Georgia already had flexed its dominance with a 21-0 lead after four offensive possessions. But Vanderbilt was on the move and determined to make a game of it. A 23-yard completion on third-and-8 got the Commodores deep into Bulldogs’ territory. On second-and-9 from the Georgia 21, quarterback A.J. Swann completed a pass to wideout Jayden McGowan. Charging in from his “star” position in the defensive backfield, Tykee Smith’s hit jarred the ball loose 6 yards down the field. Safety Christopher Smith pounced on the loose ball at the 15-yard line. The Bulldogs took over from there and immediately marched down the field for another touchdown.
Another shutout. You wouldn’t necessarily know it from the Bulldogs’ defense, which has been so dominant the past two seasons, but Saturday’s shutout of the Commodores was the second in a row over them, second of the season and 10th in the Kirby Smart coaching era. Six of those have come in SEC play. Before this year, you have to go back to 1962-64 to find the last time Georgia shut out Vanderbilt in consecutive seasons. The Bulldogs came into Saturday ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense at 10.7 points a game. That number dropped to 9.1 with the shutout.
What we learned
The talent differential between the Bulldogs and Vanderbilt simply was too great to draw a lot of conclusions. What’s becoming clear, though, is Georgia’s defense is going to have a say in how things go moving forward. While Alabama and Tennessee were trading offensive fireworks in Knoxville on Saturday, nobody in the SEC has played defense at the level the Bulldogs have been. But the first seven games of the season mostly have been a tune-up for the defending national champions. The Bulldogs’ 49-3 win over then-No. 11 Oregon remains their only win over a ranked opponent. The next four teams Georgia faces could be.
They said it
“Just keep getting better. That’s the ultimate goal. What’s the end goal? We’re trying to look at tomorrow. We talked (after the game) about what we’re going to do tomorrow. I’m focusing on that. I’m not worried about Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. I’m worried about tomorrow and how much rehab we can get and how much recovery we can get.” – Smart on objectives for the bye week
“We had a great week of practice, all the way through. It was because we just said, ‘Hey, this is football. We need to score touchdowns, we need to make great plays, it’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s why we all got started playing football as little kids. Let’s just bring that back.” – Bennett on first-half scoring
“First of all, we’ve got to take care of our bodies. The grit and grind of the season, all the banging and things like that, to get a bye and be able to get your body back a little bit is good. We’ve got a tough schedule ahead of us, and we know we’ve got to be able to lock in.” – Smith
“We wanted to play better, but we have a program that we are building. So we have to reach for confidence every day. Obviously, we need to play better than we did today.” – Vandy coach Clark Lea
The Bulldogs (7-0, 4-0 SEC) reach their bye week undefeated for the third time in the Smart era. Georgia next will face Florida in Jacksonville on Oct. 29 (3:30 p.m., CBS). The Gators were playing host to LSU late Saturday in Gainesville.