Vanderbilt hosts the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday in Nashville. Here are your three keys to a victory by the Commodores.
By Don Yates
Key 1 – Swift Not So Swift
Georgia running back D’Andre Swift is one of the top players at his position in all of college football. Vandy can’t afford to let this guy run wild. Last season he ran for 1,049 yards and 10 touchdowns while sharing the load with Elijah Holyfield, who is now a Carolina Panther. That means we’ll likely see Swift getting a lot more carries. Vandy needs to make a statement early and let Swift know it’s not going to be easy an easy game. Swift is probably going to gain a decent amount of yards no matter what happens. But if Vandy can just avoid giving up huge swaths of yardage, like the 75-yard run like by Swift last season in Athens, they should at least have a chance.
Key 2 – Win The Turnover Battle
The last time Vanderbilt beat Georgia in Nashville (31-27, 2013) Vanderbilt won the turnover battle 3-2. In that game, the Bulldogs had several late blunders and shot themselves in the foot. One new thing Vanderbilt added for the 2019 season is a springloaded gold football that is mounted at the top of the ramp where players enter the practice field. Players can punch the ball on the way out to or returning from the practice field. Hopefully, that is an indication that creating turnovers is a top priority.
Key 3 – Special Teams Are Terrific
Guay Ryley is a Biochemistry – Chemical Biology major at Vandy. He must be an excellent student to tackle two majors like that. I imagine kicking for Vanderbilt gives him a break from the rigors of those majors. Just like Guay is an excellent student, Vanderbilt needs Guay to be excellent on the field on Saturday. You see, Georgia has a kicker named Rodrigo Blankenship who is one of the top kickers in the nation. Last season he made 14-of-18 field goal attempts while helping Georgia nearly make the CFB Playoff for the second straight year. But it’s not all on Guay. The Commodores need a full-fledged quality effort from its entire special teams unit if it is to have a chance to upset vaunted Georgia on Saturday. Kickers, punters, blockers, return men, snappers, tacklers, and holders all need to do their jobs with little, if any, room for error.
This is a game where, according to the experts, Vanderbilt’s odds of winning are pretty slim. But the game still has to be played on the field. If the stars align just right, Vandy can beat the Dawgs yet again, for the third time since 2013. And they’ll shock the college football world if they pull it off.
Saturday‘s game kicks off at 6:30 PM CT (7:30 PM ET). Watch on the SEC network.