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Advanced Stat/Scheme Preview - Georgia vs Vanderbilt

Graham Coffey

Vanderbilt Offense

- Vandy made a switch at QB during the Wake Forest game and they’ve been a much better team for it. #5 Mike Wright gave way to freshman AJ Swann #13. Swann is much more of a natural pocket passer but Vandy will still use Wright under center a few snaps a half as an option QB. Wright is still Vanderbilt’s 2nd leading rusher on the season with 287 YDS for a very effective 7.9 YDS per carry. 

- UGA has to be careful about overplaying the run with Wright in the game. He’s not a Wildcat QB by any means. He can throw the ball. 

- Vandy’s top RB is #2 Ray Davis. Davis is a workhorse and he is used to running behind the Vandy OL. Why is that significant? Well, Davis has good vision and excels at finding a cutback lane because he has to. Last week he put up 105 yards on 27 carries against Ole Miss. That’s just 3.9 YPC but it was a strong effort from Davis. On the whole the Rebels ran for just 3.4 YPC against Ole Miss. 

- Swann has been good at protecting the football so far this year. To have 8 TD’s and 0 INT’s is rare for a freshman starting at QB in the SEC. I think that INT number is due for a bump. Swann had 2 INT’s dropped in the Ole Miss game and a throw that should have been picked in the Alabama game. 

- Like most offenses, it is key for Vandy to stay ahead of the chains. Swann is a pretty good thrower on short/quick routes. Ask him to put a lot of air under the ball or make tight window throws to the boundaries and it gets dicey. Against Ole Miss he completed 71.4% of his passes from 0-9 YDS. He hit on 62.5% of his throws from 10-19 YDS, which was pretty good. Against Bama he hit on just 50% of the 0-9 YDS throws and 28.6% of the 10-19 YDS passes. 

- The ‘Dores run a lot of Zone-Read based concepts in the running game. Swann will hold the mesh point for a long time on some plays to try and force the defense to bit and give himself a better read. There are a lot of RPO’s built on top of those runs where he can pull the ball and throw it behind the defenders crashing down on the run. 

- The problem for Swann and Vandy is that most of their rushing success came in the 1st half against Ole Miss. Look at the chart below showing Vandy’s success rates in that game by quarter on Standard Downs and Passing Downs (via CollegeFootballData.com). The success rate on Passing Downs was pretty good in the 1st half because they didn’t have many Passing Down situations. (Passing Downs are 2nd & 3rd down plays where the offense needs 6+ yards to get a 1st down) 


- Vandy actually does a pretty good job of protecting Swann. He was sacked 4 times against Alabama but that came on just 9 pressures (UGA had 18 pressures last week against AU). On his throws against Bama Swann’s Avg Time to Throw was a speedy 1.98 seconds. Against Ole Miss the Commodores only allowed 4 pressures. The offense is designed around getting the ball out of his hands quickly. Swann was 26/37 for 280 YDS and 2 TD’s. 

- Swann has good enough legs to extend a play. He made a really impressive throw to the boundary on a 3rd & 4 against Ole Miss. He was flushed on the play and his WR was working back towards him in tight coverage. He was on the run and made an off-platform throw. He is good. 

- Swann looks most comfortable throwing between the hashes against Zone Coverages. He is adept at finding the hole and knowing when his man is going to sit down. 

- Swann had two legit weapons at WR. The first is Will Sheppard. They run the entire passing game through him and for good reason. He is probably the best WR that UGA has faced this year. Last week he was targeted a whopping 13 times for 8 catches and 86 yards with 1 TD. On the season he has 58 TGT/34 REC for 451 YDS and 8 TD’s while averaging 13.3 YDS per a catch. 

- The other playmaker at wideout for the Commodores is Jayden McGowan. He is SHIFTY in the open field and has legitimate high end speed. If you make a mistake in leveraging a screen or take a bad angle on him he can go 80 yards for a TD. Last week he had 7 catches on 7 targets for 104 YDS and a TD. How’s that for an efficient day? McGowan hasn’t seen the volume of targets that Sheppard has but he has still the 2nd most targeted pass catcher for Vandy. With 37 TGT/29 REC he has a very high 78.4% reception percentage for a player with his usage rate. He has 378 YDS on the season on 13 YDS a catch with 2 TD’s. Vandy tries to run end-arounds and other rushing attempts with him because of his speed but he is averaging just 3.6 YPC and has 3 fumbles on 7 attempts. UGA should still be on the lookout for him when Vandy runs misdirection and trick plays. His elite speed will cause them to continue feeding him the ball. 

- RT Jacob Brammer and RG Bradley Ashmore are major liabilities for Vandy in pass protection. They have both struggled. Brammer has given up 10 pressures on the season and Ashmore has allowed 9. Georgia should be able to create a lot of havoc on the right side of the Vanderbilt offensive line. 

- Ole Miss is not a Georgia or an Alabama, but it is a good football team. Vandy drew up a nice gameplan against them and came out fast off of a bye week. They put up a very respectable 403 yards on the Rebels after putting up just 129 yards against Bama. I don’t think they can put up that type of yardage on Georgia but I do think they’re an improving football team with some nice offensive pieces and a good coaching staff. 

Vanderbilt Defense

- Vandy is a multiple alignment defense. They frequently mix up the number of defensive linemen who are on the field. Within the same drive they can have 3, 4 of 5 defensive lineman in three-point stances lined up across the line. 

- They also move around their LB’s a good bit. The one constant at LB is Anfernee Orji #00. He leads the team in tackles with 39 solo and 22 assisted. He is a high motor player and does a lot of dirty work for this Vandy team. Against Alabama, he was Targeted 5 times for 5 Receptions and 75 yards. An Offensive Coordinator can count on the fact that he’s always going to be on the field. For that reason he’s a good guy to gameplan matchups around. If UGA can get McIntosh matched onto him out of the backfield or any of its TE’s it could be a big play. On the season he has allowed 15 REC’s on 16 TGT’s. Alabama was able to isolate him in man coverage by motioning players. Against the Crimson Tide he took 12 snaps lined up over the Slot WR and 3 out wide on the boundary. 

- Orji’s counterpart at ILB is often #32 Ethan Barr. Barr is a fundamentally sound player who doesn’t bust assignments. That said, he is often washed out of plays by offensive lineman when they get to the second level. He’s not going to wreck a game and he isn’t fast enough to create a good angle on a speedy back who is coming off the edge and heading towards the boundary. 

- Ole Miss had a lot of success running off of the left side of their OL against the Commodores. Vandy’s Right DE is #90 Nate Clifton. He struggles to set the edge against outside runs. Ole Miss had 10 carries for 77 yards when running off the Left Edge with an Inline TE blocking next to the Left Tackle. 6 of those carries went for 1st downs and 4 of those carries were for 10+ yards. Clifton did a nice job of getting off of blocks from the LT on zone plays but not as good a job when having to fight off down blocks from the TE.

- Ole Miss ran a lot of swing passes to its RB’s and short boundary throws to its WR’s early in this game. The Commodores CB’s give a lot of cushion and they don’t get off of blocks particularly well. If they start the game out playing soft on Georgia in the same way the Dawgs should grab some easy yards on similar types of plays. 

- The Rebels also scored a 72-yard TD on a WR Screen in this game. Just flipped it out side and let the WR work back inside to his blocking help before taking off to the house. There should be big plays to be had out there for UGA on Saturday. 

- Vandy did a pretty respectable job on defense in the 1st half against Ole Miss. They went into the break up 20-17 and Ole Miss looked confused by how well the Commodores defended the run early in the game. UGA has way more talent than Ole Miss, but if you come out sleepy, sloppy or lazy they can make you pay. With how UGA has looked on offense in the 1st half the last two weeks it isn’t a given that they’re going to come out and just blow the doors off of the ‘Dores. 

- This defense will bust some coverages on the backend. This is especially true when a play starts to break down and the QB extends things outside the pocket. They will lose contact with a WR and leave them open. 

- Even when they aren’t busting coverages this pass defense is bad. They just don’t have the athletes to stick on top-flight SEC skill players. Against Ole Miss they allowed 448 passing yards and Dart went 25/31. Dart has not been that great this year. Vandy did pick him twice but that was due to terrible decision making by him more than Vandy making great coverage plays. 

- I usually tell you who I think UGA can pick on in the secondary. This secondary is so bad that I would basically be naming all of them. The FS #28 Maxwell Worship has been pretty good in coverage this year. The top 3 CB’s are all allowing a 68% reception percentage or higher. Safety #43 De’Rickey Wright is also a liability. Georgia should have matchup advantages all over the field in this game. 

- What makes matters worse for this defense is that they don’t have much of a pass rush to speak of. #93 BJ Diakite is an Edge and might be the best pass rusher they have but he has just 6 pressures on the year. To put that in perspective, Nolan Smith and Bear Alexander had 4 pressures each against Auburn last week. 

- Barr and Orji are pretty good tacklers at the LB spots, but the rest of this back seven really struggles to tackle in space. I think UGA’s RB’s could bust some big runs if they hit the second level of the defense untouched.

Final Analysis & Score Prediction

As you can see by the notes above, this isn’t last year’s Vanderbilt team. They have a legitimate quarterback in Swann, a workhorse RB in Davis, and two play making wideouts in Sheppard & McGowan. The staff has done a good job of identifying skill players who were under recruited or overlooked. This offense probably has more firepower at the skill positions than the Auburn team Georgia faced last week. What they don’t have is the offensive lineman to create enough time for plays to develop consistently.  

Vanderbilt put up 403 yards on Ole Miss last week. Against Alabama they only managed to scratch out 129 yards. That happened despite Vandy having 52 yards on their opening possession and not turning the ball over. We know that Georgia’s defensive personnel is much more similar to Alabama’s than what Ole Miss has. After seeing what UGA did to Auburn’s OL last week I feel confident that this Georgia defensive line can reset the line of scrimmage consistently on rushing downs while creating havoc on passing downs. This could be a breakout game for Mykel Williams rushing off of the left side of UGA’s defensive front. I expect Bear Alexander to put an exclamation point on the big performance he had last week.  

If Swann gets time to throw then Sheppard can make a play or two in this game. He will line up on both boundaries so I expect both Lassiter and Ringo to get reps against him. I honestly think it will be a good challenge for Georgia’s boundary CB’s to face him on Saturday. Bullard and McGowan should be a fun matchup to watch as well. In the end, I just don’t think they can make enough of a dent to really create danger for Georgia in this game. Yes Vandy put up 28 on Ole Miss last week, but Tulsa scored 27 on the Rebels a few weeks back. Georgia’s defense is extremely talented and it is improving every week.

On offense, UGA should be able to score in bunches. The Auburn game was tangible evidence that this OL gelled in a significant way during the 4th quarter at Missouri. They got on a roll last week and I expect that to continue on Saturday. With how this Vanderbilt defense has tackled this year I think there is a good shot we see McIntosh, Edwards & Robinson bust some long runs. Bama put up 6.7 Yards per Carry against this team and I think Georgia’s OL is better than the Tide’s. The Dawgs should be able to run the ball successfully whenever they want to. 

Earlier in the Kirby era this might have been a game where Georgia attempted only 10-12 passes. The offensive identity of this team is much more balanced and Monken seems committed to running a passing game that is higher volume and fully modernized. Stetson Bennett might have a nagging shoulder injury, but with they bye ahead and this offense coming off of two straight rough first halves I think we will see Georgia air it out. 

This Vandy secondary is probably the worst Georgia has faced this year. UGA has almost gotten the whole machine clicking. The vertical passing game is the last piece of the offense that needs to get into gear. I think this is the week that Georgia finally connects on some deep shots. Bowers will get behind this defense and I think Ladd finally hauls in a deep ball or two to bolster his confidence heading into the week off. I won’t be surprised if a big play comes from Dillon Bell, Dom Blaylock, or another young wideout. Oscar Delp is also just sitting there waiting to bust out. 

After Kent State and Missouri I don’t think this team will take the Commodores lightly. The letdown situations are more than likely out of Georgia’s system by this point. With a banged up football team that desperately needs a week off I think UGA will come out with its foot on the gas. I will be surprised if Stetson and the starters play more than 70% of this game. Vandy puts a few points on the board but not nearly enough. I like the Dawgs… Big.

Georgia 56 - Vanderbilt 13

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