I have to admit I find it a little hard getting up for this week’s game. Avenging last year’s cancellation has more than a whiff of fake juice for me. Saturday’s more of a git ‘er done kind of game.
Anyway, here are Jake Rowe’s key matchups:
Georgia’s secondary vs. Vanderbilt’s wide receivers: We can almost copy and paste this one for the rest of the season after the game Josh Vann had against the Bulldogs last week. Teams aren’t going to ram their head against the wall when it comes to trying to run the football against Georgia. Opponents are going to rest out the run game and they may have some success but what they’ll focus on is trying to create one-on-one opportunities like South Carolina did and attack the Bulldogs down the field. Vanderbilt has a solid group of receivers and it will certainly give it a shot, but the Bulldogs defensive backs will also have to tackle well as the Commodores like to get the ball out quickly.
Dawgs247’s take: Vandy doesn’t really have anyone of Vann’s caliber when it comes to taking the top off a defense. Their receivers, for the most part, are big, physical guys. Cam Johnson is a really good player but he is more of a possession guy. Still, the Bulldogs are going to have to play the ball in the air at some point because that’s the Commodores’ best chance of biting off chunks of yardage. It’s not just on the cornerbacks. When the Bulldogs leave the safeties back, those guys have to play with discipline and stay on top of vertical routes.
Georgia’s return game vs. Vanderbilt’s kicking game: Georgia is in the top half of the league in both punt and kickoff returns. Vanderbilt is near the bottom when it comes to opponent punt and kickoff returns. The Bulldogs are heavily favored in this game and one of the keys to making it go the way it should on paper is taking advantage in this area.
Dawgs247’s take: Georgia’s primary punt returning, Kearis Jackson, is getting healthier each week. He should have a chance to set the Bulldogs up with a short field or two in this game. The same goes for Kenny McIntosh in the kickoff return game. Vanderbilt has only had a couple of returns against it this season, but teams have been able to exploit the coverage.
Georgia quarterback JT Daniels vs. Vanderbilt’s defense on third down: Georgia is second in the SEC in third down conversions while Vanderbilt is fifth at preventing them. From a numbers standpoints, it has been a bright spot for the Commodores. Daniels excellent on third down a week ago as he returned to the starting lineup, and this is another area where the Bulldogs need to be effective in order to control this game.
Dawgs247’s take: The key here is getting in manageable situations. Daniels converted quite a few third-and-long opportunities against South Carolina but it’s tough to make a living that way. Keeping the offense on the field will go a long way toward wearing Vandy down and creating explosive plays in both the run and passing games. The Commodores are allowing over six yards per carry on the season, so UGA should be able to consistently stay in front of the chains.
One thing he doesn’t mention in his analysis is that running back Re’Mahn Davis is gone for the season after an injury in their last game. For Vandy, it’s a pretty big deal, as Davis is their leading rusher, with 44 rushes for 211 yards.
Remember, at the moment, the ‘Dores are the only team in the conference with a negative net ypp. They’re also next to last in turnover margin, at minus-4. In other words, if both teams simply play up to average, this isn’t going to be close, even if Vandy is decent on defensive third down conversions. I don’t expect much blowing from the Admiral.