Opposition Danger Men: Georgia

The mid point of the season is upon us in our danger men preview and we have reached a clash with Georgia in Athens. We are going to continue our countdown to the season by taking a closer look at a couple of difference makers who Vandy will come up against in this SEC clash. These are the guys that the coaches must game plan for if the 2014 Commodores football season is going to be a success.

Georgia

Offense: RB – Todd Gurley

If the Vanderbilt schedule is anything to go by then the SEC is going to be a decidedly running back heavy league in 2014. It is saying something when the running back we are featuring for Georgia might be the best player in the whole conference. Todd Gurley is atop many of the early Heisman Trophy lists and there are a number of analysts out there who will tell you he is the premier player at his position in the entire nation.

Gurley is considered the elite of the elite because of the total package he brings to the table. He has the power to run over defenders, the burst to create space for himself between defenders, and the top end speed to run away from defenders. Add in his ability to churn out yards in seven and eight yard chunks before hitting the home run AND his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and you have one of the most capable all around backs the college game has seen in years.

A one cut back of the highest caliber, Vandy defenders will have to do everything they can to clog the running lanes and not give Gurley a glimpse of daylight. He excels at making that cut against an over pursuing defense and blowing over defenders and through arm tackles to get into the secondary. He put up almost 1,000 yards and scored 10 touchdowns in 2014, despite missing three games and being hobbled in five more with an assortment of injuries. If, and with his injury history the if is valid, he can stay healthy then Gurely is the best player the ‘Dores defense will face all year.

Defense: OLB – Leonard Floyd

Picking Leonard Floyd ahead of his partner at outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins was not easy. The two form the most formidable pair of outside ‘backers in the conference and both have the chance to go off this fall and finish the season with upward of twelve sacks. It is the sophomore who just edges it over the junior though, as much for intangible reasons as anything you will see on tape.

Floyd came to Georgia last summer as the fifth ranked prep school recruit in the nation and wasted very little time in becoming an absolute terror. As a freshman he started eight games and finished the season with 55 total tackles which included 6.5 sacks. With those numbers it was a shock to no one when he was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.

At six-feet-four and 220 pounds Floyd is one of those new breed outside linebackers who can do just about anything he is asked. Where he really excels though is rushing the passer, where is speed and burst are uncommon for someone who looks so tall and rangy. The reason he seems poised to take over games for the Bulldogs is that the scheme of new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is purpose built for Floyd's strengths. Expect to see Floyd used for most of the season as a pure quarterback menace, pinning his ears back and going after the passer with no other objective than blowing up the play.

This is a game where the Vandy offensive tackles will have to be at their very best. If they can keep Floyd (and Jenkins) away from the quarterback then there is success to be had. If, however, the Dawg linebackers start to get on a roll then it could be a very long day at the office for the black and gold.

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