Georgia blows out Vanderbilt

semerson@macon.comSeptember 22, 2012 

ATHENS – This time there was no drama. Not in the final minute. Not in the aftermath.

There was no blow-up. There was only a handshake that restored an air of civility, after a result that restored Georgia’s dominance in a one-sided rivalry.

When Todd Grantham found James Franklin in the postgame scrum, and this time shook hands and quickly moved on, not many noticed. Grantham and the Georgia football team had sent their message long ago.

Georgia trounced visiting Vanderbilt, 48-3, earning the Bulldogs' largest SEC margin of victory in eight years, and the Commodores’ worst loss in nine years.

"It was a little more important than it usually is when we're playing Vandy. Just because of what happened last year,” Georgia senior safety Sanders Commings said, alluding not just to last year’s five-point win, but the postgame shouting match between Grantham, the Georgia defensive coordinator, and Franklin, the Vanderbilt head coach.

“Any time something happens like that, there's bad blood between teams. That's what definitely showed up to play, to play our best. And that's what we did."

Fifth-ranked Georgia (4-0) entered the day an unbeaten, but not unblemished, football team. It had passed its biggest test, at Missouri two weeks ago, but had still yet to put together a complete game worthy of its No. 5 national ranking.

That changed on Saturday. It changed in a big way.

Meanwhile, the Grantham- Franklin undercard was also won by Grantham in a big way.

Georgia dominated Vanderbilt in almost comical fashion, and it could have been worse if the Bulldogs had kept the pressure on in the fourth quarter.

After the game, Franklin waited as Grantham found him. The two adversaries, who apparently had not met since last year’s game, exchanged a quick hand shake.

"We were just gonna go out there and have a group hug and then everybody was gonna go their way and move on,” Grantham said. “No, they coach them hard, they play hard, they're working to try to be competitive. So we're all competitive. We shook hands and moved on and it's over with."

Last year’s game was chippy even before the Grantham-Franklin brouhaha. This time, according to Commings, everything was kept “between the whistles.” But the memory of last year was on Georgia’s mind.

"I thought everybody was kind of locked in,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said. “I think everyone wanted this one bad. They didn't feel very good about how things went a year ago. They know that we very easily could have lost game (in 2011), and all that 10 wins in a row, Eastern Division champions, all that would have been down the drain."

Georgia senior receiver Tavarres King laughed and nodded when asked if the defensive guys were more locked in.

“I think so. I think those guys were getting after it,” King said. “Everybody had their ears pinned back. Fire to the ball. It was awesome. It was awesome to watch. I think I sat down two times the whole game, just because I was excited to watch those guys get after it.”

But it wasn’t just the Bulldog defense that was locked in.

A week after putting up a program-record 713 offensive yards, Georgia followed up with 567. King called it the most complete offensive performance he’s seen in his four-year career at Georgia.

Freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall continued being the story of Georgia’s season. They each ran for two touchdowns. Gurley rushed for 130 yards, including a 29-yard run in which he shed multiple tacklers.

"That run, man, I told somebody earlier, that was, like a sign of greatness,” King said. “Really to my eyes I felt like that was kind of Herschel Walker-ish."

King was told to be careful about the comparison. He didn’t relent.

"I'm gonna say it,” King said. “It was just phenomenal."

Gurley maintained a humble front.

"Yeah, yes sir. I know what I'm capable of. I have a little confidence in myself. But just being able to do some of the stuff I've done is just a blessing."

Marshall also had a 52-yard touchdown run, taking advantage of a big hole provided by his line. He finished with 82 yards, averaging 8.2 yards a carry, while Marshall averaged 8.1.

The passing game was just as good. Quarterback Aaron Murray padded his stats and his Heisman Trophy campaign. The junior didn’t play a snap in the fourth quarter, but finished with 250 passing yards and two passing touchdowns, as well as a rushing touchdown.

Murray took a seat after the third quarter, but Grantham kept his starters in for several more drives.

“They had their starters in there too,” Grantham said.

Narrowly, the Bulldogs avoided giving up a touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter Vanderbilt was credited a touchdown when Jordan Rodgers stretched the ball into the end zone on a run. But replays showed he fumbled the ball before the pylon, giving Georgia a touchback.

"We wanted our fans to know that we do have a stout defense,” Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones said. “And I think we are one of the best defenses in the country. I think we showed it tonight."

“We played with our blood a little hot, which was good,” Richt said. “They got after it every snap and they played hard. I’m really proud of everyone.”

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