Tennessee football: What went wrong against Georgia?

Tennessee football was put to the test Saturday against the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs. Going into the game, both teams were undefeated from their first two games, and Tennessee even had an eight-game winning streak going into the game Saturday afternoon. Tennessee led the Bulldogs 21-17 at halftime, but Georgia quickly changed the game’s momentum in the second half. Unfortunately for the Volunteers, their winning streak came to an end after the 44-21 beating.

All there is left to ask is what went wrong?

Tennessee’s Offense

The offense did not do what it had to do to stay in the game this past weekend. Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano had to have a perfect game against the fourth nationally ranked defense. Did the veteran quarterback play perfect? No, he was far away from being perfect. On the first two second-half drives, he gave up a fumble and an interception. The early second-half turnovers led to the Georgia offense to score two field goals.

Guarantano told reporters, “In the second half they made some good adjustments and they came in and played a lot of cloud defense, some cover two and they were able to stop the run and the pass.”

Speaking of the running game, the Volunteers running backs Ty Chandler and Eric Gray played their worst game of the season in the season’s biggest game. These two players always had consistency but lacked their regular dominant running game. Between the two running backs, they had 16 carries and picked up 37 yards. They were no match for Georgia’s defense.

The offensive line also struggled to hold its own on Saturday. In one of my previous articles, I mentioned that the O-line had to play a complete game against the Bulldogs for Tennessee to have a chance of winning. Long story short, the O-line did not play half the game, let alone a complete game. Once Georgia started applying pressure to the line of scrimmage and the quarterback, the line lost control. The offensive line allowed its quarterback to be sacked five times on Saturday, which is more than half the sacks he had coming into the game.

Tennessee’s Defense

Now for the defense side. I mentioned the defense needed to get an early jump on Georgia’s offense. The Vols needed to have early defensive stops. Did the defense do this? Well, yes. Tennessee’s defense kept Georgia to seven points in the first quarter and 10 points in the second quarter. The defense stopped four of the seven drives Georgia had in the first half. Unfortunately for Tennessee, football games have two halves.

The Vols defense allowed the Bulldogs offense to score 27 points in the second half. Even with Tennessee having its secondary at full potential, Georgia’s receiver Kearis Jackson had a touchdown and caught four passes for 91 yards. The secondary duo of Bryce Thompson and Shawn Shamburger was no match for Georgia’s offense. Once the Bulldogs gained momentum on both sides of the field, it was hard for Tennessee’s defense to find its footing again, resulting in the Bulldogs dominating the second half.