clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tennessee vs Georgia: Five Bold Predictions

Tennessee will need some big breaks to come their way this weekend.

Tennessee v Georgia
Tennessee faces their toughest opponent of the season on Saturday.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

In 2015, the Vols were 2-3 and coming off a bad loss to SEC West foe Arkansas before playing the Georgia Bulldogs in Neyland Stadium.

The smokey-grey uniforms were on full display that night. However, the team appeared like they had flamed out as well.

Fans, alumni, and ex-players were all frustrated as the Vols were down 24-3 in the second quarter. But Tennessee came roaring back and finally broke through, beating Georgia for the first time since 2009.

The Vols needed - and received - some major breaks that day in order for them to come away with the win. They will need more once again this weekend if they expect the same result.

1. The Margin Of Victory Will Be More Than One Possession

For six straight seasons the winner of this matchup has won by eight points or less. The average margin of defeat is right around five points and three of the last four games have been decided by three points

I think that changes this year, primarily because of the quarterbacks for each team. Both are young, inexperienced, and mostly game managers. Both of them are very likely to make mistakes and they can be manipulated by defenses.

Georgia and Tennessee are going to try and cram the ball down each other's throats until they suffocate. If neither team is successful, then this would likely lead to more pass attempts to balance out the offense.

I shouldn't have to explain the rest - it's pretty basic football.

Leaving the game in a young quarterback's hands can go south quickly in the SEC, but sometimes they can flourish depending on the talent that surrounds them.

We've seen Tennessee quarterback Quinten Dormady throw a pick-six already once this year, but Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm has only thrown one interception all season long.

Fromm’s efficiency is due in large part to the well-known three head monster in Georgia’s backfield.

While it may prove difficult to force him into a mistake, if the Vols can get pressure on Fromm like they did last week against UMass - then they could easily force him to throw an interception or get a strip-sack type of play.

Regardless, this game won’t come down to the final play like in season’s past.

2. Shaq Wiggins Records His First Interception

This obviously piggy-backs off the first prediction. Pretty smooth, right?

Apologizing for the obvious display of self-aggrandizing indulgence, something tells me that Tennessee defensive back Shaq Wiggins will be looking to make some plays against his former team.

And he will get plenty of opportunity to do just that.

Wiggins had only played two snaps all season long before last week's game against UMass. Whether it be injuries, "adjusting" to the Vols culture, or simply being buried on the depth chart - Wiggins has not made the impact many hoped for when he transferred to UT.

But Wiggins saw a big increase in playing time last week and was very solid when called upon.

UT released their depth chart for the game on Tuesday and Wiggins is second to starter Emmanuel Moseley. Tennessee knows Georgia is going to want to run the ball and I believe that the Vols will be effective in stopping them for the most part.

Notre Dame did a good job of forcing Fromm into the offense and the results were encouraging. Fromm threw 29 pass attempts and completed less than half of them for 141 yards. He threw his only interception of the season so far and Georgia scored a season-low 20 points.

All this leads up to Tennessee forcing Jake Fromm having an increased role in the offense and that is where Wiggins will look to record his first interception of the season.

3. The Vols Will Score First

My God. Eventually Tennessee has to find a way to come out swinging, right? I mean, they didn't even score against UMass until late in the second quarter.

What's that old saying, uh - if you do something over and over again expecting the same result then it's called clarity? Something like that, yea?

Tennessee v Vanderbilt
How Tennessee's first half offense usually makes me feel.
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Ugh. I can’t believe I am saying this, but Tennessee will score first this weekend. Whether it be on the opening drive, a pick-six, field goal - whatever - the Vols will draw first blood and keep the crowd raucous and rowdy like your usual SEC matchup in Neyland.

4. Brandon Johnson Will Lead The Team In Receiving Yards

Look for Tennessee wide receiver Brandon Johnson to carry over the momentum from last week's game. Johnson was excellent over the middle and for the Vols to have success on offense, they will need the quick-timing passing game to work this week.

In order to keep Georgia honest on defense, the Vols will need to come out and establish rhythm and tempo early. Georgia's defense relies on their speed and athleticism to make plays - which is great but can lead to coverage busts and other breakdowns that result in big plays.

NCAA Football: Indiana State at Tennessee
The Vols will be relying on Johnson a lot on Saturday.
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

The Vols will obviously run the hell out of John Kelly, but I also believe that they will use the short passing game as an extension of the running game in order to stay flexible within certain formations to help keep Georgia off-balance.

Johnson is the perfect candidate for such an offense. Not only does he have the speed and quickness to create space over the middle, but he also has the height and ability to snatch balls out of the air and be a major factor in a 50-50 type scenario.

Johnson's biggest knock of 2017 has been his hands. He has dropped a few passes - most notably the back shoulder throw in the end zone against Florida - that were very catchable. He cannot afford to drop those types of throws on Saturday.

Dormady will have to rely on quick passes a lot against Georgia and Johnson is just the guy to have for that situation.

5. Georgia Back Sony Michel Will Lead The Team In Rushing... Again

When the legendary Todd Gurley departed for the NFL everyone thought that running back Nick Chubb would slide right in and take the reigns.

Chubb has fared very well when he has been able to stay healthy, but the real thorn in Tennessee's side the past two years was back up running back Sony Michel.

Michel has done nothing but destroy Tennessee on the ground in the past two meetings. He's led Georgia on the ground both times, gaining 236 yards on 38 carries for an absurd 6.2 yards per carry.

Even thought Chubb leads the team in rushing, Michel will find a way to make life miserable for Vols fans one last time.

But if you pay attention then you will see the negative correlation with Michel's performances. When he leads the team in rushing, Georgia is 0-2 against the Vols.

I believe Michel will lead the team in rushing again as the Vols focus their efforts on Chubb and De'Andre Swift. Will the third time be the charm for Georgia or will the Vols continue the trend?