No. 2 Georgia hoping for improved run defense against Vols
By CHARLES ODUM
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Jake Fromm wants to see No. 2 Georgia's offense regain its momentum when the Bulldogs finally play their first home Southeastern Conference game against Tennessee on Saturday.
Coach Kirby Smart also has a request for the Bulldogs: A return to shut-down run defense.
After three lopsided wins to open the season, including its SEC opener at South Carolina, Georgia struggled at times in last week's 43-29 win at Missouri. The Bulldogs (4-0, 2-0 SEC) led 20-7 at halftime despite not having an offensive touchdown.
Fromm, the sophomore quarterback, is looking for a stronger start for the offense against Tennessee (2-2, 0-1), but he said it was nice to see Georgia's defense and special teams produce touchdowns last week.
"It definitely helps us on offense to know if we're not playing our best when you can look up on the scoreboard and still be in the positive," Fromm said. "It's awesome to see."
Elijah Holyfield, who had 14 carries for 90 yards, and D'Andre Swift, who had 16 carries for 71 yards, each set personal highs for carries in a game against Missouri. They continue to emerge as the leaders of Georgia's running game.
Missouri ran for 172 yards against the Bulldogs. Smart is looking for better run defense against Tennessee. Led by sophomores Tim Jordan and Ty Chandler, the Volunteers rank fifth in the conference in rushing.
"They run with a purpose, they run with an attitude," said Smart of Tennessee. "We didn't tackle very well last week. We didn't knock guys back, the yards after contact, a lot of times the pile got driven. With these guys, you better strap it up because they run hard. ... They're committed to the run and do a good job with it."
Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt was Georgia's defensive coordinator from 2014-15 . He worked with Smart as Alabama assistants from 2007-12.
In his second season at Georgia in 2017, Smart took the Bulldogs to their first SEC championship since 2005 and a spot in the national title game.
"There's probably no secret to why they're having success," Pruitt said. "They're committed to what they're trying to get done. They've done a really good job. Kirby's got a vision and they've worked hard to get there."
Here are some more things to know about the Tennessee-Georgia game:
Georgia lost starting right guard Ben Cleveland with a fractured left fibula last week. Starting left tackle Andrew Thomas left the game after aggravating his sprained left ankle but could start against the Vols.
Cade Mays, a freshman from Knoxville, Tennessee, replaced Thomas and was a candidate this week to compete with Justin Shaffer and others to replace Cleveland. Mays's father, Kevin Mays, was an All-SEC guard for Tennessee and offensive captain in 1994. Cade Mays originally committed to sign with the Vols before changing his mind.
Pruitt is not the only Tennessee coach with a Georgia background. Defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer was on Georgia's staff the last four years. Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker coached the Bulldogs' defensive front from 2014-16.
Georgia can tie the all-time series with Tennessee by beating the Vols on Saturday. Tennessee currently leads the series 23-22-1, despite last year's 41-0 home loss to the Bulldogs. The Vols beat Georgia 34-31 on their last visit to Sanford Stadium in 2016 on a 43-yard pass from Joshua Dobbs to Jauan Jennings as time expired.
Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano left a loss to Florida last week after taking a hit to the left knee in the third quarter. Pruitt said Guarantano has practiced this week and should be "ready to go" Saturday.
After not committing a single turnover in its first two games, Tennessee has eight turnovers in its last two games and coughed the ball up six times against Florida last week. Georgia ranks third in the SEC in turnover margin.
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Updated September 28, 2018