Oct. 18, 2008
Commodore Game Notes
Vanderbilt at Georgia, Athens, Ga.
Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008
With the loss to Georgia, the No. 22 Commodores fall to 5-2 overall and 3-2 in Southeastern Conference play.
The Commodore defense had multiple interceptions for the fourth time this season. Vanderbilt leads the Southeastern Conference with 13 interceptions through seven games. Vanderbilt was even in the turnover battle (two INTs for each team), marking the sixth time this season they have been even or better.
Junior QB Mackenzi Adams set a VU season-high for attempts and completions, connecting on 16-of-32 passing attempts for 131 yards. Adams was 13-of-23 against Auburn for a season-high 153 passing yards.
Triple-threat D.J. Moore continued his outstanding junior campaign. Moore made six tackles, including five solo stops, and grabbed his third interception of the season. On offense, Moore carried the ball twice for 14 yards. He also fielded four kicks, gaining 25 yards on a pair of kickoff returns.
With his two-touchdown performance, freshman Jamie Graham becomes the first freshman to catch multiple TD passes since VU great Earl Bennett accomplished the feat in 2005.
Punter Brett Upson had another great game, booting seven kicks for 312 yards, an average of 44.6 yards-per-punt. He pinned Georgia inside their 20-yard line on three of those kicks, and had one kick barely find the goal line for a touchback. His long effort of the day was a 57-yarder, a new season long for the Griffin, Ga., native.
Senior defensive back Jared Fagan made his first start of 2008 as the nickelback against Georgia's initial three-wide set. It marked only the third start of Fagan's career, and his first since the season finale in 2006.
Running behind the left side of the line on consecutive plays with wideout Sean Walker and tailback Jared Hawkins, the Commodores recorded a first-down only 35 seconds into the game. Last week at Mississippi State, Vanderbilt's offense failed to move the chains in the first quarter.
Junior playmaker D.J. Moore gained nine yards on an end-around during Vanderbilt's second possession, his third rush of the season and his first carry since the Rice game (two carries, 37 yards).
Moore then made a splash on defense when he forced the first takeaway of the game at the 12:08 mark of the second quarter by picking-off a deep pass at the VU 3-yard line. The interception was the Commodores' 12th of the season. A native of Spartanburg, S.C., Moore joins senior safety Reshard Langford as the team's active leaders with 10 career interceptions.
With 2:45 remaining in the second quarter, Vanderbilt faced its largest deficit of the season when Georgia went up 14-0 following the Dogs' second touchdown pass of the first half. In all seven of the Commodores' games this season, their opponent has put points on the board first. Vanderbilt last trailed by double-digits when No. 13 Auburn took a 13-0 lead in Nashville. The `Dores would score 14 unanswered to defeat the Tigers, 14-13, on Oct. 4.
Twenty-two seconds before the halftime whistle, wideout Jamie Graham caught his first career touchdown pass to bring the Commodores within seven, 7-14. The 18-yard connection from junior QB Mackenzi Adams was Vanderbilt's sixth passing touchdown of the year. Adams has accounted for three of those scores, including two in the Auburn game.
Vanderbilt's first scoring drive spanned 75 yards over eight plays in 2:18 (two minutes, 18 seconds) near the close of the first half. It marked the Commodores' longest scoring drive of the season (by yardage). Vanderbilt put together a pair of 71-yard scoring drives at Miami (Ohio) in the first game of the 2008 season.
Junior punter Brett Upson pinned the Bulldogs inside their own 5-yard line with his fourth punt of the game, a 52-yard boot that setup Georgia's second possession of the second half. The drive was ended at the 7:48 mark of the quarter when a Greg Billinger deflection allowed Myron Lewis to intercept a pass at the UGA 27-yard line.
On the ensuing drive, Adams found Graham in the end zone for their second touchdown of the game. The 8-yard fade pattern marked the first time this season that one Commodore has had two touchdown catches in the same game. Graham joins tight end Brandon Barden as the only Commodores with multiple TD grabs this year. The last time a Commodore caught multiple touchdown passes in the same game was the 2007 season opener, when SEC all-time receptions leader Earl Bennett found the end zone three times against Richmond.
Senior safety Reshard Langford came up with Vanderbilt's third tackle-for-loss midway through the third quarter, stopping UGA's Caleb King for a four-yard loss on third-and-2 to force a punt.
After a 57-yard punt by Upson, Vanderbilt forced Georgia into its second consecutive three-and-out. After a UGA punt, the Commodores had gained 18 yard of field position (ending previous drive on the VU 20, beginning next series on the VU 38).
During a defensive-minded fourth quarter, Upson flipped the field with another punt that backed the Bulldogs inside their own 10-yard line for the second time in the game.
At the time of Vanderbilt's seventh punt of the day (at the 8:29 mark of the fourth quarter), the Commodores had shown a well-balanced offense. The Vanderbilt ground attack had gained 114 yards on 26 rushing attempts, with the VU aerial assault also accounting for 114 yards on 26 pass attempts. VU finished with 245 total yards on 58 plays.