After a close win against the South Carolina Gamecocks, The 4-2 Bulldogs host the Vanderbilt Commodors this Saturday at noon. Vanderbilt is coming off a tough 20-13 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats, but the 'Dores look like a much improved team from last year.
On offense, Vanderbilt relies heavily on junior running back Ralph Webb. The 5-foot-10 202-pound Webb rushed for 100 yards last week against Kentucky, and 100 the previous week against Florida. On the season, Webb has carried the ball 136 times for 682 yards and five touchdowns. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they have done a nice job recently in stopping the run. Tennessee back Alvin Kamara gave the Bulldogs defense fits at times, but other than that, North Carolina's Elijah Hood has been the only back to have an kind of success on the ground, and even that was minimal. The inside linebackers have played well recently, with Roquan Smith having one of his best games as a Bulldog last week in the win over South Carolina. The defensive line is young, but they are getting better as the season goes on. Trenton Thompson has been great so far, and will be relied on heavily again to stop Vandy's running game. Freshman Julian Rochester and Tyler Clark have come on strong the last couple of weeks, and add solid depth on the line when rotating bodies. Jonathan Ledbetter also returns to play this week after serving a six game suspension.
Vanderbilt is 0-3 so far this season in SEC play, but the record doesn't tell the entire story. The Commodores three losses to South Carolina, Florida, and Kentucky were by a total of 17 points. They offense, especially the passing game, has certainly had it's struggles so far, but the defense hasn't played so bad. They gave up 38 and 30 to Georgia Tech and Western Kentucky, but they played well against the Gamecocks, Gators, and Wildcats. They have done a nice job in run defense as Western Kentucky's Anthony Wales has been the only rusher to go over 100 yards on Vanderbillt so far this season. This will be no walk in the park for freshman quarterback Jacob Eason who is coming off a poor performance last week, but he should have opportunities for big pass plays if Georgia can establish a run game. The Bulldogs had plenty of success on the ground lat week, thanks to a healthy stable of backs and more pulling blockers on the offensive line. The tight ends as well as the receivers on the outside also blocked well in the run game last week. The receivers are having trouble getting open, which is not helping their freshman quarterback, but Stanley and Chigbu specifically had nice blocks on the outside multiple times. The fullbacks have also done an excellent job recently opening up holes for the backs.
Overall, I like Georgia's matchup here. Georgia should NEVER lose to Vanderbilt, and it certainly shouldn't be the case this year. The passing game was a atrocious last week, but the run blocking by the o-line and overall success in the run game was definitely a bright spot. The Bulldogs defense continues to get better, and I'm expecting the pass rusher to have success against Vanderbilt's suspect quarterback play. A healthy dose of Chubb and Michel should put this game away early in the second half. Eason needs to come out and get some easy throws in early to get his confidence and rhythm going. His deep passes have not been great this year, so it should be interesting to see if that improves. There will be plenty of play action opportunities down the field once Georgia can get the run game going. The Commodores are also coming off a tough loss to Kentucky, which was one of the only games they had a chance of winning this year in the SEC. Many teams, including Georgia, sometimes have trouble playing Vanderbilt on the road, but I'm expecting the Bulldogs to play well at home and come out with a drama free victory.
Georgia leads the series all time 55-19-2. The last meeting was last year in Nashville where the Bulldogs won 31-14.