Vanderbilt Week: Hale's Look at the Game

ATHENS - David Hale's look at Georgia's game with Vanderbilt.

PASSING: Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions last week against Tennessee, doubling his total for the year, and both came in the red zone. Beyond those mistakes, however, he had one of the best games of his career, throwing for more than 300 yards for the first time. He hit Mohamed Massaquoi to the tune of 103 yards and completed eight passes to the SEC's leading receiver A.J. Green. Vanderbilt ranks 117th nationally in passing offense and head coach Bobby Johnson benched his starting quarterback in favor of Mackenzi Adams. Adams is a strong runner and looked sharp coming off the bench against Auburn two weeks ago. EDGE: Georgia.

RUSHING: Knowshon Moreno has averaged just 3.8 yards per carry in three SEC games this season, but did top 100 yards against Tennessee a week ago. He is still the focal point of the Georgia offense, but yards have been a bit harder to come by for the past few weeks. Jared Hawkins has racked up 333 yards rushing for Vanderbilt this season, but it's the quarterbacks that are usually the Commodores' top ground threats. Adams and quarterback Chris Nickson have accounted for 42 percent of Vanderbilt's rush yards and half of its TDs on the ground. EDGE: Georgia.

DEFENSE: After Alabama ran the ball with great success in its win over Georgia three weeks ago, the Bulldogs got back to silencing opposing ground games last week. Georgia held Tennessee to just one yard rushing in the game – the third time the Bulldogs have held an opponent to less than 20 yards on the ground. Darryl Gamble looks to get his second straight start this week at middle linebacker as preseason All-SEC player Dannell Ellerbe recovers from a knee injury. Vanderbilt's defense is led by its ball-hawking secondary. The Commodores' defense has 11 interceptions this season – third most in the country. Vanderbilt's rush defense, however, ranks 10th in the SEC, allowing nearly 130 yards per game. EDGE: Georgia.

SPECIAL TEAMS: The Bulldogs had what was probably their best all-around day on special teams last week against Tennessee. Punter Brian Mimbs recovered from a dreadful performance against Alabama, Prince Miller looked sharp in the return game for a second straight contest, and kicker Blair Walsh fought off an illness to connect on four field goals while having by far his best week of the season on kickoffs. The Commodores' special teams are among the SEC's best, led by kicker Bryant Hahnfeldt, who is the school's career scoring leader. Three of his 225 career points helped defeat the Bulldogs on a last-second field goal the last time Vanderbilt came to Sanford Stadium. EDGE: Georgia.

ONE TO WATCH: Darryl Gamble. The sophomore linebacker experienced the turning point in his career last year against Vanderbilt when he came off the bench as an injury replacement and forced a fumble to spark Georgia's frenzied second-half comeback that ended with a Brandon Coutu field goal to win the game. Gamble's forced fumble saved Georgia's season – the Bulldogs didn't lose again the rest of the year – and put him on the path to success. He saw increased playing time the rest of the season and has stepped into a starting role this year. In his first career start at Mike linebacker last week he helped Georgia shut down Tennessee's running game and tied for the team lead in tackles. He'll start there again this week with Dannell Ellerbe out with a knee injury

DAVID HALE'S TAKE: Georgia and Vanderbilt are both 5-1, but have gotten there along diametrically opposite paths. Georgia has racked up big numbers on both sides of the ball, sporting one of the most productive offenses and stout run defenses in the country, but have struggled at some of the little things. Vanderbilt boasts a woeful offense and a defense that has struggled at times, but has made the most of its opportunities, won field-position battles with strong special teams and racked up a plus-seven turnover differential. The Commodores have played Georgia tough the past two years, but this year, the Bulldogs' superior talent will trump Vandy's scrappy play, giving Georgia a chance to take control of the SEC East before heading out on a four-game road trip.


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