October 16, 2010

Bulldogs relish shutout of 'Dores

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham wanted to make one point perfect clear - shutouts aren't easy. It doesn't matter who they're against.

That most certainly includes Vanderbilt, which found itself on the wrong end of a 43-0 shutout at the hands of Georgia, the Bulldogs' first shutout since a 38-0 victory last year over Tennessee Tech.

"Any shutout is very difficult in my opinion. But that was the goal and we had a chance to reach that goal," Grantham said. "That kind of goes back to that resilient and aggressive approach that I talked about when I first got here - that and finishing."

Georgia did exactly that.

Vanderbilt only crossed into Bulldog territory twice the entire game, once during the game's opening possession and the second on their last.

During that final drive, Vanderbilt reached the Georgia 35-yard line but got no closer. Following a false start, quarterback Jared Funk threw incomplete giving the Bulldogs the shutout.

"We play every situation and my intention right then was to not let them score and I think it helped our team, offense, defense, special teams," Grantham said. "They were all cheering for the guys who were playing to hold them. It was a credit to our players that we got it."

It was easily the Bulldogs' best defensive effort to date.

Not only did Georgia keep Vanderbilt out of the end zone, but they held the Commodores to just 140 total yards - 58 rushing and 82 through the air.

"We always talk before the game about being hard to score on," Grantham said."Anytime you're hard to score on you're going to be in games with a chance to win them. We always talk about being prepared to win low-scoring games because that's a mindset, too."

Linebacker Christian Robinson said Vanderbilt's opening drive helped get the defense in the right frame of mind.

"We gave up a bit too much yardage, but we came back together, met with Coach Grantham, got the scheme together, and we executed," Robinson said. "If this defense - and everybody on this team executes - the sky's the limit for us. We played really well today."

It didn't hurt the Bulldog D that it was able to stay fresh the entire game.

Thanks to the offense piling up 547 yards, Georgia was able to control the clock, hanging onto the ball for 37:15 compared to just 22:45 for Vanderbilt.

"Our offense has done a great job the past two weeks with time of possession, so we've been able to get some breaks to keep guys fresh and that's allowed some of our first-team guys to play a hair more than normal," Grantham said. "Once we got into the second half and it became a reachable goal, that's when we started talking about it."

The defense almost scored a pair of touchdowns itself to help the offense's cause.

In the first quarter, the Commodores appeared to lose a fumble following a completed pass which Robinson picked up and rumbled 19 yards for an apparent score.

However, after a review, the ball was ruled incomplete, snatching away Robinson's first career touchdown.

On Vandy's next possession, Vanderbilt started at its own 26 but a bad snap sent the football sailing back toward the end zone. Bulldog Brandon Boykin recovered and the ball was initially ruled a touchdown, but replays showed that the Georgia cornerback was partially out of bounds, resulting in a safety.

Georgia linebacker Akeem Dent also recovered a fumble on a muffed punt, while cornerback Sanders Commings intercepted a pass, his second pick of the year.

"(Grantham) Coach always asks what's your identity going to be and we want to be known as a defense that's going to handle its responsibilities, cause turnovers, put points on the board and get some good field position," Robinson said. "That's one thing that really changed that after that first opening drive. It really set the tone for us."

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