Georgia Versus Vanderbilt – October 19, 2013

todd_gurley_south_carolinaDawgs and Dores at a Crossroads in Nashville
The Georgia Bulldogs are coming off a difficult loss to the Missouri Tigers.  Vanderbilt’s goal was to be a top 25 caliber team this season, but the Commodores are 0-3 in Southeastern Conference play.  Week eight will be a turning point for the team that is victorious.  Georgia will either rebound or head further south, while Vandy looks to navigate their SEC schedule which will only get more treacherous.

Georgia Cannot Afford to Turn the Ball Over
Georgia self-destructed last weekend against Missouri, turning the ball over four times.  The Bulldog defense is vulnerable enough without the offense making things easier for the opposition.  The majority of the miscues by the offense were side effects from Georgia’s injury bug, so the Dawgs must learn to adapt and overcome their roster issues.

The Health of Todd Gurley
For UGA, having running back Todd Gurley at their disposal would solve a myriad of issues.  Brendan Douglas and J.J. Green are both talented, but neither is ready to start at tailback for The University of Georgia.  ESPN reveals that Georgia head coach Mark Richt expects Todd Gurley to be back soon.  Gurley and the Georgia coaching staff will have to decide whether he should return for the contest against Vanderbilt or take a few more weeks to heal for Florida.

Austyn Carta-Samuels is an Experienced Quarterback
I remember watching Austyn Carta-Samuels win a bowl game his freshman year as the starting quarterback of Wyoming in 2009. Having transferred to Vanderbilt, he is a talented passer who is fully capable of making life miserable for Bulldog Nation.  UGA must pressure Samuels to force other Commodores to beat them.

Statistically, Vanderbilt ranks in the top half of the nation throwing the football. However, the Commodores are currently rated 80 in rushing yards.  If the young Georgia defense can prevent the Commodores from converting on third down through the air, it will severely hamper their chances to pull off an upset.

The View From Vanderbilt
The Commodores last played on October 5, when they too suffered a defeat at the claw of the Missouri Tigers. Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin and his team have had two  weeks to prepare for a visit from the Georgia Bulldogs.  According to The Tennessean, Coach Franklin is looking forward to the early kickoff. “I love the early game, I don’t think our guys like just sitting in the hotel waiting for the game to start”.  Vanderbilt will be ready for the kickoff at noon Eastern.

The Stakes are High for Georgia and Vanderbilt
Georgia has beaten Vanderbilt six years in a row.  It is critical for Bulldog Nation be able to pick up lucky number seven on the road.  The Dawgs have had more than their fair share of setbacks this season; still, Georgia is still the favorite to capture the SEC East if they do not suffer another conference loss.

Vanderbilt is a quality football team.  The Commodores would love to ruin Georgia’s conference title hopes in the process of notching their first Southeastern Conference victory of 2013.

41-26: The Missouri Tigers Outscore the Georgia Bulldogs

georgia_sec_championship_lossFaith Testing Defeat
Georgia’s 15 point loss at home to Missouri during week seven of the 2013 college football season put an end to the Dawgs’ national championship aspirations for the year.  However, it is still great to be a Georgia Bulldog.  Aaron Muray and the UGA offense nearly led Georgia to a comeback victory over the Tigers.  It was not to be, as mistakes put the Dawgs down midway through the fourth quarter.

Whether Georgia rebounds and finishes 10-2, or stumbles to an 8-4 season, the support of Bulldog Nation will remain.  Now that allegiance has been pledged, it is time to vent a little frustration.

Pee-Wee Football
If last year’s defensive effort against the Tigers of Mizzou was grown-man football, this past Saturday’s defense can only be described as pee-wee football.  The Georgia Bulldogs missed tackle after tackle, while being consistently outplayed by Missouri’s potent offense.  Credit must be given to Mizzou quarterback James Franklin for playing an outstanding game.  It is unfortunate he is out for the remainder of the regular season with a separated shoulder. The versatile Tigers will miss him dearly.

There is no excuse for giving up 28 points in two quarters of football. Almost two months into the season, Georgia’s defense has shown only minor signs of improvement.  Last week, I wrote patience is a virtue, but it is difficult to be patient when your team struggles to execute basic fundamentals. The reason for the highlights below below begins about 46 seconds into the video. At the 6:10 mark in the second quarter.  Cue the Benny Hill music.

The Georgia D adjusted, and played better in the second half, but they cannot expect to only show up for the final two quarters and still be able to win a football game. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham needs to get more out of his personnel.

Aaron Murray Says Turnovers Killed Georgia
Aaron Murray told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution turnovers ended the Bulldogs comeback chances.  The most heartbreaking gaffe was probably when Georgia running back Brendan Douglas fumbled inside the Missouri ten yard-line late in the first half.  The mistake squashed any momentum UGA could have carried into the locker room.

To be fair, QB Aaron Murray coughed up the football to end the previous series, which Missouri promptly picked up and returned for a touchdown.  The error left the Bulldogs in dire straits, as Bulldog Nation found themselves in a 28-10 hole they could not climb out of. UGA committed four turnovers in the contest, Missouri did not give away the ball.

Dawgs Prepare to Hunker Down Against Vanderbilt
Georgia remains in contention for a third straight SEC East crown.  If the Bulldogs plan on making it to Atlanta, Mark Richt and company must find a way to right the ship. Coach Richt believes injuries are no excuse for losing, but they sure do make it more difficult to achieve victory.  Georgia’s Southeastern Conference fate likely rests on the ankle of tailback Todd Gurley.