Derek Dooley on facing Georgia
Scheduled to do battle between the hedges at No. 5 Georgia this weekend, the Tennessee defense knows what’s coming.
“(Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray) can make all the throws,” UT senior cornerback Prentiss Waggner said following practice Monday. “He’s a quarterback that thrives off timing, so he’s the guy that can make that throw when the receiver isn’t even in his break yet.”
He’s also 2-0 against UT.
Steered by Murray, Georgia’s balanced pro-style offense is averaging 530 yards and 47.5 points per game in its 4-0 start. The passing game is responsible for 287.5 yards. The running game takes care of the other 242.5.
If the Vols are to stay eye-level with the Bulldogs on Saturday, they’d be wise to take cautionary steps out of the locker room after halftime. Murray has blistered opponents in the third quarter, completing 29 of 42 passes for 492 yards and five touchdowns.
“You can just see him triggering the ball a lot quicker than he ever has,” UT coach Derek Dooley said of the three-year starter. “He’s a lot more accurate than he has been.”
In 2012, Murray has been nearly unstoppable on first down and when driving Georgia out of its own territory.
He’s completed 79.6 percent of his first-down passes and averages 14.5 yards per toss.
On downs played between his own 1 and his own 39-yard line, Murray is 29-for-34 for 616 yards, an 18.1 yard average.
What’s especially disconcerting to UT fans is that Murray is merely half the attack. Georgia boasts the SEC’s leading rusher in freshman tailback Todd Gurley (101.5 ypg).
Growing up in Gainesville, Ga., as a Bulldog fan, A.J. Johnson long anticipated recruiting calls from Georgia.
The phone didn’t ring.
“They didn’t really recruit me that much in high school,” the UT linebacker said Monday.
Johnson, a sophomore, leads the Vols with 31 tackles. He smiled when asked if he’ll be looking to show UGA coach Mark Richt what he missed in his own front yard.
“That’s what I’ll be saying in the back of my head, but I’m just going to go out and play hard like I do every other game,” he said.
Against Georgia last season, Johnson posted four tackles before racking up 36 in UT’s next three games against LSU, Alabama and South Carolina.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/BFQuinn