Dogs-Vandy preview: Ealey’s chance, UGA’s homecoming and Uga’s debut
Georgia-Vanderbilt (12:21 p.m. Saturday in Sanford Stadium) at a glance:
- 1. Washaun Ealey’s opportunity. Two weeks after losing the starting tailback job because of fumbles, Ealey regains it because of the suspension of Caleb King and the strained hamstring of Carlton Thomas. Ealey said he sees this game as his chance to make amends and win back the trust of his teammates and coaches. Thomas has practiced on at least a limited basis the past two days, but even if Thomas is able to play, Ealey is expected to get the bulk of carries — provided he holds on to the ball.
- 2. Homecoming. After reaching the season’s halfway point with a 2-4 record -– Georgia’s worst six-game mark since 1993 –- the Bulldogs hope to celebrate homecoming by building on last week’s victory over Tennessee. Vanderbilt has been Georgia’s homecoming opponent on 21 previous occasions. The Bulldogs won 18 of those games, but lost to Vandy 24-22 at the 2006 homecoming game in Sanford Stadium.
- 3. Uga VIII’s debut. The great-great-great-great-great-grandson of the original Uga will take over as the Georgia mascot in a pregame “collaring” ceremony. “What a wonderful choice,” Mark Richt said. “Thirteen months [old], 55 pounds and undefeated. I like that. Hope he stays that way.”
A Georgia win would …
- Be the Bulldogs’ 15th victory in 16 years over Vanderbilt.
- Give the Dogs consecutive regular-season victories for the first time since Nov. 7-14.
A Vanderbilt win would …
- Give the Commodores (2-3, 1-1 SEC entering the game) their second consecutive conference road victory, following a Sept. 18 win at Ole Miss.
- Have special meaning for the 22 players on Vandy’s roster from the state of Georgia, which is more than from Tennessee (16) or any other state.
Keep an eye on …
- For Vanderbilt: Sophomore running back/kick returner Warren Norman, from Stone Mountain, ranks fifth in the SEC in all-purpose yards with 142.8 per game. He’s averaging 6.2 yards per rushing attempt and 30.2 yards per kickoff return. He was the SEC Freshman of the Year last season.
- For Georgia: Wide receiver A.J. Green has caught 13 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns -– as well as producing Georgia’s longest rushing play of the season on a 40-yard end-around –- in two games since returning from NCAA suspension.
The numbers game
- 2: First-time head coaches in the SEC this season – Vanderbilt’s Robbie Caldwell and Kentucky’s Joker Phillips. (Georgia plays at Kentucky next week.)
- 4-4: Georgia’s record during the reign of interim mascot Russ (2-0 at the end of last season, 2-4 this season.)
- 69-17-2: Georgia’s record in homecoming games since 1922.
The history book
- Series record: Georgia leads Vanderbilt 50-18-2, including 21-3-1 in the past 25 meetings.
- Last meeting: Georgia won 34-10 at Vanderbilt last season as King, who won’t play this time, scored two touchdowns.
The bottom line
- After being favored by 11.5 points against Tennessee last week — and winning by 27 — Georgia is favored by 15 against Vanderbilt.