KNOXVILLE, Tenn. --- Already slipping off the radar nationally, Georgia's season quickly went into nosedive mode Saturday.
The Bulldogs' defense made beleaguered Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton look like Peyton Manning. Their floundering offense did not score a touchdown and had only five second-half first downs.
Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin's first Southeastern Conference win turned into a 45-19 rout before 103,261 fans at Neyland Stadium, the Bulldogs' second-worst loss ever under Mark Richt after a 39-point loss to Florida last year.
"They played better, they coached better, just very obvious their team was a better team today by a long shot," Richt said.
The loss dropped Georgia to 2-2 in the SEC and 3-3 overall, its worst six-game start since 1996.
"This is going to test us a lot just to see where we are," safety Bryan Evans said. "Every game, even the close losses we fought until the end. Today, it just unraveled on us."
Crompton, who was ranked 91st in the nation in passing efficiency, completed 20 of 27 passes for a career-high 310 yards with four touchdown passes.
"We got the right plays because we knew what they were going to do," Crompton said.
After pulling within 24-19 on safety Bacarri Rambo's 28-yard interception return for a TD with 8:21 left in the third quarter, Tennessee poured on the final 21 points. The Bulldogs' other points came on a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Brandon Boykin, a 52-yard Blair Walsh field goal and a safety after Zach Renner blocked a punt out of the end zone.
Georgia has dropped back-to-back games for the first time since 2006.
Asked if he was worried, Richt said: "I'll say this. We didn't play good today. We haven't had a game this season where we've played a really solid football game, so I'm concerned about that."
Reach Marc Weiszer at email@example.com.
Rushing offense: D
The numbers picked up a little bit from last week. But that's about then only good news for the Bulldogs. The line has consistently failed to make holes all season and Saturday was no different. Freshman Washaun Ealey came back to earth with 18 yards and a 1.8-yard average per carry. Carlton Thomas looked the best with 30 yards on three carries. Richard Samuel, who spent most of the first three quarters watching, gained 25 yards on five carries. Georgia had 89 yards and averaged 4.0 yards a carry. While that's an improvement over last week, it's not much of one.
Passing offense: F
Joe Cox's numbers have regressed since getting 375 yards against Arkansas in Week 3. Cox has thrown at least one interception in all six games this season and had two against Tennessee. He completed 19 of 34 passes for 146 yards and no touchdowns. Logan Gray wasn't any better with a single six-yard completion in four attempts. A.J. Green caught eight passes but only tallied 60 yards as he attracted Tennessee's undivided attention. Michael Moore coughed up a fumble after a catch to give the passing offense three turnovers in the game.
Rushing defense: C-
Tennessee ran for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Montario Hardesty was the workhorse with 97 yards. His 39-yard score in the third quarter provided an instant answer to Bacarri Rambo's interception return for a touchdown. Tennessee didn't necessarily control the game with its running. But the Volunteers hurt Georgia several times.
Passing defense: D
Georgia's defense made Jonathan Crompton look like Stephen Garcia by allowing a career-high 310 yards. Crompton had been the most-maligned member of Tennessee's offense until completing 20 of 27 against Georgia on Saturday. Bacarri Rambo's interception return for a touchdown saves this from being a complete breakdown. Gerald Jones caught five passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns. For the second week in a row, Georgia failed to get a sack.
Special Teams: B
Georgia had several standout performances. Brandon Boykin had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Zach Renner blocked a punt through the back of the end zone for a safety. Blair Walsh hit a 52-yard field goal as the Bulldogs' special teams scored 13 of their 19 points. Poor kickoff coverage and a penalty bit Georgia as a facemask penalty on kickoff coverage set up Tennessee's second touchdown.
Georgia looked sluggish and a step behind the entire game. The defense played okay most of the time, but got burned for two long touchdown plays in the second half. Mistakes again cropped up on offense with three turnovers that set up 17 Tennessee points. The offense lacked rhythm and produced more yawns than points. The only segment that had consistent success was the special teams with a blocked punt and a kickoff return for a touchdown.
-- Morris News Service
Georgia had its chance in the third quarter when Bacarri Rambo returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown that cut Tennessee's lead to 24-19. But Tennessee responded with an 80-yard drive, capped by Montario Hardesty's 39-yard run to push its lead to 31-19.
|Spotted: UGA at Tennessee|
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