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Let’s Try That Again: Week 8 vs Georgia

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The #5 Bulldogs will test every bit of the Commodores.

Georgia v Vanderbilt
Ke’Shawn Vaughn was important both running and catching the ball. Again.
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

I must admit that I am pretty tense before this game. It might have to do with the fact I am about to try a difficult game after drinking while watching The Final Sacrifice. Georgia is an elite team. Vanderbilt’s roster has limitations, and even Ke’Shawn Vaughn is handicapped with an average speed rating. Georgia wins the rating battles 93 to 86 overall, 93 to 90 on offense, and 93-83 on defense. The statistical rankings in the preview showed how scary their defense has been along with how strong their running attack has been.

The poll results last week give me some bullets though. Breaking out the option attack with Mo Hasan a few times along with going into the game planning to be more aggressive on 4th downs gives me a chance to play a little faster and looser on early downs. Also, the location is in my favor since the wonky SEC schedule has somehow put this game in Nashville. Vanderbilt comes out in the best uniform combo with black helmets, gold jerseys (with the sweet black shoulders), and black pants. Georgia are in the traditional red helmets, white jerseys, and silver britches.

Rodrigo “Hot Rod” Blankenship tees the ball up and boots it about 8 yards deep into the end zone. Jamauri Wakefield makes the decision to bring the ball out anyway and returns the ball all the way out to the Vanderbilt 49! Most of you think I am Derek Mason anyway, so I decided to satisfy that group along with the crazies who wanted Mo Hasan to start and the ones who wanted to see a Mo Hasan package. Mo loses a yard on the first play before giving the ball to Vaughn for another loss, this time of 3. It almost seems scouted. Welcome to the game, Kyle Shurmur! Shurmur stares down the tough situation and throws a dart to Bolar on a post for 24 yards and a first down. The offensive line implodes to lose 1 on a handoff to Vaughn. Ke’Shawn loses 5 more on a screen when a blocker fails to keep his block long enough. The Commodores have faced 3rd and 24 then 3rd and 16 which is just where any team wants to be! On this 3rd down, Shurmur misses his target by 10 yards with his feet set and while throwing in rhythm. Guay’s 54-yard FG attempt juuuust misses. The big kick return is wasted.

Georgia takes over at their 37-yard line. Fromm keeps on an option and TRUCKS Joejuan Williams to get 15 yards. Fantastic. Fromm hands to D’Andre Swift for 10 on the next play. Fromm keeps again and breaks a tackle from Drew Birchmeier but Cameron Tidd gets him down for a loss of 5. No receivers get free, and Jake Fromm throws the ball away. On 3rd and 15 at the Vanderbilt 43, the Georgia QB decides to throw a pass right to Charles Wright who catches the ball and gets back to the Vanderbilt 37.

A slow release from Shurmur leads to a sack instead of an easy completion on a short pass. Blanket coverage allows pressure to eventually force Shurmur to throw an incompletion off his back foot. Pinkney shows up via a slight wheel route from a bunch formation for 20 yards! Vanderbilt has a new set of downs just a yard shy of midfield. Vaughn gets nothing on a draw. Fleet-footed Kyle Shurmur takes off scrambling and somehow gains 11 yards. After the shocking first down, Bolar makes a catch then gets drilled and fumbles. Georgia recovers the ball at their 33. But wait! A booth review has been initiated, and it is determined Bolar’s knee was down a split second before the ball came free! Vandy keeps the ball at the 29 facing 2nd and inches. Vaughn powers inside for 6. A good defensive play in the Georgia secondary tips away a pass intended for Pierce. Bolar makes another catch for 9 yards with no fumble drama. Oh, my goodness! Jaire George takes a FB Dive, and the interior of the offensive line parts the seas for him to run 13 yards to the goal line where he DESTROYS 2 Bulldogs on his way into the end zone! Hit the horn! Vanderbilt leads 7-0! The first points come 5:25 into the first quarter.

Georgia starts their drive with handoffs to Swift for 8, 6, and 5 then throw him the ball for 7 before going back to him with another handoff to lose 2. Swift is slow to get up on the play. A pass hits Nauta in the hands then Jordan Griffin’s helmet and Donovan Sheffield’s hands before falling to the turf. It is 3rd and 12 after the missed opportunity. The injury report expects D’Andre Swift to be out for 2 quarters. Does Georgia have any other great RBs to fill the void? They might be okay without him. In another injury scare, Tidd hits Fromm so hard that he breaks the replay as the pass falls incomplete. After a moment, the technical difficulties are worked out, and the play can be diagnosed. The Bulldogs had looked for Elijah Holyfield on a HB screen. Dayo Odeyingbo had driven a Georgia OL into the HB to make Fromm hold onto the ball too long. The ensuing punt goes into the end zone.

Vaughn goes up the middle for 2 as the quarter ends. Shurmur hurries his throw and misses Lipscomb. The next play is another poor throw. Sam Dobbs cannot hold onto the underthrown ball. Thome skips the punt out of bounds at the UGA 32.

Another attempted screen by Georgia is diagnosed and thrown away. Elijah Holyfield finds a crease up the middle for 15. Fromm is panicking way too early on these screens and heaves another one into the benches. I have only been bringing four pass rushers on them, though I have used the pinch and crash to have the rush come right down the middle. Dayo blows up a speed option but grabs the facemask to give away 15 free yards for no reason. Hardman drops a pass. Fromm is 1/8 passing so far. Demetrius Robertson makes a 14-yard reception. Tyler Simmons beats Jordan Griffin and Ladarius Wiley in bracket coverage then gets a great block downfield from Calvin Ridley to score from 27 yards out. The game is tied at 7 with 6:09 until halftime.

The next Vanderbilt drive gets off to a good start when Lipscomb catches a slant for 13 after Shurmur had to roll to his right. A very similar play but to Pierce has the same result immediately following. An off-tackle carry by Vaughn gains 2. Hasan comes back in the game. This time the option gets 10 when Hasan pulls the ball. He hurries the Commodores back to the line and runs the same play for 11 more yards! The same process repeats for another gain of 8! The defensive end is crashing to chase Vaughn and leaving space for Mo. Shurmur replaces Hasan with Coach Anchor O’Gold not wanting to risk a fumble as Hasan gets tired. A counter from shotgun for Vaughn gets 7 before a stretch gets 6. A PA screen is diagnosed and knocked down. Vanderbilt has the ball 3rd and 4 at the Georgia 9. The offense needs to cut that in half to setup a comfortably convertible 4th down chance. Vaughn only gets a half a yard. This is on the limits, but I am going for it with the score tired. Shurmur has to roll right then tuck the ball, and he gets not just the first down but the touchdown! Shurmur’s legs give Vanderbilt a 14-7 lead with 2:35 left in the first half.

Fromm keeps on the next play on a speed option. Dayo took the pitch man while Fromm ran for 10 and a first down. Hardman cannot handle a pass as Randall Haynie battles with him. Holyfield only gets 1 on a draw. Unfortunately, Hardman burns Haynie when the safety (controlled by me) bites on an underneath route, and the speedy receiver does not drop this one before taking it all the way home for a 64-yard TD. The game is again tied, now at 14, and only 29 seconds have run off the clock since Vanderbilt’s touchdown.

Lipscomb cannot hold on through contact to start the next drive. Vanderbilt needed that completion to start the move towards points to end the half. Oh crap. Deandre Baker just made a diving, one-handed interception at the Vanderbilt 36. This is bad.

Sheffield makes sure a slant is dropped by getting his hand on the ball. Nauta catches an out route for 4. Drew Birchmeier makes a very impressive play by seeing the screen coming and tackling Holyfield 4 yards deep. Rodrigo Blankenship comes out for the 54-yard FG attempt. Vanderbilt takes a timeout as Kirby Smart was letting the clock run before attempting the kick. Hot Rod misses!

Vanderbilt takes over with 1:16 to play in the first half at their own 37 with 2 timeouts. Pinkney gets thumped over the middle and drops the pass. Bolar gains 9 on an out. Vaughn makes a catch in the flat for 5 and goes out of bounds with 52 ticks left. A sweet slant and corner route by Pierce earns 13 yards. Shurmur goes back to Pierce for 15 and another heady play to stop the clock at 35 by going out of bounds. The ball sits at the UGA 20 if you aren’t doing the math. Vaughn carries inside for 2, and Vanderbilt uses their 2nd timeout of the half. A great play by a Georgia DB tips away a slant to Pierce. It is 3rd and 8. Pinkney loses the jump ball battle in the end zone to cause an incompletion. Coach O’Gold elects for the FG try on 4th and 8. Guay makes the 36-yard FG to lead 17-14 with 21 seconds until halftime.

Ridley starts the time-crunched drive by gaining 5 on an out against deep zone. Randall Haynie kills the drive by making a sack on a double slot corner blitz. The defensive call had 7 pass rushers and 4 defenders dropping into deep coverage. Georgia decides halftime is okay. They will get the ball back trailing by 3 on the road.

At halftime, a few things stand out. The Vanderbilt rushing attack has only worked on the one drive when Hasan was inserted. Even after Shurmur returned, it was as if the AI was backed off. That Jaire George run was also bizarrely awesome. The defense is doing well. Hardman’s speed has been a problem. Vanderbilt has the advantage through the air (126 to 117) and on the ground (76-55). Leading in both is surprising.

Swift is back from his injury and loses one. Riley Ridley becomes the second Ridley to contribute with a 12-yard reception. Swift carries for 2, but Wiley destroys him at the end of it. Jake Fromm keeps for 2 yards. Swift takes the handoff on 3rd down and is awarded a new set of downs by less than a foot. The QB-run issues of this game flare up again as Fromm keeps for 33 including breaking a Haynie tackle like he was a small child. Georgia goes back to the ground with Swift for 4 yards then consecutive draws by Holyfield for 8 and -1. Fromm keeps up the middle for 4. The QB somehow sneaks a pass through to Riley Ridley at the 1. Fromm keeps and waltzes into the end zone when everyone crashes on the handoff option at the mesh. Georgia takes their first lead at 21-17 with 4:24 left in 3rd.

Baker drops an easier chance at an interception when Shurmur misses by just a bit on a corner route. Vaughn runs a little sit-down route just behind where the right (from offensive perspective) DE was then Shurmur leads him outside and up the field a bit. The dangerous RB takes off for 31 yards! Shurmur follows with an 11 yard completion on a curl to Pierce and 20 more to the same target on an intermediate out from play action. Vanderbilt is at the Georgia 13. For the third straight play, Pierce makes a catch and gains 10 on a slant. Ke’Shawn Vaughn goes up the middle easily when Vanderbilt comes out with 2 TEs but Georgia only uses one DL between the tackles. The lead flips back to Vanderbilt at 24-21 with 3:25 in 3rd.

Swift breaks away from Tidd’s arm tackle, but Dayo Odeyingbo spins him down for a gain of only 3. Dare Odeyingbo takes those 3 yards back by winning handily at the point of attack. Tidd continues the defensive lines dominance on the series by sacking Fromm! That sack gives Tidd 5 sacks on the season. Georgia will punt from their own 17.

Ellis returns the punt to the Georgia 41. Vanderbilt has a golden opportunity here. It starts with an inside zone handoff to Vaughn for 9 followed by a power handoff that gets 6. Shurmur fires a curl to Lipscomb for 12. Ke’Shawn catches a screen and outruns a DL to the end zone for a 14-yard TD! Guay’s successful PAT makes it 31-21 Vanderbilt with 1:31 left in Q3.

The danger man Hardman catches a short throw over the middle then breaks a tackle attempted by Haynie for a gain of 13. Swift loses one on a HB screen before getting the lone yard back on another screen pass. Hardman beats his man and Tae Daley deep downfield for 52 yards to Vanderbilt 11. With the Bulldogs threatening to cut the lead, Randall Haynie steps up and makes an interception in the end zone. The redshirt freshman DB sees a seam and takes off but is barely tackled before reaching daylight.

Shurmur leads the offense out at the Vanderbilt 13 up 10 with 30 seconds to go in the 3rd quarter. Vaughn makes a catch on the checkdown but only gets 1 yard. Vanderbilt allows the 3rd quarter to end then sends out Mo Hasan. Mo gives to Vaughn as the DE sets, and Ke’Shawn gains 9. Like earlier, Hasan’s package includes going no huddle. The defense responds the same way to allow an 11 yard gain. The end finally crashes, and Hasan keeps but only gains 1. Shurmur returns to the game. Vaughn takes a counter for 6 yards leaving 3rd and 3 at the Vanderbilt 42. George gets a second carry but only gains 1. Going for it here seems a bit too aggressive up 10 in the 4th while in your own territory. Thome launches one and forces a fair catch at the 15.

Fromm keeps for 13. I whiffed. A double move gets Haynie on Hardman’s hip, and the pass goes through his fingers just before Wiley gets over to help make the tackle on a gain of 29. Fromm keeps again for 15. Watching him run is painful. Wiley makes a nice play and knocks away a pass intended for Nauta. The entire defensive line swamps a draw for no gain. With Wiley blitzing on third down, Fromm finds Hardman to that side for 14 and a first down at the Vanderbilt 15. Wiley does the same on the next down and gets Swift 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Holyfield gains 11, but it is still 3rd and 1. He powers in for the 6-yard TD with 3:26 remaining. The PAT cuts the Vanderbilt lead to 31-28.

Georgia kicks it away, and Vanderbilt starts their drive. Kyle Shurmur fakes a give to Vaughn then throws to Pinkney for 3 yards. A draw to Vaughn gets 5 for 3rd and 2. A called pass is audibled to an inside handoff that gains 3 and the first. I need to watch the clock a bit more because my natural inclination is to go faster than prudent in this situation. Pinkney makes a short catch then powers through two tackles for 8 yards. Georgia’s first timeout is taken with 1:58 to play. Lipscomb gets 3 and a first down on a screen pass to force the 2nd UGA timeout. A screen to the other side adds 3 to Pierce’s totals. Georgia’s final timeout leaves 1:49 to go with Vanderbilt 2nd and 7 at their own 37. Trying to catch the defense selling out for the run, Shurmur fakes to Vaughn then throws incomplete to Bolar. The same idea works much better the second time as Shurmur completes to Lipscomb for 15 and an all-important first down. The fresh set of downs will seal it barring a fumble. Vaughn carries inside for 1 before Shurmur kneels right on the Star V at midfield, and the clock will run to all zeroes! Vanderbilt has upset #5 Georgia! The final score is 31-28.

Game Stats

Vanderbilt Georgia
Vanderbilt Georgia
First Downs 24 19
Rushing Attempts 30 31
Rushing Yards 129 146
Passing (Comp/Att) 23/36 15/26
Passing Yards 255 247
3rd Down Conv. 6/11 6/10
4th Down Conv. 1/1 0/0
2PT Conv. 0/0 0/0
RZ (Trips-TD-FG) 5-4-1 3-2-0
Turnovers 1 2
Interceptions 1 2
Fumbles 0 0

A big win normally requires some standout performances. This win was an entire team effort though only 5 players caught a pass. Shurmur was mostly effective, though not prolific, going 23/36 for 255 yards with a TD and an interception while being sacked once. Ke’Shawn Vaughn carried the ball 19 times for 75 yards and a TD. Mo Hasan’s 3 stints saw him run 5 times for 29 yards. Shurmur is credited with 4 rushes for 11 yards, but that includes the sack and a kneel down. Jaire George rushed twice for 14 yards and a TD. When it came to catching passes, Chris Pierce led the way with 7 grabs for 85 yards. Vaughn also had 5 catches for 46 yards and a TD to go with his rushing numbers. Kalija Lipscomb and CJ Bolar both had 4 catches for 41 and 52 yards, respectively. Jared Pinkney had 3 receptions for 31 yards. On defense, Randall Haynie had an interception while making 7 tackles with 6 of them being solo and including a sack. Charles Wright had an interception and a single, solo tackle. Cameron Tidd had a sack along with 3 other TFLs and 2 more tackles. All of his work was done solo. LaDarius Wiley was his usual busy self and made 10 tackles with 8 of them being solo and 3 being for a loss. Ryley Guay made 1 of his 2 kicks, but the miss was from 54. Parker Thome kept dangerous returner Mecole Hardman at bay by having 2 punts for 88 yards with no returns allowed.

The Commodores experience an immediate benefit from the win when the punter and kicker, both 83 overall, commit. The 68-overall CB also commits. The additions are all important. However, on the field, Vanderbilt will face a unique challenge to build momentum from the win. Due to some video game quirks, Vanderbilt has two open dates in a row before facing Florida.

The win immediately pushes Vanderbilt back into the Top 25 polls. Over the course of the 3 editions that come out prior to the Florida game, the Coaches Poll ranks the Commodores #21, #19, and #18. In the Media Poll, Vandy goes to #19 then sticks at #16 for two weeks. Most importantly, the BCS ranking movements exactly mirror the Media Poll. Vanderbilt only faces one more ranked opponent in the regular season. The Kentucky Wildcats are #11 in both the Coaches and Media Polls while the BCS has them at #10. Florida is also still receiving votes in both human polls after a 42-14 beating at the hands of Georgia knocked them from #24 in both. Tennessee is 4-5 (1-5), and Georgia Tech is 6-3 (4-3).

In case you are wondering about Atlanta, Vanderbilt leads the SEC East. The standings, with SEC records, are Vanderbilt (5-1), Kentucky (4-1), Georgia (5-2), Florida (3-3), South Carolina (3-4), Missouri (3-4), and Tennessee (1-5). The game knows that a Big XII is more SEC than THEM. Kentucky’s lone SEC loss was to #2 Alabama while they have beaten Arkansas, Florida (OT), South Carolina, and #22 Mississippi State with Missouri, at Vanderbilt, at Georgia, and at Tennessee to play. Georgia lost to #24 Texas A&M and #18 Vanderbilt (duh) with wins over South Carolina, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Missouri, and Florida while having at #13 Auburn and #11 Kentucky left to play. As long as the Commodores beat Kentucky, they only need to win either of the games at Florida or hosting THEM to clinch the SEC East’s spot in the SEC Championship game.

The award semifinalist lists are also announced. A few Dores find their names. The Bednarik Award for the best defensive player in the country has Wily at #2 and Haynie at #3. The Walker Award for the best RB has Vaughn at #11. The Mackey Award for the best TE lists Jared Pinkney at #3. Wiley and Haynie also appear on the Thorpe Award for the best DB but are somehow #3 and #5. Jamauri Wakefield is #12, the final semifinalist, on the Best Returner award.

Team Rankings Preview

Vanderbilt Florida
Vanderbilt Florida
Points Per Game 31.8 (#23) 22.8 (#82)
Total Offense 363.3 (#54) 337.0 (#91)
Rush Offense 91.3 (#123) 165.8 (#64)
Pass Offense 272.0 (#9) 171.3 (#83)
Total Defense 398.1 (#114) 294.0 (#18)
Rush Defense 80.1 (#1) 119.1 (#6)
Pass Defense 318.0 (#126) 174.9 (#54)
Turnover Diff. 9 (#3) -1 (#74)

Unfortunately, the Florida game is another location swap, and Vanderbilt travels to The Swamp. The 2018 Commodores jumped all over the Gators and led 21-3 with 6:42 remaining in the first half, but Ke’Shawn Vaughn was injured. The offense then stalled completely without the electric running back. Vanderbilt would only get 2 more FGs before losing 37-27 in a game I would argue is one of the worst missed opportunities of the Derek Mason era. On the virtual gridiron, Florida is struggling on offense while being stout on defense. Vanderbilt’s disparity between pass and run, both offensively and defensively, is incredible. In both categories, the offense has been getting better while the defense has gotten worse. The defense needs to have a better day against a struggling offense while the offense will have to continue its excellence.

For the poll this week, the obvious question is whether the Mo Hasan package should continue to get used. Also, if you want to see it continued to be used, should I even think about throwing the ball with him in the game? Finally, how hard should I dance and Gator Chomp after the first TD? I really wish I could control that. The polls will close at 11:59 PM Wednesday night.

Poll

Does the Mo Hasan package stay in use?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    No, but it was fun while it lasted.
    (1 vote)
  • 34%
    Yes, but limit it to only 1 or 2 series.
    (9 votes)
  • 46%
    Yes, and it was used the right amount.
    (12 votes)
  • 3%
    Yes, but it should be used a little more.
    (1 vote)
  • 11%
    START. MO.
    (3 votes)
26 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Should Hasan have any chance to throw a pass?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    No, do not overcomplicate this idea.
    (10 votes)
  • 53%
    Yes, you have have to keep the defense honest.
    (14 votes)
  • 7%
    Of course your starting QB should throw the ball!
    (2 votes)
26 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How excessive should the celebrations be?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Any Vanderbilt celebration is excessive in The Swamp.
    (7 votes)
  • 61%
    Get Earl’s money’s worth!
    (16 votes)
  • 11%
    Don’t be as classless as jorts.
    (3 votes)
26 votes total Vote Now