Top 3 things to know: No. 11 Tennessee vs. No. 25 Georgia 

Posted: 8:22 pm Friday, September 30th, 2016

By Jay Black

Can Georgia overcome the loss of Nick Chubb?

There has been no official confirmation that UGA’s star running back is going to be out against Tennessee, but the AJC reports Chubb will not be able to play with the high ankle sprain he suffered in the first half against Ole Miss.

It’s true, Georgia did have its second best rushing performance of the season in Oxford with 230 yards and a 5.5 yards per carry average. But it’s hard to tell if that’s going to be a trend, or if UGA piled up stats against the Rebels backups.

Sony Michel doesn’t seem to have any lingering effects from his broken arm. But freshman Brian Herrien is actually the team’s second leading rusher and fellow freshman Eljiah Holyfield finally got in the game last week.

Tennessee’s defense is ranked eighth in the SEC, giving up 181 yards per game. But they’ve got plenty of talent. Derrick Barnett is one of the top defensive lineman in the league with six TFLs already this season. He’s been second team All-SEC the last two years.

Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin was actually the team leader though in TFLs and total tackles and gives UGA’s offensive line something else to worry about.

If they don’t have their problems figured, Jacob Eason is throwing a lot again.

Will UGA limit the big plays and actually make some?

Yes Georgia’s defense has already picked off six passes, half of their total last season. But the big plays I’m talking about are stops in the backfield.

UGA’s defense is ranked 120th out of 128 teams in AMERICA in tackles for a loss (13) and 113th in sacks (4). If you throw out the Nicholls game, the Dawgs only have two sacks this season. They didn’t get a single sack against Missouri passing attack and only got one against Ole Miss.

That’s bad.

Kirby Smart admits that offenses like Ole Miss, Missouri and Tennessee will get their big plays, but you can’t miss the quarterback when you get a chance to take him down.

“You aren’t going to get a whole bunch of chances against the guys,” said Smart. “When you get your opportunities you’ve got to make them count.”

Joshua Dobbs has the ability to make Georgia pay if they let him free. The Tennessee quarterback had 399 total yards and five TDs in the comeback over Florida. He was even better last year against Georgia (312 yards passing and 118 yards rushing).

And if that doesn’t work out, Smart says Jalen Hurd is “probably the most physical runner I’ve seen. He does try to bruise you.”

Despite all that talent though, Tennessee has struggled at times in every game this season and their offense only ranks 11th in the conference, two spots behind Georgia’s.

If it comes down to a kick, whose going to make it?

Tennessee’s Trevor Daniel was the second best punter in the SEC last season and Evan Berry is every bit the return man that Isaiah McKenzie is.

But Saturday is the matchup of the two worst kickers in the SEC.

Well actually three.

UT’s Aaron Medley is 4-for-6 in field goals this season, which actually puts him next to last in the league. Last season, he had the same percentage and finished one spot higher.

But what would UGA do for a kicker hitting two-thirds of his kicks.

Sophomore William Ham is 3-for-7 and Rodrigo Blankenship missed his only attempt of the season last week. They have yet to make a field goal outside of 30 yards.

There’s no telling whose going to get the call this week and it’s doubtful Smart will have a long leash.

When it doubt, the Dawgs will probably go for it.