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Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm hands off to tailback Nick Chubb for a touchdown during the second quarter of te Bulldogs win over Vanderbilt n Saturday in Nashville, Tenn.

Georgia football’s 5 best players against Vanderbilt

Cy Brown

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Top Dawgs

Georgia traveled to Nashville and defeated Vanderbilt 45-14 on Saturday. For the first time this season, the Bulldogs were led to victory by the offense — specifically the ground game — and not the defense. Here are Georgia’s top five players from the win over the Commodores.

5. Roquan Smith — With the absences of Reggie Carter (injury) and Natrez Patrick (suspension), Smith had his work cut out for him with a short-handed group of inside linebackers. But he got the job done as always, leading the Bulldogs in total tackles (7) and solo tackles (4).

4. Jake Fromm — Fromm wasn’t asked to do much in this game, but the freshman quarterback was excellent when called upon. He finished the game 7 for 11 for 102 yards and 2 touchdown passes, including a fantatstic 47-yard scoring strike to Terry Godwin. He also continued to show off his wheels with 36 yards rushing.

3. Nick Chubb — Chubb rushed for 138 yards and 2 touchdowns on 16 carries, including a 33-yard TD dash to open the scoring and set the tone. He also became the eighth player in SEC history to rush for more than 4,000 yards in his career. Oh yeah, he leads the SEC in rushing once again, as well.

2. Sony Michel — As good as Chubb’s outing was, Michel’s was better. Michel had 12 carries for 150 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

1. The offensive line — Yeah, the whole thing. Pick a player from this group’s starting five, and he had a great game. Georgia averaged nearly 8 yards per run thanks the line. Chubb and Michel got all the headlines, but it was the line that made those headlines possible. At this point, there’s no question the line is the most improved unit on the team.

Replacement ILBs ‘OK’ vs. Vanderbilt

As mentioned, Georgia was without two of its best inside linebackers against Vanderbilt. Coach Kirby Smart has yet to give an update on the injury status of Carter, while Patrick will miss the next three games because of his marijuana arrest. Which means Georgia will have to make due with a makeshift group of linebackers, in some form, for at least another month.

Against Vanderbilt, Juwan Taylor and  Monty Rice worked to fill the gaps left by Carter and Patrick, with Tae Crowder getting some run as well. In his postgame press conference, Smart said he wasn’t ready to name a new starter from the group of replacements. From Seth Emerson of DawgNation:

“They played OK. I’m not ready to name a permanent starter,” Smart said. “We have some competition going on there. I think both of those kids had some anxiety. I thought Monty made some plays in the game. He’s such a good kid and wants to play well so bad. He’s playing near his hometown up here. He and Juwan both, I was proud of the way they handled it. But we can do better.”

The man’s got jokes

If you were still thinking about the commitment of 5-star quarterback Justin Fields in the midst and aftermath of the win over Vanderbilt, you weren’t the only one. Smart also still had the Harrison High School signal-caller on his mind and gave a little dig to a reporter for Atlanta’s Fox 5, which flew a helicopter over Fields’ announcement ceremony since media wasn’t allowed. From Emerson:

Smart then spent much of his postgame press conference issuing wise-cracks. Like when a microphone for Atlanta’s Fox 5 began slipping on the podium. As a representative from that station, which a day earlier had flown a helicopter over Harrison High School for the Justin Fields announcement, Smart paused as he began to smile.

“Figured y’all were still over at Harrison,” Smart said.

He loves me, he loves me not

Here’s a story I don’t know what to make of. Mark Fox and Georgia hoops received a commitment from 4-star Class of 2018 small forward Landers Nolley on Saturday, only for Nolley to reverse course and de-commit on Sunday.

Recruiting is weird, man.

Dawgs in the polls

With the win and some help from an Iowa State upset of Oklahoma, Georgia received a bump in both traditional top 25 polls. The Bulldogs jumped from No. 5 to No. 4 in the AP Top 25 and from No. 6 to No. 5 in the Amway Coaches Poll. They stayed at No. 2 in the SEC Country Power Poll.

The spread: Missouri

It seems the folks in the desert have some confidence in the Bulldogs heading into this weekend. Georgia opened as a  31-point favorite over Missouri ahead of the game this Saturday in Athens.

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