Oct. 7, 2013
By Brian Rice
Each week, UTSports.com takes a look at the numbers from the weekend past and the weekend ahead in Four Downs. This week, a big day for Rajion Neal, taking advantage of all four downs and impressive freshman performances.
First Down: 148 - Rajion Neal Rushing Yards
Playing in his final game against his home state school, Neal was impressive on the field in setting a new career high for carries with 28. This wasn't the first time in his UT career that he came up big against the Bulldogs.
The 148 yards followed up a career-high 169 a week ago and marked the second time in his tenure at Tennessee that he recorded back-to-back 100-yard performances. The other time? Last season against Akron and Georgia, with 151 and 104 against the Zips and Bulldogs, respectively. In all, it was the fifth 100-yard game of his UT career, the third this season.
The 148 vs. Georgia were his high against an SEC foe and most by a Vol vs. a conference team since Montario Hardesty piled up 179 vs. Kentucky in the 2009 regular-season finale.
Neal also rushed for a pair of touchdowns, the fourth multi-TD game of his career and second against Georgia, after scoring one each rushing and receiving in 2012. All three of his rushing touchdowns against UGA have come in the fourth quarter, one in 2012 and both on Saturday. In his four seasons at UT, the Vols have six rushing touchdowns against Georgia, with Neal having scored half of them.
Second Down: 3-3 - Fourth Down Conversions
The fourth down party got started in the final quarter. Trailing 24-17, Tennessee looked to have gone three-and-out trying to answer a Georgia score when an incomplete pass made it fourth-and-six at the UT 29-yard line. But Georgia was whistled for a delay of game penalty after inducing movement on the Tennessee offensive line in a punt formation. After a timeout, Butch Jones sent the UT offense back onto the field, where a gusty fake handoff toss play to Rajion Neal picked up the needed yard and 42 more for good measure, setting up the game-tying score.
A drive later, Neal again extended a drive, driving for the needed yard on a fourth-and-one, again at the UT 29. Later in the drive, Justin Worley faked a handoff before hitting A.J. Branisel for 28 yards on another fourth-and-one to give UT first-and-goal at the 7-yard line.
The three fourth-down conversions tied for the most since UT converted 4-of-6 against Florida in 2002. UT also converted three against Memphis in 2009 (3/4), Auburn in 09 (3/3), South Carolina in 2011 (3/5), Georgia in 2011 (3/3) and South Carolina in 2012 (3/3).
With an 80.0 percent success rate (4-of-5) on fourth downs this season, the Vols are tied for fourth in the NCAA after the weekend.
Third Down: Quick Hits
215 - Passing yards from Worley, a new career-best against an SEC opponent. His previous best in a conference game, 208, came against Arkansas in 2011.
15 - Yards covered on Devaun Swafford's return of a blocked punt for a touchdown. Swafford's fellow freshman Jalen Reeves-Maybin blocked the punt and Swafford scooped it and scored his second touchdown of the season. It was the first blocked punt returned for a TD by Tennessee since Antonio Wardlow fell on his own blocked punt in the end zone to extend a UT lead in a win over Georgia in 2006.
2 - Marquez North toes that tapped the edge of the end zone on his first-career touchdown catch in the third quarter. The pass from Worley covered 19 yards for the initial UT TD of the afternoon.
6 - Touchdowns scored by true freshmen in 2013 after Swafford's score and North's catch. Josh Smith and A.J. Branisel caught TDs against South Alabama. Cameron Sutton and Swafford each returned interceptions for scores, Sutton against Western Kentucky and Swafford at Florida.
5 - Touchdowns scored by Tennessee natives in 2013, following Swafford's scoop and score. Smith had the TD grab against USA. Devrin Young and Brendan Downs each had a TD catch against Austin Peay, Downs added another a week later against Western Kentucky. Swafford scored on an interception return against Florida. UT had nine TDs from home state players in 2012.
0 - Turnovers forced by the UT defense. Georgia marked just the second opponent in 2013 that Tennessee failed to either intercept a pass or force a fumble, Oregon being the other. The Volunteer defense has 15 takeaways in 2013, two away from the total in all of 2012. Tennessee has 11 interceptions, just one away from the season total in 2012 and good for second in the NCAA behind Virginia Tech.
2 - Season lows set by the Georgia offense against the Tennessee defense. The Bulldogs were held to 34 points, 31 in regulation, both under the previous low of 35 in a loss to Clemson. The Vol D held UGA to 434 yards, 120 under its average of 554 and 60 fewer than Georgia's previous low of 494 against LSU.
65 - Yards on a Michael Palardy punt, the second-longest of his career. The senior also had punts that covered 51 and 57 yards, giving him eight boots over 50 yards in 2013. He is well on pace to surpass his 13 50-yard punts from a season ago.
5 - Touchbacks on kickoffs by Palardy, in six attempts. The lone exception was the opening kickoff.
236 - Consecutive games in which Tennessee has scored, dating back to a 31-0 loss to Florida on Sept. 17, 1994.
56 - Yards on a field goal by Georgia's Marshall Morgan, the longest kick in Neyland Stadium history, and longest ever against the Volunteers.
2 - Consecutive overtime losses for UT, after a loss to Missouri at home last season. This marks the first time UT has dropped consecutive OT games since the NCAA implemented it in 1996. The Volunteers are 10-5 in overtime games, 6-2 at Neyland Stadium.
Fourth Down: A Look Ahead
7 - All time wins on Oct. 19, the next time UT takes the field. This will be the first time since 1912 that Tennessee will face an opponent other than Alabama on the date, a string of 11 games.
22 - Wins over South Carolina, to six losses. UT has lost each of the last two seasons, the first time USC has earned back-to-back victories in the series that dates back to 1903, but was only played 10 times prior to 1992, when the Gamecocks joined the Southeastern Conference.
19 - Consecutive wins by ranked opponents over Tennessee, dating back to South Carolina in 2009, a streak UT will once again look to end a week from Saturday when the Gamecocks come to Neyland Stadium and it's once again Football Time in Tennessee!