Three Keys Vanderbilt at Georgia

Vanderbilt lost 17-7 last Saturday in Kentucky without scoring an offensive touchdown. Georgia is a far better team than the Wildcats. By definition the ‘Dores should be blown out by the Bulldogs. Games, however, are famously not played on paper and the way this Vandy team has been up and down maybe they can put something together and shock the 13th ranked team in the country. Here are the keys.

1) Shut down Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley is a legitimate Heisman contender for a reason. With the Oregon loss to Arizona on Thursday night Gurley may even have jumped right to the top of the Heisman Trophy pile. Gurley is just an outstanding running back. He has the size, speed in the open field, and vision at the line of scrimmage to make this game an absolute nightmare for the ‘Dores if he is on his game. He is averaging 152 yards on the season, on limited carries at that, and is fresh off of a 208 yard showing against Tennessee where he willed his Bulldogs to a 35-32 victory on the back of his own brilliance.

Simply put, Gurley is the best running back in the nation and if Vanderbilt can find a way to keep him under his season average then it would have to be seen as a victory.

2) Make big plays on kick returns

Last weekend against Tennessee the Bulldogs gave up 25.5 yards per kick return. Vanderbilt will of course have Darrius Sims, whom Georgia coach Mark Richt called “a special player” this week, waiting at the back to return any kick that finds its way through to him. After returning kicks for 91 yards (the opening kickoff) and 100 yards against South Carolina, Sims was quite last week in the Kentucky game. Derek Mason knows the return game can be a weapon for the ‘Dores and there have been a couple of personnel changes as he was not happy with the blocking for Sims last Saturday.

Also of note in this part of the game is that Georgia will be without freshman Sony Michel, a quickly rising player who established himself as the best tackler, and best do all player, on the Bulldogs kick coverage unit. If Vandy can deal better with the squib kicks, and maintain blocks downfield, then there is a chance to pick up some great field position on kick returns in Athens.

3) Offensive production

It shouldn’t be hard for Vanderbilt to beat the number of points its offense put up last week against Kentucky. For those with a short memory the ‘Dores failed to record a single point when their offense was on the field, with a Darrius Sims interception return being their only scoring in a miserable 17-7 defeat. The Vanderbilt offense was simply putrid when the ball crossed the 50-yard line and the result is a slew of numbers outside of the top 100 when looking at offensive categories nationally.

Vanderbilt ranks 117th in passing yards per game, 111th in rushing yards per game, and 11th in points per game averaging only 17 per contest. Getting Ralph Webb going has to be the starting point for the offense, especially with Wade Freebeck getting the start again as Patton Robinette has yet to recover from his concussion. Somehow, someway, the ‘Dores have to be able to move the ball or the 33.5 point line which looks ridiculous on paper could come true.

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