BULLDOGS TO WATCH: Georgia vs. Vanderbilt 2019

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BULLDOGS TO WATCH: Georgia vs. Vanderbilt 2019

D'Andre Swift (7)
D’Andre Swift (7)

The first win of the Vince Dooley era came in Nashville on September 26, 1964, as the Bulldogs beat Vanderbilt 7-0 to even their record on the season at 1-1.

Legendary Georgia tailbacks have posted record-setting days against the Commodores, highlighted by Herschel Walker’s 283 yards in 1980 and Garrison Hearst’s 246 in 1992.

Bulldog icon Terry Hoage intercepted a school record-tying three passes against Vanderbilt in 1982, and the next year made a game-saving pass deflection against the Commodores.

D’ANDRE SWIFT (TB, #7)

This 5-9, 215-pound junior leads a talented Georgia running back corps into the season opener at Vanderbilt Saturday night. Tremendously elusive in the open field and also possessing the power to run through would-be tacklers, Swift has run for a total of 1,667 yards in his two years in red and black while averaging 6.8 yards per carry during that time, with 13 touchdowns. He has also snared 49 passes for 450 yards and four more scores. Being listed as both an All-America and Heisman Trophy candidate, Swift is hoping to come out of the gate fast against the Commodore defense at Vanderbilt Stadium.

Andrew Thomas (71)
Andrew Thomas (71)

ANDREW THOMAS (OT, #71)

And opening the holes for Swift and the UGA tailbacks will be the Bulldogs’ All-America left tackle, the 6-5, 320-pound Andrew Thomas. The All-SEC junior standout from Lithonia was named SI.com All-America First Team last season while earning second-team honors from the Associated Press and Walter Camp. Thomas, who will surely go down as one of the Bulldogs’ all-time greatest offensive linemen, and his cohorts on the highly-touted offensive front will have to start living up to their reputation against what will surely be a motivated Vandy defensive unit.

J.R. Reed (20)
J.R. Reed (20)

J.R. REED (SAF, #20)

While both Swift and Thomas are huge leaders for the Georgia offense, Reed is without question one of the top senior leaders on this 2019 Bulldog edition. One of the three players (Jake Fromm and Andrew Thomas being the others) Kirby Smart brought to SEC Media Days this summer, the 6-1, 194-pound Reed started in all 14 games last season and finished with 66 tackles, second-most on the team. He picked off two passes in both 2018 and 2017 when he was named Associated Press All-SEC 2nd Team. This fiery transfer from Tulsa and his fellow DBs must clamp down on the ‘Dores’ passing game, which features All-SEC receiver Kalija Lipscomb.

Monty Rice (32)
Monty Rice (32)

MONTY RICE (ILB, #32)

In addition to Vanderbilt’s passing game, the Commodores will also confront the Georgia defense with a running attack featuring another All-SEC performer in senior Ke’Shawn Vaughn. The 5-10, 218-pound Vaughn earned 2nd Team all-conference honors last season when he ran for 1,244 yards and 12 touchdowns. And that’s where Rice and the UGA linebackers come in. Rice, a 6-1, 235-pound junior, was the Bulldogs’ third-leading tackler with 59 stops last season despite missing five games due to injury. Like the Vandy defense, look for Rice and the Georgia “D” to be pumped for a big opening night performance Saturday.

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.