Opponent: Georgia Bulldogs
Date and Time: August 31 at 6:30 PM CT, on the SEC Network
All-time Series Record: Georgia leads, 57-20-2. And since 1924, it’s 56-12-1 in Georgia’s favor.
Last meeting: October 6, 2018, in Athens, which resulted in a 41-13 Georgia win.
Last year: 11-3, 2nd in S&P+
Head coach: Kirby Smart (32-10, 4th year)
Well, Derek Mason won’t be starting his sixth year at Vanderbilt with an easy game. Vanderbilt opens its 2019 football season with a visit from the Georgia Bulldogs, a team that’s likely to be in the preseason top 5.
With Jake Fromm entering his third year as the starting QB, after throwing for 2761 yards, 30 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and completing 67 percent of his passes as a sophomore, Georgia is set at the most important position on the field. He’ll have plenty of help in the backfield, with 1000-yard rusher D’Andre Swift back, and Georgia has an impressive stable of backs behind him with rising sophomore speedster James Cook and the #1 RB in the 2018 recruiting class (Zamir White) returning after missing last year with a knee injury. Georgia also has four of five starters back on the line. The receiving corps is a bit of a question mark with four of last year’s top five pass catchers gone, but did you read about the situation in the backfield and on the line? If necessary, Georgia can just line up and run the damn ball, and anyway this is Georgia — they grow skill players in a lab somewhere.
The defense is much the same story: the Bulldogs lose some guys, but they have blue-chip recruits coming in to fill those holes. And even with the losses, they rank 36th nationally in returning talent on that side of the ball. Oh yeah, and they might have the nation’s best kicker in Rodrigo Blankenship.
Basically, Vanderbilt is probably going to be 0-1 to start the season. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be anything to take away. Is the game competitive, or is Vanderbilt getting its doors blown off? It will be easy to take away positives from a game that’s still in doubt going into the fourth quarter, but a performance like the last time Georgia came to Nashville — a 45-14 Vanderbilt loss that saw Georgia emptying its bench in the second half — and this could be a very long season. Something in between, and we’re waiting for the trip to Purdue a week later to serve as a real barometer.