KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WRCB) -- Tennessee has spent the first month of the season searching for a spark for its struggling ground game.
Georgia, meanwhile, appears to have found one.
UGA freshman phenom Isaiah Crowell enters this week's game at Tennessee ranked fourth in the SEC in rushing with more than 500 yards in his first five career games.
For Tennessee coach Derek Dooley, those numbers are hard to ignore.
"On offense, it looks like they found their missing piece and that was a good runner," Dooley said. "Their runner is physical, he's fast, he's productive and that allows them to be efficient – very balanced."
After being held to just 60 yards in his debut by Boise State, Crowell has recorded three 100-yard games in his last four outings. He didn't reach the century mark against FCS-foe Coastal Carolina, but he did rack up 86 yards and a score while only playing the first half.
"He's got the size and he's got good body quickness so you never really get a clean hit on him. He can break tackles and he's got speed," Dooley said. "In his first few games, he's shown that he's got the tools if that makes sense.
"Now what will he become? Again, time will tell; body of work."
Crowell's ability is certainly a concern for a Vols defense that has surrendered at least one play of 65 yards or more in each of their first four games.
But the unit has also proven to be tough when needed most. UT has thrived in what Dooley calls "sudden change" situations, when a critical error or potential game-changing play has put the Vols' backs against a wall.
"I hope we can keep that up. It's can be a big boost when you have something bad happen. We have about eight or nine unit objectives we talk about every week and that's one of them, how we handle sudden change in a game," Dooley said. "So far, in the last two games, it's been great. Then you really come out feeling good."