ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia defensive end Demarcus Dobbs said he knew which way Tennessee was going to run the ball “80 percent of the time” based on alignments and formations the team studied in video sessions.
The numbers reflect Dobbs’ proclamation — linebacker Rennie Curran made similar remarks — as the Volunteers rushed for 1 yard in Tennessee’s 26-14 loss to No. 10 Georgia. In last year’s meeting, Tennessee gained 190 yards on the ground.
“Watching film was a huge part (of stopping the run),” Dobbs said. “We did some thorough video sessions and watched film and picked up on a couple of traits that gave away what they were going to do.”
Dobbs said the Bulldogs noticed whether Tennessee lined up its fullback inside or outside and if the tight end moved to the backfield. He also said the alignment of tackles Chris Scott and Ramon Foster tipped off the direction of the run.
Arian Foster, Georgia’s nemesis the last two years, carried the ball just three times for 3 yards. Montario Hardesty’s 7-yard run was Tennessee’s longest of the game.
“Down in the film room we looked at the details so when we came on the field, we knew what they liked to do on certain plays and certain downs, when they liked to run outside and when they liked to run inside,” Curran said. “That helped us in the rush game. The extra time in the film room really paid off.”
Despite quarterback Nick Stephens making his first start on the road, Tennessee ran the ball only 15 times, and just four times in the second half. The Vols’ inability to establish a ground game enabled Georgia to run 36 more plays and hold the ball for 25 extra minutes.
On the Vols’ second possession of the game, they faced second-3 and threw the ball twice. Both passes were broken up. For most of the game, however, Tennessee struggled on first down and had to pass.
“We just never did develop any consistency with the running game, and never really got any good push,” Tennessee offensive coordinator Dave Clawson said. “When we fell behind, I really had no reason to feel like we were going to get back into the game running the football.
“Last year, really the philosophy was throw first. I think because we threw the ball so well a year ago, the looks to run the ball were a lot better, if that makes sense. Right now, we really haven’t established a consistent passing game, either. We’re trying to run the ball against worse looks.”
The result was 30 passes by Stephens, who threw for 208 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked twice.
“I’m surprised they didn’t run it more for the quarterback to be in his first SEC game starting,” Dobbs said. “I was surprised they didn’t run Foster more. Foster has kicked our butt for the past two years.”