Vols fall to Georgia, shut out for first time since 1994

Sep 30, 2017; Knoxville, TN, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm (11) carries the ball into the end zone for a touchdown against the Tennessee Volunteers during the first half at Neyland Stadium. Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
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Quinten Dormady threw an interception from the first play of scrimmage and the Vols never recovered as the Georgia Bulldogs stomped on them, 41-0.

The loss marks the first time the Vols were shut out in 23 years.

The Vols' defense was able to hold Georgia (5-0, 2-0 SEC) to 10 points in the first quarter, but withered away in the ensuing three quarters of play. A lone interception from Justin Martin to start the second quarter was all the momentum Tennessee (3-2, 0-2 SEC) could muster.

"We had some opportunities for some big plays," Coach Butch Jones said. "We dropped a couple interceptions, and I think everything snowballs from there."

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Tennessee turned over the ball four times, two via interception and two fumbles. Dormady finished 5-of-16 for 64 yards and two picks. Backup quarterback Jarrett Guarantano completed six of his seven pass attempts for 16 yards.

"Right now, we're being tested," Jones said. "There's no excuses. There's no hiding behind it. We're going to find out who the true leaders are. We're going to find out who the true competitors are."

The Bulldogs killed any semblance of a run game the Vols had, limiting John Kelly to just 44 yards on 16 carries. Jones said he is "very concerned" about his offense heading into the bye week.

"We never established any rhythm," Jones said. "We have to up the tempo. We need explosive plays. We need consistency when we run the football. It was as bad an offensive performance I've ever been a part of, and it's inexcusable." 

Wide receiver Marquez Callaway was hurt in the second half leaping for a pass. Callaway appeared to his his head on the ground when he landed; he did not return to the game.

The Florida Gators most recently shut out the Vols in Knoxville, 31-0, in 1994.

Jones said he and his coaching staff would dissect everything in the football program this coming week. Jones also said there are no set starters right now for the team.

"Every position is up for a look in the bye week," Jones said. "We have no starting positions. We'll compete during the bye week, and the individuals who have the best week of practice and best week of preparation for South Carolina will be the ones that are on the field first." 

Tennessee is now 33-23 under fifth-year head coach Butch Jones, with a 14-20 mark in Southeastern Conference play.

The Vols have a bye week before hosting South Carolina on October 14.