Rapid Reaction: Georgia does enough to beat Vanderbilt, 31-14
What it means: It was hardly pretty, but Georgia won a hard-fought SEC road game. The Bulldogs won despite not playing all that well offensively, particularly at the quarterback position. Dawgs fans aren’t likely to be happy this week, but their team had too often in years past lost games like these. Any SEC road win is always precious. Vanderbilt failed to win an SEC game in 2014, and might be hard-pressed to do so this year as well unless major changes are made on offense.
What I liked: Georgia’s Isaiah McKenzie didn’t wait long to make his return to punt return duty an emphatic one, taking a Tommy Openshaw kick back 77 yards for a touchdown to break open the game’s scoring with 4:33 left in the first period. McKenzie had played sparingly as a wide receiver in Week 1 and did not return any kicks as he continued to mend from a hamstring injury. It was McKenzie’s third career punt return for a touchdown. Vanderbilt’s defense turned in a solid effort, but its offensive ineptitude proved insurmountable.
What I didn’t like: Vanderbilt’s offense continues to struggle, and the problems largely stem from poor quarterback play from Johnny McCrary. The sophomore continues to struggle, showing all the accuracy of a Scud missile while completing just 24 of 50 passes for 295 yards and three interceptions and a touchdown. His inability to consistently show any touch doomed the Commodores offense, but problems along the offensive line and a few costly drops didn’t help. Georgia QB Greyson Lambert never appeared comfortable either, failing to complete a pass until the third period. Bulldogs offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer rightfully kept things conservative with the Virginia graduate transfer, who appeared more than a little shaky at times. Ramsey, who misfired on his first seven passes, settled down somewhat in the second half and finished day 11 for 21 for 116 yards and one fumble. An ineffective passing game was the big reason why the Dawgs were 0-for-4 on third downs in the first half and 4 for 13 for the game.
Who’s the Man: Who else? Everybody at Vanderbilt Stadium knew Georgia tailback Nick Chubb was the guy to stop, but the Commodores still couldn’t manage to do so. The sophomore Heisman Trophy candidate accounted for 128 of his game-high 189 yards in the first half on 19 carries to single-handedly carry a Bulldogs offense that was lacking in the vertical passing game. It marked the 10th consecutive game in which Chubb has rushed for at least 100 yards.
Key Play: Vandy trailed just 7-3 in the second period when the Commodores dropped what should have been an easy interception of a poorly-thrown Lambert pass. Georgia running back Sony Michel made them pay on the following play, taking a handoff and racing 31 yards for a touchdown to put the Dawgs firmly in control at 14-3 with 9:34 left in the half.
What’s Next: The Dawgs are still yet to be really tested, but that figures to change next week when South Carolina comes to Athens for a key SEC East showdown. The Gamecocks and coach Steve Spurrier have won four of the last five meetings, so Georgia will have to do better. Vanderbilt looks to rebound next week when it hosts Austin Peay in a non-conference matchup.