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Tennessee shows it’s just not ready for top competition in lopsided loss to Georgia

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They’re still a ways out.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Georgia
Tennessee’s abysmal second half doomed them.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

For the first half of Saturday’s game against the Bulldogs, things looked different for the Vols.

Then the second half started.

The first 30 minutes of the game was big boy football. It wasn’t a perfect half by any means, but Tennessee made plays and rose to the occasion when the moment called. You had the goal line stand. Jarrett Guarantano was taking shots down the field. Josh Palmer was making plays.

Even though it wasn’t a consistent offensive performance, the Vols still found ways to make plays. All they needed to do was build on that in the second half. But the team that came out of halftime more resembled the teams we’ve seen over the last 3-4 years than what we saw over the first two and a half weeks of the 2020 season.

Those final 30 minutes were enough to make you forget about a first half that saw the Vols stop the Bulldogs from the six-inch line on 4th and goal in order to preserve their 21-17 lead. Turnovers, penalties, odd coaching decisions, and just poor play wiped away any chance of a win for the Vols.

Oh. And the offensive line—the offensive line that was supposed to be a strength of this team—was completely outmatched and outplayed. The unit was hit with multiple penalties throughout the game and allowed five sacks on the day. Tennessee also mustered an astounding (-1) rushing yards on the ground.

And no, that’s not a typo.

It was a perfect storm of circumstances that looked all too familiar. Georgia’s speed and athleticism exposed the Vols in the second half and reminded us all that there is still a ways to go before they will sit atop the SEC East.

“It’s pretty simple, guys,” Jeremy Pruitt told reporters after the game. “It ain’t about timeouts. It’s about turning the ball over three times in the second half. It’s about not being able to run the football. It’s about getting off the field on third down. It’s everything I said in my opening statement. So those things we have to fix and we’ll work hard to do that.”