Dean Legge / Dawg Post

Three Keys: Vanderbilt at Georgia

The Vanderbilt Commodores (2-4, 0-3 SEC) travel to Athens, Ga., on Saturday to take on the Bulldogs of Georgia (11 am, SEC Network). Here are your three keys to a Vanderbilt win.

Key No. 1  LIMIT EXPLOSIVE PLAYS BY UGA

Georgia has some very dangerous playmakers in running backs Nick Chubb (546 yds, 5 TDs), Brian Herrien (347 yds, 3 TDs) and Sony Michel (330 yds, 1 TD) along with wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (26 catches, 5 TDs). These guys are going to get their yardage, but the Commodores can't afford to give up long runs or pass plays because if they do the game will get out of hand quickly. By slowing down the UGA attack and not allowing quick scores, this at least gives the VU defense more chances to create turnovers, force punts and extend the game. 

Key No. 2 WIN THE BATTLE OF THIRD DOWN

Third downs have plagued Vanderbilt over the past two games.  Vanderbilt went from converting on 50 percent of third downs at WKU to 33 percent against Florida to 25 percent at Kentucky. That has to improve. Meanwhile, the VU defense has done fairly well on third down, holding opponents to a combined 13-of-42 third down conversions combined over the last three games. There were mistakes and blunders in both the Florida and Kentucky games, but Vanderbilt lost those two games because of the inability to sustain drives. Against Georgia, Vandy can't afford to punt more than four times during the game. Fake punts, trick plays, and going for it on fourth down are all things that can help extend drives and keep the ball out of the hands of Chubb and company.

Key No. 3 HANG AROUND WITH GEORGIA

In 2006 Vanderbilt fell behind in the second quarter at Georgia 10-0 and then trailed 13-7 at the half. The Commodores then scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to pull ahead 21-13. Georgia got a fourth quarter field goal and an interception return for a TD to jump back in front 22-21. However, Vandy drove the field in the final minute of the game, and a Bryant Hahnfeldt field goal put Vandy up 24-22 with just two seconds left in the game. This game is an example of hanging around a talented opponent. If a team can do that, they at least have a chance to pull out a win in the fourth quarter. We saw that at Western Kentucky as well this season. It doesn't always work out like that, but a team's chances are a lot better in the fourth quarter if they are down 21-17 as opposed to 38-6. 

Call me crazy, but I think this is the type of game where Vanderbilt could be really competitive. No one gives the Commodores a snowball's chance in Havana to win this game. I don't think the Commodores are as bad as most think.  Meanwhile, Georgia likely will be very overconfident for this game. Nate believes it'll be 10-9 Georgia in his head to head but I believe it'll be more like 17-13 UGA but Vandy has a shot if they don't freak out. Chubb is a beast though.     


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