Coach Kirby Smart also has a request for the Bulldogs: a return to a shutdown run defense.
After three lopsided wins to open the season, including its SEC opener at South Carolina, Georgia struggled at times in last week’s 43-29 win at Missouri. The Bulldogs (4-0, 2-0) led 20-7 at halftime despite not having an offensive touchdown.
Fromm, the sophomore quarterback, is looking for a stronger start for the offense against Tennessee (2-2, 0-1), but he said it was nice to see Georgia’s defense and special teams produce touchdowns last week.
“It definitely helps us on offense to know if we’re not playing our best when you can look up on the scoreboard and still be in the positive,” Fromm said. “It’s awesome to see.”
Elijah Holyfield, who had 14 carries for 90 yards, and D’Andre Swift, who had 16 carries for 71 yards, each set personal highs for carries in a game against Missouri. They continue to emerge as the leaders of Georgia’s running game.
Missouri ran for 172 yards against the Bulldogs. Smart is looking for better run defense against Tennessee. Led by sophomores Tim Jordan and Ty Chandler, the Vols rank fifth in the conference in rushing.
“They run with a purpose, they run with an attitude,” Smart said of the Vols. “We didn’t tackle very well last week. We didn’t knock guys back, the yards after contact, a lot of times the pile got driven. With these guys, you better strap it up because they run hard. ... They’re committed to the run and do a good job with it.”
Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt was Georgia’s defensive coordinator from 2014-15. He also worked with Smart as Alabama assistants from 2007-12.
In his second season at Georgia in 2017, Smart took the Bulldogs to their first SEC championship since 2005 and a spot in the national title game.
“There’s probably no secret to why they’re having success,” Pruitt said. “They’re committed to what they’re trying to get done. They’ve done a really good job. Kirby’s got a vision and they’ve worked hard to get there.”
Georgia lost starting right guard Ben Cleveland to a fractured left fibula last week. Starting left tackle Andrew Thomas left the game after aggravating his sprained left ankle but could start against the Vols.
Cade Mays, a freshman from Knoxville, replaced Thomas and was a candidate this week to compete with Justin Shaffer and others to replace Cleveland. Mays’ father, Kevin Mays, was an All-SEC guard for Tennessee and offensive captain in 1994. Cade Mays originally committed to sign with the Vols before changing his mind.
Pruitt is not the only Tennessee coach with a Georgia background. Defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer was on Georgia’s staff the last four years. Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker coached the Bulldogs’ defensive front from 2014-16.
NEARLY EVEN RIVALRY
Georgia, which won last year’s game in Knoxville 41-0, would tie the all-time series with Tennessee with a win Saturday. The Vols lead the series 23-22-1 and beat the Bulldogs 34-31 on their last visit to Sanford Stadium. They won that 2016 game on a 43-yard pass from Joshua Dobbs to Jauan Jennings as time expired.
Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano left last week’s loss to Florida after taking a hit to the left knee in the third quarter. Pruitt said Guarantano has practiced this week and should be “ready to go” Saturday.
After not committing a single turnover in its first two games, Tennessee has eight in its past two games, coughing the ball up six times against Florida last week. Georgia ranks third in the SEC in turnover margin.