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3 Things That Worry Me About Vanderbilt

A conference road opener, against a team looking for a signature win, that might start their back-up quarterback, with a Jefferson-Pilot noon trap game vibe written all over it. What, me worry?

NCAA Football - Vanderbilt vs Georgia - October 14, 2006 Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Here is what I’m NOT worried about for Senior Night 2020 our first SEC road game of the year:

1) Noon kickoffs. Some may dread this because it makes the trip into Athens and setting up the tailgate that much earlier. Some dislike it simply because it isn’t a prime TV viewing slot. Me? I’m good. I’ve got a (large for me) landscaping project that I’m doing myself only on the weekends, and I fully realize I’ll be working on this into the holidays. With a wife who helps out a lot, but also wants it to be done, my weekends aren’t that much fun. Yet she’s a good Southern girl, and she knows that Georgia football takes precedence over all things. So how much work can I really get done before cleaning up and tuning into the game by noon? How much work can be accomplished if you don’t get back out there until 4:00 pm and the sun is setting earlier every day? Yeah, better not tackle too much there either. So I’m good with noon kickoffs – it’s the night games that provide me no quarter.

2) Just a few too many missed blocks and missed blocking assignments. Clean that up and we will be elite, I have no doubt. But we’re not there yet. I didn’t really think the Tate Ratledge issue would throw the entire offensive line out of whack, however that seems to be the case. Kirby Smart even alluded to the “work in progress” mentality on OL combinations to the press this week.

But here’s what we’re facing. A team that has 1 total sack for the season. That is dead last in the nation in tackles for loss. That doesn’t create turnovers, and doesn’t create havoc. So while I’m not worried about the Bulldog offensive line this weekend, I’m not expecting miracles either. Georgia Line Coach Matt Luke will probably use this to try out even more combinations; I don’t think they move Jamaree Salyer any more, but I do think we will see more of Justin Shaffer, Xavier Truss, and Broderick Jones.

3) Will they run all over us? No, they will not. Vandy’s #1 RB, Junior Re’Mahn Davis is having season-ending surgery due to injuries suffered in the 1H of the Stanford game. This is a big blow, as the Temple transfer was having a pretty good year through 2.5 games, carrying it at almost 5 yards a clip on 44 attempts. It appears they will now lean on sophomore Rocko Griffin, and two true freshman. I don’t think you’ve heard of them.

They do run the ball… possibly because the throwing game hasn’t been there. And possibly because their OL seems to have more success pushing off than backing up into pass protection. I don’t know what they have planned, but they had better plan on treating this as a formal scrimmage and just try to get some practice in.

Now forgive me, as I was weaned at the nipple of Larry Munson’s scratch. So here’s what does worry me about versus the Nashville Bachelorettes:

1) Allowing the deep ball. We’ve given up 5 pass plays of 20+ yards. And looking at the Clemson game, several more potential long passes were negated by defensive pass interference. Then again, the Nashvillians seem to prefer the shorter passing game, ranking 124th out of 130 teams in passing yards per completion. Will that negate our pass rush as they look to get the ball out quickly?

Vandy signal caller Ken Seals had just led the Commodores to a come-from-behind win against Colorado State the week before last. And once Vanderbilt got down early in last week’s game vs. Stanford, it looked like the coaching staff was hoping for more of the same. Seals did not look good and was sub .500 in pass completion percentage. Ultimately, Seals was pulled in favor of Mike Wright who promptly completed 2 of 3 passes and led the ‘Dores to a touchdown on their final drive. With options at quarterback, nothing to lose, and facing an aggressive UGA defense, does Clark Lea flip the script and go four verts?

2) Our defense hasn’t scored in 2 weeks. We beat the spread in the first two games thanks to Bulldog defenders realizing they too, have equal opportunity to enter the scoring fray. We even lost the turnover battle last week against South Carolina. I… I… I don’t even know who we are anymore.

3) Speaking of which, Todd Monken is bewitched. Check this scenario. If you’ve got your #1 receiver out with an ACL (Pickens), a burner with a bad hammy (Smith), your most dependable guy not even at 100% (Jackson), the best all-around wide-out sitting on the sideline (Blaylock), the most desirable off-season transfer and freak athlete MIA (Gilbert), the match-up nightmare recovering from foot surgery (Washington), what would any sane Offensive Coordinator do? Run the damn ball.

Or, you throw it all over the yard and have a freshman tight end lead the team in receptions, yards, touchdowns, account for 25% of the reception yardage, lead all receiving freshman in the conference, yada yada yada. What in the Isaac Nauta is going on around here?!?

Call me crazy, just don’t call me late for dinner. Sound off in the comments below what worries you about the SEC road opener between Bulldogs of Georgia and the Commodores of Vanderbilt. And as always…