KNOXVILLE – Tennessee and Georgia combined for 96 points and more than 1,000 yards of total offense in the Bulldogs 51-44 win on Saturday.
Here’s Nooga.com’s weekly analysis of some of the Vols’ defining plays:
(First quarter, 7:53): Byron Moore intercepts Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and runs it back for a 36-yard touchdown
UT Formation:Nickel (4-2-5)
Analysis:Moore will go down in the record book for this play, but defensive end Corey Miller deserves just as much, if not more, credit. Miller is lined up on the right side of the defensive line, and his assignment is to jam the Georgia tight end in order to knock him off his route. He does just that, and because of it, he’s a little slow to engage the offensive tackle. Because he’s not to the tackle yet, his hands are free to deflect Murray’s attempted pass to running back Todd Gurley, who is coming out of the backfield. It looks like Murray’s pass would have been on target, but the deflection gives Moore, who had Gurley in man coverage, time to get over there and make the interception and run it back for the score.
(First quarter, 7:44): Georgia running back Keith Marshall runs for a 75-yard touchdown
Analysis: Georgia had three touchdown runs of 51 or more. Clearly, Tennessee has some serious work to do in the film room in this area. On this play, two Georgia offensive linemen pull left, while the rest block back to the right. No Tennessee defender is able to get off his block as Marshall runs to the left and then cuts down the sideline. Linebacker A.J. Johnson and Moore are the two who get kicked out by the pulling linemen. That’s not the disastrous part for Tennessee. A well-schemed and executed run play can easily get 10 or 15 yards. The fact that safety Brent Brewer takes a poor angle and misses the tackle is what makes this play so devastating. Brewer, who is filling in for the injured Brian Randolph, runs at Marshall instead of taking a good angle to him. That allows the freshman running back to easily get by him and take it the rest of the way. That’s not to say that Randolph definitely would’ve made that play, but Brewer has to figure out a way to get Marshall down or out of bounds there.
(Second quarter, 4:21) Herman Lathers sacks Murray and forces a fumble
UT Formation: Nickel (4-2-5)
Analysis:Defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri dials up a zone blitz here. Three of the four defensive linemen rush the passer in addition to Lathers and linebacker A.J. Johnson. The fourth down lineman, Corey Miller, drops into coverage like a linebacker. The Georgia offensive line slides one gap to its left, but Lathers and Johnson both charge towards the Bulldogs’ left guard. He is indecisive on which one to block, so both come free. Lathers makes the sack, gets his hand on the ball to knock it free from Murray, and Johnson is there for the recovery.
(Third quarter, 4:31): Cordarrelle Patterson takes a reverse for a 46-yard touchdown
UT Formation: Shotgun, 3 WRs (Patterson left, 2 right), TE (left), RB
Analysis:There’s no doubt this was supposed to be a reverse pass from Patterson. Bray hands to running back Marlin Lane, who then flips it to Patterson who heads right. He immediately is looking to throw. Justin Hunter, who was running a go route down the right sideline, was the likely target. Hunter is covered, so Patterson cuts it back left and beats the Georgia defense to the end zone. He had some unlikely help though. Quarterback Tyler Bray throws one key block to get him started, and then Lane, who started the play by taking a handoff, comes back into the picture to make another key block downfield. As a side note, offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James went about seven yards down the field to block while Patterson took the reverse. Had he thrown it, the Vols should’ve been flagged for an illegal man downfield, but James was fine because Patterson ended up running it.
(Fourth quarter, 1:34): Quarterback Tyler Bray is hit and stripped by Georgia linebacker Jordan Jenkins
UT Formation: Shotgun, 4 WRs, RB
Analysis:The Vols had 32 yards to cover and the clock was working against them at this point. Georgia knew Tennessee would be passing now, and it brought a blitz late. Right before the snap two Georgia defensive backs crowd the left side of the Tennessee offensive line. The Vols do a good job picking it up. Running back Marlin Lane helps out with the blitz too, so Bray has time, but he feels the pressure and instinctively steps up in the pocket. That allows Jenkins, who had already run by Bray, to come in from behind, hit Bray and jar the ball loose.
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee football for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @Daniel_LewisCBS.