Vanderbilt expecting to play vs No. 5 Georgia’s freshman QB
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason isn’t buying any of Kirby Smart’s talk about not knowing whether Jake Fromm or Jacob Eason will start at quarterback for the fifth-ranked Bulldogs on Saturday.
Mason expects the freshman Fromm to start.
“I mean he’s not fooling me if that’s what we think we’re doing here,” Mason said of Smart not naming a starter. “That young man Fromm has won ballgames. He just came off a (41-0) win. Listen, we can quit coaching dramatics. When it’s all said and done, they’re 5-0. They’re a good football team with a lot of talent. They’re playing extremely well. Hat’s off to Kirby.”
Smart insists he’s not concerned with Mason’s comments.
“Derek Mason is entitled to his opinion,” Smart said. “Derek Mason is not at our practices. He doesn’t watch our practice tape that I know of.”
The Bulldogs (5-0, 2-0) might be rolling off a couple big wins to kick off their Southeastern Conference schedule, including last week’s 41-0 rout of Tennessee that was the Vols’ worst home loss since 1905. Georgia has some extra motivation coming into Nashville after Mason got his first SEC road win in Athens last year, edging the Bulldogs 17-16 .
“There were a lot of errors in that game,” Smart said.
Still, Georgia is looking for another win to match the Bulldogs’ best start since 2012 when they earned a spot in the SEC championship. Junior tight end Jackson Harris says the Bulldogs are focused on Vanderbilt (3-2, 0-2), not Georgia’s gaudy ranking or all the attention they’re getting.
“Honestly, we don’t even pay attention to it,” Harris said.
Here are some other things to know about Georgia’s visit to Vanderbilt:
FOUR-HEADED MONSTER: Mason may be expecting Fromm at quarterback, but Vanderbilt is preparing for what the coach called a “four-headed monster” thanks to seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel leading a talented group of running backs. Georgia is averaging 237.4 yards on the ground led by Chubb with 480 yards and six touchdowns this season. Michel is averaging 5.4 yards per carry with D’Andre Smith picking up 7.3 yards on each of his runs. “They’ve got a boatload of talent in the backfield,” Mason said.
STINGY D: Georgia comes in having given up just three points in the past two games with a six-quarter scoreless streak . That has the Bulldogs ranked second nationally in scoring defense giving up a mere 9.2 points per game. They rank behind only Alabama, which shut out Vanderbilt 59-0 last month.
DORES’ CHALLENGE: Vanderbilt ranked among the nation’s best in scoring defense too before starting a grueling stretch featuring four ranked teams in as many weeks. Now the Commodores rank 45th nationally in total offense but have been gashed by the run where they’re giving up 204.6 yards per game. But they do have linebacker Charles Wright leading the SEC with six sacks.
TALENTED QUARTERBACKS: Fromm has taken good care of the ball for Georgia, throwing for 734 yards with eight touchdowns and only two interceptions. Junior Kyle Shurmur is off to the best season of his career, tied for the SEC lead with 11 TD passes, and he has only been intercepted once. His teammates have given him decent protection too, allowing him to be sacked only three times. Smart said Shurmur was still growing as a quarterback when these teams last met.
“He will be the best pure passing quarterback that we have played against,” Smart said.
ROUGH STRETCH: Not only is Vanderbilt playing four ranked teams in consecutive weeks for the first time in school history, that stretch also includes two of the nation’s top five programs. The schedule started with a win over then-No. 18 Kansas State, the loss to Alabama, a 38-24 loss at then-No. 21 Florida and now Georgia. Vandy hasn’t beaten the Bulldogs in consecutive games since 1956-58. Mason says the tough competition will help his Commodores build the character they will need to play well down the stretch.
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