No. 2 Georgia entered its first true road game of the season on Saturday against Vanderbilt, and at half time held a 38-0 lead. Here are some observations from The Red & Black.
First half offensive efficiency
Georgia drove nearly 50 yards on its first possession of the game, and punched the ball into the endzone on a 12-yard handoff to freshman tight end Brock Bowers. The scoring drive took only 1:53 off of the clock. With 11 minutes left in the first quarter, the Georgia offense gained a 7-0 lead.
Starting quarterback JT Daniels looked composed in the pocket as he fired for 129 passing yards in the first quarter and with only one incompletion in 10 attempts. After 15 minutes, Daniels’ passer rating was 257.6.
Georgia’s second possession also resulted in a touchdown, this time of the passing variety. Daniels found Bowers again for a 25-yard score. The freshman tight end was responsible for both of the Bulldog’s first two scores.
After a fumble on the ensuing kickoff return, the Bulldogs again found themselves on the doorstep of the Commodore endzone. With only seven minutes left in the first quarter, running back Zamir White guided a one-yard run in for his first, and Georgia’s third, score of the day.
Another subsequent Vanderbilt punt gave the Georgia offense a short field which ended with a 12-yard Daniels passing touchdown, this time to redshirt freshman Ladd McConkey. After less than nine minutes of play in Nashville Stadium, The Bulldogs held a 28-0 lead, reminiscent of their Week 2 effort against UAB.
Daniels continued his inclusive passing tendencies and distributed the ball to four different receivers in his two-touchdown quarter. Stetson Bennett entered the game at the start of the second quarter, and led the Georgia offense to three red zone drives, but the Bulldogs tallied only one field goal across the three trips. Bennett himself threw one interception which disrupted what to that point was a near flawless offensive display.
Defensive front dominates early
Georgia's defensive line did not take long to make their presence felt in Nashville. On the first play of the game, linebacker Nolan Smith stopped Commodore running back Rocko Griffin for no gain. Two plays later, defensive lineman Jalen Carter again stopped Griffin on third down for no gain.
Both Vanderbilt’s running and passing attack struggled against what is considered one of the best defensive lines in the country. After two possessions, the Commodores had just five yards of total offense, all of which came on the ground.
On Vanderbilt’s third offensive drive, quarterback Ken Seals’ first pass was deflected by transfer cornerback Derion Kendrick and intercepted by Christopher Smith, his second of the season. The constant pressure of Georgia’s defensive line led to the takeaway, and contributed to much of Vanderbilt’s offensive inability.
Early in the second quarter, Vanderbilt found themselves pushing into Georgia territory, utilizing a series of quarterback runs. But again the Bulldog defense held and forced the Commodores into a 49-yard field goal attempt, which was missed.
Carter led the Georgia linemen with three first half tackles, one of which was for a loss. Smith led the Bulldog linebackers with three tackles of his own.
The Commodore offense finished the half with 50 total yards and only three first downs at the hands of the Bulldog defense. The Georgia secondary, one week removed from several coverage busts, allowed only six yards and two receptions in the half.
Young receiver connection
Both Bowers and McConkey possess a special talent on the field, and alongside the veteran experience of Daniels, that talent is beginning to flourish.
McConkey had two receiving touchdowns in the game’s opening quarter, and Bowers had one rushing and one receiving. Collectively they accounted for four of the Bulldogs’ first five scores, and hauled in five of Daniels’ nine completions.
Both receivers found themselves with wide open reception opportunities, and continued their positive work from weeks past. To this point in the season, Bowers leads the team in receiving yards with 243 over 17 receptions, and has also accounted for two touchdowns. McConkey, in limited action, has five receptions and one touchdown on the season.
Receptions for the two freshmen continued after Bennett’s insertion into the offense. McConkey added one additional reception, as did Bowers. With productive performances like theirs in the first half, it is likely both athletes could continue to see increased minutes on the field.