Georgia probably should’ve beaten Vanderbilt today. The Dawgs outgained theCommodores by a whopping 250 yards, 421-171. They held Vandy to 109 yards through the air with a 38.8 percent completion rating and just 1.93 yards per carry.
But Vandy came away with the 17-16 victory, their first SEC road win in three years under Derek Mason. They were helped by some less-than-ideal coaching. Georgia kicked a field goal from the 3-yard line in the first half and punted twice from Vandy territory in the second. And needing a yard against Vandy on 4th-and-1 with the game on the line, Mason got Kirby Smart to show his hand.
Georgia tried to run the same play after a Vanderbilt timeout they were running before it. Spoiler: it didn't work: pic.twitter.com/qGIGCIethL— SB Nation (@SBNation) October 15, 2016
Georgia lined up for the play with four wide receivers, then had one of those wide receivers, Isaiah McKenzie, motion into the backfield to form a deep I-formation with Nick Chubb. Then Mason called timeout. And after the timeout... Georgia lined up for the play with four wide receivers, then had McKenzie motion into the backfield.
It's weird enough that with the game on the line, needing one yard, Smart turned to a wide receiver when he has two stud running backs in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. It's weirder that he would let the opponent see a formation hinting at a WR run, give them time to think about it, then run it anyway.
Look at the way Vandy diagnosed the play differently each time. They saw that a WR run was a possibility, adjusted, and prepared to stop it.
(While knocking Smart, we should take a moment to mention that this was a spectacular defensive play by Zach Cunningham, one of the finest linebackers in the SEC hidden on a team that doesn't get a lot of attention.)
On the one hand, Georgia’s got a rookie head coach and a true freshman at QB. Typically, that’s a sign that winning now isn’t that important.
But the only reason they have a rookie head coach is because they fired one of the best coaches in school history after a 9-3 season, and that true freshman was one of the best in the country. And they just lost to a pretty bad Vandy team, in part because of the machinations of their coaching staff.