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Georgia and Tennessee reverse roles in 2017

Cy Brown

Welcome to your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Today, we look at Georgia’s Week 5 matchup with Tennessee, a chance for the Dawgs to get revenge for the Hail Mary last season in Athens.

Track: Sweet Revenge | Artist: John Prine | Album: Sweet Revenge

2017 Season Preview: Tennessee

Georgia faces Tennessee in Week 5 of the 2017 season, and the trip to Knoxville will be a chance for the Bulldogs to enact some revenge for the Hail Mary loss in Athens last season. Although Neyland Stadium is never an easy place to play, more will change than just the game’s locale. The expectations and outlook of each these two SEC East rivals have also flipped from a year ago, and that switch seems to move in favor of Georgia.

At this time last season, it was Tennessee that was coming off a fairly disappointing run the year prior but was still favored in the SEC East by virtue of talent alone. Georgia was a team breaking in a new quarterback, unproven receivers and attempting to replace its defense’s best playmaker. Those roles have reversed in 2017. Georgia didn’t prove much last season, but the Bulldogs have the highest ceiling in one of the Power 5’s weakest divisions. And Tennessee is now breaking in a new quarterback, a group of young receivers, and needs to replace DE Derek Barnett and other talented defenders while introducing a new coordinator.

The Bulldogs will want to avoid the fate of Tennessee last season. After an impressive, if lucky, 5-0 start to 2016, the Vols were exposed and lost three in a row before finishing 9-4, second in the East. If that’s how Georgia’s season goes, most Dawgs fans will be disappointed. To avoid that, a win against Tennessee won’t be necessary, but it would make things a helluva lot easier.

Their offense

Tennessee’s biggest question mark right now is the quarterback situation. Junior Quentin Dormady and freshman Jarrett Guarantano are the two candidates to replace Josh Dobbs under center. Coach Butch Jones has traditionally gone with the more experienced man in quarterback battles, so consider Dormady the favorite to win the gig. But a lot can happen in five weeks of a college football season, and a bad showing in a game or two could spell doom for one QB or the other.

Jones also has the luxury of deciding between two different quarterback styles. Dormady likes to pass from the pocket, while Guarantano is more apt to run and plays a game similar to Dobbs. Whoever is behind center will be throwing to a unit of young, inexperienced receivers, so the starter could be determined by which of two QBs’ styles fits that group better. Do you want a passer who can deliver better balls to the receivers or do you want a runner who can compensate for some of the receivers’ deficiencies with his legs?

Their defense

Former Michigan head coach and Oregon defensive coordinator Brady Hoke is the DC in Knoxville. I’m not sure if his performance in those last two stints will breed confidence among Vols fans. And the fact that the Vols must also replace Barnett, the No. 14 pick in the NFL draft, and Corey Vereen at defensive end are more causes for concern. On top of that, they’ll be replacing a couple outside linebackers and their best cornerback, while also learning Hoke’s system, a system that produced the 12th-worst defense in America last season.

While the defense should take a significant step back, and I will forever remain unconvinced about Hoke as any kind of coach, the Vols do have talent, and more upperclassmen than you might expect. They won’t be up to the standard they set last season, but they damn sure won’t be as bad as the defense Hoke led in Eugene last year.

How things could go against Georgia

Georgia will have the better team next season, there’s no doubt about that. But Neyland can be the great equalizer. And not necessarily because of their fans. But rather because their turf has a penchant for shredding Bulldogs’ knees. Nick Chubb’s horrific injury occurred at Neyland in 2015, while three Georgia players were injured there in 2013, including ACL tears to Keith Marshall and Justin Scott-Wesley. Barring injury, though, the Dawgs should get that sweet revenge. With what they have returning, and what Tennessee doesn’t, it’ll be close, but I think this will be Georgia’s game to lose.

Although it projects as a close game, FPI disagrees with me on the outcome. FPI gives Tennessee a 51.3 percent chance to win. S&P+ also thinks it will be close contest. Georgia has a 13.4 projected S&P+ (20), while Tennessee’s is 11.2 (24).


Who’s the boss?

The first move Gym Dogs head coach Courtney Kupets Carter made at her new job was to hire former Gym Dogs head coach Suzanne Yoculan Leebern, a 10-time national championship winner, as a volunteer assistant. Considering the dearth of experience from Kupets Carter — an all-time great as a college gymnast, a neophyte as a college coach — and the wealth of experience from Yoculan Leebern, there’s been speculation about how much influence Yoculan Leebern will wield within the program.

According to a tweet floating around Gymnastics Twitter, a fan recently made that assertion on Facebook, and Yoculan Leebern replied with a stern rebuttal.

David Andrews about to get paid

No numbers yet, but it’s safe to say that former Dawg David Andrews will get a hefty raise from the Patriots.

NCAA Tennis Championships in Athens this weekend


Good dog

More like Stan Van Gun-Dog. … I’ll see myself out.