2016 and Georgia returns home to host Vanderbilt. And the running
game should be front and center after the Bulldogs put up 326 yards
rushing last week at South Carolina, the most they have had in an
SEC game in nine seasons. That win stopped a two game losing streak
and put Georgia at 4-2, 2-2 SEC). The Commodores are 2-4, 0-3 SEC).
Freshman quarterback Jason Eason looks to get back to the
basics after struggling with with 5 of 17 for 29 yards.
For Vandy, its their fourth road game in the last five weeks. They will
also look to keep it on the ground with RB Ralph Web
recording his second straight 100-yard rushing game last week at
Kentucky. He is just 403 yards short of the school record. On
defense, LB Zach Cunningham leads the SEC with 62 tackles and
LB Ja'karri Thomas has 30 tackles in his three starts.
I was at a game with Vanderbilt a month earlier at Georgia Tech where the
Yellow Jackets pummeled them 38-7, the last time Tech won a game.
Obviously, not very impressive.
Vanderbilt got the ball first with some early excitement as Darrius
Sims took the opening kickoff 96 yards all the way to the UGA 7.
Sims is just 72 yards short of the school record for kick returns.
Webb quickly took it in to put the Commodores up to a 7-0 lead with
just 22 seconds elapsed in the game.
Georgia began their first drive at their 32, already down by seven. A
three and out didn't change anything. After the short 37 yard punt,
Vandy started at their 37.
Trent Sherfield caught one for seven but that's all they got.
After the touchback, the Bulldogs tried again at their 20.
Same results as before, two attempted runs up the middle and an
incomplete Eason pass. Vanderbilt took the kick a their 34.
Again, the UGA defense held highlighted by a sack of Kyle Shurmer
by Lorenzo Carter. Georgia took over at their 21.
Some progress as Eason started out with a 16 yard completion to Riley
Ridley. Nick Chubb cut to the outside for 13 into
Vanderbilt territory at the 43 followed by an 11 yard catch
by Michael Chigbu. But the drive stalled on a bad snap . A
surprised crowd cheered as Rodrigo Blankenship connected from
45 yards. The longest by any of the struggling UGA kickers this
season had just been 29. Vandy 7, UGA 3. Sims took the kick out to
the 29, now just 43 shy of the record.
Again, the Vandy offense could get nothing.
Georgia began at their 11 and got out of the hole in a hurry with a 17
yard pass to the dangerous Isaiah McKenzie, who got 14 more
on another nice catch and run to the 39. The first quarter came to
an end. Except for the opening return, Vandy had done nothing on
offense. Literally. Just 13 yards total.
As has happened a lot this season, a lot Eason pass drew a pass
interference call. Then, a pass bounced off a Bulldog player into
the hands of Ridley for 26 yards to the 25. Sony Michel got
7. Reggie Davis got a first down on a 10 yard catch to the
12. But, again, a promising drive, this time moving 84 yards, came
up short and again, Blankenship hit, this time from 22 to pull the
Dawgs to within a point. 7-6.
Vanderbilt started at their 25 and got almost as much with a 12 yards
Caleb Scott catch as they had in the whole first quarter. But
all the gain was reversed on a tackle in the backfield and a penalty
for a second and 17 at the 30. Kirby Smart took his first
time out. Carter came in from the corner and moved the back six more
with a drive ending sack. A bad snap and an illegal formation call
restarted the kick at the 26.
Georgia had the ball at their 26. Eason hit Javon Wims for 12.
But, nothing more. The 51 yard punt was downed at the Commodores 3
with 3:48 remaining in the half. A Webb carry got them their first
first down of the game at the 13. Hoping to get the ball back, Smart
stopped the clock at 1:45. But, Vandy kept the ball on a 7 yard
completion to the 29. Another pass to Sherfield kept the drive
moving at their 41. Georgia finally stopped them and got the ball
back at their 21 with just 53 seconds left.
A chorus of boos rang out as a handoff to Michel got no gain. But they
changed to cheers as Davis came down with a 32 yard catch at the
VC47. Georgia took their final time out after Eason had to scramble
to the 37 with only two seconds left. Head coach Derek Mason
called two time outs trying to ice the kicker. It was enough for
Smart to change his mind and attempt a Hail Mary, which fell to the
ground with the score at the end of a fairly lethargic first half
With the help of their last drive, Vandy had gotten their half yardage
total to 64. UGA had put up 204 yards of offense but most of it
between the 20s. Once in the red zone, they could only come up with
a pair of field goals. Chubb and Michel had been held to just 24
Georgia began in the hole again taking the kick at their three. Chigbu
limped off the field. An unfortunate time to go three and out as
Vandy got the ball back after the kick but could still get nothing
settling for a field goal to make it 10-6.
A nice 21 yard run by Michel got the Dawgs some positive motion at their
40. Wims converted a third and long with a 10 yard catch at the
VC45. Smart took his first time out. Eason got 28 more to the 17 on
a shot to Isaac Nauta. Then, the big play to an open Nauta
again in the end zone and finally, Georgia had the lead 13-10.
After a facemask call on UGA, Vandy began at their 40. Webb carried it
for 8 but was short forcing another punt to the 13.
The offense again showed signs of life as Chubb lead with a touch run for
15 with an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Vandy putting it at the
39. Terry Godwin made a nice catch behind his back for a
first at the VC48. Nauta was back in action with a nine yard catch
at the 39. Michel pushed his way 10 yards to the 29. Center
Lamont Gailard was hurt on the play. A short pass to Godwin got
seven. But an Eason sack by LaDarius Wiley cost 11 and
Georgia had to punt downing it inside the 5.
A stop would get the Dawgs the ball back in decent shape. And a stop they
got. McKenzie waited at the 50 yard line but the 30 yard shank never
made it that far rolling to the VC39. Chubb and Michel had been held
to 44 and 34 yards respectively.
FB Christian Payne immediately got 13 yards on a catch at the 26.
Chubb got six up the middle and the game moved into the final
quarter. Again, UGA had to go for a field goal. Another long one
from 46 and successful to extend the lead to six, 16-10.
Georgia fans had to feel a bit apprehensive like another heartbreaking
loss might be looming on the horizon where a TD and they would be
behind. But, to do that, Vandy needed some offense, which they
hadn't found to date, starting at their 25. Kalija LIpscomb
got the t9 into Georgia territory at the 46. On a third and 11, Webb
took a short pass and found his way for big yardage to the UGA10.
The lead was only 10 yards away. Khari Blasingame carried
defenders to the one then got the score to take back the lead 17-16
with 9:43 remaining.
That nervous hush detected in the Homecoming crowd was back. A bad kick
that went out of bounds helped, placing the ball at the 35. Ridley
caught one to bring up a third and big one at the 44. Nauta to the
rescue again as the tight end got it to the VC43. Ridley with
another catch for seven at the 36. Another third down needing three.
But a 20 yard Eason run came back on a holding call making it third
and 13 at the 47. Five on a short pass then Smart chose to go for it
on fourth and 8 at the 41 with 6:06 left. Mason took his first time
out. It didn't work, indicative of the running game throughout the
Vandy came into the game winless in nine road games under Mason. Not any
more. I go back again to the way Georgia Tech manhandled Vanderbilt
last month 38-7. How does that Commodore team come in and put away
the Bulldogs? Especially when you look at the stats. Total offense,
UGA nearly tripled the total yardage 421 to 171. Eason passed
for 326 yards compared to Vandy's 109. UGA held the ball for nine
more minutes. One big number that jumped out. On the ground, the
Bulldogs were held in check with just 75 total yards, accounting for
Eason's big numbers. Still, you look at all of those stats and you
would thing Georgia won by a few touchdowns.
"You've got to dominate in three phases and we didn't do that
today," said coach Smart. "We struggled running and they did a good
job of making us one- dimensional."
Georgia has a bye week to lick their wounds and get ready for the Big
Florida game in Jacksonville.
"It's a big rivalry and you always get up for it," said Smart.
"We'll be excited to play that game. We'll want to get this taste
out of our mouths. We'll go and face a well-coached, good football