No. 10 Georgia (5-0, 2-0 SEC) vs. No. 13 Tennessee (4-1, 0-1 SEC)
Kickoff: 7:45 p.m. (TV: ESPN, Radio: 940-AM)
Stadium: Sanford Stadium (92,746)
Tickets: Sold out
Kickoff weather: High of 73, low of 49; sunny; 20 percent chance of rain
Series: Tennessee leads 18-15-2
Last meeting: Georgia won 27-14 in Knoxville in 2005
Odds: Tennessee favored by 2.5
Injuries: Georgia: Probable: OL Michael Turner (ankle); Questionable: DT Marquis Elmore (neck); Doubtful: PK Brandon Coutu (leg); Out: OL Zeb McKinzey (shoulder).
Tennessee: Probable: OT Arron Sears (ankle), C Michael Frogg (ankle), RB Arian Foster (ankle); Questionable: OG Anthony Parker (ankle); Out: DT Justin Harrell (arm), CB Inky Johnson (shoulder).
Kregg Lumpkin, coming off the first 100-yard game of his career, is the kind of back who can get big yards if he has enough carries, but it’s doubtful he’ll get enough to work up a good lather. If the Volunteers are vulnerable against the run it’s right up the middle, where defensive tackle Justin Harrell was lost for the season. Expect Thomas Brown to be the No. 2 back, up a spot from last week, and Danny Ware to come in third. Tennessee has found a No. 1 back in redshirt freshman LaMarcus Coker. He has rushed for 271 yards in the last two weeks, and he has the type of speed that will remind Georgia fans of West Virginia’s Steve Slaton or Arkansas’ Darren McFadden if the Bulldogs don’t tackle well.
Passing has not been the Bulldogs’ problem. Catching has. Joe Tereshinski’s return will mean nothing if the wide receivers don’t start catching passes. Fans eager for Tereshinski’s return are trying to forget that he was just 9-for-20 for 108 yards before his injury. The Volunteers pass defense is ranked 22nd in the country. Tennessee’s passing offense is ninth in the country and where it will expect to make its mark today. Georgia hasn’t faced two wide receivers with anywhere near the talent of Jayson Swain and Robert Meachem and its secondary has given up plays, too. Junior quarterback Erik Ainge doesn’t look anything like the awful player of a year ago, but he still has the potential to throw a back-breaking interception if the Bulldogs can make a play.
Tennessee’s running backs have worked mostly on pass protection this week, Coker said. That’s either a savvy bit of misdirection by a young player or an indication the Volunteers are legitimately worried about Georgia’s pass rush. Bulldog defensive ends Quentin Moses and Charles Johnson could be the two most important players in this year. Moses has yet to have a signature game as a senior, and this would be a great time. Tennessee’s defense, ranked 31st in the country, is led by linebackers Marvin Mitchell and Jerod Mayo. On the edge, cornerback Antwan Stewart can be beaten deep. Stewart hasn’t regained his speed since a major knee injury. He was moved from safety after an injury to Inky Johnson.
Not having place-kicker Brandon Coutu (leg) could be a huge loss for Georgia. Tennessee’s specialists compare favorably to Georgia’s, Coach Mark Richt said, and that’s saying something because Richt thinks Georgia has two of the best when Coutu is healthy. Vols punter Britton Colquitt is averaging 47.1 yards per kick, and place-kicker James Wilhoit is third in the SEC in scoring. Tennessee’s only weakness on special teams is its kickoff return team, which is last in the SEC and 119th in the country. The Bulldogs, uncharacteristically, are having a good year returning kickoffs. They average 25.4 yards per return, which is good enough for second in the SEC and 19th in the country.