SEC East Chaos Will Continue with Tennessee's Trip to Georgia

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterSeptember 23, 2014

Tennessee WR Marquez North
Tennessee WR Marquez NorthUSA TODAY Sports

So far this season, the SEC East has been the land of the lost—as every team that has played at least one SEC game has at least one SEC loss.

Weird?

Maybe, but more chaos is yet to come.

If there's one thing we know about Georgia, it's that the Bulldog defense hasn't solved its issues in pass defense the way head coach Mark Richt and new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt would have liked. The Bulldogs are giving up 6.7 yards per passing attempt (10th in the SEC), and opposing quarterbacks are completing 59.4 percent of their passes against them (third-worst in the SEC).

Don't look now, but things are going to get worse before they get better.

Tennessee WR Marquez North
Tennessee WR Marquez NorthUSA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Volunteers will roll into Athens this week as 17-point underdogs according to OddsShark.com, but with a corps of wide receivers that would make Lane Kiffin blush. Marquez North, Pig Howard and the rest of the Vols' crew is the most talented group of wide receivers Georgia has faced all year, despite the fact that two contributors—Von Pearson (out) and Josh Smith (day-to-day)—are hampered by ankle injuries.

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Tennessee WR Josh Malone
Tennessee WR Josh MaloneUSA TODAY Sports

That just means more responsibility for Josh Malone—a 6'3", 204-pound true freshman. The former 4-star prospect from Gallatin, Tennessee, chose Tennessee over Georgia and several others and once signed a financial aid agreement with the Bulldogs prior to this year's national signing day, according to Gentry Estes of Dawgs247.com 

"He's played consistently, every time he's gone in there, he's caught the football, he's advanced the football, he's blocked, he's done everything that we've asked of him," head coach Butch Jones said in quotes emailed by Tennessee. "He's been a quiet, consistent performer for us."

Tennessee WR Alton "Pig" Howard
Tennessee WR Alton "Pig" HowardUSA TODAY Sports

Add Malone into the mix with Howard—who could line up outside or in the slot—and North, a preseason third-team All-SEC performer, according to the league's coaches, and Tennessee has weapons aplenty to exploit Georgia's major weakness.

"We have capable players," Jones said in quotes emailed by Tennessee. "It's going to come down again, football is a game of one-on-one matchups whether it's up front or out on the perimeter. Again, we're going to have some one-on-one matchups Saturday."

Those one-on-one matchups outside will almost exclusively favor the Vols.

Who's going to keep quarterback Justin Worley upright?

Nobody, according to Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd.

That may be the case against Georgia's fast and physical front seven. Worley has, however, made smart decisions with the football throughout this season, save for one 100-yard pick-six against Oklahoma. He doesn't force balls into tight coverage, has taken the checkdown when appropriate and has made great throws on the move when pressure forces him out of the pocket.

That trend will continue this week, which will lead to Tennessee not just hanging around, but winning the game outright.

Tennessee—with the help of Georgia's pass defense—will make this game a shootout. It'll force Georgia to put the ball in the hands of quarterback Hutson Mason, and while Mason has been solid, Georgia has yet to put the ball in his hands in any key situation this year.

Advantage: Tennessee.

End result: More chaos in the SEC East.

Get your popcorn ready.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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