The rare SEC season opener went about as expected. Vanderbilt has some outstanding players, and they are well-coached. However, the Commodores lack the depth (especially the quality depth) to compete for four quarters with a team with a roster like the Bulldogs fielded in Nashville.
From the time that Georgia took the field for warm-ups, one got a sense of the confidence that the squad felt as the clock ticked toward kickoff. Yes, there was excitement, but the prevailing attitude was businesslike. However, mistakes prevented the Dawgs from blowing Vandy out of the stadium. Penalties are drive killers (or drive extenders of the opponent), and Georgia gave the Commodores several such gifts. Yellow flags moved the ball 117 yards for Vanderbilt.
Several young Dawgs had excellent performances. Nolan Smith, the highly touted freshman linebacker, chased down a ball carrier from behind on his first-ever play for the Dawgs. Although Matt Landers is a redshirt sophomore, he is new as a regular contributor in the receiving corps. Lander had two catches for 26 yards, and his blocking helped spring several runs.
The big news on the sideline was the reception given Zamir White when entered the game. His nickname (Zeus) echoed around the stadium as the majority Bulldog crowd cheered his first action in the third quarter. White responded with inspired effort on his carries, and when I spoke with him postgame, he was still grinning from ear to ear.
Georgia put in a workman-like performance and now moves on to two opponents that should be easy prey, but in college football, the hunted can become a hunter – ask Tennessee.