It proved to be another knockout half for the Georgia football team on Saturday evening against SEC East rival Tennessee.
Despite trailing 21-17 amid a sloppy first half, the Bulldogs closed out the Vols with a 27-0 flurry. It did remind most of the 32-3 surge that also halted Arkansas in the season opener. The Auburn win also came with a dominant 24-3 first-half surge for the nation’s No. 3 team.
What did Tennessee and head coach Jeremy Pruitt have to say about that afterward? Pruitt actually didn’t seem to give much credit to the Bulldogs for the way they took over the game.
DawgNation pulled a few of the most interesting things the Vols had to say about the matchup. The fact the Bulldogs held UT to minus-1 rushing yards on 27 carries was a dominant theme in the postgame narrative.
Senior quarterback Jarett Guarantano was much more candid with his thoughts. He didn’t foresee the Bulldogs being that stingy in their run defense.
“No, I mean I thought they had a pretty good pass defense,” the redshirt senior said. “I didn’t think their rush defense was as good as they displayed today but everybody knows how good Georgia’s defense is. That’s not a surprise. Every single person in this country that watches college football knows that they probably have the best defense in college football. We knew that, too.”
“We knew we had to execute going into every single play and get the job done. We stumbled a couple of times and that’s the reason for the loss.”
Pruitt focused his train of thoughts more on what his team did or did not do. Rather than what the Bulldogs did.
When asked a question about Georgia its amount of depth on defense, he responded with this.
“I guess. I haven’t studied them that much,” Pruitt said. “They have got good players and do a good job coaching them up.”
A larger sample of the comments from the Tennessee side follows below.
Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt
His opening comments on the game: “Give credit to Georgia. I thought they really outplayed us there in the second half. You know when you look at the game, of course, you’ll learn a lot when you watch the tape, you can’t turn the ball over three times against anybody and expect to win. We turned the ball three times in the second half.”
“One is for a defensive score. Two times I don’t even think they made a first down and kicked field goals. So there are 13 points there that really changed the game.”
“You know made a lot of mistakes on the defensive side. Especially on third down and that’s on me. It ain’t on nobody else. It is on me. I learned a long time ago that you have to be able to do what your players can do and if they can’t do it you got to do a better job coaching them up. I have got to do a better job doing that.”
“Offensively [we] created a couple of explosive plays in the first half. But in the second half didn’t control the line of scrimmage. Played behind the sticks. Got to be more explosive. Got to be able to run the ball. We didn’t really create any plays in special teams. So with that, I will take any questions.”
On whether Georgia did anything defensively to force those three second half turnovers: “They got pressure on the quarterback. I don’t know exactly what pressures they ran. I know a couple of times we had people blocking them and they beat us in one-on-ones. You know?”
“Then we threw a pick which was an ill-advised throw. You just can’t do stuff like that. It is pretty simple. We turned the ball over three times and didn’t get any turnovers in the second half. It is the difference in the ballgame.”
On what has to happen for Tennessee to close the gap on Georgia: “Don’t turn the ball over three times. In one half. It is pretty simple guys. It ain’t about timeouts. It ain’t about, uh, it is about turning the ball over three times in the second half. It is about not being able to run the football. It is about us not getting off the field on third down.”
“It is everything I said in my opening statement. Those things we have got to fix and we will work hard to do that.”
On if he felt the Vols would be able to run the ball more on Georgia: “We didn’t run the ball very well at all. Didn’t seem to get in rhythm offensively. We created a couple of big throws there. But to win in this league, you have to be able to run the ball. We didn’t run the ball tonight. It is tough to win that way when you become one-dimensional.”
On if his team went into the half with momentum after that goal-line stand: “I didn’t feel like we played real sharp defensively. Just made a lot of mistakes. Especially on third down. Let the quarterback out of the pocket. They got two first downs on penalties.”
“One I think was a third-and-14 that they end up getting a first down on. So you know, yeah, we are sitting there with a lead at halftime you know you have got to go play the second half. We had an opportunity to do that, you know, we turned the ball over twice there and I thought the defense really done a nice job holding them to field goals. But we never could sustain anything offensively in the second half.”
On whether the turnovers were on his offensive line, a specific side or his quarterback: “I’d have to watch the game to see. Ya’ll probably got a better idea of it than me. You know because you get to watch replays and all that. I know that we lost a guy on an edge one time and he knocked the ball out of our hands from the blindside.”
“We made an ill-advised throw on an interception. So we didn’t do a very good job protecting but when you are not able to run the football, that is what happens.”
On why his offense couldn’t sustain anything in the second half: “Well, I think if you look at the first half we didn’t sustain a whole lot there either. Think we just created some explosive plays. We’ve got to do a better job coaching our guys up so they can execute at a higher level.”
On anything or Georgia causing the penalties from his offensive line: “You know it is unusual for the center to snap the ball, you know, you know the center to get I guess an illegal procedure. So I don’t know if they were saying the snap count. I don’t know if they were just making move calls. But I mean there’s no reason for that. We have got to do a better job of that. I don’t know how many penalties we had. We had a lot. A lot of them were unforced which are uncharacteristic for us. So you can’t put yourself behind the sticks from penalties and expect to move the ball against a good defense.”
On any talk on the headsets to stick with the run game in the second half: “Our whole thing is to be aggressive. Run the football. Throw the football. We didn’t win first down and you know second down. It just felt like we played slow to me offensively. We have got to do a much better job.”
Tennessee QB Jarett Guarantano
On what the Georgia defense did to limit his offense: “I thought they stopped the run pretty well all day. The first half they showed us some [one safety highs] to stop the run and we were able to take advantage of them in the passing game and the second half they made some good second-half adjustments and they came in and played a lot of ‘Cloud’ defense and ‘Cover 2’ and some ‘3 Double Cloud’ and we able to stop the run and the pass.”
“So props to them. I thought they had good second-half adjustments to us.”
On what Georgia did to pressure him and force turnovers in the second half: “I thought they came with some different pressures and they were able to get to me. The one interception the guy who was supposed to be ‘Hot’ came free and I went to go to my ‘Hot’ throw and he wasn’t there. I got hit and the ball sailed on me.”
“Then some stuff in the pocket I thought I had two hands on the football the whole day in the pocket but they did a good job ripping it open and creating turnovers. Props to them.”
On how big the turnovers were in the game: “Turnovers are a big part of any game. For them to create turnovers that’s probably one of the reasons that they won. I mean props to them. I thought they were the best defense in the SEC we’ve seen in a long long time. But they were able to create turnovers and they got the job done today and we didn’t.”
On the emotion of being up at the half but failing to close it out against Georgia: “I’m sick to my stomach. This was one of my last opportunities versus Georgia. I couldn’t get the job done with the win. I wish I could get everything back and face this team again but the game is over.”
On the impact of the penalties in the game: “Yeah, we hurt ourselves a bunch today. To go along with the turnovers, the missed assignments and the penalties. All those things fall into place. We can’t do that versus such a good team in Georgia. If we do that, we lose the game. That’s what happened today. We had a lot of things from a personal standpoint that we need to get better at and every single player needs to get better at including myself. Going into tomorrow, that’s our plan.”
“Like I said my goal and our team goal is to go 1-0 every week. Now we’re on to Kentucky. We learn from this one. We get better from this one and now we have got to work our tails off every single day.”
Sophomore ILB Henry To’o To’o
On what the third quarter was like: “Football. We were playing football honestly that’s what I can tell you. We had to try to get stops. Try to force turnovers. Georgia did a great job of coming out in the second half and beating us in the second half. We’ve just got to be able to learn from it, come out of halftime and execute better.”
Did Georgia do anything differently offensive in the second half to change things up: “No. They had the same game plan. They didn’t do anything we didn’t see throughout the week. Nothing we didn’t see on film. So they just executed their game plan.”
On their three-and-out stops in the second half keeping the confidence level for the defense up: “Definitely. Our confidence never goes down as a defense. No matter what. Our offense is there to support us and we’re there to support the offense. No matter what it is. We just got to be able to execute better and force turnovers. That’s something huge. We got to get more turnovers as a defense. We’ve got to punch the ball out and get interceptions and all that.”
WR Josh Palmer
On what the second half meant to a Georgia victory: “They just came out better in the second half honestly. We just have got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot and making our own mistakes. Yeah, they were just the better team in the second half.”
His thoughts on the Georgia defense: “They are a strong group of guys. They were operating on all cylinders and they just came out better in the second half and just took over.”
On some sluggish play by the Tennessee offense in the second half: “Like I said just now, they came out in the second half with a lot of energy. We just weren’t able to match that. They came out and played better than us in the second half. Like I said, we just got to stop beating ourselves really. That’s just the main thing.”
On how tough it is to get separation from Georgia’s defensive backs: “I think at the of the day we just try focus on what we could do. Especially in the wide receiver room most times if we get covered it is because of something we did. We like to say that we lost ourselves and not really that the cornerbacks really did a lot to mess with us. But yes, they are a strong group of guys and they came ready to play. We were just on the unlucky side today.”
On what Georgia’s defense was doing to make it so hard to move the ball: “I don’t know really. I’d have to watch the film. But just from face value, I feel like we just weren’t doing our own jobs and at the end of the day, we were hurting ourselves. We’re not going to win games if we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. We’ve just got to work harder.”
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