No. 5 Georgia ready for one of its most anticipated Vandy games ever

Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham gets in the face of Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin in the moments immediately after the Bulldogs' 33-28 win last October in Nashville.

Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham gets in the face of Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin in the moments immediately after the Bulldogs' 33-28 win last October in Nashville.

ATHENS — On Saturday night at Sanford Stadium, the Georgia Bulldogs will play their most anticipated game against Vanderbilt in recent memory. Maybe ever.

Then again, it’s rare that “anticipated game” and “Vanderbilt” are together in the same sentence. But that is the end result of the events that transpired at immediately after the Bulldogs’ 33-28 win last year in Nashville.

Much has been said and written this week about that brief skirmish between Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, which saw them go nose-to-nose in a shouting match during what was supposed to be the postgame handshake. Players, coaches and officials had to restrain the two coaches, each of whom was accusing the other’s side of dirty play.

In the end, two Georgia players and one Vanderbilt player received half-game suspensions for their actions during the game. Commodores’ center Logan Stewart — who is no longer with the team — was disciplined for a dangerous chop block of Geathers. Geathers was suspended for the punch he threw in immediate reaction to the illegal hit. And safety Shawn Williams was also assessed a two-quarter suspension for an illegal hit he made during the game. It was Franklin’s comments about Williams immediately after the game that initiated Grantham’s outburst.

The messages from both sides this week generally have been that the incident will have little to no effect on this year’s game, which pits the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (3-0) against the Commodores (1-2). But that’s not entirely true.

When else have you heard a Georgia player say of an upcoming date with Vanderbilt, “I think this game is one everyone has had circled on their calendar,” as did Georgia senior flanker Tavarres King? Or as the Bulldogs’ mild-mannered quarterback Aaron Murray said of the Commodores: “They’ve definitely got our attention.”

Therein lay the backfire of the Commodores’ newfound swagger. Since Franklin arrived in Nashville from his stint at Maryland as offensive coordinator, he has talked boldly about Vanderbilt no longer being the doormat of the SEC. He has bowed up against Georgia, called out Tennessee coach Derek Dooley and generally has told anyone who would listen that there is a “culture change” afoot and nobody is going to push around the Commodores anymore.

He has mostly delivered on that proclamation. He led the Commodores to their second bowl bid in 29 seasons last year when they were invited to the Liberty Bowl after a 6-6 regular season. And it could have been better.

Including Georgia’s great escape last season, the Commodores’ past six SEC defeats have come by an average margin of 4.6 points. The widest margin was six points to Tennessee in overtime. They lost to No. 9 South Carolina 17-13 to open this season.

“We’ve done some really good things, but we still have a long ways to go,” Franklin said. “If you look at season-ticket sales, how well we’ve been recruiting, how competitive we’ve been on the field the last year-and-a-half week in and week out, that competitive aspect is great. But we’ve got to figure out how to take the next step as a program and be able to win some of these games.”

A lot of people thought the Commodores would take that step this season. They returned 19 starters — 10 on offense and nine on defense — from last year’s team. And the schedule set up well with Vandy getting Eastern Division favorites South Carolina and Georgia in the first month, with Northwestern and Presbyterian mixed in between.

Vandy was indeed in position to beat the Gamecocks in a Thursday night game to christen the season. But South Carolina mounted a fourth-quarter comeback, and the Commodores were victimized late by a bad call. The next week Vandy gave up 17 points in the fourth quarter to lose at Northwestern 23-13.

The Commodores finally got everything right last week in a 58-0 win over Presbyterian. And Georgia coach Mark Richt believes the Commodores are close to getting it done in the SEC.

“It’s not that uncommon to feel like you have to change the culture of the program [when you’re a new coach],” Richt said. “You have to put your stamp on it. You have to be who you are and let your players know who you are and try to motivate and rally people to become special. I think coach Franklin has definitely done that, and you see it week to week. It’s not just one game here and there. They play hard every game. They get after it every game. They take calculated risks every game, and they play to win.”

The Bulldogs found that out firsthand last season, giving up a fake punt and a kickoff return for a touchdown before a blocked punt nearly derailed them in the closing seconds. Between that experience and the postgame fireworks that followed, Georgia’s not likely to take much for granted Saturday night.

“It was a great game, and we know we’re going to have to bring it in all three phases, offense, defense and special teams,” Murray said. “They believe in coach Franklin and what he brings to the table for them and their football program. It’s going to be a game where we have to bring our ‘A’ game.”

MORE ON TODAY’S GAME

62 comments Add your comment

Joe Cox

September 22nd, 2012
2:01 am

man i love the dawgs

rramo

September 22nd, 2012
2:15 am

AlaskaDawg

September 22nd, 2012
2:47 am

Take care of business Dawgs!

Awkward | NewsTrendr

September 22nd, 2012
7:14 am

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

ioh

September 22nd, 2012
7:17 am

all aints bite me loser

Spike

September 22nd, 2012
7:23 am

Bring. It. On.

Buckeye

September 22nd, 2012
7:29 am

[...] the original post here: No. 5 Georgia ready for one of its most anticipated Vandy games ever ← Back to Home Tags: anticipated, defensive, end, focal, game, georgia bulldogs, james [...]

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

ARdawg

September 22nd, 2012
8:05 am

What a GREAT day to be a Georgia Bulldog!

GO DAWGS!!!

Hammerhead

September 22nd, 2012
8:05 am

Commode Doors.

chilidawg

September 22nd, 2012
8:10 am

Focus power, Daniel son!

Joey

September 22nd, 2012
8:11 am

It will be a tough game. Vandy ain’t Vandy anymore. SC got lucky.

If the O-line protects Murray, we should win by 10 or so.

Go Dawgs!

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Freehawk

September 22nd, 2012
8:13 am

Grantham is a dork. His vaunted defense is giving up yards to the patsies they have played so far.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

North ave. faithful

September 22nd, 2012
8:24 am

Will be good game for first half, then dawgs roll. GO JACKETS!!!!

ole yeller

September 22nd, 2012
8:35 am

Coach Franklin will come to Athens today with his mouth wired shut. If he say anything at all it will be about football nothing else. I would be suprised if coach “G” say anything. I think their boss’s has told them what the code of conduct will be today. I don’t see any fire works. I think the fans will fan the flame a bit today and maybe a player or two but, not coach’s “G” & “F”, They like to money they make and want screw that up with a fine or suspension.

harold

September 22nd, 2012
9:21 am

Why so anticipated. Vandy is horrible. UGA has such an “easy schedule” as Spurrier stated. If Richt can’t go all the way he should be fired.

Franklin is a former “Cage Fighter” that could have done a 360 here and knocked Grantham’s teeth out of his mouth.

UGA 42-Vandy 17 in another cakewalk.

DENNY

September 22nd, 2012
9:21 am

ole yeller……..

DaFauq i just read?

Georgia will win today….but I’m still skeptical about our defense. Maybe after today I will feel a whole lot better about our situation. Go You Silver Britches!!!!!!!!!!

Mad Dog One

September 22nd, 2012
9:28 am

@ freehawk watch real close. 13-14 0-3 45-47. How many yards were given up in these games? No one cares it is only the final score that counts. If you can keep them from crossing the goal line that is what matters. Vandy is playing the best I have seen in my 50 years of following collage ball but they are still Vandy and we are the DOGS. For all of youall that don’t belive in the “G” go away. GO DOGS & GATA

steve

September 22nd, 2012
9:37 am

That’s right Mad Dog!!!!

Neutral

September 22nd, 2012
9:44 am

All saints = bitter GT fan. P.S. GT was doing exactly the same activities that Jan Kemp exposed at UGa……EXACTLY

p

September 22nd, 2012
9:45 am

Neutral

September 22nd, 2012
9:46 am

I just hope our players keep their cool. We don’t need to lose folks like we did last year with TN and SC on the horizon.

blazer

September 22nd, 2012
9:50 am

Please-Georgie excited about the Vandy game!

Billy Joe Bobby

September 22nd, 2012
10:26 am

This is a huge game for Georgia.

What does that mean?

mark

September 22nd, 2012
10:55 am

Utilize the tight ends more……

Destin Dawg

September 22nd, 2012
10:58 am

all SEC games are Huge… Franklin is trying to make Vandy relevant.., give him credit.. But we haven’t played up to our potential… as younger players get more experience and we get back suspended kids we”ll get better as schedule gets tougher … Go all the way Dawgs !! root for Missouri over S,C,.. upset special !!

Russell Hall

September 22nd, 2012
11:05 am

I hope Grantham kicks Franklin’s backside.

Commodore

September 22nd, 2012
11:32 am

Vandy 27, UGA 24

Hairy Dawg

September 22nd, 2012
12:10 pm

Were unloading a whooping can on the Commodes today. Vandy is goning to pay for Big mouth Franklin smarting off to Coach Grantham. Dawgs have the talents to punish Vandy for thinking theys can play on same field as Dawgs. Dawgs will play like junkyard and flush Commodes back down sewer they came from. And then Vandy learn to keep mouth shuts when playing teams that deserve winning like Dawgs.

Go Dawgs! Sick E’m!

UGA 41 – Vandy 10

Bob Saccomanno

September 22nd, 2012
12:31 pm

My buddies tell me if history is any indicator, this will be a tough game. Vandy will be ready, we
cannot take them lightly. Play strong Go Dawgs. be ready to play 4 qtrs

Hank Hill

September 22nd, 2012
12:54 pm

Go Dawgs!

Flush the Commode Doors!

Dr.P

September 22nd, 2012
12:58 pm

Vandy held SC to 17 points, shyould have no problems holding UGA to under 15 points and getting an easy win. Vandy’s D is better than UGA’s, not even close. Vandy’s special teams are also much better than UGA’s, not even close. The offenses are even in the run game, and UGA has a better passing game (it’s only advantage). Vandy is better in the first half, UGA in the second half. Should Vandy go into halftime wiht a lead, Richt only wins 40% of games like that. When you add in to UGA: suspensions to key players, slow starting defense, poor special teams, poor defensive pre-game preparation (UGA ranks 89th in 1st half defense), penalties, turnovers, mobile QB for Vandy who gave UGA fits last year, all points to a decisive Vanderbilt win.

Vandy, in a upset.

Dr.P

September 22nd, 2012
1:04 pm

Vandy also has the #3 pass defense in the nation, Murray usually lacks poise against defenses like that, Murray has been going against pass defenses like:
#42 pass defense Buffalo
#43 pass defense Mizzou
#62 pass defense Fla Atl

Now Murray faces #3 pass defense Vanderbilt.

We all remember how Murray fared against the last top 10 pass defense Murray faced (LSU). 3 turnovers and completed under 40% of hsi passes.

dawggirl

September 22nd, 2012
1:27 pm

Dr. P – If Georgia wins tonight (which I believe they will), will you be willing to come back here and say you were wrong? Curious.

Northwestern beat Vandy, and as my boyfriend went to NW and says that if they can beat them, we certainly can and should. Good enough reasoning for me.

LydiasDad

September 22nd, 2012
1:50 pm

Yet anther soft opponent. Can someone explain why UGA is #5 when they haven’t played anyone?

dawggirl

September 22nd, 2012
2:01 pm

It’s called preseason rankings. Which is why they are meaningless. The only decent thing about the BCS rankings is that they don’t come out until midseason.

Destin Dawg

September 22nd, 2012
2:37 pm

dr. P will not be here tomorrow

Cody

September 22nd, 2012
2:52 pm

Grantham may have a temper, but given how calm and unemotional Richt is, Georgia needs a guy like him.

Jerry Seinfeld

September 22nd, 2012
2:56 pm

Georgia should not be ranked #5… but that’s why preseason rankings suck. However, Georgia has a chance to prove they deserve a high ranking with their upcoming game against South Carolina.

The Truth

September 22nd, 2012
2:57 pm

Yes, it’s hard to see UGA #5? Looks like UF is back.

Decatur joe

September 22nd, 2012
2:58 pm

They actually keeps stats on first half defense?????

Cody

September 22nd, 2012
2:58 pm

LSU is going to beat Florida badly and will give South Carolina a reality check that their offense is not nearly good enough to compete with the better teams in the SEC. Their pass defense will be exposed as well.

Cody

September 22nd, 2012
3:00 pm

The Truth, Florida has proven they are better than last year and have a better quarterback… however, Tennessee was vastly overrated and LSU will crush Florida. The Gator D isn’t ready for our core of running backs.

godoggo

September 22nd, 2012
3:04 pm

As a longtime Atlantan (20 yrs.) and Gator…..I’ve grown to appreciate that Team in Athens, and Derek @ Tenn. (even Had to have my pic taken with Uga…only because the Governor was on the other side) except for that “one” week……Usually miserable for you until lately…..

That being said, The Dogs need to make sure they don’t get trapped with throwing that dreaded “second punch” when confronted……I hope MR has a hard chat about that…..

Go Dogs : l

godoggo

September 22nd, 2012
3:09 pm

Gentle Cody…..Gentle on my Gators grasshopper ; )

Michigan looked like they would Crush App State a couple years go also…..just sayn…..If your a True SEC fan, you know the words “just crush, raped, and destroy” can backfire…..

Cody

September 22nd, 2012
3:17 pm

Yes, they can backfire. I see your point, because I also thought LSU would kill Arkansas in 2010 and they lost. However, I believe LSU matches up well with Florida and I know Driskel is a young quarterback and that doesn’t bode well against our defense. We’ll see when LSU visits the Swamp!

Fed Up

September 22nd, 2012
4:09 pm

Grantham is a punk, Plain and simple.