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Vanderbilt Commodores Preview

Alec Smith

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Vanderbilt Commodores

Saturday, October 14th, 2023, 12:00 EST (SEC Network)




2023 Record



Head Coach

Kirby Smart

Clark Lea

HC Career Record




40.7 (10th)

28.9 (74th)


13.0 (10th)

34.0 (121st)


Now THERE’S the Dawgs that we have been looking for in 2023!! Georgia molly whopped Kentucky last week 51-13 for their first statement win of the season. The offense exploded for over 600 yards after hearing every complaint in the book weeks one through five. Fans and critics alike had been holding their breath waiting for UGA to show championship caliber ball, and sighs of relief were felt all over the state last Saturday.

It was a great win, and I finally feel like the Dawgs have some wind in their sails, but there aren’t any trophies handed out after six regular season games. The climb to a three peat continues in Nashville this weekend. What do the ‘Dores have in store for UGA?

Vanderbilt Offense 

First and foremost, Senior QB Ken Seals will be getting the start over Sophomore AJ Swann for Vandy on Saturday. Swann suffered an elbow contusion in the loss to UNLV on September 16th; however, I am unsure if this decision is based on the injury or performance. Appearing in five games this year, AJ Swann has hit on 53.8% of his passes for 258 YPG and a 11-7 TD to INT ratio. Swann hasn’t seen the field since the Kentucky game on September 23rd when he threw three interceptions and completed just 40% of his passes.

After not seeing any game action in 2022, Ken Seals made his first start of the season against Missouri where he put up a stat line of 20-30 for 259 yards and 3 total touchdowns. Seals followed that strong performance with a decent outing against Florida last week, going 19-34 with 276 yards and 2 touchdowns. Seals has a PFF Grade of 67.5 (176th among FBS QB’s) which is just shy of AJ Swann’s grade of 67.6 (175th).

Vandy has some talent at WR, and Seals has done a good job of distributing the ball thus far. The leading receiver for the Commodores is Will Sheppard who has 35 receptions for 550 yards and 8 touchdowns. Jayden McGowan is the next man up outside with 26 catches for 307 yards on the year. The wildcard is London Humphreys who has only caught 12 balls all year, but those 12 grabs have produced 299 yards (24.9 YPC) and 3 TD’s.

The ‘Dores are only averaging 92.6 yards a game on the ground and are throwing the ball 35.6 times a game compared to 26.9 rushing attempts per contest. My eyes will be on Kamari Lassiter and the handful of guys working at CB2 this week, as Clark Lea’s squad will undoubtedly try and test Georgia’s secondary vertically. We will see if Ken Seals the Deal through the air (I could not resist).

Vanderbilt Defense

Vanderbilt’s defense this year is like a bouncer at a bar in Athens… “Let everyone through”. They have given up 35+ points in five consecutive games and have allowed 421.1 YPG on the year. The Commodores’ defense has granted 263.7 YPG through the air and 157.4 YPG on the ground in their first seven games. Clark Lea has implemented a 4-2-5 defense during his tenure at Vanderbilt which aims to be a versatile defensive look. They currently rank 9th in the SEC in sacks with 13 on the year. Those 13 have come from a variety of different players, but CJ Taylor is currently the sack leader for the Commodores with 3.0. Taylor also leads the team in tackles and TFL from the “Anchor” position which is essentially their rover linebacker.

One bright spot for Vandy’s defensive squad… they are tied with UGA for most interceptions in the SEC (8). De’Rickey Wright leads the team in INT’s with 2 and is also their highest graded defender at a 77.8 (39th among FBS safeties). On a different note, Malaki Starks currently leads all safeties in the FBS with a defensive grade of 90.8.

Vanderbilt has a tall task ahead when it comes to slowing down this Georgia offense. While they do have solid pieces in the secondary, I do not believe that they have enough talent in the trenches to give UGA too much trouble. IF the Dawgs are stalling offensively, I believe it will be because Georgia is beating Georgia. I know, I know… it’s a cliché thing to say, but it remains true. The only way the Commodores stay in this game is if they hit a couple of big shots on offense/ if Carson Beck turns the ball over.

Impact Players to Watch

Ken Seals (QB #8) – Senior with 18 career starts. Played well through the first two conference games but does not hit a high percentage of throws.

De’Rickey Wright (S #2) – Vandy’s best weapon in the secondary. Ball hawking DB with a 83.5 coverage grade. Struggles in run support (62.6 grade).

Will Sheppard (WR #14) – Leading WR for the ‘Dores. 2nd Team Preseason All-SEC. 2nd Team All-SEC in 2022. 6’3” physical receiver with reliable hands.

Betting Trends

A cover! UGA is now 1-5 ATS on the year. The Dawgs are currently -32.5 in Nashville and the game total is 55.5. It appears as if roughly 55% of the public is on Vandy +32.5. The Commodores are 0-7 ATS so far in 2023 and the over is 6-0-1 in their seven contests so far. In the last five meetings between the SEC teams, the Dawgs are 5-0 ATS and the over is 2-3.

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