D'Andre Swift stars as Georgia flies past Vanderbilt

Associated Press photo by Curtis Compton / Georgia defensive end Justin Young (92) rips the helmet off Vanderbilt running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn while making a tackle during the second quarter of Saturday night's game in Nashville. Young was called for a personal foul on the play.
photo Associated Press photo by Curtis Compton / Georgia tailback James Cook, right, gets past Vanderbilt safety Tae Daley for a touchdown during the first quarter of Saturday night's SEC East matchup in Nashville.

NASHVILLE - The Georgia Bulldogs opened a football season full of promise with a Swift whipping of Vanderbilt.

Racking up 244 yards and three touchdowns through its first three possessions, Georgia built a 21-0 lead and cruised to a 30-6 thumping before a mostly red-clad sellout crowd of 40,350 at Vanderbilt Stadium. Junior running back D'Andre Swift repeatedly broke into open field by rushing 16 times for 147 yards and averaging 9.2 yards per carry, while junior quarterback Jake Fromm completed 15 of 23 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown for the Bulldogs.

Swift surpassed 100 yards during Georgia's final four regular-season games last season against Power Five conference opponents and did it again as the Bulldogs won their 13th straight contest against a Southeastern Conference Eastern Division foe dating to the start of the 2017 season.

"I thought I could have played a little better and that we left some plays out there, but I'm happy with the win and the way I started," Swift said. "We came out strong, and our defense did a phenomenal job all night. We just need to work on finishing more on offense."

Georgia was opening against an SEC opponent for the first time since 1995, when South Carolina visited Sanford Stadium, and Saturday marked the first time the Bulldogs and the Commodores had opened a season against each other since 1956.


Staff writer David Paschall breaks down the game in bits and pieces.SATURDAY’S STARJunior running back D’Andre Swift had carries of 16 and 11 yards on Georgia’s opening possession and kept the pedal to the floor, rushing 16 times for 147 yards and averaging 9.2 yards per carry. Swift headlined a rushing offense that amassed more than 300 yards.SATURDAY’S STATSaturday marked the debut for James Coley as Georgia’s offensive coordinator. He was promoted after Jim Chaney left for the same role at Tennessee. On Saturday, Coley’s offense had more rushing yards (106) in the first quarter than Chaney’s offense had all day (93).HIGHLIGHT PLAYA monstrous gain on a pass from Jake Fromm to Demetris Robertson was negated by holding, while the most intriguing play was Jordan Davis getting his hand on Ryley Guay’s 26-yard field goal. Davis raced to midfield celebrating his play, only to look back to see Guay had made it.TURNING POINTGiven that Georgia racked up 244 yards on its first three possessions while building a 21-0 lead, there really was no turning point. The Commodores scored the final six points of the first half, but a 50-yard Rodrigo Blankenship field goal midway through the third quarter made it 24-6.WHAT IT MEANSGeorgia is 1-0 in Southeastern Conference play before Labor Day, which is rare. The Bulldogs now will hear a lot about the Sept. 21 showdown against Notre Dame at Sanford Stadium, but they must first host Murray State this Saturday and Arkansas State on Sept. 14.

The Bulldogs took the game's opening possession and marched 75 yards in eight plays, scoring on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Fromm to Demetris Robertson. The drive's biggest play was a 16-yard run by Swift to Vanderbilt's 41-yard line that was accompanied by a horse-collar penalty on the Commodores that moved the ball to the 26.

Riley Neal, a graduate transfer from Ball State, got the start at quarterback for Vanderbilt but generated just one first down for the offense during the first quarter.

Georgia went 89 yards on 10 plays with its second possession, taking a 14-0 lead on James Cook's 18-yard scoring run. Robertson had a 17-yard reception and a 15-yard run on the drive.

Brian Herrien capped Georgia's third drive that covered 80 yards in seven plays with a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 21-0 at the 8:01 mark of the second quarter. The big play during the possession was a 38-yard strike from Fromm to Lawrence Cager, a graduate transfer from Miami.

Herrien's touchdown would be the last one of the night.

"I think Vanderbilt led to some of our lulls, because they were playing hard," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. "Some of it was us not operating efficiently. At the end of the day, we know what kind of boxes and fronts that we're going to see, and we've got to be able to stretch the field and do more things, and I think Jake can do that.

"Ultimately, we wanted to come in here and be physical, and I thought we did that."

Vanderbilt got on the board with a 26-yard field goal by Ryley Guay with 2:25 before halftime. Guay's kick was tipped at the line by Jordan Davis before clearing the crossbar, and the score capped a 12-play, 73-yard drive that was aided by a late-hit penalty on fifth defensive back Divaad Wilson and pass interference on cornerback Tyson Campbell.

Guay made a 46-yard field goal with four seconds left on a half to complete a 52-yard drive that was helped by a personal foul on Richard LeCounte III.

"Those penalties are frustrating, but you've always got to play the next down," Bulldogs outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari said. "You have to let it go."

Georgia took a 21-6 lead into halftime and had a 249-145 advantage in total yardage. Fromm was 8-of-12 passing for 103 yards and a touchdown at intermission, while Swift had eight rushes for 74 yards.

Rodrigo Blankenship provided the only scoring of the third quarter with a 50-yard field goal that extended Georgia's cushion to 24-6. Blankenship added two more field goals in the fourth quarter.

"In a first game, sometimes you don't play as clean as you want to," Fromm said. "That's part of it, and we were playing a good opponent."

The Bulldogs should have their two easiest tests of the season in the next two weeks as they host Murray State and Arkansas State. Murray State is Georgia's lone Football Championship Subdivision opponent this year.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.