1. Make Shurmur Uncomfortable – Vanderbilt’s standout senior quarterback took over behind center midway through his freshman year and has joined former Commodore greats like Bill Wade, Whit Taylor, Kurt Page, Greg Zolman and Jay Cutler as one of the best signal callers in school history. Football is in his blood. Pops Pat is the head coach of the New York Giants and his great uncle, the late Fritz Shurmur, was a longtime NFL assistant, and defensive coordinator of the 1996 Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. Shurmur has elevated a Vanderbilt offense that was sagging. If he has time, he will hurt any team. The savvy signal caller won’t be easy to sack, but the Bulldogs front must rattle him, similar to the way the defensive front got after another outstanding senior quarterback, Missouri’s Drew Lock.
2. Stuff the Run – Speaking of the win over Missouri two weeks ago. The Bulldogs did an excellent job of pass defense, but got hurt by the run and gave up four touchdowns on the ground. Continued improvement in the run defense is one of the most important factors in the Dogs pursuit of a second straight great season. The Dogs depth on the front seven should continue to emerge with more and more young players contributing as the season goes along. But if Vandy is running strong, Shurmur would figure to give Georgia problems. Stopping the Vandy run cold is a must.
3. Big Play Passing Game – Georgia’s talent at quarterback is amongst the best in college football. With a fleet of wide receivers, stellar tight ends and multi talented backs, the Bulldogs have shown the juice to score through the air. Often on big plays. With an offensive line fighting injuries, that grinder running game may have to feed off the passing attack. Georgia’s receivers have some match-ups they should be able to exploit. Big strikes through the air could make the difference and create some separation between the Bulldogs and Commodores.
4. Win the Kicking Game – Two years ago, Georgia’s special teams had an awful performance in a disappointing loss to the ‘Dores. Just two years later, the vast improvements in the kicking game and on the offensive line fully illustrate the tremendous strides forward the program has made under Kirby Smart’s watch. Once upon a time, the Bulldogs were hoping to simply avoid major breakdowns, and get a “push.” But now, Smart’s Dogs have turned the tables and the kicking game is a weapon. Georgia needs to use that Saturday to come out on top.
5. Bring the Fire – The nighttime kickoff should have the Bulldog faithful geared up and ready for action between the hedges. This is a chance for Georgia to chalk up another impressive win over a capable foe with a great atmosphere, and continue to establish Sanford Stadium dominance. Those noon kickoffs haven’t played well for Georgia when Vanderbilt has come to town, but with all day to get juiced, there is no excuse for the stadium to be rocking and these Dogs feeding off that energy.