Vols Fall Short Against Georgia, 20-12
BY DREW EDWARDS
KNOXVILLE -- For much of
the season, Tennessee coach Derek Dooley bemoaned his team's tendency
to give up one or two costly plays.
Unfortunately for the Vols,
that trend continued in a 20-12 loss to Georgia in front of 102,455
fans in Neyland Stadium on Saturday night.
After finishing the first half tied, the Vols surrendered 14 unanswered points in the third quarter and couldn't catch back up.
One big play in particular -- a 73-yard pass to freshman receiver Malcolm Mitchell -- proved costly.
up at his 7-yard line, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray hit Mitchell on
a play-action pass that took Georgia to the UT 22 and flipped the field
in a major way.
"That's a huge play. Everything changed after
that," Dooley said. "Then we really got affected. Then we gave up a
17-yard run. That was the longest run of the day. That was big. Then it
Two plays later, freshman Isaiah Crowell scored on
that 17-yard run to give Georgia a 20-6 lead with 4:51 remaining in the
Linebacker Austin Johnson, who led the Vols with
a career-high 11 tackles, said some of UT's defensive players hadn't
quite mentally recovered from the long pass when Crowell scored.
did see them kind of get down a little bit," Johnson said. "My job is
to make sure they stay up. Maybe I didn't do the best job. We've got to
be able to react better when those (big plays) happen."
Bulldogs (4-2, 3-1 SEC) moved the ball 38 yards on eight plays and
scored a touchdown on their first possession of the second half after
forcing UT off the field in three plays.
While Georgia moved the
ball with ease out of halftime, picking up 177 of its 366 yards of
total offense in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Tennessee (3-2, 0-2)
began the second half in an offensive funk.
The Vols had just 11
yards of total offense in the third quarter on 11 plays. And a flagging
ground game didn't get any better after halftime. In fact, it got worse.
Vols had just 29 yards rushing in the first half. By the midway point
of the fourth quarter, the Vols had minus-4 yards, although that total
was impacted by sacks.
UT finished with minus-20 yards on the
ground, the second time in two conference games UT has finished with
negative rushing yards.
Senior tailback Tauren Poole had 7 yards on seven carries before leaving during the second the quarter with a hamstring injury.
didn't have your senior, heavy runner," Dooley said. "Not that that
would have been the difference, but when you lose your starting running
back it hurts. But what was he doing before that? He wasn't tearing it
The bad news wasn't limited to the ground game, either.
Tyler Bray, who finished with 251 yards on 18-of-33 passing, left the
game with about 4 1/2 minutes remaining after his throwing hand slammed
into a Georgia defender's helmet.
"He hurt his thumb. That's
what we know," Dooley said of Bray, who finished without a touchdown
pass for the first time in 10 games as a starter. "We'll find out more
when X-ray it."
With Bray on the bench, backup Matt Simms took
over and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to finish off a drive
14-play, 76-yard drive that made the score 20-12.
Palardy's extra point was blocked, and the ensuing onside kick attempt
went out of bounds, effectively ending Tennessee's chances.
ended the first half with some momentum after a 46-yard drive in the
final 1:38, and Palardy's 43-yard field goal as time expired tied the
game at 6-6.
Tight end Mychal Rivera was the Vols most potent
offensive weapon, catching four passes for 66 yards in the first half
and finishing with five for 85 yards.
Receiver Da'Rick Rogers
was held in check for most of the game, although he finished with 71
yards after being held to just two catches in the first half.
As difficult as the Vols had it at time against Georgia on Saturday, it won't get any easier.
hosts No. 1 LSU, which defeated Florida 34-11 Saturday, next week in
Neyland Stadium before traveling to face No. 2 Alabama on Oct. 22.
"We've got one and two coming in," Dooley said. "Nobody's going to feel sorry for Tennessee."
Rivera wants to make sure Tennessee doesn't spend too much time feeling sorry for itself, either.
just got to keep pushing forward. We've got a big week ahead next
week," he said. "We've got a shot to take down No. 1. That's what I'm
looking forward to."