Tuesday, March 21, 2023
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Rough First half for Tennessee against Georgia doomed the Vols: What went wrong?

Tennessee was held to 139 yards in the first half and fell to 1/7 on third down – certainly not the Tennessee we’ve come to know this season. 

Not all the blame can be placed on Tennessee’s offense – the Volunteers gave up 306 yards to Georgia in the first. 

Here’s a look at some of the plays that hurt Tennessee in the first half and led to a 27-13 loss to the Bulldogs.

Vols forced to settle for a field goal following a couple of false starts 

Obviously, hindsight is 20/20, but in a game where points are going to be hard to come by, settling for field goals is tough. 

Tennessee seemed poised to strike first after forcing a Georgia fumble, but a pair of false starts killed the Volunteer’s drive. Seems like the crowd played a bigger factor than Erik Ainge would give them credit for. 

Tennessee took a 3-0, but the Volunteers could’ve used seven. 

Stetson Bennett scrambles for a touchdown

Bennett was all but wrapped up in the backfield, but broke loose and hit the pylon for six. 

Tennessee’s pass defense is supposed to be the weakness of the unit, allowing Bennett to break free is inexcusable. 

Bennett hasn’t had to deal with much pressure in this game either – adding to the woes. 

Hendon Hooker overthrows Jalin Hyatt 

The signature Hooker-to-Hyatt connection was there, but the Heisman contender overthrew his receiver. 

Against a team like Kentucky, you are able to get away with mistakes like the missed opportunity. Against a team like Georgia – where opportunities are few and far between – you can’t miss that pass. 

To add insult to injury, Hyatt stepped on the official’s foot and may have tweaked his ankle. 

Georgia lands a 75-yard punt at Tennessee’s one-yard line. 

For obvious reasons, a punt being downed at your own one-yard line is bad. 

Hooker then – uncharacteristaically – holds the ball too long and is strip sacked. Luckily, Tennessee returns the fumble to their own half-yard line. The Volunteers are forced to punt, setting up Georgia with prime field position.

As a defense, after Georgia’s big stop, you have to expect the kill shot. 

Coming into Saturday, Georgia was not known for their deep passing game, per se. 

On the first play of the drive, McKonkey hit Doneiko Slaughter with a double move to catch a WIDE-open 37-yard touchdown pass with 3:32 left in the first. 

A series of unfortunate events for the Volunteers spurred from the amazing Bulldog punt. 

Down 21-3, Tennessee settles for a field goal 

Like I said before, hindsight is 20/20. Settling for field goals may come back to bite Tennessee at the end of the game. 

Sanford Stadium – once again – forced some false starts. The Bulldog faithful forced five (five!) false starts. 

Chase McGrath hit the field goal, bringing the score to 21-6.

Hooker throws an interception to Kelee Ringo

On a jump ball to Cedric Tillman, Hooker throws an interception to Ringo for a touchback. 

Hooker overthrew Tillman just enough to allow Ringo to run under the ball, intercepting it. 

Hooker has been really good about ball security, so the uncharacteristic pick obviously hurts. 

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