Scouting Report: Georgia

This week the Vanderbilt Commodores travel to Athens, Ga., to play the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are coming off a 56-20 win against Florida Atlantic that saw them rack up 713 total yards of offense. Georgia was picked to finish first in the SEC East in part by having a schedule that avoids the SEC West powers of Alabama and LSU.

This week the 'Dores travel to Athens, Ga., to play the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are coming off a 56-20 win against Florida Atlantic that saw them rack up 713 total yards of offense. Georgia was picked to finish first in the SEC East in part by having a schedule that avoids the SEC West powers of Alabama and LSU. There is a looming question about whether safety Bacarri Rambo and inside linebacker Alec Ogletree will be back from their suspensions. If the Vandy faithful learned anything last year, they'll likely return just in time to face the 'Dores.

In 2011, Georgia was one of the many teams that got a scare from the 'Dores in a game that went down to the wire. With seconds remaining, Commodore Udom Umoh blocked a punt which was almost returned for a Vandy touchdown. The 'Dores got the ball on the 20 with 7 seconds remaining and Georgia leading 33-28. A substitution infraction backed the 'Dores up to the 25 and after one Jordan Rodgers incomplete pass, a 9-yard reception by Brandon Barden wasn't enough for Vandy to come out with a win.

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray leads the 10th ranked scoring offense in the country with 842 passing yards, 8 touchdowns, and a 63.8 completion percentage. The junior signal caller's best performance came last week against Florida Atlantic when he threw for 342 yards passing, with a 67-yard touchdown pass to Michael Bennett. Last year in Nashville, Murray completed 22 for 38 passes for 326 yards with three touchdowns and an interception against the 'Dores.

The Georgia running game was hit in the offseason when prolific running back Isaiah Crowell was dismissed from the team after felony weapons charges. As a freshman, Crowell ran for 850 yards and 5 touchdowns but is now departed to Alabama State. In Crowell's absence, true freshman Todd Gurley leads the Bulldogs with 276 rushing yards, 4 touchdowns, and a 9.9 yard per rush average. The sensational freshman ran a kickoff 100 yards for a score against Buffalo and currently leads the Bulldogs with 514 all-purpose yards.

Sophomore Ken Malcome is second on the depth chart with 111 rushing yards and a touchdown. Keith Marshall is another dangerous Georgia freshman running back who was expected to contribute very early; Marshall is second on the team with 182 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Sophomore receiver Michael Bennett leads Georgia's receiving corps with 17 catches for 265 yards, and two touchdowns. Bennett has led the Bulldogs in receptions in two of their first three contests and tallied 7 receptions as a freshman against the 'Dores. Seniors Marlon Brown and Tavarres King also have receptions in the double digits and add 2 touchdowns a piece.

Junior tight end Arthur Lynch is fourth on the team with 3 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. At flanker junior Rantavious Wooten has tallied 3 receptions and a touchdown through Week 3.

Georgia's offensive line lost three starters from 2011 and it showed early as they gave up three sacks in the opener against Buffalo. Returning starter Chris Burnette plays on the right side at guard to help offset growing pains by 6-6, 309 pounds true freshman John Theus.

Though the status of two players is still unknown, the Georgia defense returns a solid group led by outside linebacker Jarvis Jones. Jones tops the team in sacks (3½), interceptions (1), quarterback hurries (11), and forced fumbles (3) after only playing in two games. In the Bulldogs come from behind win at Missouri, Jones took the game over tallying 9 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 quarterback hurries, an interception, and forced a fumble. Jones sat out of last week's Florida Atlantic win nursing a groin injury but expects to be back for the 'Dores.

True freshman outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins has produced early with 9 tackles, a tackle for loss, 4 quarterback hurries, and a fumble recovery.

Sophomore Amarlo Herrera has performed excellently in place of suspended inside linebacker Alec Ogletree. Herrera leads the linebackers with 22 tackles and returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown last week against Florida Atlantic. Senior inside linebacker Christian Robinson has seen significant time in the rotation with Herrera and senior Michael Gilliard while accumulating 13 tackles including a tackle for loss.

The Bulldogs are currently ranked 42nd in the country in total defense, allowing opponents 345 yards per game. Georgia opponents average 21 points per game, and are 5 for 5 in the red zone scoring 4 touchdowns.

Defensive captain Abry Jones leads the team at defensive end 9 tackles and 4 quarterback hurries. Opposite Jones is Cornelius Washington who has tallied 3 tackles for a loss and 5 quarterback hurries. Packed between the pair of ends is a 6-3, 358 nose tackle John Jenkins--who leads the line with 12 tackles and a tackle for loss.

Sophomore Malcolm Mitchell made the switch from receiver to cornerback over the offseason and has tallied 7 tackles, 3 pass break ups, and a fumble recovery. Opposite Mitchell is sophomore Damian Swann who has notched 18 tackles and a pass break up. Redshirt sophomore Connor Norman has filled in for suspended Bacarri Rambo at free safety with 10 tackles.

True freshman Marshall Morgan's 52-yard field goal against Missouri was his longest of the year; the rookie place kicker is 3 for 4 from field goal range and his only miss came in his first college attempt against Buffalo.

Freshman punter Collin Barber holds a 40.9 yards per punt average with a long of 57 yards coming in his first career punt against Buffalo.

One of the main stories leading into the game will be last year's post game confrontation. Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin downplayed talk of any sort of grudge with humor.

"Yeah, actually our families went on vacation together," Franklin said. "Disney World. We were floating in the pool together, drinking Mai Tais."

When asked a similar question Georgia coach Mark Richt was more steadfast than Franklin saying he could only focus on preparation, fundamentals, and learning the scheme they'll use against the 'Dores.

For a Commodore team still looking for its first SEC win facing a Georgia team who can ill afford to give ground to South Carolina and surging Florida in the east. A win would give coach Franklin the signature upset fans have been waiting for. Bringing back a win from Athens could also do great things for the recruiting game. Under Franklin the Commodores have had recent recruiting success in Georgia, pulling three star commits Jacob Sealand, Darreon Herring, and Paris Head from the Peach State. A loss to Georgia would put the 'Dores at 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the SEC, a tough hole to climb out of with Missouri, Florida, and Auburn just around the corner.

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