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Georgia 62, Vanderbilt 0: It was as bad as it looked

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Sometimes, the stats just tell you what you already knew.

NCAA Football: Georgia at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Five Factors

Five Factors Vanderbilt Georgia
Five Factors Vanderbilt Georgia
Plays 46 73
Total Yards 77 535
Yards Per Play 1.7 7.3
Rushing Attempts 27 45
Rushing Yards 63 244
Rushing YPP 2.3 5.4
Passing Attempts 19 28
Passing Yards 14 291
Passing YPP 0.7 10.4
Rushing Success Rate 7.40% 57.80%
Passing Success Rate 5.30% 57.10%
Success Rate 6.50% 57.50%
Avg. Field Position 23.6 43.1
PP40 0 5.17
Turnovers 3 1

As a Vanderbilt fan, there are exactly two types of brutal losses. There are the “well we may be Vanderbilt, but even we don’t expect to lose to that team” games, and those are your UNLVs, your Temples, any school with a direction in its name (yes, I’m counting you, Middle.)

And then there are the “our expectations for you were low but HOLY FUCK” games. Because while we don’t expect to beat the Alabamas and Floridas and Georgias of the world, we certainly don’t expect to lose to them by scores of 59-0 or 56-0 or, well, 62-0. We certainly don’t get any enjoyment out of national college football writers and professional internet shitposters tweeting about whether we’ll end the game with more yards of total offense than Georgia has points.

In any case, well, if you had any questions about the talent level of Clark Lea’s first Vanderbilt team, those should have been answered after Saturday. Because holy shit. I linked to the Statistical I did after the 2017 Alabama game and I’ll note that Vanderbilt actually had a lower success rate against Georgia on Saturday than the 7.89% they posted against the Tide four years ago. It’s not every day that you see a team run 46 plays and have three of them qualify as successful. That Vanderbilt technically generated two scoring chances is a testament that two of the three successful plays happened to occur on the same drive, and even that required the assistance of a 15-yard personal foul penalty to set up a 49-yard field goal attempt by Joseph Bulovas, which he missed. (The other scoring opportunity came on the final drive of the game, which started at the Georgia 38. A scoring opportunity is defined as having a first down inside the other team’s 40, which was the result of Georgia punting after getting backed up to its own 1 after a Mike Wright interception.)

The point here is that exactly nothing worked for Vanderbilt on Saturday, and if you want a look at the current talent level of the Vanderbilt football program, well, this was it. It almost makes the 24-21 win at Colorado State and the somewhat-competitive 41-23 loss to Stanford look... better? (Oh yeah, and since losing to Vanderbilt, Colorado State has beaten Toledo and was weirdly competitive with Iowa.) Or maybe this just says something about Georgia, which actually had 12 scoring opportunities in this game and came away empty on two of them thanks to an interception and a goal line stand, and they settled for field goals twice. The point is that Steve Spurrier hung 71 on Woody Widenhofer; Kirby Smart, mercifully, only put up 62.

Passing Stats

Passing Comp Att Comp % Yds TD INT Sacks Yds Lost Net Yds Success Rate YPP
Passing Comp Att Comp % Yds TD INT Sacks Yds Lost Net Yds Success Rate YPP
Mike Wright 3 9 33.30% 16 0 1 0 0 16 11.10% 1.8
Ken Seals 2 9 22.20% 8 0 1 1 10 -2 0.00% -0.2

The quick hook for Ken Seals on Saturday was a bit surprising, but maybe there was more to the neck-and-neck quarterback competition in fall camp than we thought at the time. Because while the main argument for Seals over Mike Wright was that Seals was a much more polished passer, if Seals is going to be roughly as effective as Wright throwing the ball, then I don’t really see much of an argument against playing the guy who’s the better runner (and it really isn’t even close, either.)

With that said, at least by the numbers, the gap has mostly been made up by Seals’ regression as a passer through the season’s first four games. Seals had a decent 127.6 passer rating as a true freshman; four games into his sophomore season, he’s at 92.7. For comparison, the much-maligned Riley Neal had a 117 passer rating in his lone season as Vanderbilt’s signal caller; Johnny McCrary had a 106.2 passer rating in his two seasons at Vanderbilt. Larry Smith, Vanderbilt’s sometimes-starter from 2008-11, posted a career 94.4 rating. 92.7 is basically Damian Allen territory; it’s a level of quarterback play that normally gets you benched unless your name is Rod Dowhower and you insist on running a pro-style offense with an option quarterback. Anyway, we saw enough from Seals in 2020 to know that he’s a hell of a lot better than this, but... uh, something isn’t working right now.

Rushing Stats

Rushing Att Yds YPA TD Success Rate
Rushing Att Yds YPA TD Success Rate
Mike Wright 8 41 5.1 0 25.00%
Rocko Griffin 8 7 0.9 0 0.00%
Patrick Smith 6 13 2.2 0 0.00%
Dylan Betts-Pauley 2 0 0 0 0.00%
James Ziglor III 2 -2 -1 0 0.00%
Ken Seals 1 4 4 0 0.00%

Yeah, you’re reading that right: Mike Wright was responsible for all three of Vanderbilt’s successful plays on Saturday.

Not a whole lot else to write about here. True freshman Dylan Betts-Pauley got his first two carries, neither of which went anywhere, and Rocko Griffin had a rough day against the Georgia defense. I’m not sure that Re’Mahn Davis (now out for the season) would have done much better, but, well, this is going to be tough.

Receiving Stats

Receiving Targets Catches Yds TD Catch Rate Yds/Target Yds/Catch Success Rate
Receiving Targets Catches Yds TD Catch Rate Yds/Target Yds/Catch Success Rate
Chris Pierce 5 1 6 0 20.00% 1.2 6 0.00%
Rocko Griffin 2 2 6 0 100.00% 3 3 0.00%
Cam Johnson 2 1 10 0 50.00% 5 10 50.00%
Devin Boddie 2 1 2 0 50.00% 1 2 0.00%
Will Sheppard 2 0 0 0 0.00% 0 #DIV/0! 0.00%
Amir Abdur-Rahman 1 0 0 0 0.00% 0 #DIV/0! 0.00%
Quincy Skinner Jr. 1 0 0 0 0.00% 0 #DIV/0! 0.00%
James Ziglor III 1 0 0 0 0.00% 0 #DIV/0! 0.00%

No, I have no idea why Cam Johnson has suddenly become a complete nonfactor in the offense (both of his targets came on the final drive of the game, which uh, also happened last week against Stanford.) Maybe somebody should ask Clark Lea about it in his next press conference! True freshman Quincy Skinner Jr. saw his first target in this game.

Defense

  • This is going to be a recurring theme for the rest of the season, I think, but part of Year Zero is figuring out which holdovers from the previous regime are keepers and Ethan Barr is just an obvious standout on this defense, with six tackles and an interception on Saturday.
  • Barr was only third on the team in tackles, but the two ahead of him, Max Worship (nine tackles) and Michael Owusu (seven) are both seniors who could technically come back next season, but I’m not holding my breath.
  • Another keeper: Anfernee Orji, with five tackles and two for loss.
  • True freshman DB Marlen Sewell saw his first action and had three tackles and a forced fumble. Solid debut.
  • True freshman defensive linemen Marcus Bradley and Devin Lee both debuted Saturday as well and had, respectively, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.

Notes

  • Rocko Griffin got his first career start at running back with Re’Mahn Davis out, and Julian Hernandez started at center for the second week in a row.
  • True freshmen who saw action on Saturday: Marlen Sewell, Patrick Smith, James Ziglor, Dylan Betts-Pauley, Errington Truesdell, Devin Lee, Quincy Skinner Jr., Marcus Bradley. That’s a longer list than it’s been in previous weeks and while this game might not be representative in that it was basically garbage time starting around midway through the first quarter, it’ll be interesting to see whether Lea starts giving the freshmen more playing time as the season goes on.
  • Also worth watching: whether the staff starts trying to work the numbers to redshirt some guys. That might explain why Terion Sugick didn’t play after appearing in the previous two games; John Howse hasn’t been seen after playing in the first two. On the other hand, Errington Truesdell has appeared in all four games and doesn’t seem to be playing much outside of special teams, so I can’t really see a rationale for not redshirting him. There’s probably no way around burning Patrick Smith’s redshirt with the state of the running back room, but I also just can’t see any point in burning a bunch of redshirts to go 2-10.
  • Ben Bresnahan was seen going through warmups, but the participation report indicates that he didn’t play.
  • On the other hand, Justin Harris appeared for the first time this season after missing the first three games this season.
  • This is all a long way of saying it’s going to be a while before all the Derek Mason is out of this program.

What’s Next

Vanderbilt plays UConn at 7 PM CT on ESPNU on Saturday, and I am almost certain that internet shitposters will not be paying attention to this, not at all.