Athens, GA (SportsNetwork.com) – The 13th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs will close
out a three-game homestand at Sanford Stadium on Saturday afternoon when they
play host to the Vanderbilt Commodores in SEC Eastern Division action.
Vanderbilt’s season has been a struggle under first-year head coach Derek
Mason, with its only win coming at home against Massachusetts on Sept. 13,
34-31. The Commodores most recently dropped a 17-7 decision at Kentucky to
fall to 0-3 in the SEC.
“This team is a young team and the best thing we can do is do what we can do,”
Mason said. “That means capitalize on our opportunities and just go out there
and get it done. In the end, I am just looking at our team and we’re getting
better. We just have to continue to minimize the mistakes and maximize the
Georgia got off to a rough start in division play with a 38-35 loss at South
Carolina on Sept. 13 but has since bounced back with two straight wins. The
Bulldogs weren’t at their sharpest last Saturday hosting Tennessee but still
came away with a 35-32 victory.
The Bulldogs caught a break when South Carolina lost to Missouri last week,
meaning they now control their own destiny en route to the SEC Championship
“When it comes to mathematics, we’re now in control if we win the rest of our
Southeastern Conference regular season games, then we win the East,” Georgia
coach Mark Richt said. “I haven’t even thought about everybody else. The goal
is to hopefully have control and then win.”
The Bulldogs have a comfortable 53-19-2 advantage over the Commodores in the
all-time series, which includes wins in 27 of 31 matchups at Sanford Stadium.
It’s no surprise that Vanderbilt’s offense has been underwhelming. The unit
puts up a mere 17.0 ppg and 255.6 ypg and managed only 144 yards in last
Wade Freebeck got the call under center against Kentucky and struggled
mightily, completing only 8-of-25 passes for 85 yards, tossing three
interceptions and getting sacked four times. The Commodores have used four
quarterbacks this season, with their most successful – Patton Robinette (23-
of-32, 240 yards, two TDs) – questionable with a concussion.
Ralph Webb is one of the team’s few bright spots, as he’s carried the ball 90
times for 427 yards and a touchdown.
Steven Scheu has 13 receptions for 188 yards and a touchdown, while C.J.
Duncan has turned 10 catches into 186 yards and a score.
Vanderbilt’s defense saw improvement last week in holding UK to 17 points
while forcing three turnovers, but its year-to-date numbers are still sluggish
(34.8 ppg, 415.4 ypg).
Nigel Bowden holds the team lead in tackles with 36. Caleb Azubike has
generated a solid pass-rush with 5.5 TFL and 4.0 sacks.
Georgia has had no problem generating offense this season (45.2 ppg, 462.5
ypg) and that success can be attributed largely to perhaps the best running
back in college football.
Todd Gurley has been nothing short of magnificent on the campaign, rushing for
610 yards (on 8.8 ypc) and six touchdowns. He helped wear down the Tennessee
defense in last week’s win with 28 carries for a career-high 208 yards and two
“Earlier in the year, I said (Gurley) is at least one of the best players in
the country,” Richt said. “Now I’m saying he’s the best player in America. I
can’t imagine anyone being more talented, a guy who loves his team more, and a
guy who means more to his team than he does to us.”
Gurley’s presence has taken a lot of pressure off of Hutson Mason under
center. He boasts an outstanding completion percentage (.690) but has only
thrown for 141.5 ypg with five touchdowns and two interceptions.
Michael Bennett (14 receptions, 147 yards, two TDs) and Chris Conley (11
receptions, 151 yards) are Mason’s most trusted receiving options. Gurley has
also added nine receptions but for just 29 yards.
Defensively, the Bulldogs have performed admirably, allowing 22.8 ppg and
Amarlo Herrera (34 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks) and Ramik Wilson (32 tackles,
5.0 TFL, sack) anchor a strong linebacking corps. Jordan Jenkins (4.0 TFL, 2.0
sacks) and Leonard Floyd (3.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) are impressive edge-rushers.