NASHVILLE — Georgia tailback Isaiah Crowell’s phenomenal freshman season encountered its first speed bump Saturday night when the freshman not only didn’t start but sat out the first quarter.
Several media outlets speculated that Crowell was benched for missing an academic tutoring session, but Mark Richt said afterward “it was a coach’s decision just not to play him.”
Redshirt junior Richard Samuel started in Crowell’s place and performed well at times, rushing twice for 17 yards on Georgia’s opening possession and ripping off an 18-yarder early in the third quarter that set up a 36-yard Blair Walsh field goal that put the Bulldogs up 23-7.
Samuel wound up leading the Bulldogs with 53 yards on 15 carries, while Crowell had a season-low 35 on 10. Crowell was stopped for no gain on the first play of the fourth quarter and never got another carry, with Samuel playing down the stretch.
“I don’t know if it’s his wrist or forearm, but he’s just been taking shots at the same spot,” Richt said, “and you could tell that he’s struggling. The last thing you want is a back in there who can’t secure the ball.”
Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham exchanged words at midfield following the game.
“We just had a tough, emotional game, and some things were said that I didn’t think were appropriate,” Franklin said. “I went to find Coach Richt and didn’t find him, so I found one of his assistant coaches, and it didn’t go well. We’re not going to sit back and take it from anyone.”
When asked about the incident, Grantham repeatedly said that he will support his players.
Wacky, wacky Walsh
When Georgia kicker Blair Walsh opened the scoring early in the second quarter with a 53-yard field goal, it gave the Bulldogs senior the first- and second-longest field goals in the SEC this season. Walsh got the league’s longest kick and the longest of his career when he connected from 56 yards out Sept. 17 in the 59-0 rout of Coastal Carolina.
Walsh moved into second on the school’s all-time scoring charts, yet he also missed two attempts Saturday, giving him eight misses this season. The 5-foot-10, 192-pounder had only five misses combined as a sophomore and junior and also missed eight as a freshman.
Odds and ends
The 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Vandy’s Andre Hal in the third quarter was the first allowed by the Bulldogs since Auburn’s Demond Washington went 99 yards in 2009. ... A blown transformer on the east concourse at Vanderbilt Stadium caused four light standards to go out with 2:53 left in the first half, but the game continued. ... Georgia junior strong safety Shawn Williams had two personal-foul penalties during the game. ... The blocked punt by Orson Charles in the second quarter was the second by the Bulldogs this season. Freshman Corey Moore got the first one against Coastal Carolina.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...