Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley passing under pressure during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday at Neyland Stadium. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Michael Patrick)
Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley acknowledged Tuesday that Georgia’s — the Vols’ opponent Saturday — defense is talented and athletic. But it has proved to be vulnerable at times, which gives the Vols hope.
“They start quite a few true freshmen, also some sophomores, so they’re young, but they don’t play like they’re young,’’ Worley said.
The Bulldogs start three true freshmen on defense. Clemson racked up 467 yards in a 38-35 win over Georgia. South Carolina had 454 yards and LSU 449 in losses.
“There are holes there,’’ Worley said, “but you’ve got to find ’em and execute when opportunities are presented.’’
Speaking of holes, the question of last year’s Georgia game came up several times Tuesday. The Bulldogs gashed the Vols’ defense for touchdown runs of 75, 51 and 72 yards in a 51-44 win in Athens.
UT safety Brian Randolph was out with a torn ACL at that point. What he saw on TV was painful.
“I felt like I could have helped a little bit last year,’’ Randolph said. “It was hard to watch. I think we’ve got to narrow down the run lanes and try to stop the run game as best we can.’’
Randolph said the defense is much more comfortable with its run assignments in the 4-3 front this year than in last year’s 3-4.
Georgia’s top back, Todd Gurley, is listed as day-to-day. But it was backup Keith Marshall who burned the Vols for the 75- and 72 -yard TD runs.
Georgia-Tennessee is always a border war. UT coach Butch Jones downplayed the angle that the winner on the field gains an important edge in recruiting.
He’s probably right. Georgia has won four of the past five games with Tennessee, yet the Vols’ roster is loaded with Georgians. All three starting linebackers, A.J. Johnson, Dontavis Sapp and Brent Brewer, are from Georgia. So are six other starters.
Defensive coordinator John Jancek and secondary coach Willie Martinez both spend considerable time at Georgia as assistnats.
“It don’t matter where you come from,’’ Sapp said. “We’re ‘One Tennessee,’ so you come here and wear that ‘T’ and it means you’re here and you’re part of this family. We don’t worry about where you come from or where you’re going next.’’
Tailback Marlin Lane (lower extremity) spent Tuesday on the stationary bicycle. Jones said Lane is day-to-day and wouldn’t be drawn into speculation about his status. Starter Rajion Neal wore a green no-contact jersey as a precaution. Tom Smith got snaps in Lane’s absence.
Jones maintained his message of urging UT fans and especially the student body to show up Saturday and enhance the Vols’ home-field advantage — and the program’s opportunity on CBS.
Chris Fuller, the senior associate AD who oversees tickets, said about 3,700 tickets remained Tuesday. “I do think we’ll sell out,’’ Fuller said.
Georgia took about 7,200 tickets.