It was a disappointing outing for Vandy, which had hoped to give the crowd of 38,340 something to cheer about on Homecoming. Instead, the Commodores fell to 2-5 overall, 0-4 in the SEC. Georgia, lifted by a pair of Joe Cox touchdown passes, improved to 4-3, 3-2.
Trailing 17-3 at halftime, the Commodore offense gave its fans a temporary ray of hope, taking the second half kickoff and marching 80 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown. On that drive, for the only time all day, the offense successfully mixed the run and the pass and looked entirely in synch.
"I thought we were really going to get it going after that," said tight end Brandon Barden, who scored the touchdown on a 5-yard reception. "We came out and everybody executed, and that is the main thing we need to start doing as a team, and you saw the result of that was a touchdown."
But it didn't last, as Vandy's offense went three-and-out on its next three possessions. Meanwhile the Bulldogs seized control and closed the door with 17 unanswered points.
The Commodores tried a few new wrinkles on offense, moving defensive back Jamie Graham to wide receiver on offense for the first time this season. But the offense continued to struggle on third downs, converting on only 3-of-15 opportunities.
"Our pass protection was the key problem," said Bobby Johnson. "We couldn’t give [Larry Smith] time to pass the ball. They were getting him out of the pocket. We wanted to move Jamie to get a big play threat at wide receiver."
Vandy's defense was able to keep the game in hand for two-and-a-half quarters, but Georgia's rushing game and a couple of long punt returns helped put the game out of reach. In the end, the Dawgs dominated statistically as well as on the scoreboard, outgaining Vandy 399-296.
Smith finished the game 11-of-26 passing for 121 yards and a touchdown. With the game out of reach in the fourth quarter, he was relieved on Vandy's final possession by Mackenzi Adams. Adams looked sharp in completing 6-of-8 passes, but couldn't get the team on the scoreboard.
The Commodores were victimized early by Georgia's All-SEC receiver A.J. Green, who scored on a 65-yard pass from Joe Cox. In the second half it was punt returner Prince Miller, who returned a punt 40 yards to set up another score.
"It was big for us to get three points at the end of the half, but to Vanderbilt’s credit, they came out with a fire to start the second half," said Georgia coach Mark Richt. "But we were able to settle in and control the game the rest of the way."
Vanderbilt goes back on the road next Saturday to face South Carolina at 6 pm CT. The game will be televised by ESPNU.
Last year Jamie Graham had caught a pair of touchdown passes vs. Georgia. On Saturday, in his first offensive action of the season, he was limited to a single catch for 16 yards. "Jamie will be a good wide receiver for us this year,” insisted Johnson.
Hard hit all season by injuries, the Commodores lost a few more players Saturday. Tight end Austin Monahan, offensive tackle Thomas Welch, and reserve linebacker Austin Newton all left the game at various points with unspecified injuries.
Punter Brett Upson gained a first down on a fake punt in the first quarter.
Just before halftime Vanderbilt's John Stokes blocked a 57-yard Blair Walsh field goal attempt, but was called for a personal foul for "leaping" and landing on a Georgia blocker. The penalty allowed Walsh to try again from 42 yards, and this time the kick was successful.