Let's get this out of the way right off the top: any win over the Tennessee Volunteers is a good one. As a 'Dawg fan who suffered through the 90's, I appreciate any loss by Phil Fulmer's School for Human Road Cones.
But even I have to admit, that wasn't the most viscerally satisfying win in Georgia history. Some are rightly wondering when this team will "flip the switch", and if there's even a switch to be flipped.
And now we have the surprising Vanderbilt Commodores coming to town for a Homecoming showdown. For what seems like the thirtieth time this season, we'll be facing a team coming off a tough loss that they'll be looking to atone for.
If there's one word which encapsulates this Vanderbilt team, it is opportunistic. Vandy's offense doesn't throw the ball well or often, ranking 116th in the nation in passing. They run the ball out of a spreadish set, averaging just under 160 yards a game. The Commodores are dead last in the SEC in total offense. However they are in the top 25 nationally in scoring defense, and have yet to surrender more than 21 points. That's largely a result of the fact that they force turnovers at an alarming rate. Quick and disturbing fact: every one of Vanderbilt's starting defensive backs has at least two interceptions this year, and all but one average better than 15 yards per return. In other words, if Matt Stafford simply throws the ball heedlessly up in the air, it's more than likely coming back the other way. Just something to think about.
The good news for Georgia is that we should matchup well against this team. Vandy's defensive front four is not as big or as athletic as the past two we've faced. Their offensive front has five new starters and is giving up better than a sack and a half a game despite the fact that Bobby Johnson's offense throws the ball about as often as Carrot Top gets nominated for an Oscar. To review: Vandy likes to run the ball, we stop the run well. Vandy doesn't want you to run the ball, and we've generally run it pretty well.
The two players to watch in this one (and there'll be more on this during tomorrow's Five Things preview) are tailback Richard Samuel and Vandy QB Mackenzi Adams. Adams is taking over as the starter for Chris Nickson, who led that infernal upset against us in 2006. While neither of the Commodores signalcallers will ever be confused with Peyton Manning, Adams is probably the more passhappy of the two. I think this is significant. If he has a bad game, Vandy is sure to follow.
Richard Samuel has been buried on the depth chart, and Coach Richt has freely admitted that this isn't because he's done anything wrong. It's because Knowshon Moreno and Caleb King have done a lot of things right. At the end of the day, the officials still only allow you to have one football on the field at a time (fascist, I tell you). So if you see Richard Samuel in the backfield a lot on Saturday, it will probably be because every Georgia tailback is getting the ball. And that, I think, may be the key to victory.
So what should you drink before a game in which Samuel and Adams are likely to be key factors in the outcome? Don't make me spell it out for you. A Samuel Adams,* of course. It's not chic, fancy, edgy or avant garde. Just good, American beer. It's that obvious. What's equally obvious to me is that we'll win this game if we run over, under and through the Commdores, pausing the ground offensive only long enough to lob the occasional play action pass. Sometimes in life, the basics are really all you need. This weekend is one such occasion. I'll be back tomorrow with the Five Things I think you'll see against Vanderbilt. Until then . . .
* You could opt for a Samuel Jackson, of course, but only if your computer's speakers are turned down, and you don't mind being cursed at by Dave Chappelle.