ATHENS, Ga. — If it's minus-12 outside Saturday, chances are the Georgia Bulldogs will be feeling warm and fuzzy defensively.
In racking up decisive 41-14 and 20-12 victories over Tennessee the past two seasons, Georgia has held the Volunteers to minus-12 yards on 49 carries. Marlin Lane paced the Vols with 8 rushing yards in last year's matchup in Neyland Stadium, while Rajion Neal and Tauren Poole each had 7.
"Any time you can make a team one-dimensional, the momentum shifts to you that much more," Bulldogs cornerback Sanders Commings said. "We always play Tennessee in the middle of the season, and we always seem to be in midseason form. We're always clicking, and hopefully we'll shut them down again."
The Vols have finished last in the Southeastern Conference in rushing each of the past two seasons, averaging a paltry 90.1 yards a game last year. Their minus-21 yards against Georgia last October was a season low, but they had minus-9 yards against Florida, 35 against South Carolina and 61 against Kentucky.
Tennessee is averaging a healthier 172.5 rushing yards a game this season but was held to 83 yards on 28 carries two weeks ago in its lone loss to Florida.
"I think they're very explosive this year and a totally different team," Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones said. "We're going to have to stop the deep routes they run and stuff the run up front and make them do other things."
In last year's loss to the Bulldogs, the Vols threw the ball 40 times and ran it 23. This year's Vols have thrown 156 times and rushed 155.
"If I had those receivers and that quarterback, I would have a hard time trying to stay balanced," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "I like throwing the ball, and they've got great pass protectors. When you have those tackles like they do who don't need any help, you can release five guys out, and then you've got a guy that can spin it like [Tyler] Bray.
"I don't know if I would sit there and say, 'Gosh, I need to be totally balanced,' but I think if you do shut down a running game and you just know someone is going to pass, it's just much easier to defend."
Georgia defenders credit the play of their three-man front for their success the past two years against Tennessee's ground game.
"Having big guys up front, you can really funnel running backs where you want to make the play," inside linebacker Christian Robinson said. "Getting those guys to go east-west instead of north-south is what we try to do, and having those guys up front makes it easier on everyone behind them."
Said noseguard John Jenkins: "Whatever happened last year happened. We just want to win this game however we can."
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...