I spent way too much time analyzing statistics before last week's prediction. Then — and now — the numbers pointed to Vanderbilt over Mississippi State.
But strange things happened:
• We couldn't stop Tyson Lee from dodging third-down sacks and sprinting for first downs.
• We couldn't get a turnover. Reshard Langford got out-hopped for the ball in the end zone and couldn't quite get the handle on another one at the end of the game.
• We had tons of penalties.
• We acted like we'd spent the whole week reading about our victory over Auburn.
• We got punched in the mouth and seemed surprised by it.
• The coaching staff failed to make adjustments, most notably on offense and at quarterback, but also on defense.
I don't expect those things to happen this week. That's the good news. The bad news: We're playing Georgia.
I won't dwell on stats because we know where that got me last week (24-10, anyone?), but a few things jump out at me:
• Georgia throws for more than 270 yards a game.
• Georgia holds its opponents to about 50 yards rushing per game.
• Georgia converts almost half the time on third down, while we convert about a third of the time.
• Georgia averages more than twice as many penalties and penalty yards per game as we do.
Oh yeah, and Georgia is loaded with talent.
Here's one more stat: We average 90.3/yards passing per game.
I predict Mackenzi Adams will get three times that against Georgia. At least. We can't run the ball on these guys, but they don't know what we can do through the air. (We don't either.)
Anyway, the key will be our receiving. Brandon Barden is a beast, and Adams got him involved against Auburn in a way Chris Nickson couldn't do. He could play a big role in the Georgia game. Everybody knows about Sean Walker, especially Georgia, and he's due a big game. Adams and Wheeler have a kind of mind-meld going on, and Jamie Graham is a solid possession receiver and a nice all-purpose athlete.
But George Smith worries me. He looked terrible against Mississippi State, dropping a couple of tough but catchable balls, including a touchdown, and picking up stupid penalties. The game ended with him arguing with his quarterback after Adams used hand gestures to let the whole stadium know he thought Smith had blown his route.
There was way too much George Smith in that game and not enough Graham or Walker or Wheeler. I love George Smith, but that's what I saw last Saturday.
Last week, we didn't make adjustments (at quarterback, at wide receiver, on defense) because we didn't think we had to, because we thought we were a better team than those Bulldogs and we'd win in the end.
But against these Bulldogs, you'd better believe we're going to make adjustments and we're going to make them fast, because we could get blown out of Sanford Stadium if we don't. It's not gonna matter if a player is a senior or overcame hardship or whatever. We'll be playing to win, just like we did against South Carolina and Auburn.
This Saturday is a new day. It sounds weird, but the Commodores play better in big hostile stadiums against high-ranked teams than they do against teams they're supposed to beat in rinky-dink stadiums where everybody's shaking a cowbell.
They won't be flat for this one. With LSU and Florida on the horizon, Georgia just might be. It sounds funny to say, but I think Vanderbilt has a better shot to beat the Dawgs after losing to Miss State last week than they would have if they'd won.
No, I'm not picking the upset. I picked the Dores to win last week and they lost, so I'm hoping the opposite will happen this week.
Call it... Georgia 27, Vanderbilt 19