Good day, UGA. Welcome to your one-stop shop for all the relevant UGA football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Today, we take final stock ahead of Vanderbilt, followed by some good ol’ fashioned beer drinkin’ and ass kickin’.
What to expect from Vandy
Offensively, not much. According to Football Outsiders’ S&P+ statistic — which measures the overall effectiveness of an offense, defense, or a team overall — the Commodores rank 124th of of 128 FBS teams on offense. The Vanderbilt offense is also ranked close to last in the country in both efficiency (100th) and explosiveness (111th). So, yeah, it’s not good.
That isn’t to say there is nothing on the Commodore offense that is good. Tailback Ralph Webb is very good. His 682 yards are second in the SEC, and he’s managed a steady 5 yards per carry, despite being keyed in on by every defense Vandy faces. Because of this, the Commodores rank a respectable 41st nationally in rushing S&P+.
So the defensive gameplan is simple: Contain Webb and force Vanderbilt into passing situations. The ‘Dores are dreadful when they have to pass, ranking 125th nationally in S&P+ on passing downs. Georgia should sell out for the run and make Vanderbilt try to win through the air. If it can do that, one of two things should happen: 1) the front seven will pin its ears back against a week Vandy line and rack up the sacks like it did last week, or 2) the secondary will show why it’s one of the most disruptive in the nation by deflecting passes and snagging picks. Of those two options, the latter seems more likely, but it’s a win-win either way.
It’s more complicated on defense. The Commodores rank 46th in defensive S&P+, and its HAVOC sits at 48th. This unit is no pushover. Two players in particular stick out to me. First is inside linebacker Zach Cunningham. Cunningham leads the team in tackles (62) and tackles for loss (10.5). His 1.8 TFL per game is 6th in the nation. He’s a disruptor, and you better believe wherever the ball-carrier is, Cunningham won’t be far.
The other player to watch out for is linebacker/safety hybrid Oren Burks. He can fly around the field from either spot, and his ability to be everywhere and do everything shows itself in the stats. Burks has 2 sacks, a 59-yard interception return, 5 pass breakups, 3 QB hits and a forced fumble. Keep an eye on No. 20, because any big play from Vandy’s defense is likely to involve him.
The key to beating Vanderbilt’s defense is converting third downs. Most of that high defensive S&P+ is built around a strong showing on standard downs (SD). The ‘Dores’ SD S&P+ is all the way up at 26th nationally. They run into problems on passing downs (PD), with their PD S&P+ dropping to 81st. Vandy is also 82nd in 3rd down conversion percent defense at .402. Meanwhile, Georgia is converting 40 percent of its third downs. So Vandy’s problems making stops on 3rd down are likely to persist in this game, and Georgia may even do better on 3rd down than normal.
The final area of concern for the Georgia offense is turnovers. Vanderbilt has forced 11 turnovers this season, good enough to tie for 29th in the country, and Georgia looks like a prime target with 10 turnovers lost, five from Jacob Eason picks and five from fumbles. That’ll be the crux of this game. No turnovers, and I could see this being the largest margin of victory this season for Georgia. A few turnovers, then get the TUMS.
- Chip Towers has his midseason report card, and the Bulldogs grade out about as average as you’d expect.
- In his mailbag, Seth Emerson answers what Georgia would have to do to shock the world and win the East.
- Here’s Sony Michel on what he does better than Nick Chubb.
- UGA commit Richard LeCounte III explains why he isn’t taking an official visit to Athens.
- Here’s Jeff Schultz’s weekend predictions.
- Mike Ekeler said he was misquoted after causing a stir with some profane comments about his time at UGA.
- Take a look back at some photos from all of Georgia’s wins against Vanderbilt over the last decade.
Georgia football’s excellent video team released the fourth installment in its “Autumn Fire” series. It should get you sufficiently pumped for the game this weekend.
If that wasn’t enough for you, here are their highlights from the South Carolina game.
It’s Homecoming in Athens, which means plenty of events around town for you to take part in this weekend. The biggest remaining homecoming festivity — outside of the game, of course — is the Homecoming Parade Friday evening downtown. It begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m. Setup, however, begins at 4 p.m., so expect road closures and more traffic than normal around downtown Friday evening. Here’s the parade route.
There’s also a carnival from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday night at Legion Field. And you can check here for info on tailgates for all the schools and colleges before the game on Saturday.
Red Squad wins
The Red Squad took Game 1 of UGA Baseball’s Fall scrimmage series Thursday at Foley Field by a score of 5-1. Drew Moody pitched five shutout innings in the seven-inning scrimmage and allowed just two hits. That and a 5-run third inning was enough to do in the Black Squad.
— Georgia Baseball (@BaseballUGA) October 13, 2016
If you aren’t the parade type, Game 2 is Friday night at Foley Field with a 6 p.m. first pitch.
Today’s good dog is a wiener on a trampoline, because why the hell not? Enjoy the game, folks!