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UGA Football Coach Kirby Smart Talks About the Tennessee Volunteer Offense

November 16, 2023

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ATHENS - Kirby Smart and the UGA Football team have another SEC road test this weekend as they travel to Knoxville and take on Josh Heupel and the No. 18 Tennessee Volunteers.

The Vols are coming off a bad loss to the Missouri Tigers, and the ‘Dawgs are coming off a dominant win over a then top-10 Ole Miss team.

Here’s what Smart had to say about the Tennessee offense this week...

On stopping Tennessee's run game...

“You can't stop it with light boxes. They make it where you can't. You’ve got to be able to strike a man, get off a block. And football is so simple when it comes down to your ability to play block protection or block people. You know, like you either get blocked or you don't get blocked. And you’ve got to win a whole bunch of one-on-ones, if you don't have enough people in there, because they expose you quickly, and they're very physically tough. Their O line plays that way. Their backs are easily the best stable of backs we've seen this year in terms of the backs, the package of backs they have. And that includes the quarterback with the backs. So, it's a really tough prep. They do a great job. The box count is what it is. They know what you got. They know what you don't got. So, it boils down to who can strike a block and get off a block.”

Tennessee rushing numbers:

Rushing against Missouri: 83 yards on 23 carries (3.6 ypc)

Rushing against Kentucky: 254 yards on 47 attempts (5.4 ypc)

Rushing against Alabama: 133 yards on 38 carries (3.5 ypc)

Rushing against Texas A&M: 232 yards on 49 carries (4.7 ypc)

Rushing against South Carolina: 238 yards on 40 carries (6.0 ypc)

Rushing against Florida: 100 yards on 30 carries (3.3 ypc)

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On Tennessee's defensive line...

“They got good players. They play really hard. They strike at the point of attack. They're aggressive. They're hard to move because they're big. And then they have elite pass rushers. When you got an elite pass rusher that you got people that can push the pocket, it creates sacks and things. So, they are very good defensively and a really big challenge, especially when you talk about the front. There's the rush, but then there's the controlling the line of scrimmage for your ability to run the ball. And they're good at both.”

Tennessee DL Notes:

The Vols are 2nd in SEC in sacks with 33 this season. James Pearce has a team-leading 8 sacks. Omar Norman-Lott has notched 5.5 sacks with Tyler Baron adding another 5 sacks.


On Tennessee wide receiver Squirrel White ... 

“It takes great prep to prep for all their wideouts, and the thing that makes it hard about their wideouts is their run game. So, the run game is just incredible what they're able to do. And then off of that comes the pass game. So (Squirrel White’s) a great player. We recruited him. He's really fast. He's dynamic. He's gotten better with his age, and he's played a major role for them in terms of run after catch and vertical speed.”

White’s numbers this season:

49 catches for 609 yards and 2 TDs.


On what stands out about Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton ...

“Elite arm talent, really, really good athlete. You know, sometimes at DB you're looking for recovery, so I can close and get a ball out because maybe the ball is not there, but the ball gets there .5 seconds faster, and in the game of football .5 seconds is an eternity. It's two, three steps, and (Joe Milton’s) elite at doing that. They create run game with him. So, they get an extra hat in the run game, which we'll see. And they're good at doing it.”

Milton Notes:

The Tennessee QB is currently 190/291 (65%) for 2,283 yards and 16 TDs with 5 INTs.

He’s been sacked 14 times with three sacks coming against Alabama and three more against Texas A&M. Milton has thrown just one INT over his last four games.

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