Location: Nashville, Tennessee
2017 record: 5-7
Head Coach: Derek Mason (5th season, 18-31 overall)
In the sixth game of the 2018 season, Georgia welcomes the Vanderbilt Commodores between the hedges. The last time Vandy came to Athens in 2016, the ‘Dores utilized big special teams plays and poor UGA execution to come out on top 17-16. The Dawgs would get revenge in 2017, dismantling Vanderbilt 45-14 in Nashville.
Beginning his 5th season at the helm, head coach Derek Mason is looking to get the Commodores bowl eligible once again after finishing the 2017 at 5-7 overall and 1-7 in the SEC. Not all was lost in 2017, however, as Vanderbilt beat Tennessee for the second straight season to claim in-state bragging rights once again.
The Commodores will need to replace star running back Ralph Webb, who ranks 6th all-time in rushing yards in the SEC. Vandy does return senior quarterback Kyle Shurmur, who has started the last 28 games for the ‘Dores. Shurmur broke the school’s single season touchdown record by tossing 26 scores in 2017.
Despite losing Webb, Shurmur will still have plenty of talent surrounding him. Wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb returns, coming off a season where he ranked in the top 15 for receiving yards in the SEC while also leading the team in receiving touchdowns. The Commodores also picked up two graduate transfers to help out Shurmur, former Illinois running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn and former Ohio State wide receiver Alex Stump.
The defense will look to rebound after a shaky 2017 season. After serving as his own defensive coordinator for his first four seasons Vanderbilt, head coach Derek Mason hired former Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver to run the defense full-time in 2018. The two will look to produce similar results as when they were co-defensive coordinators for Stanford in 2011 when the Cardinal finished 11-2.
The 2018 version of the Vanderbilt Commodores will be very similar to almost every other Vanderbilt team: a team fighting for a .500 record and bowl eligibility. S&P+ has the Commodores favored in just four games (one being Tennessee). It will be a struggle, but with a couple upsets, Vanderbilt has a shot at returning to postseason play.
One of those upsets will not be against Georgia, however. The Dawgs will not let the Commodores leave Athens victorious for a second straight time. Look for a similar game as the 2017 edition in Nashville.
Georgia 41 Vanderbilt 17
Until next time… Go Dawgs!!!