BB2’s Game Day Preview: Georgia at Vanderbilt

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BB2’s Game Day Preview: Georgia at Vanderbilt

UGA versus Vanderbilt helmet graphic edit by Bob Miller

It’s finally here! Tomorrow is the day! The Georgia Bulldogs will kick off their 2019 college football season on Saturday on the road in Nashville, TN versus the Vanderbilt Commodores. I’m approaching the big 5-0 and I’m like a kid on Christmas Eve.

126-Years of History

Saturday will mark the 80th game between the Dores and the Dawgs. The two schools first met on the gridiron in Nashville, TN all the way back in 1893. The initial contest went decidedly Vanderbilt’s way, as the Commodores routed Georgia 35-0. In the beginning, from 1893-1923, Vandy dominated UGA. The Commodores only lost one game to the Bulldogs, a contest in 1898 with a baseball-esque score of 0-4, and playing to a 7-7 tie in 1921. However, things would turn to Georgia’s favor and after 79 games, the Dawgs now lead the Dores in the series 57-20-2, including a two-game winning streak. Last year, UGA defeated Vandy in Athens 41-13, and in 2017, they brought back a 45-14 win from Nashville.

The Head Coaches

Kirby Smart during UGA's 2017 G-Day spring game.
Kirby Smart during UGA’s 2017 G-Day spring game.

Kirby Smart is entering his fourth season as the University of Georgia’s head coach. He is 32-10 overall and 19-8 in Southeastern Conference play. Coach Smart holds a 10-3 record in away games and a 2-1 record versus the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Derek Mason is entering his sixth season as Vanderbilt University’s head coach. He is 24-38 overall and 9-31 in Southeastern Conference play.

BB2’s Keys to the Game

OFFENSE

A lot of fans and media are concerned about Georiga’s wide receivers, and I get that. It’s an understandable concern given who the Bulldogs lost to the NFL Draft in Terry Godwin, Mecole Hardman, and Ridley Ridley. Add to that the dismissal of Jeremiah Holloman back in June, and that is a lot of production to replace at receiver in the passing offense. But I think the biggest key to UGA’s offense moving the ball and doing well on Saturday will start up front and center.

Sophomore offensive lineman Trey Hill takes over full time this season at center replacing veteran Lamont Gaillard who started every game for the Bulldogs at center for the last three years and was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the 6th-round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Hill isn’t inexperienced. He did start the last four games of the season for Georgia at RG, and he took over at center for most of the Kentucky game when Gaillard had to go out and could not return due to an injury. But amidst LT Andrew Thomas, LG Solomon Kindley, RG Ben Cleveland / Cade Mays and RT Isaiah Wilson, he is the least inexperienced.

The offense starts with the center. The snap of the ball from the center to the quarterback starts the whole process of an offensive play. A bad snap can kill a drive or worse. Result in a turnover. It’s not just snapping the ball to the quarterback either. The center makes a lot of checks and calls; he is essentially the offensive line’s QB. In order for the Bulldogs to have a good game on offense, Hill will need to have a good game.

Trey Hill (55) during the 2018 Georgia vs. Kentucky game.
Trey Hill (55) during the 2018 Georgia vs. Kentucky game.

DEFENSE

Gone from Georgia’s secondary is D’Andre Baker. Like Gaillard, Godwin, Hardman, and Ridley, he’s moved on to the NFL. Who will be the next man up in the defensive secondary? Could it be sophomore cornerback Tyson Campbell? Redshirt sophomore Eric Stokes, who really started to come into his own last year? Perhaps, the JUCO transfer out of Georgia Military College, DJ Daniel, who has had a great Fall Camp?

Vanderbilt will likely test all three if the Commodores’ o-line can give Riley Neal or Deuce Wallace time to throw the ball to one of their senior playmakers in tight end Jared Pinkey or wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb. If Campbell, Daniel, and Stokes are up to the task at hand, it will force Vandy to be one dimensional, allowing the Dawgs to move a safety like Richard LeCounte or J.R. Reed into the box or a STAR like Mark Webb, Jr., which could make for a long day for the Dores.

SPECIAL TEAMS

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. Whoever is on kick and punt returns for the Bulldogs, whether that be Dominick Blaylock, James Cook, Brian Herrien, Kearis Jackson, Demetris Robertson, Tyler Simmons, D’Andre Swift, or some combination thereof, that player needs to make good decisions and most of all, practice ball security. We’ve seen this be an issue in early games, especially on the road. Last week, Miami had a muffed punt versus Florida late in the third quarter that changed the momentum of that contest and was one of the reasons the Hurricanes came out on the losing end to the Gators.

Prognostications & What Not…

If you pinned me down and twisted my arm for a score prediction… really all you have to do is offer me a bite of a peach cobbler…, barring any special teams’ snafus by the Dawgs, I have Georgia beating Vanderbilt by at least three touchdowns. The Commodores have some good players, but the Bulldogs have more, even with the limited 70 man travel roster.

Give me UGA 44-20 over Vandy.

GAME DAY INFO & TIMELINE

  • Match-up: (0-0) #3 Georgia vs. (0-0) Vanderbilt
  • Date: Saturday, August 31, 2019
  • Location: Nashville, TN, Vanderbilt Stadium (40,550)
  • 3:30 p.m. ET – Pregame broadcast
  • 5:30 p.m. ET – Gates open
  • 7:30 p.m. ET – Kickoff

An important note, the Georgia vs. Vanderbilt football game was originally slated to be broadcast on the SEC Network but it was announced by the network on Thursday afternoon that the game would be moved over to ESPN. The kickoff time is unchanged and is still 7:30 p.m. EST.

T.V. BROADCAST INFO

  • Televised on ESPN
  • AT&T U-verse Ch. 602 (SD) | Ch. 1602 (HD)
  • DIRECTV Ch. 206 | Alt. Ch. 209-1 | Ch. 1206 (VOD)
  • DISH Ch. 140 | Alt. Ch. 144-147
  • Google Fiber Ch. 21
  • Verizon FiOS Ch. 70 (SD) | Ch. 570 (HD)
  • TV announcers:
  • Play-by-play: Tom Hart
  • Game Analyst: Jordan Rodgers
  • Sideline reporter: Cole Cubelic

RADIO BROADCAST INFO

  • BULLDOG NETWORK STATIONS:
  • WSB AM 750 & WSB FM 95.5 (Atlanta, GA)
  • WGAU AM 1340 & WNGC FM 106.1 (Athens, GA)
  • RADIO ANNOUNCERS:
  • Play-by-play: Scott Howard
  • Analyst: Eric Zeier
  • Sideline reporter: Chuck Dowdle
  • VANDERBILT NETWORK STATIONS:
  • WLAC 1510 AM / WNRQ FM 98.3 (Nashville, TN)
  • RADIO ANNOUNCERS:
  • Play-by-play: Joe Fisher
  • Analyst: Norman Jordan
  • Sideline reporter: Mitch Light
  • NATIONAL TOUCHDOWN RADIO:
  • Sirus Radio 81
  • XM Radio 81
  • RADIO ANNOUNCERS:
  • Play-by-play: Taylor Zarcour
  • Analyst: Gino Torretta

SOCIAL MEDIA

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The University of Georgia 1991-1994. Lanier Tech 2009-2012. Writer and graphic artist covering UGA athletics, college football, and recruiting. Peach cobbler fears me!