Game preview: Tennessee vs. Georgia
Tennessee is aware of all the weapons.
Monte Kiffin has praised the accuracy of Georgia quarterback Joe Cox. He's talked about where he'd prefer tight end Orson Charles to be playing this season, and the Vols defensive coordinator is also worried about matching up with receiver Tavarres King.
But no matter how many options the Bulldogs have, there's one threat UT has clearly focused on more than any other - even if it won't actually be giving him extra attention on Saturday.
"I tell you what, (A.J.) Green is something else," Kiffin said. "He's special now. I told our guys this -Terrell Owens in his heyday, Randy Moss, that's what this guy is. You just throw it up and he'll go get it.
"I do believe you can double (cover) guys, but I don't think you can (this week). It's hard to do against these guys. We don't plan on doing it because then they just go the other way."
At times the Vols have sounded more than a little envious of Green's ability and what it can do for the Georgia passing game.
UT has nothing remotely resembling the 30 catches for 527 yards and five touchdowns Green has already piled up this season, and though coach Lane Kiffin didn't exactly make a direct comparison between his receivers and one of the best in the country, he hasn't been shy about bringing him up in conversation.
"We need some big plays," Lane Kiffin said. "We need those tough catches to show up. We need guys when the ball is there, and (the play) needs to be made - like A.J. does every game. He makes four or five contested, great plays.
"We're looking for guys to do that."
Of greater concern for the older Kiffin is finding a way to keep Green from doing that to the Vols.
The sophomore hasn't had fewer than four catches in any game yet this season for the Bulldogs, and though UT has been reasonably successful defending the pass, the secondary hasn't unbeatable. And somebody will likely be matching up with Green by himself.
"They've got King on the other side now, and he's really come along," Monte Kiffin said. "They've got other weapons they can go to."
It's no secret which one does the most damage though.
Fast Finish: UT didn't get to kick an extra point, but the fireworks went off anyway and the Vols still celebrated their buzzer-beating touchdown just like any other. It didn't change the outcome in the loss last week to Auburn, but Jonathan Crompton's scoring strike to Denarius Moore did count for something.
"We've been taught to finish," Crompton said. "We never want to quit, we're going to play four quarters, and it's not how you start, it's how you finish."
The Vols could use a little better start though, and the effort through the fourth quarter against the Tigers has at least provided some offensive momentum and reinforced what they can be capable of offensively.
But that's still no guarantee it will carry over to the Bulldogs.
"We just have to come out and play faster, play better at the start of the game and the start of the third quarter," Crompton said. "That's obviously a big key. You always want to win the first five minutes of each half, so we've got to come out and we have to play a little better and go from there.
"You don't win the game in the first quarter, you win it in the fourth. That's really what we've been taught, and it's ingrained in our minds and that's how we play. Obviously we've got to go out there and execute."
Health Nuts: Greg King tested out his injured knee on Thursday, but the freshman linebacker was listed as doubtful for Saturday by Lane Kiffin.
Offensive lineman Vladimir Richard continues to be limited in practice as well, but center Josh McNeil is starting to make progress to perhaps bolster the depth up front. The senior worked out more than he has at any point since undergoing knee surgery before the season.
"We've been able to give him some reps here and there as he battles back, and he's still sore afterwards the more he plays," Lane Kiffin said. "Right now he's in more of an emergency role for us, and that could change, especially with the bye week coming up."
Kicker Daniel Lincoln's sore quadriceps has improved, but UT won't be sure how fit he actually is until warm-ups before the game.
New Chapter: The latest edition of a storied rivalry doesn't figure to have the national impact that usually comes from Georgia and UT. But even with both teams outside of the top 25 heading into the game for the first time since 1937, the Vols are at least expecting plenty of physical impact with the Bulldogs again.
"Well, it's Georgia," linebacker Rico McCoy said. "They're always going to come to play Tennessee, just like we do them.
"It's a big game, it's a rivalry, so it's going to be a physical game. Every year, it never fails."