Three Matchups to Watch: Vanderbilt vs. Georgia

October 15th, 2016 – The Commodores defense makes a stop during their 17-16 win against the University of Georgia in Sanford Stadium Saturday afternoon. Photo by Blake Dover.

After two tough losses against Alabama and Florida by scores of 59-0 and 38-24, respectively, the Commodores are desperately looking to get their season back on track.

The only problem is that Georgia is not the easiest team to do that against. The undefeated Bulldogs have quickly become the favorite to win the SEC East as well as one of the top teams in the nation.

Here are three match-ups to keep an eye on this Saturday when the Commodores meet the Bulldogs at 11 am at Vanderbilt Stadium:

Vanderbilt front seven vs. Georgia RBs

Vanderbilt’s front seven has had an extremely tough time against the run in their past two games. Alabama rushed for 496 yards and Florida recorded 218 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. The Commodores front seven needs to get back to where they were against Kansas State, holding Jesse Ertz and the Wildcats to around 200 rushing yards.

Unfortunately for the Vanderbilt defense, the Georgia running game might be the best they’ve faced yet. Top running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel have lived up to their hype, rushing for 480 yards with six touchdowns and 256 yards with three touchdowns, respectively. But the Bulldogs have also gotten a nice surprise in freshman D’Andre Swift who has recorded 232 yards on the ground and a touchdown.

The Georgia running game, which ranks sixteenth overall in the nation, is most definitely the backbone of the Georgia offense and must be controlled if the Commodores hope to win the game.

CB Tre Herndon vs. WR Terry Godwin

Herndon missed the game against Florida with an undisclosed injury, but is expected to play against Georgia. The senior cornerback, and leader of the secondary, has recorded 12 tackles, a sack, and four pass deflections through four games.

Herndon will be going up against Terry Godwin, who has emerged as a top receiver for the Bulldogs. The junior has 10 catches for 257 yards and four touchdowns. Godwin is averaging 25.7 yards per catch, proving himself to be a dangerous downfield threat.

Whether it’s Jake Fromm or Jacob Eason playing quarterback for Georgia on Saturday, Godwin must be kept in check at all times.

Vanderbilt offensive line vs. Georgia defensive line

The biggest takeaway from Vanderbilt’s season so far is that the running game has to improve. With a running back as talented as Ralph Webb, the ground game should be much better than it is. While part of this falls on Webb and the play-calling, a good amount of the blame also falls on the offensive line. The offensive line has actually done well in protecting quarterback Kyle Shurmur, allowing only three sacks all season. However, Webb is only averaging 2.6 yards per carry, so their ability to open holes for him has not been good.

Georgia’s defense has been fantastic all season. The Bulldogs rank third in the nation in total defense and eleventh in run defense, allowing only 90 yards per game on the ground.

Vanderbilt will need to establish a run game in order to pull off the upset of the Bulldogs.

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