Tennessee vs. Georgia: Comparing Each Team's Best Weapons
This weekend's game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Georgia Bulldogs is a tale of two different teams. One near the top and the other looking to ascend back to that level.
First, you have Georgia. A team that is ranked as one of the top five teams in the nation. They're looking for a win to solidify and validate that position.
The Bulldogs are also coming off of a 48-3 thrashing of a supposedly improved Vanderbilt team.
Then you have Tennessee. The Vols are a team that is still looking to get back to the perennial Top 25 team that they have been in the past.
They are also searching for a signature win that will potentially catapult them back to the level that they desire. That win, however, has been extremely difficult to come by.
Tennessee's first shot at this type of win failed with a devastating second-half collapse against Florida.
Both teams are dynamic, but in different ways. Georgia plays a more smash-mouth, power style of football, while Tennessee is plays with more finesse and flash.
The best way to evaluate this game is to break it down by comparing each team's best weapons to see who has the edge.
Tyler Bray vs. Aaron Murray
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When comparing two teams, the most often looked at position is the quarterback. Usually, the team with the better quarterback wins the game.
This skill level for this position for both teams is off the charts. Both quarterbacks are very dynamic in their own way.
First, we have Tyler Bray, the junior quarterback for Tennessee. Bray is a traditional pocket passer, meaning he doesn't run very much.
So far this season, Bray has thrown for 1,301 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The thing that stands out for Bray is his ability to throw the deep ball. The longer the pass, the more accurate he becomes. His longest touchdown pass of the season went for 72 yards.
There is no doubt that Bray has the ability, but there are questions about him. Those questions center around his maturity.
The case study for this is when the Vols fell behind in the second half to Florida. His body language became very telling toward the end of this game. His passing also became very erratic.
Leading the way for Georgia is junior signal-caller Aaron Murray. He has been the starter for the Bulldogs since his freshman season.
Murray is also very adept in the passing game. On the season he has thrown for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Both are pretty even in the passing game, but Murray possesses something that Bray lacks, the ability to beat you with his feet. He already has three rushing touchdowns on the season.
With both players being very good at what they do, it's hard to discern which has the advantage. To determine this, you have to look at other intangibles.
Bray has had very little opportunity to play in many big-time games. He didn't become the starter until halfway through his freshman season and missed a chunk of games with a broken thumb last season.
This is where the advantage lies. Murray is more battle tested in the SEC and has a few big wins under his belt.
For this reason, the advantage at the quarterback position for this game goes to Aaron Murray.
Tennessee Offensive Line vs. Georgia's Front Seven
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The key to this game for the Volunteers is going to be their offensive line against the pass rush from the front seven of the Bulldogs. Meaning, they are going to need to keep Tyler Bray upright to have any chance in this game.
The Vols offensive line has had an up-and-down season so far. On some plays they look top notch, and on others they look very pedestrian.
The key example of this is the last game against Akron. This is a team they outsized but had difficulty pushing them around early on.
The only major breakdown they have had thus far is late in the Florida game.
This week, they'll be facing a whole different animal in the front seven of Georgia.
This crew is led by Jarvis Jones, an All-American linebacker who knows how to get into the backfield. On the season, he has 7.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hurries.
If the Vols are unable to block him, it will be a long day for Bray.
The edge in this matchup goes to Georgia. Tennessee just hasn't played with enough consistency to make anyone think they can keep the Bulldogs from harassing Bray all day long.
Tennessee's Running Game vs. Georgia's Running Game
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In the minds of many fans, Tennessee has left a lot to be desired when it comes to running the football this season.
Compared to what it was last season, there is marked improvement in this area.
Getting the bulk of the carries this season is junior Rajion Neal. On the season, he has rushed for 356 yards and is averaging 4.5 per carry.
However, as a team, the Vols are averaging 172.5 yards per game. This looks like a good number, but considering the opponents, it's not as good as it seems.
Georgia, on the other hand, is averaging 242.5 yards per game. They have played some lower competition but have also amassed good yardage in two conference games.
The rushing attack is led by Todd Gurley, who is averaging a gaudy 9.2 yards per carry.
Georgia's running game isn't anything fancy. They just line it up and run it directly at you.
Georgia gets the edge in the rushing battle. Their ability to get big chunks of yardage on most carries gives them this.
Tennessee's Receivers vs. Georgia's Receivers
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It's no secret that Tennessee has one of the best receiving groups in college football. It's no secret that they have the ability to hit on a big play at any time.
This group is led by Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson and are backed up by a bevy of talented young receivers.
What may be a secret is how dynamic the receivers are for Georgia. They have the same big-play ability that the Vols' receivers have.
They are led by Michael Bennett, Tavarres King and Marlon Brown, who have 19, 14 and 16 catches, respectively. Two have touchdown grabs of over 60 yards.
Georgia's ability to run the ball is what makes this group so dangerous. That combined with questions about the Tennessee secondary will make them a danger in the upcoming game.
Tennessee having two dynamic starters and depth at this position give them the edge in this category. They have the edge, but it's by a very slim margin.