Jamie Graham started on offense and Mackenzi Adams finished. In between not many other things were different.
Vanderbilt failed to sustain enough drives or produce enough big plays when it had the ball. Thus, it did not score often enough to keep pace with a Southeastern Conference opponent.
While the Commodores (2-5, 0-4 in the SEC) did set a season-high for points in conference play, they still fell 34-10 to Georgia on Saturday before 38,740 at Vanderbilt Stadium.
“We just couldn’t keep up with them,” coach Bobby Johnson said. “They got off to a lead and we jut couldn’t keep up with them.”
Georgia (4-3, 3-2) scored first and went ahead to stay when wide receiver A.J. Green turned a short reception into a 65-yard scoring play late in the first quarter. The Bulldogs also got the final 17 points of the afternoon, had an edge in total yards of more than 100 (399-296) and held the ball 5:30 longer despite the fact that the Commodores actually ran two more offensive plays than they did.
Vanderbilt allowed Georgia 173 rushing yards (a season-high) on 37 attempts (another season-high). The Bulldogs also scored two touchdowns on the ground, which was half as many as they had in their first six games combined.
“If you keep driving the ball then you’ll start getting big runs, and that’s how you put teams away,” Georgia quarterback Joe Cox said. “… It wasn’t our best day running the ball, but it was effective when it needed to be.”
Vanderbilt was more interested in trying to inject life into its passing game.
Graham, a sophomore, was moved back to the offense this week after having spent the first half of the season as a cornerback. He was the team’s third-leading receiver in 2008.
The Commodores wasted no time trying to see what he could do for a unit that came into the game ninth in the SEC in total offense and last in scoring offense. The first play was a short throw to him only the ball never got there because it was batted down by Georgia defensive end Demarcus Dobbs.
He finished with one reception for 16 yards. He also carried twice for minus-1 yard.
“We first thought we’d try to limit him to just a few packages and a few things, but he started picking up things a little more – remembering from last year,” Johnson said. “We thought it would be a good idea to get him in the game and see if he could make some plays for us.”
Graham was not involved when the offense drove 80 yards in 11 plays on the opening possession of the second half. The only passes on that possession were a 25-yard completion to freshman wide receiver Collin Ashley and Larry Smith’s 6-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brandon Barden.
Most of the rest of the day, though, Vanderbilt did not run the ball nearly that well. Thus, the Commodores’ offense was forced into obvious passing situations, which allowed Georgia to generate pressure.
Smith was sacked three times and was hit on three of the 21 throws he did make.
“Most of the time I was running pass routes … (and) when I looked back I saw Larry running a lot,” Barden said. “That puts him in a hard position. I guess we’ll take a look at that on film.”
Eventually, the coaches decided it was time to see Adams, the senior backup quarterback, who had played just twice this season, both in non-conference contests. Smith finished the day 11-for-26 for 121 yards with one interception and the touchdown.
Adams directed the Commodores’ final possession, which began with 3:50 remaining. He completed six of eight throws for 53 yards.
His final play was in incomplete, fourth-down pass intended for Graham.
“(Adams) did a good job,” Johnson said. “It was a little different situation in the game than what (Smith) was going against.”
Overall, though, this contest was all-too similar to a number of others this fall.
For more on Vanderbilt's loss to Georgia, click here.