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15 Thoughts Wants to Believe. Really.

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Saturday's victory in Vanderbilt wasn't easy and I suspect we made it harder on ourselves than it needed to be. Things get real in Athens next Saturday and there is much to work on. Let's chat, shall we?

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

1.  The Vanderbilt defense is much improved from last season.  I'm not about to suggest that they are among the Conference's best, but fundamentally they played very sound football and our offense really struggled all day.  Credit Derek Mason.  He might not last more than a few seasons as a head coach, but the man had his defenders in the right places for most of the day.

2. On Vandy's 2nd punt, punter Tommy Openshaw dropped the snap and scooted around the left side for 13 yards and a first down to keep their second drive alive.  Ultimately, we weathered this slightly bizarre exchange.  But I took this as a sign from Excessivus that today would be another long, strange trip to Nashville.  My gut never lets me down, and yesterday was no exception.  The other shoe would surely drop...

2A. ...and it did:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="und" dir="ltr">Ow. <a href="http://t.co/JVLj8VHYr8">pic.twitter.com/JVLj8VHYr8</a></p>&mdash; SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) <a href="https://twitter.com/SBNationGIF/status/642790308221087745">September 12, 2015</a></blockquote>
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I suppose this was helmet-to-helmet contact, but I do not believe for a moment that Carter was targeting Johnny McCrary.  It was a football play.  Carter is guilty of being rather tall, I suppose.  If McCrary still had the ball, would Lorenzo have been tossed?  Hey, it's Nashville.

Now THIS is targeting...

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">BYU dealt a low blow to Boise State Saturday night. Literally. <a href="http://t.co/M8xeIxdsC8">http://t.co/M8xeIxdsC8</a> <a href="http://t.co/ANliyyrrNj">pic.twitter.com/ANliyyrrNj</a></p>&mdash; SB✯Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) <a href="https://twitter.com/SBNationCFB/status/643043987054424064">September 13, 2015</a></blockquote>
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3. While I'm on the subject of officiating, and I hate to dwell on this because usually calls "balance out" over the course of a game, I want to know what the League has to say about the personal foul "hands to the face" penalty on Leonard Floyd that kept a Vandy drive alive and culminated in Vandy's first field goal?  Crickets, probably...

4. Vanderbilt held all day.  All. Damn. Day.

THE GOOD STUFF

5. Nick Chubb will get his yards.  Nineteen carries, 189 for a 9.9 average (long run of 63 yards) and he was a few inches from tight-roping down the sidelines for a score.  Nick, probably by design, sat for a large chunk of the game - even when the outcome was becoming a little dicey towards the end.  Not sure I agree with this strategy.  Sony Michel's 31 yard touchdown run was a thing of beauty (12 rushes, 56 yards, 4.1 avg).  Nick Chubb has the best vision I think I've ever seen.

6. I saw one toss-sweep, I think.  Everything else was between the tackles.  There's playing it close to the vest, and then there's Georgia's offense in 2015.  Still, we ran the ball when we had to.  Personally, I don't think we ran it enough.  Vanderbilt loaded up the box and the safeties were playing the run all day long.  More on that in a minute.

7. Isaiah McKenzie seems to be feeling no lasting effects from his hamstring injury.  His 77-yard punt return for a score looked as smooth as warm butter.  On the day, he returned 3 kicks, for 89 yards in total.  He's becoming a real weapon and any kick that doesn't have a hang-time element is asking for trouble when #16 touches it.  He had one carry on a jet-sweep (!) for 24 yards that he nearly broke and a nifty 15 yard reception.

<iframe src="//giphy.com/embed/3o85xpEWg7vgLHHXWg" width="480" height="297" frameBorder="0" class="giphy-embed" allowFullScreen></iframe><p><a href="http://giphy.com/gifs/sbnation-3o85xpEWg7vgLHHXWg">via GIPHY</a></p>

iMac - The Human Joystick.

8.  Our Tight Ends barely got involved, but Jeb Blazevich caught two Greyson Lambert passes for 29 yards; Jackson Harris show nice hands on his single reception from Brice Ramsey for 10 yards.

9. Have a game, Jordan Jenkins.  His stat line should garner him defensive player-of-the-week consideration:  Two sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss and 11 total tackles.  He caused the Vanderbilt offensive brain-trust to switch out their right tackle after the first two series as Jenkins was simply blowing up whoever they put on his side.  Lorenzo Carter was out all day, but we still pressured all day.  I liked Davin Bellamy's effort, too.

10.  Our defense is improving.  Georgia intercepted 3 passes and probably left at least 2 more on the table.  McCrary completed a few passes that were within an eyelash of being batted down and somehow threaded a needle on a few high-risk shots down the middle.  Ultimately, Vandy had to pass and Johnny McCrary completed 24 of 50 for 295 yards, while they eeked out only 105 yards rushing.  Vandy's Ralph Webb only rushed for 68 yards, and he's a very good back.

10ADominick Sanders atoned for some lapses in week 1 very nicely.  His tackling was much more solid and his 88-yard, late-4th quarter pick-6 ended all doubt...which was substantial.  Rico McGraw played quite a few snaps again as a true-freshman.  Jake Ganus showed up in a big way.  He was around the ball all-day and showed great concentration on his interception in the end zone that, turns out, was a very big play at a precarious time in the game.

ISSUES...WE'VE GOT SOME

Our first half play-board looked something like this...

11Greyson Lambert's mechanics, particularly in the first half, were terrible.  He had trouble with his footing, short-armed receivers and I honestly thought he didn't have his "legs" under him most of the time, much like a punch-drunk boxer.  It couldn't be "road-game" jitters because we were in red and outnumbered Vandy fans in their own venue.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The irony in this picture... <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DawgsOnTop?src=hash">#DawgsOnTop</a> <a href="http://t.co/5gbPlGrNpr">pic.twitter.com/5gbPlGrNpr</a></p>&mdash; Georgia Athletics (@uga_bulldog) <a href="https://twitter.com/uga_bulldog/status/643053730087194624">September 13, 2015</a></blockquote>
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His worst decision of the day was a pass that should have been picked at the goal line.  There not another team on our schedule that will drop that ball.  We got incredibly lucky on that.

Richt and Schottenheimer stuck with him.  I suppose they wanted to see what he's made of and how well he'd handle adversity.  To Lambert's credit, he played better in the second half after starting out very shaking once again on Georgia's opening possession of the 3rd quarter.  He's got to get better.  As solid as Vandy prepared for us, it's still Vanderbilt.  South Carolina has a better defense, and Alabama is a whole different animal.  Tennessee  looks improved and 110,000 screaming Hillbillies is a lot different than Vanderbilt's apathetic venue.

12. Bottom line:  Our passing game is a concern.  Where is the disconnect?  I think we are close to having a quarterback controversy.  With the exception of Southern University, we are now in the meat of the season.  Our coaches know more than I ever will, but the way our running game is set up we should have an easier time getting the ball vertically down the field.  And about those safeties practically willing us to throw down field:  Have we even really tried?  We have still not revealed what we can do, but can we do it?  Oh, and the color coded hat thing?  Strange days indeed.  Most peculiar, mama....

13.  South Carolina comes to town next week.  You think the Gamecocks are going to be hanging their heads?  No way.  We'd better be ready for a war because that's how this series rolls, despite the fact that Carolina will have to start a green quarterback.  As you have probably heard, Connor Mitch is out for this game (shoulder) and could be done for the season.  I hate hearing stuff like this, and Saturday was a particularly cruel day with several season-ending injuries.

14.  I'm not worried about Marshall Morgan.  He skulled his first attempt and his timing was slightly off.  I thought I saw a high snap or two as well.

15.  We aren't anywhere near being a complete team and certainly not a playoff-caliber squad.  There is time, but things better get frosty in a hurry.

BONUS THOUGHTS:

  • Tennessee still can't finish, but they look better than they have in a long time.  I said it in my Tennessee preview several weeks ago:  If they lose to Florida in Gainesville in a few weeks, this team could become unglued.  And Florida is still tackling each other.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Yes, we had Gator-on-Gator violence again. But this time, it wasn&#39;t an accident. <a href="http://t.co/yGLMjvLrcU">http://t.co/yGLMjvLrcU</a> <a href="http://t.co/E1SS2PCcoO">pic.twitter.com/E1SS2PCcoO</a></p>&mdash; SB✯Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) <a href="https://twitter.com/SBNationCFB/status/643064101757808640">September 13, 2015</a></blockquote>
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  • Oh, Arkansas. How do you lose at home to Toledo?
  • LSU still has some issues, but survives in Starkville.

It's never as good as it looks or as bad as it seems. We'd better tighten some things up next week.

As Always, GO DAWGS!