Re-focused Vols prep for Georgia
Beating Florida was big. Beating Georgia this week would be even bigger for the goals this Tennessee team has.
The Vols celebrated their win over the Gators over the weekend, but have quickly turned their attention to another SEC East rival, Georgia.
“We had a good team win and we celebrated, but now it's a new week and we're ready to prepare for Georgia,” Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett said. “We have to do things correctly to be productive.
“I just know Georgia is going to be ready to play us. It's been a close game the past few years and playing in the SEC you have to bring it every week. There's no guaranteed Ws when you play in this
Ending an 11-year losing streak while also playing without three of the team's best defensive players made for an emotionally draining win Saturday. The Vols (4-0, 1-0 SEC) came back from down 21 points to beat Florida 38-28, mounting the third-largest comeback in program history.
When the final whistle blew, the Vols rushed to the student section and band to celebrate. But before the team could get to the locker room, Barnett was already turning his attention to the Bulldogs.
“I talked to Barnett about it and after the game everybody was really excited, but he said we're going to have to have to bring it even more this next week just because you can't get caught up in the glamor and the passion and things going on outside of the game of football,” Tennessee safety Todd Kelly Jr. said. “You have to focus on one week at a time.”
The win against Florida has made the Vols the early leaders of the SEC East, but they know a win against the Gators means little if they don't back it up with win against No. 25 Georgia this weekend (3:30 p.m.; TV: CBS).
It is Tennessee's first true road game of the season and the Vols are facing a Georgia team (3-1, 1-1) that was embarrassed by Ole Miss last week.
“It's a road game, a lot of our guys haven't been on the road yet,” Kelly said. “And at Georgia, 90,000 fans are going to be screaming and Sanford Stadium is going to be loud. So we're trying to focus in and
realize this is a great team we're playing and we're going to have to come with that same enthusiasm we came with last week.”
Communication will be key, and for the defense a road game provides a little relief in that regard. But for Tennessee's offense it will be the first game without a pro-UT crowd keeping things somewhat quiet
when they're on the field.
Senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs has helped provide the stability, experience and leadership to a young Vols' offensive group this week as they prepare for a Georgia defense that ranks seventh in the SEC in
“When you go on the road you have to be locked in for four quarters. You're going to get the team's best shot, so you have to be ready to go for sure especially going down to Georgia,” Dobbs said. “We know we're going to get their best shot with it being a big SEC Eastern Conference game.”
A matchup with the Bulldogs not only holds significance to the SEC East, but also a chance to make noise nationally. It has been a long time since Tennessee has strung together wins against ranked
opponents, and a win against Georgia would give the Vols such wins back-to-back with two more ranked opponents awaiting.
With No. 9 Texas A&M and No. 1 Alabama the two weeks after Georgia, the Vols have an opportunity to have a very special run and re-establish Tennessee as a conference and national power.
“I feel like we have the confidence that we're one of the best teams in the country, that's what any team wants to say but we truly believe it,” Kelly said. “We have to go out and not only play like it but work
like it and hold ourselves accountable to that standard.
“A lot of people call it the make it or break it stretch, but it all starts with focusing on the opponent you have that particular week. We're not really too focused about the future and right now our focus
is on Georgia football and going down to Sanford Stadium and getting a victory. But once that's said and done we're going to keep moving on to the next opponent and focusing on them and hopefully when we look back and see what kind of stretch it was we'll look back and smile and say we gave our all.”