Tennessee at Georgia

College football is always entertaining to me, but it usually gets a lot more interesting when schools get into their conference schedules.

In the SEC, the conference schedule got going really early when Texas A%M went into Columbia, South Carolina and shocked the world by giving the Gamecocks a severe beating. Since that game, a lot of the SEC schools have been playing their standard little sisters of the weak and poor opponents.

They slowly work into the conference games and this past weekend they had Tennessee visiting Georgia, Vanderbilt played at Kentucky, Missouri was at South Carolina and Arkansas took on Texas A%M in Arlington at Jerry World.

All of the games were interesting and exciting to say the least.

Kentucky continued to show that they have improved dramatically over last season and beat Vanderbilt and moved to 3-1 on the year. Missouri came from behind to beat South Carolina. The Aggies came from behind also and beat the Razorbacks in Overtime.

Surprisingly, the Tennessee Volunteers went between the hedges in Athens and gave the Georgia Bulldogs all that they wanted, and then some. This was a fun game to watch for the unbiased fan.

Tennessee is in a rebuilding mode. It’s been a long and frustrating time since Phil Fulmer roamed the sidelines in Knoxville, Tennessee and they had such players as Peyton Manning, Heath Shuler, Leonard Little, Tee Martin and so many others.

The 2014 version of the Tennessee Volunteers are the youngest team in all of college football. They have used 22 true freshmen this season so far.

The Vols have a senior Quarterback in Justin Worley but a large portion of their players are really, really young. If they can find another Quarterback for next season and the years beyond, they should be a force in the SEC East for seasons to come.

The Tennessee Volunteers finished number  5 in the entire country with their 2014 recruiting rankings according to ESPN which is about as good and reliable as any of the other recruiting services. These guys are already showing up and making a difference on the field for the Vols’ 2014 season. They signed 35 total guys in last year’s class and a few of those are Junior college transfers.

Jalen Hurd was the 8th ranked Running back in the country last season and he is leading the Vols in rushing so far this season.

Josh Malone was one of the top rated Wide Receiver recruits in the nation and he has 10 receptions on the year after 4 games.

Todd Kelly was one of the top Safety prospects in the nation and he’s starting at Safety for the Volunteers.

Those guys are just the tip of the iceberg for the Tennessee Volunteers. The right side of the Vol Offensive Line is manned by true freshmen.

But, the only thing missing from this excellent recruiting class is an outstanding Quarterback.

The Vols have a 23 man recruiting class committed for next year’s class already, but this class is also missing a top Quarterback. They do have one Quarterback committed in Quinten Dormady from Boerne, Texas but he is a project and could take some time to develop.

Justin Worley is playing fairly well right now but he is a senior and they will need a Quarterback to step up in the Spring or early next Fall.

With Justin Worley, the Tennessee Volunteers came into Athens, Georgia with high hopes and a 2-1 record. Their only loss was to the mighty Oklahoma Sooners, one of the top teams in the country.

Across the field, the Georgia Bulldogs came into this contest with their own Quarterback problems. Let’s face it, Hutson Mason is no Aaron Murray.

But, in total fairness, few Quarterbacks are Aaron Murray.

Aaron Murray was one of the all time under appreciated and under valued Quarterbacks in college football history. Murray was a 4 year starter for the Bulldogs and threw for over 13,000 yards in 4 years and never really got the attention he may have deserved. Now, Murray is a back up Quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Hutson Mason has not been bad. The Bulldogs  have just been a bit conservative with the ball and they have been short a bit on talent at the Wide Receiver positions due to more injuries.

What the Georgia Bulldogs do have is Todd Gurley, possibly the best player in the entire country. Gurley has probably emerged as the frontrunner for the 2014 Heisman Trophy and I would not be surprised at all if he walked away with it.

 

Besides Gurley at Running Back, the Georgia Bulldogs have 2 of the best freshmen Running Backs in the nation with Sony Michel and Nick Chubb.

Georgia also has a really solid Offensive Line led by Junior Left Tackle John Theus and Senior Center David Andrews.

They also have an improving defense led by Linebackers Ramik Wilson, Amarlo Herrera, Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd who have been solid to sensational at times this season.

This game was a dogfight as the usual SEC games tend to be.

Tennessee jumped to a 10-0 lead, only to see the Bulldogs come back on them.

The game went back and forth in the first two quarters with Georgia taking a 21-17 lead into half time.

The Bulldogs main weapon, Todd Gurley, only had about 70 yards rushing in the first half.

The third quarter was mostly a defensive battle and a turnover fest for both offenses and after 3 quarters it was still 21-17. Gurley didn’t see the ball much at all in the third quarter which is puzzling.

But, the 4th quarter belonged to the Gurley man. Todd Gurley kind of took over when the game was on the line. Gurley got most of his 208 yards rushing in the 4th quarter. He started it off with a beautiful 51 yard Gurley Touchdown run putting the Bulldogs up 28-17.

One has to give the Tennessee Volunteers credit. They are young, but they are fighters and they came roaring back with a 31 yard Touchdown to close within 5 and then they converted on a 2 pointer to their Tight End, Daniel Helm. The score was now 28-25 with the Bulldogs leading.

Even though the Bulldogs and Gurley were moving the ball in the 4th quarter, their drive stalled and they punted and pinned Tennessee on their own 1.

The Vols fumbled inside their own End Zone and it was recovered by the Bulldogs’ Defensive Lineman Josh Dawson for a Georgia Touchdown. The Bulldogs were now up 35-25.

The fight was still not out of the young Tennessee Volunteers. They kept coming and coming and scored again on a Justin Worley pass to Marquez North for a 6 yard Touchdown. 35-32 with the Bulldogs still leading and slightly over 2 minutes left in the game.

The Vols tried an onside kick which failed and a Todd Gurley first down ended the game.

The Tennessee Volunteers went 5-7 in 2013. They are 2-2 in 2014 so far and are looking improved. They have raised the talent level but they are really young.

 

They may be better, but that may not show up on the record books this season because they have Florida next. Then, they have Ole Miss, Alabama, South Carolina, Kentucky and Missouri looming on the horizon. It’s going to be tough to beat a 5-7 record with that kind of schedule, but if anyone can this group of players can get it done.

Georgia was favored by many to win the SEC East and they are sitting at 1-1 in the SEC standings right now and 3-1 overall.

 

Todd Gurley may have risen to the top of the Heisman watch. Gurley has rushed for 610 yards on 69 carries and 6 Touchdowns. He’s averaging 8.8 yards per carry which is phenomenal.

The road won’t be easy for Georgia, either, with Missouri, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Auburn and Georgia Tech ahead on their schedule.

 

Next week, the SEC gets going pretty hot and heavy with some key match ups such as Alabama vs Ole Miss, LSU at Auburn, Texas A%M at Mississippi State, Florida at Tennessee and  South Carolina at Kentucky.

This is going to be fun.

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