Offensive line for Tennessee football got destroyed
There’s no way around it. The offensive line was awful in this game. Tennessee football couldn’t run the ball, finishing with 42 carries for 94 yards, and no back had over three and a half yards a carry.
On top of that, they were sacked six times, and that was with no Nolan Smith. Hendon Hooker was strip-sacked in the end zone for a fumble that the Vols barely avoided a safety on. Jalen Carter was the story for Georgia, though. He has been banged up all year but came in and dominated with a sack and two tackles for a loss.
Stetson Bennett outplayed Hendon Hooker
Part of the sacks, to be fair, were on Hendon Hooker. He reverted to his old ways of holding onto the ball too long when he is under pressure. That was a huge issue, and then there is just how he played.
Hooker finished 23-of-33 for 195 yards, no touchdowns and a pick. He overthrew two separate touchdown passes to Jalin Hyatt and Bru McCoy. Meanwhile, Stetson Bennett was 17-of-25 for 257 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, and he ran for a third on an epic third down scramble.
Receivers couldn’t get separation
Part of the reason Hooker was sacked so often and Bennett outplayed him was the lack of separation from the receivers. Hooker’s interception came on a one-on-one pass to Cedric Tillman, and Tillman just lost on it.
This was a common problem throughout the game. Those sacks were coverage sacks. Give credit to Georgia’s cornerbacks. All the talk was about their safeties, but their cornerbacks stepped up in this one and shut down Tennessee football’s receivers.
Secondary play vs. Kentucky was a fluke
Building off of what Bennett did, the Vols seemed to be turning a corner with the secondary play against the Kentucky Wildcats. After all, they held Will Levis, an NFL quarterback, to under 100 yards passing.
That wasn’t the case in this game. Even at more full strength than Kentucky, the issues with this unit came through again. They often just got beat on one-on-one plays, and although there were some busted coverages, all in all, this unit struggled defending the pass.
Did Georgia fans take crowd noise personally?
There was talk all week about Georgia’s crowd not being a factor. Erik Ainge noted that the stadium isn’t very loud, and Ja’Wuan James retweeted that. Also, the Vols’ tempo suggested they wouldn’t even have the time to be effected by crowd noise.
Well, the Vols had two red zone drives killed after pre-snap penalties, and there was a series of them. They only surrendered 55 penalty yards, but they had nine penalties, That’s because so many were false starts and illegal formations, and that was due to the crowd.