“We know danger is ahead if we don’t go in and try to take care of business,” senior defensive tackle Kedric Golston said.
The Commodores haven’t beaten the No. 5 Bulldogs (5-0, 3-0 SEC) since 1994 and most of the games haven’t been close at the end, but it never seems to be easy. The last time Georgia played at Vanderbilt Stadium, where it will kick off Saturday at 7:15 p.m., it trailed 2-0 at halftime before coming away with a 27-8 win.
“I think before we even got here, it’s been embedded into us, that it was a tough game,” defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said.
Vanderbilt (4-2, 2-1) has become a tough game for several folks this year. The Commodores opened the season with four straight wins and would move into first place in the SEC East with a victory over the Bulldogs on Saturday.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that Vanderbilt had a chance to go 5-0 for the first time since World War II until a 17-15 upset at the hands of Middle Tennessee State. Then came last week’s 34-6 loss to LSU.
“It’s obvious that we had a little tough sledding on offense this weekend, and now we have to jump from the frying pan into the fire with another talented team in Georgia,” Commodores coach Bobby Johnson said. “That’s just what it means to be in the SEC.”
The Commodores still can become eligible for their first bowl game since 1982 with two more wins, but the rest of their schedule doesn’t look promising. After the Georgia game, Vanderbilt plays at South Carolina, at Florida, Kentucky and at Tennessee to finish the season.
“Our guys know what the story is,”Johnson said. “They aren’t all down in the dumps just because we lost to LSU. LSU is a great football team, and we had our chances. It was 9-3 in the third quarter. If we play a complete game, we have a chance to win.”
Complete games are the difference between Vanderbilt this year and the Vanderbilt of years past, Martinez said.
“They’re finishing games, and I think that’s been their Achilles’ heel in the past,” he said. “They’ve had a chance and bam, something would happen.”
The familiar part about the Commodores is quarterback Jay Cutler, a senior who leads the league in total offense with 275 yards per game.
“We’ve always liked Jay,” Martinez said. “Not to take anything away from anybody else, but I think he’ s the best we’ve faced to date. He’s got more of a supporting cast this year, and that’s the scary part.”