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Georgia 33 … at Vanderbilt 28

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 15, 2011


Week 7 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Georgia at Vanderbilt


2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 7 - Georgia at Vanderbilt

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Oct. 15 Georgia 33 … at Vanderbilt 28
CFN Analysis: In a strange and bizarre game, the kicking game had issues with the late punt block making it interesting. There were 11 penalties, Aaron Murray had the best game of his career against one of the best secondaries in the country, and Georgia needed everything in the bag to get out with a win over a Vandy team that’s done nothing offensively for most of the year. The coverage team broke down and the defense sputtered late, but Murray was terrific when he had to be, helped by a 75-yard touchdown from Marlon Brown for what turned out to be the game-winning score. It was an unfocused and uneven effort, but the Dawgs came away with their fifth straight win with a two week break before facing Florida. After a tumultuous start to the year, this looked like a team in need of a little time off.

Vanderbilt actually got some offense. 117th in the nation in yards coming into the game, and with one of the nation’s least efficient attacks, and Jordan Rodgers completed 4-of-19 passes and the Vandy passers combined to complete 11-of-31 passes for 149 yards with three picks, and with 43 of the yards coming on a trick play from running back Zac Stacy. Fortunately, Stacy ran for 97 yards and a score and Rodgers looked more mobile than his brother, Aaron, with 80 rushing yards on 11 carries. Even with four turnovers and no consistent passing game, Rodgers had two chances for the win, and he came up short. It might be ugly at times, but the team has been competitive.

(AP) NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Aaron Murray threw for a career-high 326 yards and three touchdowns, and Blair Walsh kicked four field goals as the Georgia Bulldogs held off Vanderbilt 33-28 for their fifth straight victory Saturday night.

Vanderbilt (3-3, 1-3 Southeastern Conference) hadn't beaten Georgia in Nashville since 1991, and Udom Umoh blocked Drew Butler's punt with 7 seconds left to give the Commodores one last chance at the Georgia 20 before a substitution infraction backed the Commodores up to the Georgia 25.

Jordan Rodgers overthrew Chris Boyd in the end zone, leaving a second for a final play. Rodgers was hit as he threw short to tight end Brandon Barden, who was tackled well short at the 16.

Georgia (5-2, 4-1) also intercepted three passes, the last by Bacarri Rambo with 1:10 left, as the Bulldogs kept pace in the East with South Carolina, a 14-12 winner over Mississippi State earlier.

The hectic ending was fitting on a night when a transformer on the east concourse of the stadium blew and knocked out four sets of lights with 2:53 left in the first half. Workers fixed a fuse and got all but one stand working by early in the third quarter.

Walsh clanked his first field goal attempt off the left upright and missed another wide right.

The Commodores had the ball twice in the final 2:30, first when Casey Heyward picked off a Murray pass at the Vandy 2. Rambo ended that drive with his interception, but the Bulldogs, who had to kick so many field goals, couldn't pick up a first down to run out the clock, which set up the final few plays.

Murray threw two TDs to Marlon Brown, the last a 75-yarder with 13:57 left that proved to be the winner and the longest TD play for both quarterback and receiver. Murray also connected with Tavarres King on a 20-yard TD set up by Orson Charles blocking a punt.

The Bulldogs took a 3-0 lead on Walsh's first field goal, a 53-yarder, and scored 20 points in the second quarter and never trailed.

Georgia had allowed only two offensive touchdowns in the previous four games. The Bulldogs gave up three to Vandy, two in the final 16 minutes as Zac Stacy capped an 84-yard drive by running for a 19-yard TD with 9:15 left.

Vanderbilt's best offense early came on a fake punt when the backup punter completed a 35-yard pass, and on a halfback pass when Stacy tossed a 43-yard TD pass to Jordan Matthews. Andre Hal also returned a kickoff 96 yards for a TD in the third quarter just after Georgia took its biggest lead of the game at 23-7.

Rodgers, who came in after Larry Smith was intercepted for the second time, drove the Commodores 75 yards to set up Jerron Seymour's 1-yard TD with 26 seconds left in the third.

Georgia (4-2) at Vanderbilt (3-2) Oct. 15, 7:00, GamePlan/ESPN3

Here’s The Deal … This was sort of how it was projected to work for Georgia. The hope for Dawg fans was for a hot start against Boise State and South Carolina, but that didn’t happen, and everyone had Mark Richt fired. But a funny thing happened on the way to the canning; the schedule eased up.

Unlike the brutal midseason stretch Florida has to deal with, Georgia’s scheduling midsection isn’t that bad. Going to Tennessee was a test, but that wasn’t like going to LSU. Facing Mississippi State was difficult, but that’s not like dealing with Alabama. And now, the Dawgs are on a four-game winnings streak with a chance to make it five before getting two weeks off to prepare for Florida. But Vanderbilt isn’t the pushover it’s been in the past.

The Commodores didn’t have any hope against South Carolina, and like everyone else, didn’t have a prayer against Alabama, but the defense has been terrific and head coach James Franklin is providing hope that things really are changing around. He doesn’t have the offensive weapons to keep up with most SEC teams, but if the Dawgs start making a slew of big mistakes, the Commodores could pull off the shocker and throw the SEC East race into a spin.

Why Georgia Might Win: The Vanderbilt offense cranked out all of three points over the last two weeks. Alabama’s defense allowed 41 yards on the ground, while South Carolina gave up a mere four yards. With no passing game to pick up the slack – the Commodores came up with just 73 yards against the Gamecocks, it wasn’t pretty. Georgia’s defense destroyed the Tennessee running game, stuffing the Vols for -20 yards, and stopping the Mississippi State running attack allowing just 56 yards. If Vanderbilt isn’t running the ball well, it can’t do anything offensively.

Georgia’s defense has turned things around since getting pounded on by South Carolina, and the Vandy has to come up with a slew of takeaways and hope for a ton of mistakes to have a shot. Aaron Murray threw three picks against Mississippi State, but the offense hasn’t given away a fumble in the last three games and didn’t throw any picks against the Vols. Georgia doesn’t have to get crazy and doesn’t have to take many chances. Run the ball, let the defense do its thing, win the special teams battle, and get the W.

Why Vanderbilt Might Win: Oh yeah, those three picks against Mississippi State. Alabama’s AJ McCarron was nearly flawless last week against the Commodore secondary, making the easy midrange throws and not taking any chances whatsoever. He could do that because the running game was working well enough to take the pressure off. Vandy’s run defense has been solid all season long, but the secondary has been better with 14 interceptions in the first four games including four against South Carolina that might have changed around the Gamecocks’ season. Aaron Murray isn’t above throwing picks and making mistakes, and if he’s under pressure behind his inconsistent line, the errors could start flowing.

It’s not like the Georgia offense is exploding. It rolled for 59 points against Coastal Carolina, but he hasn’t scored more than 27 points in any of the last three games. The defense is good enough to likely keep this close, and if the offense can do anything, and if the Dawg defense isn’t dominating up front, Vandy has the makeup to eke out a tough win.

What To Watch Out For: Larry Smith’s going to try to give it a shot. The Vandy starting quarterback hurt his ankle in last week’s loss to Alabama, and Jordan Rodgers stepped in and completed 11-of-18 passes for 104 yards with two picks. Smith isn’t a bomber, but he’s the veteran who’s been through the SEC wars long enough to not crumble in key situations. The problem is his passing; it’s not good enough. He threw for just 44 yards against South Carolina and couldn’t avoid the Gamecock pass rush enough to make the offense go. If it’s not working, Rodgers will step back in to try to make something happen down the field.

Who will Aaron Murray throw to? Just when it seemed like Malcolm Mitchell was going to grow into a No. 1 target to rely on, he suffered a hamstring injury against Tennessee after catching three passes for 126 yards. On the year the true freshman as 25 catches for 438 yards and three touchdowns, and now it’ll be up to junior Tavarres King to step up and do more. While he was great against Coastal Carolina, catching six passes for 65 yards and two scores, he hasn’t gotten into the end zone since. What Will Happen: It’s not like Georgia is going Oklahoma State with its offense. It’s not going to put up huge numbers on the ever-swarming Vanderbilt defense, but it’ll have just enough balance to get by, while the Dawg D will keep the Commodore O to its third straight rough day.

CFN Prediction: Georgia 26 … Vanderbilt 10
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