Tennessee Stat Book
Georgia stat book
ATHENS, Ga. - You become accustomed to the procession of future NFL players as you follow an SEC football season. But as routine as it has become, you can't help but notice the individual challenges facing Tennessee football this month.
Last week, there was LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, a likely top-five pick in the next NFL draft.
This Saturday will bring Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, whose acrobatic catch against Colorado last week might not be surpassed all season.
After an open date, Alabama will come to Neyland Stadium with Heisman Trophy running back Mark Ingram, and another running back, Trent Richardson, who is just as good, if not better.
As many great players as there are in the SEC, how many times will a team face arguably the best player in the country at his position for three consecutive weeks?
The Vols can only hope to fare as well against Green and Alabama's running mates as they did against Peterson. While Peterson might have played his position in exemplary fashion, he didn't make any game-altering plays, either with interceptions or as a punt returner, as he did in three of LSU's first four games.
Minimizing Green's role will be more difficult in that Georgia goes to such great lengths to get him the ball. And you just have to look at his leaping, left-handed catch in the Colorado end zone to appreciate how difficult.
"I don't know of anybody else in the nation who could have made that catch," Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said. "You just try to put the ball anywhere near him and away from the DB, and he will make the catch.
"He has the ability to get up over and around guys. He's a ball-hawk with great body control."
As Murray was detailing the attributes of his most reliable and spectacular receiver, another wide receiver couldn't resist chiming in.
You think that touchdown catch against Colorado was something?
"It wasn't as good as the catch he made before the game," Kris Durham said.
In fact, it was the pregame catch that Green's teammates were talking about the most after the Colorado trip.
"He caught it behind his back before the game," wide receiver Tavarres King said. "That's the best catch I've ever seen."
King looked as though he still didn't believe it.
Such catches aren't solely a testament to Green's improvisational skills. He practices trick catches, according to Durham, who has seen him drill at catching the ball between his legs.
Green's pass-catching prowess would make him a great possession receiver. But his complementary size (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) and speed will make him a future prize draft pick, presumably after this, his junior season.
Green led Georgia in receiving each of the last two seasons. After serving a four-game, NCAA-imposed suspension, he made a sensational return - catching seven passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns and gaining 40 yards on an end-around against Colorado.
Maybe the Buffaloes thought he would be rusty, because they tried covering him one-on-one.
"Everybody is gonna try him," King said. "And everybody is gonna get burnt."
Perhaps last week's brush with star power will bolster UT's confidence against Green. The Vols repeatedly punted and kicked the ball to Peterson without disaster.
Make that one return man down, a receiver and two running backs to go.
John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or email@example.com.