Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Georgia 62 – Vanderbilt 0: Play ’em all

Wednesday September 29, 2021

SEC rules allow teams to travel 70 players to road games. 68 of Georgia’s 70 saw action in Saturday’s 62-0 demolition of Vanderbilt. The roster sheet my wife brought had a harder workout than several of Georgia’s starters. The only available Bulldogs who didn’t play? Tailback Kendall Milton was reportedly nursing a banged-up shoulder. He was dressed and went through warmups, but there was no need to risk injury. Georgia brought four quarterbacks, but Brock Vandagriff didn’t enter the game. Apparently Carson Beck needed experience handing off.

There’s not much you can take from a game between a very good team and a very, very overmatched one – even by typical Vanderbilt standards. Games like this one are the reason coaches harp on playing to a standard. Did Georgia approach the game the right way? Did they execute well? I’m sure the staff will find coaching points even from this film, but largely the answers were “yes.” Georgia came out sharp for an 11AM local kickoff, took immediate control of the game, and didn’t allow Vanderbilt to muddy the outcome while emptying the bench. Georgia did what it was supposed to, sure, but it was even more impressive than the astronomical 35-point spread led us to expect.

The first quarter was a symphony of offense, defense, and special teams working together to produce 35 points. Vanderbilt didn’t manage a first down until Georgia had scored five touchdowns. The unrelenting defense, a Christopher Smith interception, and a Daijun Edwards fumble return on a kickoff set Georgia’s starting offense up with outstanding field position. Three of Georgia’s early scoring drives started in plus territory, and it wasn’t until Georgia’s fifth possession that the Bulldogs had to drive more than 70 yards. J.T. Daniels was locked in and completed 8 of 9 passes with a single drop to take advantage of the favorable field position. Georgia’s diversified offense scored on a pass to the tight end, a tight end jet sweep, a reverse to a receiver, a power run at the goal line, and a well-placed fade to the back of the endzone. That was enough for Daniels: he exited the game after the first quarter, and the pipeline of backups started flowing into the game.

Vanderbilt’s 77 total yards is a tidy way to sum up the Georgia defense’s afternoon. What impressed me more is that only 27 of those yards came after halftime. Georgia played every defender that boarded the plane, and the reserves maintained the level of play. Vanderbilt didn’t manage a second half first down until their final series of the game. It’s easy to lose focus after such a decisive start, and that might’ve happened towards the end of the first quarter. Vanderbilt’s backup quarterback Mike Wright got Robert Beal in the air with a pump fake and scrambled away as Tramel Walthour was caught inside. Combined with a personal foul against Jalen Carter and Vanderbilt had their biggest gain of the day to move inside of Georgia territory. Wright had another successful run on a 3rd and 8 where Georgia defenders bit on a fake toss and left a lane up the middle. Georgia’s defense quickly refocused. Wright tried a few more fake tosses and option plays and was stuffed, and the Commodores had no other play longer than 10 yards.

There was no statement to be made in this game. We know Georgia’s defense is excellent, and they showed us again. J.T. Daniels proved that his injury wasn’t a big deal against South Carolina, and he again looked to be in complete command of the offense. Brock Bowers has been showing out since the Clemson game. Perhaps the continued emergence of Adonai Mitchell and Ladd McConkey is noteworthy. But once Georgia made it clear that they weren’t going to mess around and make this a close game, the only statement that could be made was about Georgia’s overwhelming talent advantage up and down the bench.

  • The 2006 Vanderbilt win in Athens was the weekend I picked to propose to my future bride. Jalen Carter must have a similar unpleasant memory of Vanderbilt from earlier in his life. I don’t know what they did to hurt him, but he definitely got some anger out. I never saw what drew his personal foul in person or on the replay, but it couldn’t have been much worse than what he was doing the rest of the game.
  • Kelee Ringo has come a long way in just four games. He was in position for several pass break-ups without the contact that drew flags against Clemson. He doesn’t seem likely to give up his starting spot.
  • As impressive as Ringo was early on, Kamari Lassiter was all over the field in the second half. His play (and interception) had a lot to do with Vanderbilt’s meager second half yardage. With Jalen Kimber out for the season, Lassiter will be one of the first defensive backs off the bench.
  • So happy for Robert Beal. He decided to return to the team rather than transfer, and he’s seeing valuable minutes off the bench among a very deep group of players. His hard hit on special teams led to Vanderbilt’s kick return fumble, and he recorded Georgia’s lone sack of the game.
  • With Georgia already well out in front at that point, I was hoping Daijun Edwards would get a carry to finish off his fumble return. He nearly dragged the entire Vanderbilt kick return unit with him to the four yard line.
  • Jake Camarda picked a good day for an off day. Punting from one’s own endzone is a different animal – the main job is to just get the punt off – but neither of his late punts had his usual distance. Kickoffs were a similar story. I wondered if the coaches might just be working on kick coverage, but Kirby Smart’s postgame comments made it clear that the shorter kickoffs weren’t intentional.
  • That said, Vanderbilt’s kick returns were horror shows. The yardage they lost by not simply taking a fair catch on every kick might approach their offense’s total yardage gained.
  • It was good for Stetson Bennett to get two solid drives to start the second half. Georgia moved the ball in the second quarter but came up empty in the red zone. Bennett’s interception was the third of three straight passes that could have been picked. The first drew a pass interference flag, but Cook was open underneath. The second pass was a quick receiver screen, but FitzPatrick missed a block that nearly allowed a defender to step in front of the pass.
  • I credit Vandy’s Clark Lea with not attempting a cheap field goal at the end to deny Georgia a shutout. He essentially conceded the game with a draw on 4th-and-long. His team was simply overmatched. Lea has a tough job ahead of him, but it’s where he wants to be.
  • The crowd was overwhelmingly red of course, and Vanderbilt’s only presence was the ridiculously loud video board. But some pregame showers, the 11 AM local kickoff time, and Georgia’s early onslaught made for a fairly subdued crowd. Perhaps the loudest moment of the game came on Vanderbilt’s final fourth down attempt as the remaining crowd stirred to life to cheer on Georgia’s reserve defenders.

Leave a Reply