NASHVILLE – In an incident hauntingly reminiscent of Georgia’s last visit to the Music City, Bulldogs sophomore linebacker Lorenzo Carter was flagged midway in the first quarter for targeting the Vanderbilt quarterback.
Chasing Vandy’s Johnny McCrary, Carter crashed headlong into the scrambling quarterback. McCrary’s helmet flew. So did the penalty flags. Just like that, after a conference to confirm their feelings, the officials ruled the action worthy of ejection.
That was déjà vu all over again for the Bulldogs. In their last trip here, a 31-27 loss, defensive end Ray Drew was ejected in the first half following a targeting call on the quarterback. A controversial fourth-quarter targeting call on Bulldogs linebacker Ramik Wilson kept alive the Commodores go-ahead drive.
“That’s exactly what I thought of,” said senior linebacker Jordan Jenkins. “I thought: Alright it’s going to be one of those days, the calls are going to be going their way. I need to step it up, we need to step it up and finish this game strong.
The officials of that game two years ago were reprimanded, and the targeting rule was subsequently refined. Not enough that it made any difference in the Carter episode.
As he jogged off the field in the company of two members of the Georgia support staff, Carter was anything but contrite. While Vandy fans hooted at him, he waved back as if inviting them to bring it on.
He was not available to the media post-game.
Mark Richt said after the game that he had not seen the play, neither in real time nor on the big-board replay at Vanderbilt Stadium.
One of the so-called “Wolf Pack,” the name the outside linebackers have given themselves, Jenkins filled in some of the blanks about the play.
“Lorenzo is a great competitor and all he’s trying to do is make great plays,” he said. “There’s no malicious intent at all, he was just trying to make a play. When you’re 6-6 and you’re trying to get low, naturally you’re going to be borderline. He’s got to work on finishing a different way on the quarterback, I guess.
“The rules are here to stay and we got to find a way to get around it.”
— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) September 12, 2015