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Georgia photo by Andrew Davis Tucker / Georgia running back Zamir White rushed for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns last Saturday night as the Bulldogs drubbed Auburn 27-6.

Tennessee sophomore linebacker Henry To'o To'o didn't need much time this week to reveal his personal scouting report on Georgia heading into Saturday's showdown between the No. 14 Volunteers and the No. 3 Bulldogs inside Sanford Stadium.

"They want to run that rock, and they're going to do everything they can to get their running game going," To'o To'o said. "That's what Georgia prides itself on, and they have the team to do it. They have a great offensive line, and they have a lot of great backs, so we have to be honed in."

His assessment of this week's foe didn't change when asked if the Bulldogs are doing anything different with Stetson Bennett at quarterback after the three-year run of Jake Fromm.

"From what I've seen, they're still Georgia," To'o To'o said. "They're still trying to pound the ball. That's Georgia football, so there is nothing spectacular that has been different. Everything has been what we expected to see on film."

Displaying the seemingly unending talent that has been compiled during the Kirby Smart era, Georgia is acting like Georgia again offensively despite the losses of Fromm, two-time 1,000-yard rusher D'Andre Swift and NFL first-round tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson from last season's 12-2 Sugar Bowl champions. The Bulldogs have attained a 2-0 start by downing Arkansas and Auburn by the combined score of 64-16, with redshirt sophomore Zamir White now serving as the face of a ground game that in recent years has been represented by the likes of Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Swift.

In last Saturday night's 27-6 dismantling of Auburn, White had a workmanlike 19 carries for 88 yards and two touchdowns on an offense that wore down the Tigers with 45 rushes for 202 yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

"We were just locked in and ready to play this last game because it's always a big game," White said this week.

White, a 6-foot, 215-pounder from Laurinburg, North Carolina, is a former five-star signee in the 2018 class who has already dealt with his share of adversity. He arrived in Athens as an early enrollee but was coming off a torn right anterior cruciate ligament he sustained in a state playoff game.

During his first preseason with the Bulldogs, he tore his left ACL and was shelved for the year.

White returned to action last season as the third-string running back behind Swift and Brian Herrien and rushed 78 times for 408 yards. His first start for Georgia was in the Sugar Bowl against Baylor, and he responded with an 18-carry, 92-yard performance.

Smart believes White has enhanced his all-around game even more since January.

"I like his special teams play," Smart said. "He's had two really critical blocks that sprung our kickoff return unit. He has done a good job picking up pressures and has caught the ball out of the backfield. His yards after contact was much better in this last game.

"His leadership is starting to take form, and he's starting to get more comfortable in that role."

White's importance this week is magnified by junior backup James Cook leaving the Auburn game with a shoulder injury. Cook has been wearing a black, noncontact jersey this week, Smart said Wednesday, and is questionable for the contest against Tennessee, which is also 2-0.

Saturday's clash between the Vols and Bulldogs could be determined by the basic aspect of whether Tennessee can stop or significantly slow Georgia's ground game. The Bulldogs rushed for 238 yards in last year's meeting, 251 yards in the 2018 encounter and an eye-popping 294 in the 41-0 shellacking at Neyland Stadium three years ago.

The Bulldogs have cycled up more talent on their offensive line, and White will be front and center when it comes to trying to extend Georgia's recent rushing success against the Vols.

"I feel like I'm wiser than before," White said. "I'm more patient now with my runs, and my pass protection is better. I'm just knowing the game more."

 

Shamburger back

Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt said Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference teleconference that senior defensive back Shawn Shamburger will play this week after missing the South Carolina and Missouri games for reasons related to COVID-19.

The 5-11, 190-pounder from Mobile, Alabama, has played in 35 games for the Vols with 15 starts. Shamburger compiled 47 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and an interception last year, when he played primarily at the "star" position when five defensive backs were employed.

 

Jancek returns

John Jancek, who was Georgia's linebackers coach from 2005-09 and Tennessee's defensive coordinator from 2013-15, is back in Athens as a quality control coach.

"He breaks down the opposing team's defense and coaches the coaches in terms of the insights of what that defense does and what their tendencies are," Smart said. "He's a defensive mind on the offensive side of the ball, which is very common in the NFL, and it was important to (offensive coordinator Todd) Monken that we had somebody who could fill that role."

Jancek's son, Jack, is listed in the Tennessee media guide as a freshman walk-on receiver out of Knoxville Catholic.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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