Photo by Saul Young // Buy this photo
- Vol Report: Published Oct. 7, 2007
- PostGame audio slide show: UT vs. Georgia
- Box Score: UT vs. Georgia
- Watching with Ward: Review the game, play-by-play
- ‘Putting it together’
- Vols show some power with running game
- Numbers add up to a dominant defensive effort
- New formation, Colquitt aid kick coverage
- Dawgs' Richt: 'They beat us soundly'
- Adams: Change of identity alters season's course
- Dave Hooker interviews OL coach Greg Adkins
- Dave Hooker interviews RB coach Kurt Roper on UT's new punt formation
- Dave Hooker interviews offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe
- Dave Hooker interviews WR coach Trooper Taylor
- Dave Hooker interviews DB coach Larry Slade
- Dave Hooker interviews WR Austin Rogers about UT's running game against Georgia
Tennessee Stat Book
Anybody notice that new footwear Tennessee’s football players showed off Saturday?
It sure looked like hobnail boots.
On a pivotal afternoon for their embattled coach, the Vols mashed No. 12 Georgia 35-14 before 107,052 surprised witnesses at Neyland Stadium.
"We needed it,’’ said senior quarterback Erik Ainge. "A win is a win, but when you win it like that, … 35-14 doesn’t really show what the game was like.’’
Ainge has a point. The Vols romped to a startling 28-0 lead in the second quarter. From there, it was only a matter of naming the final score.
Tennessee (3-2, 1-1 SEC) needed the win to stay alive in the Eastern Division race — and to put a stop to Georgia’s comfort level in Neyland. The Bulldogs (4-2, 2-2) had won their past three trips here.
"There’s not much to say other than they beat us soundly today,’’ said Georgia coach Mark Richt, a loser for the first time in four visits to Knoxville. "I believe we’re a better football team than what showed up today but you have to give Tennessee credit. They showed up ready to go.’’
That they did. The Vols forced a Georgia punt on the opening possession, then crunched out a 12-play touchdown drive and never let up. Georgia didn’t make its second first down until it trailed 28-0.
When the Bulldogs finally got on the scoreboard on a Matthew Stafford touchdown pass with 9:39 left in the third quarter, the Vols answered with a 13-play drive to restore the lead to 35-7.
"Great drive,’’ said UT coach Phillip Fulmer. "That took their juice away.’’
The Vols had shown little juice through a troubled September that raised questions about the current team, Fulmer’s stewardship and the general direction of the program.
For 3 hours and 17 minutes on a warm but gorgeous fall Saturday, though, the Vols played championship-caliber football.
"I’m not saying Georgia didn’t come to play, but I felt like we were on a different level,’’ said tailback Arian Foster, who scored three touchdowns.
The numbers suggest Foster is correct. Tennessee outgained Georgia 411 yards of total offense to 243. The rushing yardage was even more surprising — 190 to 69 in UT’s favor.
"There was a lot of apprehension going in,’’ said Fulmer. "They were excited and anxious to prove people who might have been doubting us wrong.’’
Tennessee’s defensive unit had heard nothing but doubt through four games.
Georgia, however, couldn’t run and had only sporadic success passing. That made a busy day for Brian Mimbs, who punted seven times in the first half alone.
"I always said it was there,’’ said UT defensive coordinator John Chavis. "It was just a matter of putting it together.
UT even put together its kick-coverage game.
Georgia returned only two of Britton Colquitt’s six punts for a net eight yards. With Colquitt handling kickoffs for the first time this season, the Bulldogs started drives with average field position at best.
Ainge was above average, completing 17 of 22 passes for 165 yards.
UT’s only touchdown pass, however, was launched by receiver Lucas Taylor.
In a repeat of a play that worked for a score last year against Florida, Taylor took a handoff from Ainge and threw to a wide-open LaMarcus Coker for a 56-yard touchdown to make it 14-0.
Foster had scoring runs of 9, 22 and 4 yards.
Montario Hardesty got the other score, a 10-yard TD run.
Hardesty’s score made it 21-0 with 9:24 left in the first half and capped a 48-yard drive after Ellix Wilson blocked a Georgia punt.
Georgia’s subsequent punt was successful but the end result the same. The Vols drove 65 yards in only four plays.
On third-and-1 at the 22, Foster took the handoff, cut outside and found a clear path to the end zone for a 28-0 lead.
The Bulldogs didn’t cross into Tennessee territory until the 10:42 mark in the third quarter.
The play was en route to Georgia’s first score, a 26-yard Stafford pass to Demiko Goodman, who wrestled the ball away from UT cornerback Brent Vinson.
With 9:39 left in the third quarter, it was 28-7.
At long last, Georgia had a pulse.
Tennessee, however, had the perfect response — a 13-play scoring drive that ate 7 minutes, 10 seconds off the clock.
The definitive play came halfway into the drive. Facing fourth-and-1 at the Georgia 40, Tennessee had the confidence to go for it, and Foster’s 5-yard charge moved the chains.
"You have the ability to control your own destiny when you can run the ball,’’ said Fulmer.
Moments later, Ainge converted third-and-11 with a 12-yard toss to Austin Rogers.
Four plays later Foster crashed in from the 4 for his third touchdown. With 2:29 left in the third quarter, it was 35-7.
"That was important,’’ said Ainge. "We knew they were going to start picking up the tempo.
"It was huge for us to go down and get that touchdown.’’
The Bulldogs’ final touchdown, a 2-yard Stafford pass to Tripp Chandler with 6:05 to play, elicited a chorus of boos.
Two plays earlier UT’s Marsalous Johnson intercepted a Stafford pass in the end zone. However, Johnson was flagged for pass interference. Georgia kept the ball and got a first-and-goal at the 2.
Jonathan Hefney later did get an interception off Stafford, the day’s only turnover.
UT goes to Mississippi State and Alabama the next two weeks. Saturday’s win — and the authority with which it was accomplished — puts some needed wind in the Vols’ sails.
"It’s only a start for us,’’ said Fulmer, "a step in the right direction.
"But I’m really proud to get this done.’’
Mike Strange may be reached at 865-342-6276.