Vanderbilt anemic last two games

photo Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers, the younger brother of Green Bay Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers
Arkansas-SEMO Live Blog

An offensive performance consisting of 13 first downs and 267 yards is considered subpar.

Yet those are Vanderbilt's totals from its past two games, when the Commodores lost 21-3 at South Carolina and 34-0 at Alabama. The Commodores opened the James Franklin era with three consecutive wins, including a 30-7 surprise thrashing of Ole Miss, but they will try to avoid a third straight loss Saturday night when Georgia visits.

"These last two defenses have been really good defenses," Franklin said Monday. "We've just got to get better. We knew coming in here that we had bigger challenges on the offensive side of the ball."

After being held to a paltry five first downs and 77 yards in its Sept. 24 loss to the Gamecocks, Vanderbilt did show some improvement last week against the stout Crimson Tide. Starting quarterback Larry Smith engineered a seven-play, 47-yard drive in the first quarter that ended in a missed 47-yard field-goal attempt by Carey Spear, and backup Jordan Rodgers led a seven-play, 59-yard second-quarter drive that ended with a 38-yard Spear miss.

Had Spear connected both times, the Commodores would have trailed 7-6 late in the half, but those two possessions accounted for 106 of Vandy's 190 yards.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Smith left last week's game with a lower leg injury, and it is not known whether the senior will start or even play against the Bulldogs. The 6-2, 205-pound Rodgers is a junior who began his career at Butte Junior College in California, and he is the younger brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

"Both quarterbacks do a good job, both of them are good leaders on and off the field, and in practice they always compete," senior tight end Brandon Barden said. "Larry's been our starting quarterback, but I don't know who's going to play this week."

Said Georgia coach Mark Richt: "There is enough film to have a pretty good idea of what they're trying to accomplish. No one tries to reinvent the wheel in a week's time, so we'll have a pretty good gauge of what we're dealing with."

Rodgers completed 11 of 18 passes for 104 yards at Alabama but was intercepted twice.

"I thought Jordan played extremely well in the first half," Frankin said. "I don't think he played as well as he would have liked to play or as well as we would have liked him to play in the second half. It was two completely different halves."

The Commodores rank 100th nationally in rushing offense (115.2 yards per game), 114th in passing (129.2), 117th in total offense (244.4) and 119th in first downs (11.6).

Gilliard, Walsh honored

Georgia junior inside linebacker Michael Gilliard was named Monday as the SEC defensive player of the week for his thorough performance in Saturday's 20-12 win at Tennessee. Gilliard amassed a career-high 12 tackles, a 14-yard sack, 2.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.

The 6-2, 220-pounder from Valdosta leads the Bulldogs with 40 tackles and has topped the team each of the past four games.

"I always just try to help the team out as much as I can," Gilliard said. "Tennessee has a good quarterback, and we just wanted to come out and play fast and run to the football."

Blair Walsh was selected SEC special teams player of the week after making both field-goal and extra-point attempts against the Vols.

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.