Here are Georgia's grades following its 38-31 loss to Tennessee.
While Georgia’s offense was inconsistent throughout, it still did enough to be in position for the win. Without running back Nick Chubb, who injured his left knee on the game’s first play from scrimmage, Sony Michel ran the ball 22 times for 145 yards. Quarterback Greyson Lambert bounced back from a poor start and found success with the deep ball, accounting for 279 yards and two touchdowns. However, he only completed 15 of his 32 passes in the game. Of course, Lambert’s best deep ball of the game was dropped by receiver Reggie Davis with just over four minutes in the game. As head coach Mark Richt said, perhaps the narrative surrounds Lambert’s heroics if the play is made, instead of on his inconsistencies under center. While Georgia scored 31 points, the offense was only responsible 17 of them.
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A week ago against Alabama, a case could be made that Georgia’s defense didn’t play as poorly as it looked (I disagreed, and gave it an F). This week, one big play combined with most of the first half, kept Georgia’s defense from getting a second consecutive failing grade. After Tennessee drove the length of the field in the first quarter, Tim Kimbrough hit Jalen Hurd in the backfield and Davin Bellamy forced a fumble. Leonard Floyd scooped it up and ran 96 yards the other way for a touchdown. Georgia’s defense held the Volunteers to only three points for the game’s first 29 minutes. From that point, the Bulldogs had issues tackling and covering receivers. Tennessee posted 38 points, with the defense responsible for all of them. It was surprising to see Georgia’s defense falter like that after a good start. But it’s something that will need to be addressed moving forward.
Special teams: D
The only reason Georgia's special teams avoided a failing grade was because of one major play. Davis, who actually muffed the punt he was catching, picked the ball up and ran 70 yards down the field for a touchdown. That play was huge – in the moment – and gave Georgia a 24-3 lead. Other than that, the special teams group was a liability once again. Marshall Morgan missed a 41-yard field goal try. Michel fumbled a kickoff return that set up a Tennessee score. Collin Barber had a so-so day punting the ball, but that included a shank.
Every game starts with coaching and performances like this reflect on the staff. Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt wasn’t able to adjust his group to defend Tennessee’s passing attack, which resulted in many free receivers. Georgia’s inability to tackle Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs falls on the players, but the Bulldogs were rarely in position to slow down Tennessee’s offense. More importantly, for the second consecutive week, the coaching staff didn’t have an answer when the opposition made some big plays. Up 24-3, Tennessee was able to score 28 consecutive points to take a lead. During that stretch, Georgia’s coaching staff didn't adequately adjust to the Volunteers’ onslaught.