coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
On 09/29/2013 12:01 PM in NCAA Football

Georgia Bulldogs at Tennessee Volunteers: Preview and Pick

Georgia Bulldogs at Tennessee Volunteers: Preview and Pick

The SEC is arguably one of the best conferences in all of college football. Although some teams are better than others, they always provide a good game to watch on any given weekend. In week six that game is the Georgia Bulldogs against the Tennessee Volunteers. The Bulldogs are off one of the biggest wins of the season and will have to focus on the Volunteers to make sure that they are not upset this week.

Georgia Bulldogs at Tennessee Volunteers Odds

The college football odds for this game opened up with the Bulldogs listed as (-10.5) favorites. That big line is due to the great victory a week ago.

The Bulldogs beat the Tigers in a very big win, but they had a big injury in that game. Todd Gurley went down with an ankle injury in the first half and never returned. That opened the door for Keith Marshall, and he responded as he rushed for 96 yards on 20 carries. It's unfortunate that Gurley could not finish the game because he was running the ball with authority. But the injury gave the coaches the opportunity to see if Marshall can carry the ball 20 times. The Bulldogs will now face an inconsistent Vol’s team.
The Tennessee rushing attack racked up 278 yards, but once again the passing attack was wildly inconsistent and nearly cost the Vols the game. Quarterback Justin Worley went the whole way and did have a period in the first half where he looked very good, throwing two TDs and even keeping on the option for positive yards to thunderous applause from fans, but he also threw three interceptions and stalled out drives with multiple inaccurate throws.

The latest college football betting trends for this game reveal some betting angles that cannot be ignored. The Volunteers are just 2-6 straight up in the last six games when playing at home against the Bulldogs. The Volunteers however are 5-1 straight up in the last six games in front of the home crowd, but they have been a bad bet going 2-8 ATS in the last ten games at home. After beating the LSU Tigers, the Bulldogs raised their record to 10-2 straight up in the last 12 games overall, however they are just 2-4 against the spread (ATS) in the last six games on the college football highway. It should be noted that the total has gone over in 11 of the last 15 games that the Volunteers have played in.

Georgia Bulldogs at Tennessee Volunteers Pick

With plenty of time before kickoff we will wait for more information to come in before we select a side on this contest. Make sure to check back on the day of the game to see who we select as our winner for this big game.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-8-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
09/30/2013 02:15 PM

Minutes after Georgia players sprinted into their locker room following a triumphant 44-41 back-and-forth win over LSU, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo instructed them to get right back on the playing field.

Drenched in sweat and oozing that sweaty odor of victory, the Bulldogs rushed the field for a curtain call in front of a nearly filled stadium with fans too elated to leave. Players threw fists in the air, high-fived fans over the hedges lining the field and smiled boyish smiles as they gave Sanford Stadium half of a victory lap.

It was a gutty win at the end of a bloody month of September, but it moved the Bulldogs, who now sit at 2-0 in SEC play, even closer to their third straight SEC championship appearance in Atlanta.

"I'm just happy for everyone -- players, the coaching staff," said quarterback Aaron Murray, who threw for 298 yards and four touchdowns with an interception Saturday. "It was a special moment being in this locker room afterwards with the guys celebrating, and then being on the field afterwards with the fans was awesome."

With the way the players, fans and coaches reacted after LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger's final pass of the night fell incomplete, you would have thought the Bulldogs had clinched the SEC Eastern Division title. Well, with the way Georgia is rolling and with the shape of the East right now, maybe they did.

The Bulldogs aren't perfect. They won't be beating their chests later thinking they're invincible, but they have to feel pretty good about their odds of making it back to Atlanta. South Carolina needs Georgia to lose two conference games if it wants a chance at the East. Florida is banged up and sporting another struggling offense. Vanderbilt has two SEC losses, while Tennessee and Kentucky have new coaches and the same old problems.

Unless there's a real shocker, and Missouri -- which is the only East team yet to play a conference game -- flies through SEC play this year, the East is Georgia's to lose.

We know the Bulldogs are going to give up points (lots of them), we know they're going to give up yards (tons of them) and we know they're going to miss tackles (way too many of them), but we also know that the offense is going to bail them out. The offense is going to score and move a lot each week.

The Bulldogs are averaging 554 yards and more than 41 points per game. Against South Carolina and LSU, the Bulldogs piled up 1,030 yards and 85 points. The toughest remaining test for this offense waits in Jacksonville, Fla., when Georgia takes on rival Florida. The Gators own one of the nation's best defenses, and it's the only SEC defense remaining for the Dawgs giving up fewer than 360 yards of offense per game.

But it's not like Florida's offense is blowing anyone away, while Georgia proved once again that it can line up and score when it needs to.

"We're ready. We're here, man," wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley said. "We can take on anybody, anytime.

"We'll take anybody, anywhere."

The offense showed exactly that when it didn't miss a beat when Keith Marshall filled in for Todd Gurley after Gurley sustained an ankle injury before the half. It showed it again after LSU took a 41-37 lead with 4:14 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs just marched 75 yards on just six plays, including a dagger of a 25-yard touchdown catch by Scott-Wesley.

"It was pretty cool, man," Scott-Wesley said of his touchdown. "I just wanted to put the nail in the coffin for my team and move on to the next one."

And the next one is Tennessee, then Vanderbilt and then Florida. After that, a Nov. 16 trip to Auburn will stand as the Bulldogs' final real test for a shot at the East. After a brutal first month of football that featured three top-10 matchups -- Clemson, South Carolina and LSU -- the Bulldogs get a bit of a breather.

"I'm glad we got that over with," linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. "Our future is only going to get brighter.

"It's a race to get the East now. We're just paving our road to success."

Again, the East is officially Georgia's to lose, but the Dawgs are being cautious. They were rowdy immediately after the win, but they know a slip-up with a shaky defense could be costly.

"Next week, if we think it's going to be any easier, we're crazy," coach Mark Richt said. "We're going to Knoxville, Tennessee, man. They're going to be fired up. Their fans are going to be ready to go. If we think it's going to be anything less than what we've been living through, we're nuts."

It's still a long season, but Georgia's 2-0 SEC start feels like a chokehold on the rest of the East. With the caliber of teams the Bulldogs have already played, Georgia has shown it has matured and developed. That's a recipe for success, and a bad combination for the rest of the division.

"We've been through a lot so far these first four games," Murray said. "We've grown was a team, we've matured a lot and we're a lot better off right now than we were a month ago."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-8-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
09/30/2013 02:17 PM

Tennessee coach Butch Jones continually talks about how his young team has little to no margin for error.

That makes it all the more discouraging for the Volunteers when they make the kinds of mistakes that nearly cost them a game Saturday.

After playing virtually error-free football in its first two games of the season, Tennessee has become sloppier the last couple of weeks. Turnovers and penalties caused the Vols to squander most of a 24-point lead Saturday before handing on for a 31-24 victory over South Alabama. That escape followed a six-turnover performance in a 31-17 loss to No. 18 Florida.

The Vols (3-2) can't afford similar breakdowns as they play the toughest portion of their schedule. In its next three games, Tennessee hosts No. 6 Georgia and No. 13 South Carolina and travels to top-ranked Alabama.

"As we continue to move forward, obviously we can't make mistakes," Jones said. "I wanted a clean game and it was far from that."

Jones emphasized the positive after the South Alabama game.

South Alabama had first-and-goal from the 7 in the closing minutes before Tennessee made a game-saving stop that ended with Brian Randolph's interception in the end zone on fourth down. Jones saw it as a sign his team was learning how to respond in tough situations.

"I've been doing this 20-plus years and every win is a good win," Jones said. "It's extremely hard to win in college football. We needed to get to victory No. 3. We got to victory No. 3. It's a difficult process, but we got there."

The process shouldn't have been that difficult.

Tennessee owned a 31-7 advantage early in the third quarter and would have led by more if Justin Worley hadn't thrown two interceptions into the end zone late in the first half. Worley was picked off again in the third quarter and now has five interceptions in his last two games.

Worley said the Vols "just missed out on some opportunities. We were trying to give them the game - and they made it a game."

The turnovers weren't Tennessee's only mistakes.

Tennessee had committed a total of nine penalties in its first four games. Boston College was the only Football Bowl Subdivision team averaging fewer penalties per game before Saturday.

The Vols weren't nearly as disciplined against South Alabama. Tennessee had eight penalties, including a false start on offensive guard Alex Bullard that nullified what would have been a successful fake field-goal attempt with Tennessee leading 31-17 in the fourth quarter.

On Michael Palardy's ensuing 52-yard field-goal try, the ball appeared to hit holder Tyler Drummer's left hand after it left the ground. Palardy's kick fell at least 30 yards short of the goalposts, and South Alabama's Roman Buchanan returned it to the Tennessee 29 to set up the Jaguars' final touchdown.

"We're turning the football over and making penalties, which you can't do," Jones said. "We're going to get it corrected."

Jones considered the close victory a teaching opportunity that showed his team could deal with adversity, though the Vols clearly still must learn how to handle prosperity after turning a potential blowout into a nailbiter.

"We had anything and everything that could go wrong," Jones said. "We turned the football over. We have a fake field goal, penalties, not getting off the field on third down, and yet we found a way at the end of the game to win a game."

But if the Vols repeat these mistakes in their next three games, it's hard to imagine Tennessee finding a way to win any of them.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-8-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
10/01/2013 03:26 PM

Tennessee's young wide receivers have taken turns in leading the team in reception yards.

Jason Croom took the honors Saturday against South Alabama.

The redshirt freshman became the fifth player to lead the Volunteers receivers in yards when he caught three passes for 50 yards, a high for his young career.

"I thought Jason Croom played the best that he's played since we had been here," coach Butch Jones said Monday. "He made some difficult catches. He played physical. He blocked on the perimeter. We challenged him this week.

"That's one thing about [receivers] coach [Zach] Azzanni: He has the reputation around the country that he's going to get the most out of his players, and he challenges them every day."

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Croom took a quick flare pass for an 11-yard gain in the first half, hauled in a 17-yard grab on a slant pattern on Tennessee's opening drive of the second half and caught a 22-yard pass on a seam route to convert a third down to a first in the fourth quarter.

Croom, who played in three games last season before taking a medical redshirt following shoulder surgery, caught his first career touchdown pass at Oregon.

"You look at Jason," Jones said. "I thought he played his best football."

Tiny's tweet

As Tennessee ran out the final seconds of Saturday's win, left tackle Antonio "Tiny" Richardson became visibly heated after it appeared some Jaguars players started jawing with him. Richardson's teammates had to hold the 6-6, 327-pounder back, and Jones grabbed him and yelled at him.

Escorted by graduate assistant and former Vols offensive lineman Anthony Parker, Richardson was the first player to Tennessee's locker room, and hours later he vented some frustration aimed at some critical fans on Twitter.

"'Hey O line y'all rushed for 300 yds but y'all [stink]' lol. It's great to be a vol man," Richardson tweeted.

Tennessee ran for 278 yards against South Alabama, and Jones noted it was the third time this season the Vols ran for more than 200 yards, something they did only three times during the previous three seasons.

"We challenged our offensive line, that we needed to run the football," Jones said. "It's more running it probably more at a consistent basis, but they're also very prideful. I think it was more he was very proud of what they accomplished. He meant no harm by it."

Jones said he watches every one of his players' Twitter accounts, and he called Richardson right after the tweet was posted.

"He was laughing and goes, 'Coach, I'm just proud of my teammates.' ... I love Tiny, and he loves this football program," the coach said.

- Boo birds
On a couple of occasions Saturday, the sparse Neyland Stadium crowd aimed some groans and boos toward Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley.

"I didn't even really hear it when I was on the field," center James Stone said. "I didn't know about it until after the game. I support Justin to the fullest, so I'm always going to have his back, and I know the offensive line, we're always going to have Justin's back. We have confidence in him."

Jones again stressed Tennessee's need to avoid turnovers, and he was clearly disappointed by Worley's three interceptions Saturday, though he said the third one was the result of a missed cut block.

"I know he played some games a couple of years ago, but he had a year off, and those are all growing pains you go through with a quarterback," Jones said. "Believe me, there's a great sense of urgency we have to get those mistakes corrected, but it's not just on Justin Worley. We have to do a better job of coaching him and our players around him.

"He's just one of 11, but obviously all eyes point to him."

The criticism is the same way.

"When something bad happens, it falls on all of us," Stone said. "When you see your quarterback take the brunt like that, it hurts you as an offense. We're all trying to eat together."

- Limping Lane
Jones said tailback Marlin Lane, who left Saturday's game in the first half with what the coach called a "lower extremity injury," did not practice Monday and will be day-to-day this week.

With the junior sidelined against South Alabama, Rajion Neal carried a larger load, totaling 28 touches for 183 yards, and sophomore Tom Smith, who ran for 27 yards on three carries Saturday, would be next in line to spell Neal.

The senior, Jones said, ran aggressively and decisively and played "at another gear" by showing good burst and acceleration and making tacklers miss.

"When we needed him," the coach said, "he stepped it up and he played his best game to date."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-8-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
10/02/2013 02:00 PM

Georgia coach Mark Richt and his players met with the media at their weekly news conference on Tuesday at the Butts-Mehre football complex. It was an interesting session. The No. 6 Bulldogs are trying to beat back all the adulation they’ve been enjoying from last Saturday’s 44-41 win over LSU and get focused in on what they’re all describing as a dangerous game against Tennessee in Neyland Stadium.

Richt doesn’t believe it should be too hard.

“You don’t ever want to let down, but we’re playing Tennessee so I don’t foresee a letdown,” he said. “If we were playing somebody else, you might start talking that way. But not when you play Tennessee.”

The Vols are 3-2 overall under first-year coach Butch Jones and 0-1 in the SEC after a 31-17 loss at Florida on Sept. 21. They struggled to dispatch South Alabama this past Saturday. They needed an interception by Brian Randolph on fourth-and-goal to preserve a 31-24 victory.

Georgia (3-1, 2-0), on the heels of an electrifying nationally-televised win over then No. 6-LSU, opened as a 10-point favorite over Tennessee and the line had climbed to 10.5 by Tuesday afternoon.

But Richt can recall a similar scenario in 2004. The Bulldogs rolled over defending national champion LSU 45-16 only to fall to the Vols, a 16-point underdog, 19-14 the next week in Athens.

“Going to Knoxville is never easy,” Richt said. “Coaching in this league for 13 years now, I’ve been there a few times and have probably run every gamut of emotion from elation to getting your tail kicked. We know it’s going to be a great atmosphere and there will be over 100,000 people screaming for the Vols. We know we have our work cut out not only to handle the noise and handle the communication aspect of it and the emotional aspect of it, but also we are playing a good football team. Coach (Butch) Jones has them going.”

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-8-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
10/03/2013 01:24 PM

After spending several years working alongside Mark Richt at Georgia, Tennessee defensive coordinator John Jancek and secondary coach Willie Martinez now are trying to beat their former boss.

Jancek and Martinez downplay the notion that their personal connections to Georgia give them added incentive Saturday against the sixth-ranked Bulldogs. Jancek spent five seasons at Georgia and Martinez was there for nine years before both were fired in December 2009.

"I'm looking forward to it just like any other game," Martinez said. "Obviously it's a heck of a challenge for us, trying to defend that offense. That's been the main focus."

This isn't a new situation for Martinez, who faced Georgia last year as Auburn's secondary coach. But this marks the first time Jancek has coached against the Bulldogs since leaving Georgia.

"I've got a lot of fond memories of the University of Georgia," Jancek said. "I've got a lot of great friends still on staff and in the community. My children still have friends in the Athens area. That's a part of my life that I'll always remember and be thankful for. But it's competition. It's a ballgame. That's how we approach it."

Richt, who played with Martinez at Miami before beginning his coaching career, says he's handling the situation in a similar manner.

"I enjoy seeing those guys," Richt said. "I like them very much, and I consider them good friends. We go compete. We're looking at tape. We're not looking at coaches' pictures in the media guide. We're just looking at the film and trying to formulate a plan, and they're doing the same I'm sure."

Martinez coached Georgia's defensive backs from 2001-04 and was defensive coordinator from 2005-09. Jancek was the Bulldogs' linebackers coach from 2005-08 and a co-defensive coordinator in 2009. Georgia won at least 10 games three of the five years they were both there and finished No. 2 in the nation in 2007.

They were fired in 2009 after the Bulldogs gave up over 40 points in three games for a second straight season. Some Tennessee players believe Jancek and Martinez have extra motivation for this game.

"They haven't really mentioned it, but I can tell they really want this game," Tennessee safety Brian Randolph said. "They want every game, but they're intense this week."

That intensity may be due to the quality of the opponent. Georgia (3-1, 2-0 SEC) has scored at least 35 points in each of its four games this season with a star-studded offense that features Aaron Murray, who is 99 yards away from former Georgia quarterback David Greene's Southeastern Conference record of 11,528 career yards passing.

"We called," Jancek quipped. "They're going to let us get 12 guys on the field and play them with 12."

Jancek's defense has forced 15 turnovers to rank third among all Football Bowl Subdivision teams in takeaways. Tennessee (3-2, 0-1) has allowed 26.8 points per game so far after giving up 35.7 points per game last year under former coordinator Sal Sunseri. Players credit Jancek for simplifying things in their 4-3 scheme after they struggled to adapt to Sunseri's 3-4 system last year.

"He's come in and he's shown us that he has a simpler set of defensive rules and a simpler set of defensive words that we can go by so everybody along the defense understands what he's talking about and what he's doing, so you can be comfortable playing your position," defensive end Corey Miller said.

Jancek and Martinez now enter a seemingly uncomfortable situation as they face the school that once employed them. But they say they're treating this week just like any other game.

"It's business," Jancek said. "They're coming to Knoxville, and it's going to be our intention and our job to beat them."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-8-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
10/03/2013 01:25 PM

The sixth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs will try to build upon their outstanding win last weekend and remain undefeated in SEC play when they travel to Knoxville to tangle with the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday afternoon.

Georgia endured one of the most difficult first months of any team in the nation, and it emerged from it with a 3-1 record. After losing at Clemson on opening night, 38-35, the Bulldogs bounced back with wins over other nationally-ranked foes South Carolina (41-30) and most recently, LSU, 44-41, coming from behind in the final two minutes to pull out the home victory.

"In the moment of truth, we took care of business," Georgia head coach Mark Richt said. "You don't get many opportunities like that and have it come out the way it did."

"We've still got a long way to go, that's for sure," he continued. "We're not 100 percent solid in all areas. We've got to make some improvement. But I know we will keep fighting."

Like Georgia, Tennessee also has the misfortune of playing a treacherous schedule, as it is currently in the midst of playing five ranked teams in six games. After losing back-to-back road matchups against Oregon (59-14) and Florida (31-17), the Vols kicked off a three-game homestand last Saturday with a 31-24 win over South Alabama to improve to 3-2.

"We have to get a lot better," Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said. "I think we all know that. Our margin for error is very, very small. We have to be a team that overachieves."

Tennessee owns a slim edge over Georgia in the all-time series, 21-19-2, but the Bulldogs have won three straight meetings, including last season in Athens, 51-44.

As expected, Georgia has one of the nation's top offenses, putting up 41.2 ppg on 554.0 ypg (6th in FBS). The unit has showed remarkable consistency through four games, scoring at least 38 points each time out.

Aaron Murray's Heisman campaign has gotten off to a great start, as the senior has completed greater than 68 percent of his passes for 1,338 yards, accounting for 14 touchdowns (three rushing) while throwing just three interceptions. Against LSU last week, Murray had five touchdowns, including the game-winner to Justin Scott-Wesley in the final two minutes.

"Aaron was phenomenal," Richt said. "He kept answering every score with another great play or throw. He played so well."

Todd Gurley has been outstanding out of the backfield with 450 yards and four scores, but he is listed as questionable for this contest after suffering an ankle injury against LSU. Luckily for UGA, it has a reliable option to fall back on in Keith Marshall (213 rushing, 111 receiving, two TDs).

Six different receivers have amassed at least 100 receiving yards through four games, with Chris Conley (254 yards, two TDs) and Scott-Wesley (289 yards, two TDs) serving as the primary beneficiaries of Murray's exploits.

Defensively, the Bulldogs have disappointed in a big way, ranking last in the SEC in allowing 32.5 ppg, although a big reason for that can be attributed to their difficult schedule.

The unit has managed to forced just four turnovers, with Tray Matthews recording the lone interception. Ramik Wilson has a team-high 37 tackles, while Leonard Floyd wreaks havoc in the backfield with 4.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks and eight QB hurries.

Tennessee's offense has been solid this season, scoring 31.8 ppg, and that number shoots up to 42.7 ppg when playing in Knoxville. The yardage output, on the other hand has been lackluster at best, the club ranking last in the SEC with just 369.4 ypg.

The strength of the unit is clearly in the backfield, with Rajion Neal (468 yards, five TDs) and Marlin Lane (280 yards, four TDs) combining for nearly 150 rushing yards per game, although Lane's status for this game is questionable due to a leg injury.

Justin Worley has earned the majority of the work under center, and while he has thrown eight touchdown passes, he's completing just 56 percent of his attempts and has been picked off six times. Nathan Peterman has also gotten some snaps, but he hasn't fared any better (10-of-23, 45 yards, zero TDs, two INTs).

Marquez North is the most consistent option at receiver with 14 receptions for 132 yards, while Alton Howard has 11 catches with team-highs in both yards (148) and touchdowns (two).

Even with a 59-point dud against Oregon a few weeks back, Tennessee's defense has still pieced together respectable numbers, surrendering less than 27 points per game on 413.0 ypg, although it has allowed opponents to convert 45 percent of its third-down attempts. The Vols have created 15 turnovers, which is second-most in the nation behind only Middle Tennessee.

Not only does Brian Randolph lead the team in tackles with 37, but he also has three interceptions. A.J. Johnson had racked up 35 stops and 3.0 TFL, Marlon Walls and Corey Miller have two sacks a piece, and Brent Brewer has picked off a pair of passes.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-8-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
10/04/2013 01:16 PM

There was a sense of confident calm around Georgia's offense on Tuesday even as the Bulldogs prepared for the possibility of being without star running back Todd Gurley at Tennessee on Saturday.

Quarterback Aaron Murray is the main reason the offense hasn't missed a beat.

Murray kept the offense moving after the No. 6 Bulldogs lost top receiver Malcolm Mitchell for the season in their opening game. He then threw four touchdown passes to lead Georgia to a 44-41 win over LSU last week after Gurley left with a sprained left ankle in the first half.

Georgia (3-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) has averaged 41.2 points per game against a tough early schedule that included three top 10 teams. The highlight was last week's win over then-No. 6 LSU. Murray threw a go-ahead, 25-yard touchdown pass to Justin Scott-Wesley with 1:47 remaining.

``I thought Aaron played good during the game,'' coach Mark Richt said Tuesday. ``When the game was over I thought he had played good. Then I watched the film and I thought he played great.''

Richt said Murray ``was on top of everything - all the checks, all the protections.''

Murray, who ranks fourth in the nation in passing efficiency, should break former Georgia star David Greene's SEC record of 11,528 yards passing this week. Murray is only yards away from matching Greene's total from 2001-04.

Murray is also on the verge of breaking Florida standout Danny Wuerffel's SEC mark of 114 career touchdown passes. Murray has 106 TD passes.

``It's crazy to think about,'' Murray said. ``I've never been a guy who's worried about stats. It's all about winning, winning, winning, but it's definitely an honor to be alongside some of those guys like Greene and Wuerffel, guys who did some unbelievable things.''

Murray's senior leadership has been especially important after Mitchell was lost with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against Clemson. Now Gurley's status is in doubt for the game at Tennessee.

Gurley ranks third in the SEC with his average of 112.5 yards rushing. Murray said losing Gurley would hurt but added Georgia will be ready to move on with Keith Marshall and freshmen J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas at tailback.

``It's the next guy up,'' Murray said. ``We do a great job every week of getting everyone prepared because you never know the situation, you never know who is going to go down and we're very confident in everyone on offense at every position.''

No position inspires more confidence than Murray at quarterback.

``I think he has stepped up his game, even more so than in the past,'' said tight end Arthur Lynch. ``It's not just about who we've played but about his decision making, his ability to make the big play when we need it most, and third down throws that are pretty vital.

``I think that's all something that comes with maturity and hard work and preparation, and those are three things that have always been in his corner.''

Tennessee coach Butch Jones said Murray has a future in the NFL.

Murray ``is as good as any quarterback in the country,'' Jones said. ``He is a Sunday quarterback. He can make all the throws.

``The great quarterbacks have the ability to defeat tight coverage and throw it in there. Murray can defeat tight coverage. That's what makes him a special player. He's poised and he's in control.''

Murray threw a combined eight TD passes with one interception in wins over top 10 teams South Carolina and LSU. He passed for 323 yards with one interception and ran for a touchdown in Georgia's 38-35 loss to Clemson.

Lynch, who pointed out Murray also has started in back-to-back wins over Florida, said Murray's old label as a quarterback who couldn't win the big game ``is out the window.''

Gurley did not practice on Tuesday and may be held out again on Wednesday.

``When we say day to day, that's the best way to describe it because we just don't know how fast it will heal or how fast the swelling will go down,'' Richt said. ``He was supposed to be on crutches, but I looked out the window and watched him walking with his crutches over his shoulder, so I don't know if that's a telltale sign, but hopefully it won't be too long.''

Murray had a big day in Georgia's last matchup with Tennessee, going 20 of 26 for 286 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in a wild 51-44 victory last Sept. 29 in Athens. Marshall rushed for 164 yards on just 10 carries and had touchdown runs of 75 and 72 yards, while Gurley ran for 130 yards and three scores.

The Vols (3-2, 0-1) barely held off South Alabama 31-24 last week, needing Brian Randolph's game-clinching, fourth-and-goal interception in the end zone with 1:51 remaining after Tennessee squandered most of a 24-point lead. Justin Worley threw three interceptions, two of which were in the end zone late in the first half.

"We needed a game like this," Jones said. "We needed to find out (about ourselves) as we move forward into the SEC schedule. We've had some adversity. We were in a tight game. You really find out which guys step up in those types of circumstances."

The Vols are opening a brutal three-game stretch, hosting No. 13 South Carolina and visiting top-ranked Alabama after this contest. They've lost their two games against ranked teams this season by a combined 90-31, and have dropped 15 straight and 21 of 22 to Top 25 opponents.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-8-1