KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Greetings from Neyland Stadium, the site of some strange Georgia-Tennessee football games. Another one could come today. Check here for regular updates and observations, including injury news as No. 7 Georgia arrives.
Could the senior be returning to his starting left cornerback spot? Parrish may be, based on the way pregame drills are going. He’s with the first team, with Aaron Davis at the star. Tyrique McGhee, who started at left cornerback the last couple weeks, is with the second team.
Again based on warm-ups, it appears Jacob Eason is the No. 2 quarterback today. They’re going Jake Fromm then Eason then Brice Ramsey whenever they show an order during passing drills.
RIGHT GUARD UPDATE
Going by warm-ups, Dyshon Sims will indeed start at right guard over Solomon Kindley, who is in uniform but apparently not well enough to start. Kindley sprained his ankle late last week.
Kindley is repping, so at least he’s healthy enough to move around, and perhaps could play in a pinch. He does appear to be the second-team right guard, based on warm-ups. Pat Allen is the second-team left tackle, and freshman Justin Shaffer is the backup left guard.
MICHAEL CHIGBU …
Is not on the trip. The junior received sat out the Samford game with an undisclosed injury but then suited up for the Mississippi State game.
Chigbu did play against Mississippi State, so it’s not clear if he was re-injured. While Chigbu isn’t as explosive as some of the team’s other receivers, he is one of the best blocking receivers, so it could affect the perimeter running game.
TRAVEL ROSTER NOTES
We already mentioned that Jacob Eason and Solomon Kindley are here. A few other interesting notes on the travel roster:
- All five scholarship tailbacks are here, including Elijah Holyfield, who didn’t get in the game last week. Walk-on Prather Hudson is also on the trip.
- Defensive linemen DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle, Michael Barnett and Justin Young are not not with the team for the game. Hawkins-Muckle, the junior tackle, had a big role last year but hasn’t played as much this year.
- For those scoring at home, freshmen who aren’t on the trip: DB Tray Bishop, DB William Poole, OLB Robert Beal, DB Latavious Brini, DB Eric Stokes, G Netori Johnson, OT Isaiah Wilson.
- D’Marcus Hayes, the JUCO offensive tackle, also didn’t make the trip. Hayes hasn’t played yet this season.
- Freshman guard Justin Shaffer is here, after getting some second-team work at guard in practice. That was at left guard, by the way. If Kindley can’t play then Dyshon Sims is expected to start, and Pat Allen was getting the second-team snaps there.
- Punter Marshall Long is not here, and has yet to play this season, after missing the tail end of last year with his knee injury. Besides punter Cam Nizialek and kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, kicker David Marvin is also on the trip, and quarterback Brice Ramsey can punt in a pinch.
- Stetson Bennett, the freshman walk-on QB, is not here, which would be another indication that Eason is cleared to play. They wouldn’t want just two available quarterbacks.
- Other scholarship players not on the trip: ILB Jaleel Laguins, OL Chris Barnes, OL Sam Madden, TE Jordan Davis.
JACOB EASON AND SOLOMON KINDLEY …
Both made the trip. That’s not a huge surprise. Whether either will play remains uncertain.
Georgia is limited to a 70-man travel roster, so Eason being on the trip would indicate he’s cleared to play, though we still haven’t heard that officially.
NICK CHUBB IS THE CAPTAIN NOW
Two years ago on this field Chubb suffered a gruesome knee injury on Georgia’s first play of the game. So gruesome that some speculated it could be career-ending.
Well, it wasn’t. And on the day he comes back to this field, Chubb will be one of Georgia’s three captains for the game. (Isaiah Wynn and Roquan Smith are the others.)
It’s not hard to see that this field and this opponent hold significance to Chubb, given the history. Last year he had an ankle sprain the week before playing Tennessee, but Kirby Smart still allowed Chubb to get one carry early in the game. And having him be a captain this week would seem to carry some added significance.
Some might wonder just how close to his old form Chubb is now, compared to the tailback he was when he came into this stadium two years ago. Chubb has looked increasingly comfortable lately, and this week Smart was asked if Chubb looks different than he did in this year’s season opener.
“Yes. Looks different,” Smart said, leaving it at that.
Asked how encouraging that is, Smart was only slightly more expansive: “Very encouraging. I mean he looks faster and bigger to me.”
TENNESSEE’S CHIEF OF OFFENSE
Chubb isn’t the only star tailback in the game: Georgia also has Sony Michel and fast-rising freshman D’Andre Swift. But Tennessee has a pretty good one too.
Junior John Kelly is the SEC’s leading rusher thus far this season, with 450 rushing yards and ix touchdowns. He’s averaging 5.56 yards per rush. Kelly is also the Volunteers’ third-leading receiver, with 182 receiving yards, and is tied for the most catches this season, with 18.
“One of the best backs I’ve seen, really in a long time,” Smart said of Kelly. “He runs through arm tackles, he’s extremely physical, he’s violent in his blow delivery when this guy stiff-arms, he’s hit people all over the place. Incredible leg drive. I thought that last year about the guy. This year he’s just like Alvin (Kamara) and (Jalen) Hurd all together in one. The guy runs hard and he doesn’t seem to get tired. The more carries he gets the more physical he runs. Some of those runs he had at the end of the game against Florida were really impressive and I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a competitor.”
But Tennessee doesn’t have much beyond Kelly, at least based on the first four games: Ty Chandler is the next leading rusher with 64 yards.
JIM CHANEY ALSO RETURNS TO TENNESSEE
Chaney was Tennessee’s offensive coordinator from 2009-12, where he had varying levels of success. His last year was the best one: Tennessee ranked 18th nationally in total offense.
Chaney may be coaching with a heavy heart: Word just came down that his mentor, longtime Purdue Joe Tiller, has passed away. Chaney worked with Tiller at Wyoming and then Purdue in the 1990s, and as Tiller’s health failed this summer, Chaney was one of the people who visited him in Indiana.