With Fred Gibson and Michael Johnson at home in Athens, Georgia was in need of its newest playmaker…
Backup WR McClendon fills in admirably
The No. 4 Bulldogs were without starting receivers Fred Gibson (knee) and Michael Johnson (shoulder) and lost starter Reggie Brown in the third quarter due to cramps, but Bryan McClendon filled the void, catching a career-high six passes for 108 yards.
"I was a little timid with Bryan when the game started, but by the time the game was over, I was trying to find ways to get him the ball," Richt said.
McClendon made the first start of his career and admitted he was nervous in the beginning. Five of his catches came after halftime.
"I started out thinking, 'Don't mess up, don't mess up,'" he said. "But once your blood starts flowing, you realize this is football, the game I practice and play every day."
Saturday's effort topped McClendon's career statistics to that point. He caught five passes for 90 yards as a freshman and hadn't caught a ball this season entering Saturday.
"He played great today, stepped up and made some great catches," quarterback David Greene said.
Still, McClendon said he'll look at game film closely to see what he can improve on because he knows wide receivers coach John Eason will do the same.
"I could score a million-yard touchdown, and he'd look at something little," McClendon said.
INJURY UPDATE: All of the players who missed or left the Vanderbilt game are expected to be back next week against UAB. Linebacker Derrick White didn't dress out due to a right foot injury he said he suffered Friday morning when a stereo system fell on his foot. He said he hopes to return next week.
Defensive lineman Ray Gant didn't play due to a hand injury, defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said.
Freshman running back Kregg Lumpkin came in on Georgia's second series but left soon thereafter because he sprained his right ankle. Freshman Marquis Elmore made his Bulldog debut on the defensive line in the second half but lasted only two plays because he aggravated an ankle injury.
Brown left the game due to cramps and said he'll play next week.
SHOCKLEY HAVING SURGERY: Backup quarterback D.J. Shockley has decided to have season-ending knee surgery, Richt said following the game. Shockley has cartilage damage in his right knee. He will have surgery this week.
Shockley's absence means Joe Tereshinski III will move into the Bulldogs' backup role. Tereshinski played just one play Saturday, handing the ball to running back Ronnie Powell.
"I would have loved to get Joe T in the game, but we had to win," Richt said.
WHERE'S ROLAND: Although Georgia's offensive line played poorly throughout the first half, third tackle Dennis Roland Jr. didn't see the field all day. Roland is not injured, line coach Neil Callaway said.
"He's not on the first team," Callaway said.
Asked if he thought he needed Roland on Saturday he said, "No."
BIG-PLAY SEAN: Safety Sean Jones increased his team lead in tackles with nine and also made his team-best fourth interception of the season.
"A guy that talented who plays that hard is going to make plays," Richt said.
STRANGE CALL: Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson defended his decision to attempt a meaningless field goal trailing 27-8 with three seconds left.
"I just wanted to get our field goal players some work," he said. "I can do the math. I knew it wasn't going to put us over the top."
Jones blocked Tolga Ertugrul's 34-yard attempt, a result that didn't surprise Richt. Georgia's coaches had noticed Ertugrul's kicks were low and felt like they had a good chance of blocking them.
"(Jones) probably hit it with his belly button," Richt said.
EARLY ENTRY: Jarrett Berry, a Toombs Academy graduate, made his first catch of the season in the third quarter, a 9-yard reception with 12:51 left in the quarter. It was Berry's first catch since 2001 and just the second of his career.
NATIONAL NOTICE: Richt made the watch list for the 2003 Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award, the honor's governing office announced this week. Richt joined Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer, Michigan's Lloyd Carr, USC's Pete Carroll, Miami's Larry Coker, Minnesota's Glen Mason and TCU's Gary Patterson, among others, on the list.
BOOMER: Commodore punter Abtin Iranmanesh had the highlight of the first half with an 80-yard punt, the second-longest punt in Vanderbilt history. The angled kick flew 50 yards in the air and rolled to a stop midway through the end zone. The longest Commodore kick on record came against Georgia in 1984.
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