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GAME 6: Vols Look For Continued Success Between the Hedges
TENNESSEE-GEORGIA SERIES HISTORY & NOTES
Tennessee leads the all-time series with Georgia 20-15-2 dating to 1899. UT rallied for a 51-33 triumph two years ago in Athens--the Vols' second straight win at UGA's Sanford Stadium.
The Big Orange own a 10-7-1 advantage over the Bulldogs in Athens, and UT head coach Phillip Fulmer boasts an 11-5 career mark against Georgia. Fulmer won his first eight games against UGA from 1992-99. Those eight triumphs were part of a nine-game win streak for Tennessee against Georgia that marked the longest such streak by either team in the series (1989-99).
Twelve players on UT's 2008 roster hail from the Peach State--Eric Berry (Fairburn), Chad Cunningham (Dawsonville), Stephen Darville (Rome), Steven Fowlkes (College Park), Brent Freeman (Suwanee), Derrick Furlow (Atlanta), Anthony Parker (Jonesboro), Tauren Poole (Toccoa), Stephaun Raines (Dalton), Chris Scott (Riverdale), Brett Thomason (Dalton) and LaMarcus Thompson (Lithonia). Berry, Cunningham, Parker and Scott have started every game this season.
Vols offensive line coach Greg Adkins served as an assistant coach at Georgia under Jim Donnan from 1996-2000. Adkins coached defensive line in 1996 before shifting to tight ends and offensive line from 1997-2000.
FULMER'S NEXT TRIUMPH PUTS TENNESSEE IN ELITE COMPANY
Phillip Fulmer's next win will be his 150th triumph as Tennessee's head coach, allowing him to join Gen. Robert R. Neyland (173) as just the second Vols coach to reach that victory plateau. UT then will stand alongside Michigan as the only schools with two different coaches owning 150-plus victories at their respective school. Bo Schembechler (194) and Fielding Yost (165) passed the 150-win mark during their tenures for the Wolverines.
Tennessee also is one of just five schools with three different coaches owning at least 100 victories in the program, Johnny Majors having captured 116 wins during his Vols career. Other schools are Oklahoma with four different coaches and Southern California, Georgia Tech and Michigan with three apiece.
DEFENSE FIERCE IN FINAL FRAME
The Tennessee defense has been as good as it can be in the fourth quarter of the last two games. In those contests combined, it has surrendered a net total of 15 yards and allowed just one first down. The defense has forced seven three-and-outs and has not allowed a point to be scored in the fourth quarter of those games.
Northern Illinois lost a total of nine yards on four possessions in the final frame last Saturday, and Auburn gained just 24 yards in five fourth-quarter possessions Sept. 27.
Tennessee's defense did not force a fourth-quarter three-and-out in any of its first three games. The opponents' average fourth-quarter drive went for 52 yards and three of six drives ended in a score during that span. The Vols forced just one punt, one turnover on downs and one interception leading up to the Auburn game.
TENNESSEE DEFENSE LIMITING DAMAGE FOLLOWING TURNOVERS
While Tennessee's offense has been hampered by turnovers through the first five games of the season, the Volunteers defense--under the tutelage of veteran coordinator John Chavis--has performed admirably in damage-control mode. The nine takeaways recorded by opposing defenses have resulted in only 19 total points.
Not surprising, considering the stingy UT defense ranks among the top-13 FBS teams in four separate statistical categories, including total defense, rushing defense and pass defense.
STEPHENS EFFECTIVE IN FIRST CAREER START
It was only his second time playing in a collegiate game, but redshirt sophomore quarterback was effective in his first career start last Saturday against Northern Illinois.
Stephens, whose only start since his lone season of high school varsity football came against Hargrave Military Academy in a junior-varsity contest last September, completed 10 of 17 passes for 156 yards and one touchdown while leading the Vols to a 13-9 victory over the Huskies.
The Flower Mound, Texas, native earned the starting role after UT head coach Phillip Fulmer announced an open competition for the position following Tennessee's loss at
Auburn on Sept. 27.
THREE MEMORABLE VOL PERFORMANCES vs. GEORGIA
In Tennessee's 37 previous clashes with Georgia, there have been many memorable individual Vol performances. Here are three of note:
GIVE HIM SIX (x6): Arian Foster, 2006-07: Tailback Arian Foster has racked up six touchdowns against the Georgia Bulldogs during the last two seasons. In the 2006 game in Athens, Foster ran the ball 15 times for 63 yards and scored three touchdowns. Each touchdown run was 1 yard. The Volunteers went on to win that contest 51-33 in dominant fashion. And last year in Knoxville, Foster added three more touchdowns on runs of 9, 22 and 4 yards. He ran the ball 17 times for 98 yards in that Tennessee victory.
FUTURE MLB HALL OF FAMER LEADS VOLS: TODD HELTON, 1994: Quarterback Todd Helton earned numerous wins on The Hill for the Tennessee baseball team from 1993-95 (19, along with 23 saves, to be exact), but his one and only victory as a starting quarterback with the football teeam came against the Georgia Bulldogs between the hedges on Sept. 10, 1994. Helton completed 9 of 13 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. The scoring strike came on a 9-yard pass to wide receiver Joey Kent. The Volunteers won the game with a steady ground attack 41-23.
DROPPING A DEUCE: JAMAL LEWIS, 1997: Jamal Lewis ran for 232 yards on 22 carries in the Vols' 1997 matchup with Georgia in Knoxville. At that time, the 232 yards were the most-ever by a Tennessee true freshman. The future NFL standout had three runs of more than 30 yards that day, including a 38-yard scamper that sparked the Vols' 10-play, 99-yard drive for their third touchdown of the game. Lewis was named SEC Player of the Week for his efforts.
FOSTER RUNS WELL VS. BULLDOGS
Senior tailback Arian Foster will see a pleasing and familiar site Saturday as he walks on to the field at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.
In his last two games vs. Georgia, Foster has rushed for a combined 161 yards and scored a remarkable six touchdowns. In the 2007 game in Knoxville, he scored on the ground in each of the first three quarters to help bury the Bulldogs behind a 28-7 deficit. His TD carries were of 9, 22 and 4 yards, respectively.
In 2006, he scored from one yard out in the second quarter to help keep the game from getting out of hand in Georgia's favor, then pounded in two more scores from the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter to help put the game on ice for the Volunteers.
OPPOSING RUSHERS STRUGGLING
Prognosticators knew UT's secondary was a strength coming into the season, but the defense's ability to stifle opponents' running game has been a pleasant surprise. Through five games, the Volunteers defense is getting the job done.
For the season, Tennessee's opponents have rushed the ball 168 times but only once have they been able to break a play for more than 20 yards. UAB quarterback Joe Webb has been the most successful rusher UT has faced thus far, netting 78 yards (his long rush of 23 yards is the longest allowed by the Vols thus far).
The defense also has allowed only one rushing TD this season, and it was in the first game of the year. The Vols have not allowed a rushing touchdown in 16 straight quarters. An impressive stat that is made all the more glowing by the fact that over the past 22 games, the Vols have not allowed a rusher to score more than once. Former Arkansas standout Darren McFadden was the last player to score more than one rushing touchdown against UT.
JONES, ROGAN REV UP RETURN GAME
Sophomores Gerald Jones and Dennis Rogan are both speedsters who are dangerous in open space. The UT coaches have put both players in positions this season where their speed and elusiveness could best be utilized. For the season, Jones and Rogan have combined for 17 of UT's 35 plays that have gone for 20 yards or more.
Jones has lined up at four different positions this season (wide receiver, quarterback, kick returner and punt returner). At all four positions he has made at least one play of more than 20 yards. For the season, Jones has seven plays of at least 20 yards--two kickoff returns, two punt returns, two receptions and one rush. The Oklahoma City, Okla., native is currently 35th in the FBS with a punt return average of 11.0 yards.
Rogan has lined up at cornerback, kick returner and punt returner this season. The Knoxville, Tenn., native leads the team with 10 plays of more than 20 yards. Rogan has returned nine kickoffs for at least 20 yards and returned his only interception of the season 38 yards to set up Tennessee's lone touchdown at Auburn. The Fulton High School grad is 38th in the FBS with a 25.4-yard kickoff-return average.
Rogan's career average of 27.58 yards per kickoff return ranks fifth among all active FBS players.