With just less than 6 minutes remaining in the Vols' comeback attempt, Tyler Bray never took his eyes off wideout Cordarrelle Patterson. The pass that everyone saw coming resulted in a back-breaking interception. Soon after, with less than 2 minutes to go, Bray fumbled trying to snake through Georgia's pass rush. Finally, with 15 seconds remaining in UT's last gasp, a tipped ball resulted in another pick. The junior quarterback threw for 281 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but will be judged on the plays that mattered most when the Vols needed them most.
Running Backs A
A team reliant on its passing attack stuck with its ground game and did so in outstanding fashion. UT's 202 total rushing yards produced a 4.9-per-carry average. Fayetteville, Ga., native Rajion Neal spearheaded the attack with 160 all-purpose yards, including 107 gained on the ground. The junior tailback had one receiving touchdown and one on the ground. Linebacker A.J. Johnson leapt over the line for his third touchdown in as many games out of the wildcat package.
Wide receivers/tight ends C+
Patterson's 46-yard bob-and-weave rush through the Georgia defense kept the Vols' hopes alive after UGA opened the second half with two touchdowns. Other than that, UT's home-run hitters swung and missed. Patterson and Justin Hunter combined for just five catches and 77 yards. With a team-high six catches for 51 yards and a touchdown, Zach Rogers was again a pleasant surprise. Tight end Mychal Rivera made some big plays in the second half, including a 62-yard haul.
Offensive line B+
See the above praise of the running game and know that it all started at the line of scrimmage. The Vols controlled the offensive trenches, opened lanes and took a big step in the right direction. Jarvis Jones, one of the SEC's fiercest pass rushers, finished without a sack. As did the entire Georgia lineup. Left guard Dallas Thomas and right tackle Ja'Wuan James each made their 30th career start for the Vols.
Defensive line C
Georgia running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall were rarely brought down at the line of scrimmage and none of the UT linemen were able to consistently pressure quarterback Aaron Murray. Corey Miller tipped the pass that turned into Byron Moore's interception for a touchdown in the first quarter.
The bulk of UT's defensive talent and play-making ability resides in its linebacking corps. The Bulldogs accumulated 560 total yards of offense, averaged 8.8 yards per play, and racked up a whopping 282 yards rushing. Much of that came at the expense of the linebackers. Some big plays were delivered by A.J. Johnson (11 tackles) and Herman Lathers (sack and a forced fumble in the second quarter), but they were the first to say afterwards that allowing 560 yards is unacceptable.
Moore's first-quarter interception return for a touchdown was the Vols' only offense early on. The junior free safety, though, along with the entire UT secondary, missed too many tackles and felt the brunt of Murray's 19-for-25, 278-yard passing performance.
Special teams C
Moore allowed Georgia's Marc Deas to sprint untouched through the line and smother Matt Darr's punt. The block came after Darr shanked a 30-yard knuckleball following the Vols' first possession of the second half. Kicker Derrick Brodus missed a field goal and another extra point.
The Vols hung with the No. 5 team in the country, on the road, and showed more resilience than the team that crawled into a shell against Florida. Big plays are still a big issue, but Saturday could have easily ballooned into a 20-, 30- or 40-point rout. Instead it went down to the final possession.