As Georgia now preps for its invasion of the Louisiana bayou and the huge SEC matchup with the host LSU Tigers, the Bulldogs had a pretty good tune-up against the Vanderbilt Commodores this past Saturday evening at Sanford Stadium.
But Georgia’s 41-13 pasting of Vandy could well be termed “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” … with apologies to Clint Eastwood, of course. The good was it was a very thorough Bulldog victory, one in which Georgia clicked for 560 yards and limited the Commodores to a pair of field goals the entire game, except when Vanderbilt cashed a touchdown against the backup Bulldogs with only two seconds remaining.
But there also was the bad and the ugly and both of those came in the form of a whopping 13 penalties for 115 yards assessed against the now 6-0 Bulldogs, many of them damaging personal foul calls which, if Georgia repeats in Baton Rouge, will put the first “L” on the 2nd-ranked Dawgs’ season ledger. Let’s hope the Stats That Matter at this time next week will look much more appealing than this rendition.
Plays of 20 plus yards offense and defense
This is what won the football game for the Bulldogs. There was one big play after another, starting with Terry Godwin’s brilliant 75-yard touchdown catch from Jake Fromm fairly early in the first quarter after Vanderbilt had taken a 3-0 lead on a 25-yard field goal. Then came a 24-yard touchdown run by Elijah Holyfield, a 28-yard Fromm-to-Isaac Nauta completion, a 25-yard strike from Fromm to Mecole Hardman, a 20-yard pass from Fromm to Godwin, a 24-yard run by D’Andre Swift, a 35-yard scoring pass from Fromm to Swift, a Justin Fields 24-yard strike to Charlie Woerner and, a 22-yard run by James Cook when it appeared he had reeled off a 78-yard touchdown gallop but stepped out of bounds on his jaunt down the left sideline. Vanderbilt had four 20-yard plus plays … a 43-yard run by Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the early going when the ‘Dores were hammering Georgia’s run defense, and pass completions of 21, 22 and 20 yards by quarterback Kyle Shurmur.
Where do we start here? In addition to the nagging 5-yard infractions that sometimes turned a 3rd-and-1 play into 3rd-and-6, there were both a holding call and personal foul call against Tyler Simmons, a face mask penalty on offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, an unsportsmanlike penalty against center Lamont Gaillard, the same penalty called against offensive guard Cade Mays, a personal foul against freshman DB Tyson Campbell and consecutive pass interference calls against DeAngelo Gibbs and William Poole, which led to Vanderbilt’s lone touchdown at the game’s end. Those were the most damaging penalties but, as mentioned, there were 13 in all slapped on Georgia this night, which head coach Kirby Smart described as “stupid and undisciplined.”
Special teams wins vs. miscues
Not any blunders here as the ever-reliable Rodrigo Blankenship was perfect on field goal attempts of 53 and 28 yards and only had one of his kickoffs returned out of the end zone. Freshman punter Jake Camarda averaged 40.0 yards on three kicks but, again, it was one short punt that sullied Camarda’s performance.
There were too many of these in the first half when Vanderbilt, in the opening quarter, almost matched the 66 yards rushing Tennessee managed in the entire game the previous Saturday. But the Bulldog defense began locking in and locking on in the second half with Georgia’s starters refusing to allow the Commodores to cross the goal line.
The good thing was that the Bulldogs didn’t fumble the ball away any and Fromm didn’t throw any interceptions en route to his season-high 276 passing yards and three scoring passes. The bad thing was the Georgia defense didn’t force the Commodores to turn the ball over a single time.
Red Zone offense/defense
Georgia was a perfect 3-of-3 scoring inside the red zone while Vandy also reached the red zone three times, getting points on two of those occasions.
Third down conversions
So-so here for the Bulldogs as they converted on 6-of-11 third down opportunities. Vanderbilt could manage first downs on only three of 12 third down tries against the gang-tackling Georgia defense.
Run/pass attempts total plays
The Bulldogs ran 65 plays for their 560 yards of total offense, with 341 coming through the air this game and the 219 on the ground. Vanderbilt ran 59 plays for 321 yards of total offense … Georgia checking the ‘Dores to 138 rushing yards and 183 passing yards.