Vanderbilt Report Card: Georgia

Vanderbilt fell to Georgia 44-17 on Saturday in Athens. VandyMania.com's Don Yates grades the Commodores' performance in several key team areas.

PASSING OFFENSE: C-
Wade Freebeck started the game and completed just one of his first six passes while also being sacked. He was replaced in the second quarter with Stephen Rivers who immediately marched the team down the field on a 7 play, 66 yard drive. However, Rivers threw a pick six in the fourth quarter and was replaced with Freebeck. Freebeck completed 6-of-9 passes in the fourth quarter. Freebeck finished the game with nine completions in 18 attempts for 100 yards, no interceptions and no TDs. Rivers had nice 36-yard completion to Chandler Dorrell that put the team in position for its first touchdown. Steven Scheu continues to lead the Commodores in receiving with 18 catches for 262 yards. He had five catches against the Bulldogs.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B
Vanderbilt gained 132 yards on 36 rushing attempts. Ralph Webb was on pace for an 100-yard rushing day and had scored Vandy's first TD of the day on a 1-yard run, but because of an injury had to leave the game early in the third quarter. Jerron Seymour filled in nicely picking up 41 yards on nine carries (4.6 YPC). Dallas Rivers had 20 yards on five carries and scored Vandy's second TD of the game in the third quarter on a six yard scamper where he just got the ball over the end zone pylon for the TD. Georgia opponents have averaged 112 yards a game rushing on the Bulldog's defense so this was not bad at all and there were no fumbles. Considering that Vandy lost their top rusher for almost half the game, this was a decent job.

PASSING DEFENSE: C+
Vanderbilt allowed the Bulldogs 202 yards passing on 14-of-22 completions. The young Vandy secondary held their own for the most part. In the third quarter Jahmel McIntosh picked off a pass by Bulldog quarterback Hutson Mason, returning it 35 yards to the UGA 24. That play setup a Commodore field goal. Vandy did cause some problems for the Bulldogs, who are trying to improve their passing game. The Dawgs had to revert to trickery at one point by having Todd Gurley complete a halfback pass to Jeb Blazevich for 50 yards.

RUSHING DEFENSE: C
Vanderbilt allowed 243 yards on 35 carries (6.9 YPC). The Bulldogs have allowed almost 290 yards a game (7.0 PPC) on the season so this is about an average performance. Todd Gurley ran for 163 yards on 25 carries for two TDs (6.5 YPC). His longest run was for 26 yards. Even more effective was Nick Chubb who gained 78 yards on eight carries, a good chunk of that came on the final UGA offensive play of the game. Chubb ran straight through the Commodore defense who were likely expecting a kneel down. Middle linebacker Nigle Bowden, a Georgia native, played hard picking up eight tackles to lead the team. Zach Cunningham was second with six stops.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Colby Cooke had his worst day of the season punting, averaging just 35.8 yards on six boots. Vandy later turned to Taylor Hudson for answers but a 20-yard shank on his first punt quashed that idea. Tommy Openshaw booted a 34-yard field goal in the second quarter. He missed an earlier 49-yard attempt. Vanderbilt's Adam Butler blocked a point after kick in the second half. Neither team had any noteworthy returns.

COACHING: D
Good call in pulling Freebeck in the first half. It gave the offense some life and I think it was a good experience for Freebeck to watch Rivers for a while. Freebeck seemed to do better when he came back in in the second half. Vandy ran a crucial third-and-1 play in the second half with just 10 players in the game. Inexcusable. Vanderbilt still had a chance in the second half and was in UGA territory, when a play calling mix-up resulted in a a pick six because no Commodore coach noticed the team was lined up wrong. A timeout should have been called so what might have turned into 21-14 UGA actually became 27-7 UGA. Sometimes when your offense is struggling you need to roll the dice to get it going. Twice in the first half the team opted for either a punt or field goal when a fake punt or just going for it on fourth down would have made more sense. The team has potential but the coaches have to bring it all together by conducting effective practices, in-game coaching, along with strength and conditioning.

OVERALL GRADE: C
Just another game where the team showed improvement in some areas but regressed in others. Last week we saw improvement in the defense but the offense was a no-show. This week we saw some offense but that didn't come until the defense had given up 21-straight points. I agree with Mason that the setback in punting had to do with the windy conditions in the stadium and Cooke will be okay. Now the team gets a very winnable Charleston Southern (5-0) team before a bye week. Hopefully the staff will use this time take a hard look at what they've been doing and who the players are that are making plays or not. Although a bowl is very likely out of the question, there are some winnable games in the second half of the season that the program can build on.

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