Georgia vs. Vandy Recap
On Friday I posted a video of a vindictive James “Benjamin” Franklin promising the media, Vandy nation and seemingly the conference that Vanderbilt was going to “compete.” A lot of people bought into that notion, and on a superficial level I don’t know that I can blame them for doing so. Because, on the surface, Vanderbilt has done just that. They have competed.
The complete “Compete” rant was given following a five point loss to Georgia on October 15th of last year. Two weeks later the Commodores suffered a three-point loss to 10th ranked Arkansas; seems like Vandy competed. A week later Franklin’s squad gave Florida all they wanted and lost by five. The Commodores won the next conference game against Kentucky by 30 points. The next week they lost to Tennessee by six in overtime. The Commies even opened this season with a four-point loss in a competitive game to South Carolina.
The Georgia Bulldogs didn’t go against anything resembling “competition” on Saturday and the reasoning for that is two-fold:
1. Georgia played a complete game.
2. Vanderbilt is not good at football.
The first of those two reasons was more surprising to me than the second. Almost exactly one month ago I expressed the following sentiment regarding Vanderbilt’s “rise” and the Commodores 2011 season:
Little value can be derived from Vandy’s six wins in 2011. Elon plays little league, and Ole Miss, UConn, Army, Kentucky and Wake Forest combined to go 21-40. Only 11 of those 21 wins came against BCS Conference opponents.
Vanderbilt’s momentum – if wan can call it that – seems to stem from “close” games in 2011. The Commodores played Georgia close (33-28), hung around Arkansas (31-28), pushed Florida (26-21), took Tennessee to overtime (27-21) and lost by one score in their Bowl (a 31-24 loss to Cincinnati). Can Vanderbilt actually win those games this season? I don’t think so. Vanderbilt caught Georgia sleeping, played very “down” Florida and Tennessee programs and caught Arkansas looking ahead to an upcoming game against South Carolina.
Now, to be clear: I’m not making excuses for Georgia’s performance (or anyone else’s for that matter) against Vanderbilt in 2011. Vandy was ready, Georgia was not and the Commodore nearly capitalized. The problem for Vandy moving into 2012 is the fact that they did scare so many teams. Georgia, Florida and Tennessee won’t be caught sleeping again and other teams on the Vanderbilt schedule have undoubtedly taken notice.
I stand by that notion 100%. Vanderbilt’s 2011 campaign was more a culmination of lack of respect and preparation for Vandy than it was actual improvement. Furthermore, Vanderbilt’s close game with South Carolina to open the season was more a reflection of the Gamecocks’ continued struggles against middling programs and lack of offensive answers than it was of a truly talented Vanderbilt team. Because, the truth of the matter is that no truly talented Vanderbilt team exists. And, I don’t think that Franklin will ever build one. I’m not sure that anyone will ever build one.
James “Benjamin” Franklin ticked a lot of folks off last year and in doing so mirrored the “Sheldon Richardson Effect.” When Missouri’s Richardson ran his mouth about “Old Man Football” it put a tangible meaning onto a game that had no back-story, no bad blood and no real value in and of itself. Georgia’s close call with Vandy last year might have served as a wake-up call for the Bulldogs, but the Franklin/Grantham scuffle added to it. And what did the Commodores get? Arguably the most complete game the Georgia Bulldogs have played in the last five years.
Aaron Murray hit on his first 12 passes. Marlon Brown went over 100 yards. Nine Bulldogs caught passes. Todd Gurley ran for over 100 yards again. Keith Marshal had a 52 yard TD run. Georgia racked up 567 yards of offense and had 27 first downs to Vanderbilt’s 15. Six Vanderbilt drives produced fewer than 10 yards. None of them resulted in TDs.
If the Bulldogs (who get All-American candidates Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree back this week) can continue to play with such focus then reaching the Dome for a second consecutive year might not be a problem. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, must figure out a way to start surprising folks again. The Commodores don’t stand much a chance against teams that prepare.
I said on Friday that I thought if both teams played their “A” games then Georgia would win by 21+. I can’t say that Vandy played their “A” game, but did they really play an “F” game? If so, what is their grading scale? Is the gap between their “A” and their “F” 24 points? At what grade do they score touchdowns? I have so many questions for the nerds of the SEC.
That’s all I got/