Georgia Football: Vanderbilt is South Georgia Gnats for Bulldogs


Vanderbilt is a perennial annoyance for the Georgia football, and especially so in Nashville.

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Gnats are little flying specks and they aggravate you by swarming all over you. Especially when you are at your sweatiest during the dog days of summer.

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Even though gnats are a huge aggravation, they really do not do any physical damage to you unless you are unfortunate enough to swallow a bunch of them at one time.

The Vanderbilt Commodores football team are the equivalent of gnats for the University of Georgia Bulldogs. Vandy has never been a perennial power in the Southeastern Conference, but they always have been a thorn in the side of the Bulldogs, even during Georgia’s most successful years.

Coach Mark Richt‘s Bulldogs have especially had trouble with the Commodores in Nashville and that’s where the two teams will play this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.

“We’ve got to play better at Vanderbilt than we have been playing, and that’s one of our big challenges. Three out of the last four, three were extremely close and we lost one of them. I think the other one, there was a little bit of a margin there. Just haven’t played extremely well there,” Richt said in a transcript of his Tuesday press conference provided by the University of Georgia sports information office.

While the Commodores were the only SEC team to lose during the season’s opening week, 14-12 to Western Kentucky, Richt said the ‘Dores have weapons.

“(Vanderbilt Head) Coach (Derek) Mason is in his second year and he’s actually decided he’s going to start calling defensive front plays now, so we’ve had to study that a little bit. But let’s start with the offense. They have got a new offensive coordinator who was at Wisconsin a year ago, Andy Ludwig, and you can already see some of the continuation that he’s trying to get accomplished just by watching the first game. (They are) Serious about a good balance of pass and run,” Richt said in the transcript. “Their No. 1 rusher is (Ralph) Webb. This last ballgame, he had 70 yards. He had 97 all-purpose yards and did a great job. Johnny McCrary is their quarterback, a kid from Georgia, a guy we have a lot of respect for. He threw it for 217 (yards) last week, ran for 66 yards and is a very, very dangerous run, passing threat.”

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The Georgia coach added, “They do have seven returning starters, three of which are on the offensive line. (Spencer) Pulley, (Jake) Bernstein and (Will) Holden, guys that are center and left side of the line. And then at wide receiver, their No. 1 receiver is No. 10, (Trent) Sherfield. He had four catches for 63 yards, and so again, they are very serious about having a good balance, run and pass.  Got a chance to watch them, actually, that Thursday night and have been looking at the film ever since.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Richt said about the Commodores, ““Defensively, I know it’s early in league play, but they are No. 1 in the league in rush defense, No. 3 in first downs allowed and No. 4 in the league in total defense. And as I said, Coach Mason is going to be calling the shots. There’s nine returning starters on defense and they actually held Western Kentucky to the lowest number of first downs, I think which was 11, and the lowest amount of yards in the Jeff Brohm era. Western Kentucky is a very good offensive football team. Matter of fact, we had their staff come and see us this last off-season and spend time with them, just talking ball and trying to learn from them some of the things we do. So we know they are outstanding at what they do, and Vanderbilt just had a great performance against them defensively… So like I said, going on the road for the first time, playing SEC, Eastern Division opponent for the first time, is something that we all work towards and are looking forward to.”

Georgia opened the year Saturday with a 51-14 win over the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The game was called with 9:54 left in the fourth quarter due to the weather.

The Bulldogs’ vaunted running game looked in mid-season form. Georgia rushed the ball for 243 yards on 38 carries.

Heisman Trophy-candidate Nick Chubb led the rushing attack with 120 yards on just 16 carries. Keith Marshall provided solid backup with 73 yards on 10 carries. Both runners also rushed for two scores apiece.

Sony Michel proved he could be a dual threat as he rushed for 41 yards on six carries, and also caught two passes for 79 yards. One of those catches was a 31-yard scoring strike from Brice Ramsey.

While he received one series of plays, due to the game being called, Ramsey was 2 for 2 for 51 yards. Greyson Lambert started and played most of the game, he was 8 for 12 passing for 141 yards and two scores.

“Both quarterbacks played very solid. There was not a pass that was thrown that shouldn’t have been thrown. We did have two balls batted down, which that’s part of football. And then we had two scramble situations where Greyson threw the ball where only we could get it. So again, I like it when every ball is thrown, there’s a purpose and it’s a good purpose. It’s not one that could have got picked or put us in harm’s way, and then of course, Brice’s two completions were pretty impressive, both third down conversions. He did a nice job. But Greyson, you know, for a first start, I can’t sit here and say, he should have done this a lot better, that a lot better,” Richt said.

“There weren’t that many reps that we threw the ball and usually that’s where the quarterback has to process the most information and has to make plays, so to speak. But he handled the run game well. He made good checks at the line of scrimmage. His ball handling was good. It was solid. I thought he was pretty good, you know, hiding his hands — we use the term ‘hide your hands’ on certain ball fakes when you’re trying to get somebody to believe you still have the ball in your hand. And he affected a few people a couple of times where linebackers started to come back the hill and turned and ran into coverage thinking maybe he still had the ball, setting up for a pass.  So he did a good job of the little things.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Leonard Floyd and Quincy Mauger led the way for Georgia against ULM, with eight combined tackles apiece. Floyd added 1.5 tackles for loss yardage, while Mauger got credit for a half tackle for loss yardage. Jordan Jenkins and Malkom Parrish each had one tackle for loss yardage, with Jenkins accounting for seven total tackles, with Parrish adding six.

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