Vandy Opponent Preview: Georgia

The ‘Dores second game of the 2015 season is also their second home game as the Georgia Bulldogs travel to Nashville. With the opening game being on a Thursday night, the Commodores will have extra time to come up with a game-plan to beat a team which has been at the top end of the SEC East forever, but which hasn’t won an SEC Title since 2005.

2014 Record: 10-3 (6-2 SEC) – Beat Louisville 37-14 in the Belk Bowl.

Series Record: Georgia dominates the series with a 54-19-2 record over the Commodores. The Bulldogs have won 18 of the last 20 matchups between the two schools.

Last Meeting: In the final act of Georgia running back Todd Gurley running rampant over Vanderbilt, the early season Heisman Trophy front runner ran for 163 yards and two touchdowns, while throwing for another, as the Bulldogs torched the ‘Dores 44-17.

Head Coach: Mark Richt is entering his fifteenth season as the Bulldogs head coach, having posted a 136-48 (.739) win/loss record in Georgia career. Richt is the joint longest tenured head coach in the SEC (with Gary Pinkel of Missouri) and the fifth longest tenured head coach in the entire FBS.

Spring News: Perhaps the biggest news to come out of Georgia this spring was the decision of quarterback Jacob Park to transfer away from the program. Park entered the spring as a frontrunner for the starting spot under center, but the former four-star recruit struggled and by the end of April had fallen level with, or even behind, Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta on the depth chart. Park was, however, very much still in the running and a solid summer/fall could easily have seen him gain back the quarterbacking gig.

Projected Strengths: You do not have to search far from the expected to find the strength of the 2015 Georgia Bulldogs. The ‘Dawgs have a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate in sophomore running back Nick Chubb, a player who took over games when filling in for the injured Todd Gurley for large parts of the 2014 campaign. Georgia has without doubt the deepest running back corps in the game, with two other five-star recruits on the roster in sophomore Sony Michel and senior Keith Marshall. The Georgia running game will be a force once again this fall.

The Bulldogs are also blessed with the best combination of outside linebackers in the country after Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins elected to forgo the NFL Draft and come back to campus. These two, plus dynamic sophomore Lorenzo Carter, mean that the Bulldogs will not be lacking for pressure on the opposing quarterbacks this fall.

Projected Weaknesses: The biggest question for Georgia is going to be who steps up to lead the offense from the quarterback position after the graduation of Hunter Mason. As good as the running game was last fall, it still required Mason to balance out the offense. His 2,168 yards and 21 touchdowns are going to need to be replaced. This is the first time in almost a decade where Georgia has entered the summer without an obvious starter at quarterback and Richt needs to hope that either Ramsey or Bauta can step up to the plate this September.

It might not be a weakness exactly, but replacing All-SEC honoree David Andrews at center is not going to be easy. While all four other offensive linemen return, it is amazing how often losing a center as dominant and smart as Andrews is can totally upset the balance of a once strong unit. Georgia has two players in Isaiah Wynn and Hunter Long ready to step in and fill the blocking void, but can they recreate the timing, calls and leadership which Andrews displayed.

Prediction: Georgia seems to be the consensus favorite in the SEC East heading into the summer, but the fact that no quarterback has stepped up has to be a concern. The 12 starters who return are all good to great, but there are more question marks than a potential title contender would like entering the year. This should be a pretty dominant Georgia win, BUT if the ‘Dores defense is as good as some expect and if the Bulldogs still haven’t found their quarterback then the ingredients might be there for an upset.

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