At the top of the curve
Offensive line. Once again, no sacks, and this time they had their way in the running game, pushing defenders around and allowing the backs to get 190 yards rushing. This unit is growing into a strength, provided they can continue to run-block as well as they did on Saturday.
Running backs. As a unit, the backs had 190 yards rushing, a 4.3 yard average, and four rushing touchdowns. Arian Foster led the way with 98 yards (a whopping 5.8 yard average), three TDs, and a long run of 22 yards. Montario Hardesty also looked great, taking 14 carries 70 yards for a 4.9 yard average and a TD. LaMarcus Coker added another dimension, and Lennon Creer got some experience. The backs got TDs every time they were in the orange zone.
In the middle of the curve
Coaches. Devoted themselves and the team to the running game, which paid off in a big way and gave Vol fans some optimism for the remainder of the season. Mixed up the play-calling well. Called the trick play that got us seven at the perfect time. Went for it on fourth down and the team converted. Innovation on special teams paid off. Rededicated the defense to fundamentals. Few penalties. Basically, just had the team ready to put a whoopin’ on the Dawgs.
Quarterback. Erik Ainge was Erik Ainge, going 17 of 22 for 165 yards, and good for him for the right attitude about not getting any touchdowns when we really needed them on the ground instead. Got enough of a block on the trick play to give Lucas Taylor time to get the pass off to Coker. (Taylor, by the way, if memory serves, has two passes for two touchdowns in his career.) Seven of 14 on third down conversions could have been better, but that’s nit picking.
Special teams. Great fluffy biscuits, special teams were a strength against Georgia. Daniel Lincoln was 5-5 on PATs. Britton Colquitt punted six times for 252 yards, averaging 42 yards per punt, with two punts over 50 yards, and three punts inside the 20. Punt coverage was even good, as Mikey Henderson only returned two of them for a total of 11 yards. Colquitt also kicked off six times for 406 yards, averaging 67.7 yards per kickoff and netting 51.8. Two of them were touchbacks. Jonathan Hefney played smart on punt returns, and the kickoff return unit was fine except for one bobble, if I remember correctly.
Defensive line. Held a good Georgia running game to 69 total yards and an average of 2.8. Did not give up big plays in the running game. Demonte Bolden had four tackles, J.T. Mapu had three tackles and a sack for seven yards, and Walter Fisher, Dan Williams, Ben Martin and others played well, disrupting the Dawgs’ intentions.
Receivers. Austin Rogers led the way with 61 yards on five catches, and Taylor had another fine day, catching six passes for 50 yards. Denarius Moore had a really nice 34-yard grab, and Coker caught a 56-yard wicked tricksey pass from Taylor. Another solid outing from this group.
Linebackers. The defensive line playing well freed up the ‘backers to play well, too. Rico McCoy and Jerod Mayo each had 11 tackles. Nevin McKenzie added five tackles and played exceptionally well on special teams. Ryan Karl had four tackles and broke up two passes.
At the bottom of the curve
Defensive backs. Not really fair that anybody has to be at the bottom of the curve this week, as the entire team played very well. Brent Vinson did get out-fought for a touchdown, but he was in great position to make the play. Marsalous Johnson got called for pass interference in the end zone, but it was a questionable call. Eric Berry had four tackles, and Jonathan Hefney got back to playing like Jonathan Hefney, breaking up two passes and intercepting one.