Wide receiver Alton "Pig" Howard will undoubtedly be remembered for one play in Saturday's contest; his untimely fumble out of the end zone that led to the Bulldogs' game-winning field goal.
A cruel lasting impression for easily the sophomore's best game in his still budding Volunteer career.
"Alton gave us a spark today," UT head coach Butch Jones said.
A vital part of an offense that had been relatively stagnant through the first four games, Howard's combination of versatility, speed and athleticism delivered a much-needed spark Jones' squad was so desperately missing.
The Orlando, Fla. native used a combination of reverses, end-arounds and "splash" plays through the air on his way to 116 all-purpose yards, setting career highs in both rushing yards and attempts. His 33-yard snag mid-way through the third quarter was a career long as well.
"Pig's a dynamic player, and you never know what's going to happen when the ball's in his hands," UT quarterback Justin Worley said. "I think we had some early success with him. We also knew we wanted to get him the ball early in the game, and I think that's why we just kept going back to him."
Michael Palardy continued his success as the do-it-all specialist, drilling his only field goal as well as consistently pinning the Georgia offense deep in their own territory. The senior from Coral Springs, Fla. booted three punts of 50 yards or more, including two that landed inside the Bulldog 15.
"It's unbelievable," said Palardy, who averaged 51.2 yards per punt on the evening. "It's a game changer. The object of punting is to either pin them deep or switch the field position. I know the defense likes when the (opposing) offense has a long way to go to score. It feels good. Just like every other big kick or big punt, big kickoff would feel."
Jones echoed the senior specialist, focusing on the role special teams play the dynamics of the squad's success.
"We talk about winning in special teams," Jones said. "We spend an inordinate amount of time in the special teams game."
In addition, the Volunteer coverage team allowed just 16 return yards combined on kickoffs and punts, highlighted by the play of freshman Jalen-Reeves Maybin, who finished with three tackles and a crucial punt block.
"He's an individual that is really playing at a high level for us right now in special teams," Jones said. "Again, you can see his confidence growing and growing, and that will start to materialize on defense as well."
For the second time in three weeks, UT felt the wrath of an opponent's second-stringer following a crucial injury. With Bulldog running back Todd Gurley already out due to an injured ankle and backfield mate Keith Marshall exiting early with an banged up knee, the door was swung wide open for tailback J.J. Green to make his presence known.
And just like Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy did two weeks ago versus the Vols, the once-backup took full advantage of his opportunity.
The freshman from Kingsland, Ga. ran for 129 yards on 17 carries, including a 32-yard scamper that set up the Bulldogs with a red zone opportunity early in the third quarter.
Points of Interest
Despite a few empty seats sprinkled throughout the stadium, Saturday's announced attendance was 102,455; the first official sellout in seven home games. It also makes 2013 the 18th-consecutive season UT has had a crowd over 100,000.
Saturday marked the Volunteers first home game CBS national broadcast since the LSU contest on Oct. 15, 2011.
Jones praised the student turnout—a hot topic this week—, stating that, "over 12,000 students came out" and that the team "needs that environment."
UGA kicker Marshall Morgan banged home a 56-yard field goal early in the first quarter to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead. It was the longest field goal recorded in Neyland Stadium history.