Tennessee Unable To Overcome Three Early Turnovers In 41-14 Loss To Bulldogs

Commence the 15 minutes of post-game mostly incoherent, questionable-impression-filled ramblings. We hereby disclaim all representations and warranties as to facts, logic, and any of that kind of serious stuff.

Well, first off, credit to the Georgia Bulldogs for pulling themselves together just in time to play Tennessee. Thanks!

Secondly, Eric Gordon is going to be a fantastic player for the Vols. I honestly can't tell you how long it's been since I've entertained thoughts of a kick or punt returner finishing the play in the end zone, but I do with Gordon. His two fumbles and Matt Simms's interception were directly responsible for 17 Bulldog points and the first half that threatened to get entirely out of hand, but each of those (save maybe the muffed punt, which he should have just caught) was a bit quirky. The first fumble was because he was hit blind from behind because he was cutting across the field in search of more yards. The muffed punt may have been a blown call (not complaining here, and as I just said, it shouldn't have bounced off him anyway), and the interception was the result of a tipped ball on the right read for Simms. Hey, them's the breaks. Gordon (a freshman) had a bad day, but he has many great days ahead of him.

As the game threatened to break loose, the team momentarily lost itself. After the muffed punt that gave Georgia the ball within spitting distance of the end zone, Georgia not only scored but chop blocked our only true defensive tackle in the process. After that, we muffed a snap (new center, new QB), served up an ugly, wobbly punt, tacked on a 15-yard penalty on a late hit, and gave the ball back to Georgia right on the cusp of the red zone. The only reason they scored only a field goal was thanks to Janzen Jackson's wicked hit on the QB and A.J. Green actually not catching a ball in the front corner of the end zone.

After awhile, though, the Vols did find their footing a bit, and from that point, they merely got beat. There would be no overcoming three turnovers, but at least it wasn't an all-out onslaught. Some in the game thread said this is the worst Tennessee has looked all season, but I still give that distinction to the UAB game. Georgia's not a bad team; they're a good team that has had a lot of bad luck (much of their own making) along the way. They had no such problem this week.

And there were still some positives to take away from this game.

Again, they didn't quit and they didn't appear to tire out. The defense continued to play hard, and although they still had trouble stopping Georgia, they played fairly solid until the clock hit all zeroes. The offense kept plugging away, too, even when Tennessee went to backup QB Tyler Bray, who showed some real zip and accuracy on his passes. He orchestrated a really nice drive that only stalled inside the five yard line.

That's not to say that Matt Simms had a bad game. He fnished 9 of 13 for 179 yards, with one TD and one INT (the aforementioned tipped ball). He was still sacked four times, and for someone who's under that much duress that often (he must be averaging nearly five sacks per game), he's doing remarkably well.

Justin Hunter continues to impress. He's not A.J. Green-good yet, but he's got that potential. And when he catches a pass from Bray, there's the added benefit of being able to yell "BONES TO BONES!"

Jacques Smith's hit on whichever Georgia running back that was was something to behold. Not quite Eric Berry on Knowshon Moreno, but lovely. Smith did get completely fooled on a fake handoff later, but hey, he's a freshman. Did we mention how many new players we have on the field this year? We started the game with Joseph Ayers and Malik Jackson in the middle of the line. Now that I say that, where was Montori Hughes to start the game? Huh.

Anyway, this was not a good day for the Vols, and losing the turnover battle 3-0 was an extenuating factor. We don't have the personnel in either quality in quantity right now to overcome such a significant disadvantage. What we do have is the heart to put on the brakes and keep things from cartwheeling over the cliff. And that's something.
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