Georgia Football: Grading All 22 Starters from the Vanderbilt Game
The Georgia Bulldogs started the meat of their conference schedule with a visit from the Vanderbilt Commodores in Athens Saturday.
Many, including this writer, expected this to be a hard-fought battle between these teams after last season’s close finish in Nashville and the postgame fireworks that ensued between Vandy head coach James Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. We were wrong.
The Dawgs absolutely owned the Dores, winning by a final score of 48-3.
Here are grades for all 22 starters—plus a few subs who had a great game against the Commodores.
Quarterback Aaron Murray
Murray put together another fine night passing against the Commodores. Coming out of the game in the third quarter, Murray finished the night going 18-of-24 for 250 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Murray was particularly impressive in this game in showing off his arm strength and accuracy, fitting some balls into very tight windows for big plays down the field.
Although Murray has taken some time to settle into games, so far, this season, that was certainly not the case against Vandy. Murray completed his first 12 pass attempts in this game.
This unit was a question mark coming into the season but appears to be gelling now and had another very strong night against Vandy. They were able to consistently open holes for running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, who combined for 212 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Pass protection was excellent again in this game. Murray was sacked only once and had plenty of time to throw all night.
Running Back Todd Gurley
True freshman Todd Gurley continues to impress. Going over 100 yards for the third time in four games this season, Gurley seems unstoppable at times. Gurley is rarely brought down by the first, or second, tackler to hit him, and it usually takes more than one defender to bring him down.
Granted, Gurley hasn’t faced any of the top-tier defenses in the SEC yet, but it will certainly be interesting to see what happens when he does.
Running Back Keith Marshall
Marshall finished the night with 82 yards and two touchdowns of his own. He also averaged 8.2 yards per carry—slightly better than Gurley in that category.
Marshall showed off his track-star speed on a huge 52-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Wide Receiver Michael Bennett
Bennett got the start at wide receiver against Vanderbilt but was largely absent in this game, tallying only two catches for 10 yards.
Despite a down game for Bennett, he’s still Georgia’s leading receiver on the season. But after good nights for each, Marlon Brown and Tavarres King are nipping at Bennett’s heels on the stat sheet.
Wide Receiver Marlon Brown
Brown was Murray’s go-to guy against Vandy. After a disappointing, injury-plagued first three seasons at UGA, Brown is finally living up to his potential and showing why he was so highly recruited out of high school.
Brown finished the night with a season-high 114 receiving yards on five catches and had one touchdown.
Wide Receiver Tavarres King
T.K. turned in another strong performance Saturday against Vandy with four catches for 54 yards and a score.
The highlight of King’s night was a second-quarter, 22-yard touchdown catch on a great timing route in which Murray delivered a laser right on target in the end zone.
Tight End Arthur Lynch
Lynch finally got involved with the offense last week against FAU but really didn’t get anything going against Vandy receiving-wise. Lynch wasn’t targeted much in this game, but he did have a drop and finished with zero catches.
Lynch did block well but was flagged for a false-start penalty in this contest.
Nose Tackle John Jenkins
Jenkins finished the night with two tackles but continues to be a presence in the middle for the Bulldogs. The big 350-pounder clogs up the middle, allowing linebackers to come up and make plays.
Jenkins also had a very nice quarterback pressure, getting into the backfield and showing how well he can move for a big man.
Defensive End Abry Jones
Abry Jones had an average day on the line, racking up four tackles against Vanderbilt.
Defensive End Cornelius Washington
For the second week in a row, Washington failed to record a tackle for the Bulldogs. Still, he made his presence felt in the backfield a few times, forcing plays to other defenders.
Outside Linebacker Jarvis Jones
Jones returned for this week after sitting out the FAU game with a groin injury. Racking up seven tackles and two sacks, Jones turned in another solid performance for the Dawgs.
Jones just seems to be everywhere for the Bulldogs. When he’s not making the tackle, he’s forcing plays away from him and setting up his teammates.
Inside Linebacker Michael Gilliard
Gilliard, once again, had a solid game for the Bulldogs against Vanderbilt this week. Gilliard finished the night with six total tackles for the Bulldogs.
Inside Linebacker Amarlo Herrera
Herrera had another very good game against Vanderbilt. He finished the night with eight total tackles and had a nice pass defended in this game.
Nickel Cornerback Damian Swann
Swann tallied two tackles against the Commodores and played his coverage well. One of those tackles was a nice open-field stop on Jordan Rodgers on third down that stalled the Commodores’ second drive of the game.
Swann was solid on coverage all game.
Cornerback/Wide Receiver/Punt Returner Malcolm Mitchell
Mitchell struggled at cornerback against Vanderbilt, twice getting burned and giving up long pass plays. It’s certainly not that Mitchell doesn’t have the speed. He just needs to work on his technique.
On offense, Mitchell had a very nice run on a reverse. He also caught one pass, but that lost yards.
Mitchell also set up Georgia with great field position on its first drive with a nice 22-yard punt return. But Mitchell made a questionable decision trying to field a punt inside the 5-yard line with an over-the-shoulder catch when it appeared the punt was headed for the end zone.
Cornerback Sanders Commings
Commings had a good showing against Vandy. He finished the night with four tackles—all solo—and was sharp on coverage against the Commodores.
Cornerback Branden Smith
Smith also had a solid game with four tackles and a pass defended. He did, however, have a pretty obvious pass-interference call that negated his own interception.
Safety Shawn Williams
Williams turned in an very good performance for the Bulldogs. Although he had a season-low four tackles on the night, he did come up and make two very nice tackles for loss against Vandy.
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