Vanderbilt Commodores – 31, Georgia Bulldogs – 27
Last year’s game in Nashville was a hard one for all Georgia fans. It was especially hard for me because I live here now. I had the pleasure of hearing all weekend how Georgia lost to Vanderbilt.
Since when were Vandy fans so obnoxious? I guess I never knew since we rarely lost to them.
It was not a big surprise to me though. I knew Vandy had talent and I knew the injuries Georgia had. I knew after our 2011 game in Nashville that Vandy could be a problem, and unfortunately I was right. Whether it be because of the bad officiating, extensive list of injured starters, or inexperienced defense (possibly a culmination of all three) Georgia lost to Vanderbilt.
But, do not fear Georgia fans, this year will be different for the Dawgs. Let me break it down for Georgia vs Vandy 2014.
Vanderbilt Key Departures
C’mon Vandy fans, you knew James Franklin was not going to stay. Living in Nashville I pretty much know all five Vandy fans in existence and every one of them knew Franklin was going to jump ship (see what I did there… ship…commodore…I thought it was funny).
Franklin came to Vandy and really made a huge and fast impact getting the program on track. Leading the Commodores to a bowl game 3 consecutive seasons (never before done in school history), Franklin seemed to be exactly what the Commodores needed to compete in the SEC East.
New Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason will have only 12 returning starters to work with, and only five of them on defense. I anticipate the team just not being ready for a seasoned Bulldog offense. The losses of Johnson and Matthews are big on offense for the ‘Dores as well.
Vanderbilt Key Returning Players
Vanderbilt will be returning a few good players on defense, but with Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Malcolm Mitchell, Michael Bennett, and Chris Conley, it’s unlikely the rebuilt Vandy defense will have enough to stop the biggest combined offensive threat Georgia has had in the past decade.
The biggest threat in the group will be Darreon Herring who set a career high against Georgia in 2013 with 10 tackles. However, I do expect Georgia to put up significant points on the commodores, and if Vandy wants to stay in the game they will need a strong offense to do it.
Vanderbilt Possible Impact Incoming Freshmen
A number of the Commodores’ top recruits decommitted when James Franklin announced he was heading to Penn State. It put a big dent in their 2014 recruiting class, and new head coach Mason didn’t have time to go and plug the holes.
All total, Vandy has 22 signed recruits coming in to Fall camp, most of them mediocre to above average players who will more than likely be redshirted or spend time on the scout team. Two 4-star players are joining the ranks this season, in strong side defensive end Nifae Lealao and safety Emmanuel Smith. Both will probably be pressed into duty early on, as the Commodores have some glaring needs on defense. Neither will be enough to keep Vandy in many games however.
Outlook for Game
With the game being in Athens this year and the heavy amount of changes the Commodores have had to deal with in the offseason, I predict a big win for the Dawgs. The keys for Georgia will be healthy players, strong secondary, and most importantly refs who know how to officiate a game. (Yes I am still bitter about both targeting calls last year). I predict Vandy will come into this game 3-2 overall and 1-2 in the SEC (a win over Kentucky).
So please injury gods hear my prayer! I cannot handle another loss to Vandy…be good to my Dawgs! Because hunkering down is always better than anchoring down!