Man was I worried about our trip to Knoxville. Not because I felt that Tennessee was better than Georgia, because I didn't. But our last two trips up there were such debacles and because this game was HUGE for this particular season and we have not exactly been getting the job done in HUGE games in recent years. For me, this was the bellwether game for the Dawgs' season and our steadily dominant performance was enough to give me more optimism for the remainder of this season.
Going in, I was a little concerned about UT because they had hammered Cincinnati by 22 points and Cincy looked pretty decent dismantling NC State on a Thursday night a few weeks back. But my real concerns were less about UT and more about UGA and our recent penchant for red-zone paralysis and our charitable offense/special teams. I knew that we would shut down the UT rush and would have a better chance of slowing down their passing attack by making them one-dimensional. Still, after two quarters, we had not found the end zone and were one gift TD away from trouble. Then came the third quarter complete domination in which Isaiah Crowell reached paydirt twice and Tennessee mustered only 24 yards on 8 plays. At that point, the party was on at Chez Tanner because there was no way Grantham's Dawgs were letting Tennessee score twice in the 4th quarter.
Speaking of Grantham's defense... if you had told me in September that our linebackers were going to steal the show but would do so without Alec Ogletree, Cornelius Washington and with a limited Christian Robinson, I would have been highly skeptical. But hats off to Mike Gilliard (12 tackles, a pass break-up and 2.5 tackles for a loss for 20 yards), Amarlo Herrera (6 tackles), Jarvis Jones (5 tackles with 3.5 for a loss of 9 yards) and Chase Vassar (2 tackles with 1.5 for a loss of 5 yards). Of course. all of this stellar linebacker play would not happen but for the great play from the front 3 anchored by the rotation of John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers. Indeed, UGA owned the UT backfield with the net result for the Vols being 23 rushes for -20 yards. That is a happy statistic no matter what, but to do it to the Vols in Knoxville is even better. And yes, the Gators held them to -9 yards rushing, which means our defense was more than twice as good as the Gators against the run. Ha!
Beating Tennessee never gets old and no victory over the Vols is anything but beautiful. There is no such thing as an ugly win against any team wearing disgusting orange colors.
Congratulations to Coach Mark Richt for reaching the 100 Victory milestone. Here's to hoping he reaches 108 before he signs another class of Bulldogs.
Go Dawgs! GATA!