NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Greetings from Music City, where Georgia will see if it can rise up from last week’s loss to Missouri and show life in another early kickoff.
It’s an 11:10 a.m. local kickoff today (12:10 p.m. ET) at Vanderbilt Stadium.
Georgia is still very much in the thick of the SEC East race even if it’s BCS national title hopes were smashed last week.
“We feel like that first goal of getting to Atlanta is very attainable,” quarterback Aaron Murray said. “We’ve just got to win out.”
There’s no way this thing can get close to over the edge like last time with that postgame tiff between Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and Vanderbilt coach James Franklin. Can it?
“Coach Franklin gets his boys riled up and ready to go and we’ll be doing the same,” coach Mark Richt said.
Richt noted that “the last time we were there it was a very heated game, a very close game and thankfully we came out of there with a victory.”
Said Franklin: “A great game for us, a great opportunity for us to go out there and play against a quality opponent who’s respected nationally. That’s really what that game was and that’s what this game will be on Saturday. We’re excited about it.”
You know the injury situation.
Aaron Murray remains without three of Georgia’s best receivers—Justin Scott-Wesley, Michael Bennett and Malcolm Mitchell.
Tailback Keith Marshall is out for the season and Todd Gurley isn’t expected to play, but is on the trip.
“I’ve just been so impressed with their quarterback and how he’s handled all their changing personnel,” Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said. “It’s been as impressive as anything I’ve seen this year just watching him adjust and adapt all year long and find ways to make plays.”
Two other roster items.
Defensive lineman Toby Johnson, who was listed out of practice Wednesday with a knee injury, made the trip with Georgia.
So it looks like senior linebacker T.J. Stripling didn’t make the trip.
“First time not being with my boys on a game weekend,” he tweeted. “This sitting in the house stuff is for birds!!!”
Other pregame stuff:
–Junior college wide receiver Jonathan Rumph is expected to make his debut today.
“You’ve got to love a nice 6-4, 6-5 receiver out there that can physically be dominant, go up and get balls, use his body to shield defenders off,” Murray said. “It’s also another guy for the rotation. Another guy, especially with our high-tempo offense, we want to keep guys fresh, we want to rotate guys.”
Look for Rumph to be a possible factor in the red zone.
–Safety Tray Matthews (hamstring) didn’t make the trip. And Stripling indeed isn’t here. The freshmen who were headed for redshirt years aren’t here as you might expect: Tramel Terry, Uriah LeMay, DeAndre Johnson, Aulden Bynum and Josh Cardiello. Also not here: Brandon Burrows, Xzavier Ward, Zach DeBell and Uriah LeMay.
The quarteracks after Murray and Huston Mason are Faton Bauta and Parker Welch. Christian LeMay isn’t on the trip.
—-Murray is two touchdown passes away from tying Danny Wuerffel’s SEC career record of 114 and 29 yards away from Tim Tebow’s SEC total offense record of 12,203..
“I know for a fact he doesn’t care about records,” Richt said. “He cares about winning a championship and we’re still battling like mad to try to win the East and get back to Atlanta.”
–Todd Gurley is standing around in a jacket and shades while teammates warm up. Yep, looks like he’ll miss his third straight game.
–John Theus warmed up as the starting right tackle. So that switch looks like it’s happening. Murray estimated that Vanderbilt will blitz about 60 percent of the time.
–Defensive lineman Garrison Smith on the defense: “We’ve just got to go out there and make something happen. We’ve got to change what’s going wrong. We deserve all the criticism people say. It ain’t no big deal, though. We’ve just got to keep improving, keep getting better.