Three matchups to watch: Georgia


Ziyi Liu

Ralph Webb (7) carries the ball during Vanderbilt’s 31-14 loss against Georgia September 12, 2015 at Vanderbilt Stadium Nashville, TN

Jack Fader

The Commodores travel to Athens, Georgia, this week to try to get back on track in the SEC. Here are three key matchups that could decide the game.

Ralph Webb vs. his left ankle injury

Ralph Webb, who is currently second in the SEC in rushing yards with 682, left Saturday’s loss to Kentucky with an apparent ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Coach Derek Mason said during Tuesday’s SEC teleconference that he “fully expected [Webb] to play” this weekend, but it is unclear how effective Webb can be. Webb is the focal point of the Commodores’ offense, and if he is not 100 percent, it will be difficult for the offense to move the ball against Georgia’s defense. The fact of the matter is that without a fully healthy Webb, Vanderbilt will be hard pressed to win this football game.

Vandy defensive line vs. UGA running back Nick Chubb

Georgia running back Nick Chubb is currently fourth in the SEC in rushing coming into this weekend. Chubb, who was a Heisman candidate a year ago before suffering a knee injury, is still the catalyst for the Bulldog offense. Vanderbilt, with all of its talent along the front seven, has really struggled stopping the run of late. Last week, Kentucky used four different rushers to pick up 258 yards on the ground, averaging almost five yards per carry. For Vanderbilt to have a chance to win, its defensive line needs to at least slow Chubb down enough to make Georgia’s true freshman quarterback Jacob Eason beat them through the air.

Tommy Openshaw vs. sidelines

Vanderbilt kicker Tommy Openshaw has been decent so far kicking field goals, going 7-9, including making all 13 of his extra points. Openshaw, however, has had a lot of trouble keeping the ball in bounds on kickoffs this season, hitting five of his 22 kickoffs out of bounds, including one in four of the first five games. This is simply unacceptable for a kicker at the FBS level, as each of his kicks out of bounds has given opponents great field position at their own 35-yard line. It has been a momentum killer for Vanderbilt in past games, and if Openshaw hits another kick out of bounds after a score this weekend, it will put Vanderbilt’s defense on its heels immediately.