NASHVILLE — By the time senior year rolls around, there aren’t many firsts left on the list. But Keith Marshall and Malcolm Mitchell have one to check off on Saturday.
“This will actually be my first time to Vandy,” Mitchell said. “All the other years I was hurt. So I’m kind of looking forward to going.”
Marshall and Mitchell were two of Georgia’s five major offensive contributors who suffered injuries before the Vanderbilt upset in 2013, and Mitchell missed the 2011 trip with a hamstring injury. The two seniors, in addition to currently-injured wideout Justin Scott-Wesley, have yet to play in Nashville, Tenn., during their careers at Georgia.
“I didn’t know that,” coach Mark Richt said. “I just don’t ever think about that. I wouldn’t have guessed that. If you go through Georgia as long as they have been here and didn’t get a chance to hit every venue in the East, it’d be a shame. So I’m glad they’ll be able to do that.”
Marshall has not faced Vanderbilt since his freshman year. He had 10 carries for 82 yards and scored a two-yard touchdown as the Bulldogs rolled 48-3 in Athens. Mitchell began his 2014 season against the Commodores with one catch for 11 yards.
The last time Georgia traveled to Nashville, Mitchell sat at home and watched on TV. He saw his teammates relinquish a 24-14 lead as the No. 15 Bulldogs fell to unranked Vanderbilt 31-27. The game turned as Georgia defender Ramik Wilson was flagged for targeting, which echoed Ray Drew’s targeting penalty early in the second quarter.
“I was horrified by the outcome,” Mitchell said. “But that’s what happens when you don’t execute everything in practice and preparation for the game.”
The 2013 loss marked only the second loss to Vanderbilt in the Richt era.
One game into their senior campaign, Marshall already has two touchdowns in the book. Mitchell contributed one score on a spectacular 28-yard catch and finished with 52 total yards against Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday.
Whereas several of their teammates have the memory of 2013 to fuel their desire to make a statement on Saturday, Mitchell said overcoming injury and returning to the depth chart is motivation enough.
“I think as competitors, all of us want to succeed on the field,” Mitchell said. “We all want to help our team win and I think that was motivation for us to continue to fight back through all the injuries.”