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Vols’ home win streak smashed by No. 1 Georgia 38-10
by Tom Mabry, Knox Daily Sun UT Football Writer
November 19, 2023, 12:30 p.m.

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Two short weeks ago, Tennessee Football 2023 was faced with a challenging opportunity: defeat two ranked SEC teams and a cellar dweller and the team could position itself for a New Years Six Bowl game. That opportunity dissolved with convincing losses to Missouri 36-7 and yesterday before a sellout Neyland Stadium crowd to Number 1 ranked Georgia.

Even Dolly Parton singing Rocky Top accompanied by the Pride of the Southland Marching Band could not help as the Vols were dismantled 38-10 by the Bulldogs. It was Georgia’s 28th consecutive win and halted Tennessee’s home winning streak at 14.

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The day did provide literal and figurative fireworks to begin the show. The Rockets Red Glare and Flyover provided the pre-game thunder, and Jaylen Wright the in-game noise by scampering 75 yards for a Vols’ touchdown on the first offensive play. The 7-0 lead at 14:49 of the first quarter would be the Vols’ only touchdown. Georgia ended up with five unanswered TDs and a field goal by Payton Woodring and his PATs resulting in their 38 points in three quarters. Neither team scored in the fourth quarter.

Georgia went into the game as the least penalized team in the SEC with Tennessee being the most penalized team. While Tennessee only incurred three penalties for 20 yards in the contest, one was very costly. Cornerback Doneiko Slaughter picked off a Carson Beck pass and returned it to the Georgia 21 yard line late in the first quarter, a potential momentum changer as Georgia held a slim 10-7 lead. Much to the chagrin of the booing Tennessee fans, the oskie was nullified by a controversial holding call on Slaughter. As it turned out, that play also nullified any chance of the Vols to win the game.

Tennessee needed to play a nearly perfect game to beat Georgia. The Vols were not even adequate. While Beck for Georgia threw for 298 yards on 24 of 30 pass attempts with three touchdowns, Joe Milton III was only 17-30 for 147 yards and no touchdowns. Georgia running back Dillon Bell had more TD passes than Milton when he hit Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint for an 18 yard touchdown in the second quarter to push the Bulldog lead to 17-7.

Tennessee Coach Josh Heupel acknowledged that “today was not our best football.”

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georgia fans

The Mizzou loss was ugly. This one was also. For a program being resurrected from a 3-7 season only three years ago to a National Championship contender for much of last year, this 2023 team has taken a step back. Injuries in general and to team leaders in particular (Bru McCoy and Keenan Pili to name a couple) have proven insurmountable. Milton’s inconsistent play with a similarity inconsistent offense hasn’t helped. These Vols aren’t ready for Prime Time but need to beat Vanderbilt next Saturday on home turf to begin bowl game preparation on a positive note. Two wins in their last two games would earn this team a 9-4 record despite all of the stumbles.


*The announced pre-game lineup for Tennessee mirrored a warmup observation that many starters would not play or would have limited opportunities. When offensive lineman Dayne Davis was announced as a starter, many fans were asking “Who Dat?” The Kingsport fans knew, but many more did not.

*Right Tackle Gerald Mincey missed the game due to injury, as did Left Tackle John Campbell. Right Guard Javontez Spraggins was injured during the game. To say that Tennessee was operating on a makeshift offensive line is an understatement.

*Long Time Vols Commentator Jimmy Hyams believes that the Heupel system is not a good fit for Milton, where quick decision making on the Run Pass option and zone read together with nimble running ability by the quarterback are qualities essential for success.

*The difficulties of the Missouri and Georgia games and the injuries to starters have given Tennessee backups and young players many opportunities for playing against the best in the SEC, if not the country. With a quarterback in Nico Iamaleava who is a better fit for Heupel’s offense, the experience of 2023 should prove extremely beneficial for the 2024 Vols squad.

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