The 27-8 final score will stand up respectably enough if the No. 4 Bulldogs can convince the 27,832 fans in attendance not to tell anyone else they trailed 2-0 at halftime and led just 3-2 with three minutes left in the third quarter.
"It shouldn't matter how many fans are in the stadium,"
lineman Bartley Miller said. (But) you play in front of 100,000 in
Neyland Stadium last week, and it looks a little different here. We have
to focus on what happens on the field. We didn't come here ready to
play, and that's our fault."
At least 70 percent of the people who watched Georgia improve to 6-1
overall and 4-1 in the Southeastern Conference were dressed in red and
"We brought this upon ourselves," said Vanderbilt defensive end
Jovan Haye. "This is what losing does."
The Commodores fell to 1-7 and 0-4 in the SEC, but early on it looked
like they might snap their 20-game league losing streak. Georgia had one
first down and 64 offensive yards at halftime and didn't end a drive in
"We came out here and underestimated a team like Vanderbilt, which
a lot better than we perceived them to be," said sophomore receiver
Bryan McClendon, who caught six passes for 108 yards. "When you do that,
you're going to get a slap in the face."
Georgia may get a slap in the polls, this week. Southern California,
which trailed the Bulldogs by just a few points in the Associated Press
poll, beat Notre Dame handily Saturday. Georgia plays UAB at home on
Saturday before a Nov. 1 showdown with Florida. Saturday's game didn't
provide the kind of momentum the Bulldogs are hoping to have heading
into the Florida game.
"We were flat, obviously," said quarterback David Greene, who
was 19 of
30 for 208 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.
Coach Mark Richt said he wasn't sure if his players came out flat or if
that was just the easiest way for them to explain away their poor play.
"Only the players know for sure if they were mentally ready to
he said. "If some of them weren't mentally ready, I hope they learned a
lesson from it."
Richt laid the blame on a lack of blocking rather than a lack of focus.
"They're defensive line just beat up on our offensive line pretty
good," he said. "There is no question that's where it all started in
Greene was sacked six times, including a 10-yard loss for a safety by
Ralph McKenzie with 5:12 left in the second quarter. Trailing Vanderbilt
at halftime "had to be the most embarrassing feeling we've had this
year," running back Tyson Browning said.
The scoreless first half was Georgia's first since the 1999 Auburn
game. Richt compared what Vanderbilt must have been feeling in the
halftime locker room to what Georgia felt two years ago against
Tennessee when it went to the break leading.
"I'm not sure we thought we could win that game until that
said. "I felt like they might be feeling the same kind of emotion over
there. I was very concerned how we were going to respond."
Georgia's halftime locker room was calm, its occupants said. Senior
cornerback Bruce Thornton gave his teammates an mild scolding "because I
thought we were lackadaisical," he said, and Richt challenged the
offensive linemen to improve their play. Other than that it was business
as usual, linebacker Odell Thurman said.
"We knew what we had to do," he said. "We just felt like we
had to stay
together as a team, and not start pointing fingers at anyone."
Georgia's defense allowed Vanderbilt 59 yards in the first half and
gave up 218 in the game. The Bulldogs' offense finally came around in
the second half, scoring on five of its first six second-half
Billy Bennett gave Georgia its first lead with a 40-yard field goal
with 8:55 left in the third quarter. Michael Cooper added a 6-yard
touchdown run on the next drive to put the Bulldogs up 10-2. Running
backs Browning and Ronnie Powell added touchdowns and Bennett kicked
another field goal in the fourth quarter to account for the final score.
"I'll just say this," Richt said. "I'm very thankful to