Bulldogs Beat

Five at the half: Notes and thoughts at halftime of Georgia vs. Vanderbilt

Jason Butt


Isaiah McKenzie scored a touchdown on a 77-yard punt return in the first quarter.
Isaiah McKenzie scored a touchdown on a 77-yard punt return in the first quarter.

Is Lorenzo Carter in Georgia’s doghouse? To open Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt, which was 14-6 in Georgia's favor, at the half, Carter did not receive the start as the Bulldogs went with Davin Bellamy to be the outside linebacker opposite of Jordan Jenkins. Bellamy saw most of the time out there at the position with Carter rotating in. Carter’s time in the game was brief, too. In the first quarter, on Vanderbilt’s second offensive possession, he hit Johnny McCrary a little too high for the officials’ liking. Carter was flagged for a targeting violation and ejected from the game. It was reminiscent of Georgia’s 2013 game, when Ray Drew was ejected for targeting and Ramik Wilson was flagged for it before the penalty was overruled on replay. With Georgia fairly deep at outside linebacker, and with the Bulldogs opening the game with Bellamy to begin with, losing Carter for the game may not matter too much in the second half. But you have to wonder what’s going on with Carter when it comes to head coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

The Greyson Lambert that came to play last week didn’t show up to the first half this week. Lambert’s first five passes were incomplete, with the fifth one a near-interception that floated right into the middle of the field. Lambert was lucky the ball wasn’t picked, and especially fortunate that Sony Michel took the ball 31 yards for a touchdown on the next play. Lambert did not look in sync at all like he did a week ago against Louisiana-Monroe. Of course, Vanderbilt’s defense is a much tougher foe than what the Warhawks presented. Brice Ramsey got one series in the second quarter and completed his first two throws. The striking difference was how Ramsey was given two first-quarter throws compared to Lambert, who got none.

Sony Michel was forced to exit with a minor injury and was able to return. Clearly the injury wasn’t serious as Michel came back in and ran for a 31-yard touchdown. Michel continues to offer a great change-of-pace option to Nick Chubb, who ran for 128 yards in the first half on 10 carries. Chubb continued to show why he’s among the best running backs in the nation. Against a stacked box early in the game, Chubb found a small hole and ended up off to the races for a 68-yard pickup.

Jordan Jenkins was a man among boys in the two quarters. He finished the half with nine tackles, 4 ½ tackles for loss and two sacks. Whether it was from the left or right side, Jenkins was in the Vanderbilt backfield early and often. Jenkins’ presence on the field has been a big reason why the Bulldogs were able to escape a bizarre half with only three points allowed.

Isaiah McKenzie looks to be 100 percent, which was a huge boost in the first half considering how inept the passing game was for the Bulldogs. McKenzie took a first-quarter punt to the end zone on a 77-yard return. McKenzie didn’t handle special teams duty last week as he continued to rest up from a hamstring injury sustained in the first half. He looked fairly spry on the return and showed he’s good to go. The Georgia defense has performed well for the most part but the offense needs a spark, especially in the passing game. In the meantime, the Bulldogs were able to get its first touchdown on the board thanks to McKenzie and the special teams punt return group.

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