D.J.’S THREE KEYS TO VICTORY
D.J. Shockley played quarterback for Georgia from 2002-05 and led the Bulldogs to the SEC championship in 2005. After a stint in the NFL, Shockley now provides football analysis and commentary for WSB-TV on SportsZone (Fridays, 11:15 p.m.) and Bulldogs GameDay (Saturdays, 10 p.m.) and on CW69 for “Falcons Playback” (Mondays, 6 p.m.) and “Rise up Weekly” (Saturdays at 11 p.m.). He’ll also be providing analysis for DawgNation.com this fall.
1. Start fast. Vanderbilt has always been a place that we have not started fast for some crazy reason, even going back to when I played for the Bulldogs. The Commodores just always seem to play us with a lot of energy and motivation in Nashville. Offensively, the run game is going to be key for Georgia. They need to force Vandy into eight-man boxes to create one-on-one matchups on the outside. Traditionally, the Commodores always have a bend-don’t-break defense, especially early in the game. They want to pressure an offense to create turnovers and steal the momentum. But Dogs can combat that by being the aggressors and let the Commodores know early they have no hope. Let them know they’re not going to make a name off us.
2. Force Vandy into being one-dimensional. Georgia needs to fly to the football in the run game and suffocate all the gaps with sound fundamentals. Vanderbilt’s offense NEEDS to run the ball for the rest of its offense to work. One of their top weapons is running back Ralph Webb, who had over 900 yards rushing last year and had 77 yards against the Bulldogs last season. He gains confidence with every successful carry. The Dogs need to shut him down early and force Georgia native Johnny McCrary into bad quarterback decisions with pressure from the edge and up the middle. McCrary has the ability to run as well, but if the Bulldogs can keep him contained and in front of them and force him into known passing situations, it will give the defense a huge advantage and hopefully lead to some turnovers.
3. Make the routine plays. This sounds simple, but it has been the failure to make routine plays — such as punt snaps, etc. — that has plagued the Dogs in this particular game. So Georgia needs to be sure it’s taking care of routine fundamentals first, like being in the right alignment, carrying out each individual assignment, making the open-field tackle, looking the ball in and securing the football. Focus on the play at hand! Simple things not done correctly can lead to pressure situations in the game. I remember playing Vanderbilt and thinking they would eventually give in, but this is a team that can be extremely dangerous with a little confidence. Do your job, make the play when your number is called and the Dogs should leave with a convincing win over the Vanderbilt Commodores.