Georgia defeated Vanderbilt 31-14 on Saturday in a game filled with all kinds of dramatic moments, good and bad. Following are the grades the Bulldogs deserve based on that performance.
It may seem like a tough grading system that rewards only an “average” mark while producing 422 yards and rushing for nearly 300. But there were some things to be concerned about Saturday. Starting quarterback Greyson Lambert did not complete a pass in the first half (0-for-5), missed open receivers often and should have had at least one pass intercepted. A lack of confidence in the quarterback play seemed to be reflected in another week of conservative play-calling by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and probably contributed to a 4-of-13 third-down conversion rate.
Jeremy Pruitt’s group was working on an A until late in the fourth quarter. Once the Commodores got down 24-6 in the fourth quarter, they shifted gears and started to go fast with a hurry-up, quick-passing game. Georgia didn’t react well. While it thwarted two scoring threats with red zone interceptions — including Dominick Sanders’ 88-yard TD return — the Bulldogs gave up 231 of a total of 400 yards to Vanderbilt in the final quarter of play. But led by Jordan Jenkins (11 tackles, 2 sacks), Georgia’s quarterback pressure was sensational.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Isaiah McKenzie made a triumphant return from a hamstring injury with a 77-yard punt return touchdown in the first quarter. But much of that good work was undone by Marshall Morgan’s two field goal misses (37, 43) and Vanderbilt’s 53-yard onside kick recovery that put the outcome of the game in jeopardy with 4:30 to play.
It’s unclear exactly what the strategy was when Georgia lined up with its “hands team” on the Vanderbilt kickoff after its fourth-quarter touchdown. There was a huge expanse of space between the front line and deep-back Reggie Davis, who was unable to field the pooch kick that predictably landed well in front of him. Richt said he was going to reconsider the formation. The Bulldogs also were flagged 10 times for 92 yards in penalties. Also, it could be argued they should have considered going to backup quarterback Brice Ramsey with Lambert struggling.
The jury is still out on how good or bad Vanderbilt is — or Georgia, for that matter — but clearly this game would not have been nearly as close if Georgia had played more fundamentally sound. But 1-0 in the SEC was the goal and it was achieved.