KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Georgia had to work for its yardage and subsequently its points during Saturday night's 20-12 win over Tennessee, but overall offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was pleased with what he saw.
"Going into this game I thought this defense was a very good defense," Bobo said. "They might be giving up one big play a game but they really weren't giving up a lot of things. It's been hard for people to move the ball. Even Florida wasn't moving the ball except for the big plays but we felt we'd have an opportunity."
There wasn't much to speak of early on for Georgia, which finished with 366 total yards.
After quick offensive starts in their most recent two wins over Ole Miss and Mississippi State, all the Bulldogs could muster the first half against the Vols were field goals of 35 and 28 yards by Blair Walsh, who snapped out of his recent funk.
But unlike the previous two games when Georgia failed to score a touchdown in the second half, the Bulldogs used a pair of scoring runs by Isaiah Crowell in the third for a 20-6 lead.
Crowell's first touchdown, a 1-yard run, came after the freshman came up short from the 2 before bulling his way into the end zone on his third try.
"All my life I've never been stopped on the goal line like that," Crowell said. "I just felt like I couldn't let that happen again. I had come too far to let it start happening now."
Crowell's second touchdown came on a much-easier 17-yard run after Tennessee had stacked the box in an effort to keep the freshman in check.
For the most part, it worked as Crowell finished with just 58 yards on 19 carries despite playing, as it turned out, with a myriad of injuries.
"It's just some bangs and bruises," Crowell said. "There were some small things that tried to keep me back. My wrist was already banged up, but then I hurt one of my ankles in the game. But it's all right now."
With the score 20-3 and backed up at their own 3, the Bulldogs actually came out throwing, eventually using completions of 10 and 11 yards to Tavarres King pick up a first down at Vol 23.
But that's when something weird happened.
Just when it looked like Georgia was about to score a touchdown to ice the game, the Bulldogs committed three straight holding calls to push the offense back inside its own 50.
It would have been four straight holds had Tennessee not declined, but after a personal foul on tight end Orson Charles, two rushes for no yards by Richard Samuel resulted in Drew Butler punting on fourth-and-56.
"We didn't give the ball away. We felt coming in if we didn't turn the ball over and keep the penalties down we could execute and run our stuff," Bobo said. "We didn't turn it over which was great. The penalties on that one drive though, we can't have that. I've never seen that happen in my life with that fourth-and-56 but it was good to overcome."
The Bulldogs weren't afraid to let quarterback Aaron Murray and the offense take their shots.
On the first possession of the game, Richt twice gave the go ahead to go for it on fourth down, the first time from his own 40-yard line before going for a second time during the same drive from the Tennessee 23.
Georgia did eventually have to settle for one of Walsh's two field goals, but unlike last week's game against Mississippi State when Richt heard some boos when he didn't try for it on fourth, he didn't hesitate against the Volunteers.
"What happened, against Boise State we went for a fourth and short and didn't make it, a couple of third and inches and not make it so I really wasn't in the mood to go for, especially since I didn't like what we had prepared at that moment. I also was trying to get that game to 21 points (when he had Walsh attempt a field goal against MSU) so that was part of it, too," he said. "This week we did a very good job of putting a plan together. I had a lot more confidence in what the offensive staff had put together, so I was more decisive in what to do because I had more faith in what we were doing and how we were going about it."
Even Bobo showed some nerve as the offensive coordinator when late in the third quarter he had Murray - who struggled for much of the first half - drop back deep inside his own territory and heave a pass to Malcolm Mitchell for a 71-yard gain.
Mitchell injured his hamstring on the play, which loosened up the UT defense enough for Crowell to score two plays later from 17 yards out.
"We missed a lot of opportunities tonight," Bobo said. "We had guys running open but fortunately we did hit the one big one to Malcolm, there. We had Tavarres a couple of more times but didn't hit him, but what it did, it got them out of stacking the box and we were able to hit some runs."
Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]