Vanderbilt comes to Athens ranked #22 in the country touting a 5-1 record. Could this be the worst ranked team in the country? The statistics would say yes:
Vanderbilt's defense is ranked 10th in the SEC (ahead of only Arkansas and Ole Miss) and Vandy’s biggest strength on defense is their ability to get turnovers. Vanderbilt has 11 interceptions on the season and that includes all four starting members of their secondary having at least 2. They are also very good in Red Zone defense.
Things get really ugly for Vanderbilt on the offensive side of the ball as they are ranked 118th out of 119 Division I teams in total offense, featuring a passing offense that averages only 90 yards a game. The running game is not that much better; Jared Hawkins leads the team in rushing with 333 yards on the year and their second leading rusher is on again/off again starter Chris Nickson. Auburn game hero Mackenzi Adams will get the start in place of Nickson and Dawg fans will remember Adams as the guy who led Vanderbilt down the field in 2007, nearly upsetting UGA before a Daryl Gamble forced fumble saved the day. However, Vandy does an excellent job converting turnovers into points and is very efficient in the Red Zone.
"Your name is Mackenzi? You would go to Vanderbilt, wouldn't ya?"
What are the Dawgs going to do?
Hopefully, the UGA Homecoming crowd will get a healthy dose of Knowshon left, Knowshon right, and Knowshon up the middle. Vanderbilt's strength is their secondary and their leader is standout two way player D.J. Moore. Coming out and establishing the run will be huge and there is no reason to think that Knowshon Moreno can’t have another 100 yard game or get closer to 150 yards, as he did against the Commodores last year. These yards should be easier to come by than the 100 yards he had against Tennessee last week. However, Vanderbilt tackles very well and is disciplined on defense, making strong offensive line play pivotal. Expect Mike Bobo to continue to call screen and swing passes to AJ Green early in the game. Getting Vanderbilt's D to bite on these established plays should open up passes over the middle later in the game.
Knowshon for Homecoming King, '08
On defense, having Adams in the game may present some problems for Georgia. The pass defense is statistically the worst in the league, giving up 222 yards a game, and Adams is a better drop back passer than Nickson. DC Willie Martinez should try to confuse Adams early, sending blitzes to hit the Vandy play caller in an effort to force mistakes and turnovers. If Georgia jumps out to an early lead, look for the linebackers to drop back into pass coverage and attempt to contain short passes and the option game.
What's going to happen?
Historically, Georgia is a slow starter in these 12:30 games. Rarely do the Dawgs come out and put away a team they should beat early in the first half. Georgia dominated Tennessee last week but failed to put the Vols away with a couple of costly turnovers. This week, history shouldn’t repeat itself and expect the ever changing O-Line to leave gaping holes for Moreno. After failing to score for the first time last week, expect at least 2 touchdowns for the kid from New Jersey. Vandy's offense will struggle against UGA’s physical defensive line and look for Georgia to get a couple of turnovers that lead to quick scores. The Dawgs need to stay focused with two huge games looming and a solid, dominating win would create great momentum.
Georgia 34, Vanderbilt 13GO DAWGS!!!