley dropped an interception in Vols’ territory with 8 minutes left in the first quarter, and five plays later the Bulldogs scored to go up 10-0.
Senior cornerback Justin Martin made a diving interception at the Georgia 27 on the first play of the second quarter, igniting a willing Neyland Staidum crowd.
But just two plays later, senior center Jashon Robertson snapped the ball off his bottom, resulting in a turnover at the Bulldogs’ 29. It proved to be Tennessee’s deepest penetration into Bulldogs’ territory in the game.
Here’s a look at how Tennessee’s position groups graded out:
Junior Quinten Dormady threw late on a 3-step drop on the first play and was intercepted. Dormady underthrew open receivers on two deep passes, and he failed to direct a scoring drive. Dormady failed to cover a poor snap, and that resulted in a turnover. Jarrett Guarantano completed 6 of 7, but none longer than 9 yards, and he was sacked twice in the one quarter he played.
Running backs (C)
Carlin fils-aims had the longest run for UT in the game, a 10-yarder. John Kelly was bottled up with 44 yards on 16 plays. Kelly took a snap in the Wildcat needing 3 yards for a first down and couldn’t convert. Kelly did have 47 yards on three catches, but he fumbled after a 44-yard gain at the Georgia 33. Ty Chandler had only five touches.
The group continued to struggle against man-to-man coverage and was unable to get separation or win 50–50 balls. Marquez Callaway appeared to make a great catch only to land awkwardly and suffer what appeared to be a concussion as he dropped the ball. Freshman Josh Palmer had a pass go through his hands and fall incomplete, and another went through is hands and hit his knee, bounding upward for an interception. Tyler Byrd and Josh Smith are non-factors in the slot.
Offensive line (D)
Center Jashon Robertson had a poor snap go off his bottom, leading to a turnover and squandering Tennessee’s best scoring opportunity when the game was still in doubt. Robertson also had a false start and a hold. Tackle Marcus Tatum had a false start and surrendered a sack. The line didn’t have its best day against Georgia’s great front, but there were some running lanes at times, and there was often enough time to throw.
Defensive line (D)
Played well in the fist quarter but looked worn down by late in third quarter. Kendal Vickers had nine tackles and a sack, playing possessed like a senior leader should. Darrell Taylor was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct, and ends’ pass rush was often neutralized. Jonathan Kongbo continues to miss open-field sack opportunities. Contain was adequate and gap control was solid until the third quarter.
Quart’e Sapp had 10 tackles and a pass break-up, and Colton Jumper had 5 tackles, 2 tackles-for-loss and a sack and Daniel Bituli had eight stops, but the linebacking corps is not making enough plays as a whole. Sapp’s pass break-up could have easily been an interception.
Justin Martin had an interception and a pass break-up on third down and Rashaan Gaulden continues to play at a high level. Sophomore safety Nigel Warrior had 8 tackles and forced a fumble. Emmanuel Moseley dropped an interception and was not credited with any tackles. Micah Abernathy had 9 stops, but took some bad angles in second half.
Special Teams (D)
Trevor Daniel had a punt blocked and Tennessee’s punt coverage team was not sharp. Georgia averaged 11.25 yards on four punt returns. Aaron Medley booted his only kickoff into the end zone for a touchback. Tim Jordan had a kick return for 26 yards, and Ty Chandler averaged 17 yards on two kick returns.
Offensive plan did not appear conducive to players’ skill levels. Young receivers couldn’t win their matchups, and starting quarterback unable to extend plays. Defensive plan was solid, but lack of playmakers is glaring — two dropped interceptions and inability to fall on fumble wiped out three would-be turnovers.
There’s no way other way to describe Saturday’s 41-0 loss to Georgia than a failure. A little bit wrong here, a lot wrong there — it all added up to a historically disappointing afternoon on a prime-time stage with the stadium checkered and legendary QB Peyton Manning in attendance.
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