Offensive line powers No. 5 Georgia to rout of Vanderbilt
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Georgia’s defensive front has earned acclaim through the team’s fast start to the season. But another easy victory Saturday was more about the offensive line.
The No. 5 Bulldogs ran over Vanderbilt, amassing 423 yards on the ground and rolling to a 45-14 victory at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Running backs Nick Chubb (16 carries, 138 yards, two touchdowns) and Sony Michel (12 carries, 150 yards, one score) were virtually unstoppable for the Bulldogs, who avenged a 17-16 upset loss to the Commodores in Athens last season.
Georgia (6-0, 3-0 SEC) averaged 7.8 yards per carry.
“The game ball goes to our offensive line,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “They played physical, they played tough, they overpowered what I think is a good defensive front. Vanderbilt may not be as good as they were last year defensively, but they’ve still got some good players on defense.
“Our backs and our (offensive) line just kind of singlehandedly took over the game and made it relatively easy for the offensive coordinator to call it.”
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason offered a similar version of events, as the Commodores (3-3, 0-3) lost their third consecutive game.
“I’ve got to start out and give credit to Georgia and Coach Smart,” Mason said. “They played hard. Their guys ran hard and made tackles. I thought for us, too many missed tackles and yards after contact.”
Georgia has outscored three SEC foes — Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt — 117-17.
Leading by 14 at halftime, the Bulldogs went for the throat on their first possession of the second half. Quarterback Jake Fromm rolled right, spotted wide receiver Terry Godwin open down the left hash behind cornerback JoeJuan Williams, and threw a strike for a 48-yard touchdown.
After a Commodore punt, Michel dashed 50 yards down the right side for another touchdown with 10:17 left in the third quarter.
Running back Elijah Holyfield added a 15-yard rushing touchdown for Georgia early in the fourth.
Fromm was 7 of 11 for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bulldogs have traditionally run the ball well, but had issues doing that last year. That included last year’s loss to Vandy, but Chubb, who went over 4,000 career rushing yards on Saturday, sees UGA back on track.
“That’s who we want to be. ... We practice like it. We wanted to come out here and show it to everybody,” said Chubb, a senior. “But we’ve still got a ways to go.”
On Georgia’s first drive of the game, Chubb burst through a hole and rumbled through the secondary for a 33-yard touchdown, capping a 7-play, 83-yard drive.
After Vandy punter Sam Loy shanked a 15-yard punt on the VU side of midfield, Michel ripped off a 27-run to the Vandy 13. On a third-and-goal from the 3, Fromm hit running back D’Andre Swift with a swing pass along the left side for a touchdown to make it 14-0 with 13:08 left before half.
With just under two minutes left in before the break, Chubb took a handoff, waited for his blocks to develop and scooted 14 yards for a 21-0 lead.
The Commodores’ defense spent 34:23 on the field, as Georgia was 7-for-11 in converting third downs and 4-for-4 in red zone chances.
“We couldn’t get ourselves off the field defensively on third down,” Mason said. “Allowed too many chunk plays, long plays in the running game.”
Vandy finally got on the board when quarterback Kyle Shurmur hit wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb with a 38-yard pass down the right sideline to the UGA 1. On the next snap, running back Ralph Webb dove over with 28 seconds left in the half for the Commodores’ first score.
Shurmur completed 17 of 31 passes for 172 yards with one touchdown.
It was Vanderbilt’s homecoming, but outside of the halftime festivities, you could hardly tell, as Commodore fans were out-numbered in their own stadium.
“When you come into a stadium in the SEC and you’ve got so many ‘Dawg fans, it helps your team relax and play a little better,” Smart said. “I want to thank them first, and for the energy they brought.”
Georgia returns home to face Missouri next week, while Vanderbilt travels to Ole Miss.
NOTES: Georgia was down two starters on defense. LB Natrez Patrick didn’t travel with the squad after he was arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession. DL Trenton Thompson has an MCL sprain and didn’t travel with the team. ... ILB Reggie Carter, a key reserve for the Bulldogs, didn’t travel due to an undisclosed injury from last week. ... Vanderbilt CB Tre Herndon returned to start after missing last week. ... Georgia had 140 yards in the first quarter, 128 coming on the ground. ... Vanderbilt’s touchdown just before half ended a streak of 31 straight drives during which the Bulldogs hadn’t allowed a touchdown. ... This was Vanderbilt’s fourth consecutive game against a Top 25 team, the first time in school history that’s happened.