ATHENS, Ga. - Third downs have been downers for Georgia's defense.

The Bulldogs rank last in the Southeastern Conference and 89th nationally in third-down conversions, allowing opponents to convert 43.4 percent (36 of 83) of their attempts. The desire for any defense is to force third-and-longs, yet third-and-long is where Georgia has been at its worst.

"It's just so frustrating," coach Mark Richt said Tuesday. "A lot of it has been on quarterback runs. You feel like you have the right call. You have everybody covered and they are right there to get him, and he breaks free.

"He either runs across the line of scrimmage like the Colorado quarterback did or breaks free and throws a touchdown pass like the quarterback did for Tennessee last week."

The Bulldogs forced a third-and-12 early in their game at South Carolina before allowing Marcus Lattimore to run 16 yards, and they forced another third-and-12 the next week against Arkansas before giving up a Ryan Mallett completion to Greg Childs for 15 yards. Colorado converted third downs of 6, 5 and 9 yards during its opening drive and finished 7-of-15 that game.

"We address it every day in practice, but you're not really getting the full-speed look that you really need from the other team," nose tackle DeAngelo Tyson said.

Malcome's chance?

With Caleb King suspended and Carlton Thomas doubtful with a hamstring injury, Georgia's primary options behind Washaun Ealey this weekend are senior fullback Fred Munzenmaier and freshman tailback Ken Malcome. Munzenmaier has nine carries for 11 yards this season, while Malcome hasn't played and returned to practice last week after missing time with a concussion.

"We've been getting Ken ready," Richt said. "Is he going to be perfect if he gets in there on assignments and everything? Probably not, but he's been practicing."

Peach State 'Dores

Vanderbilt has 22 players from the state of Georgia, including eight potential starters this week. Georgia is represented more than any other state on the Commodores roster, followed by Tennessee (16) and Florida (11).

Among the Peach State Commodores are leading rusher Warren Norman (Stone Mountain), leading receiver Brandon Barden (Lincolnton) and redshirt freshman linebacker Blake Southerland (Lawrenceville), who is the younger brother of former Bulldogs fullback Brannan Southerland.

"It would be really special for us to go down there and get a win," Barden said. "I didn't grow up a Georgia fan, but most of my friends are. When I go back home, I always hear about the Georgia Bulldogs and how good they're going to be every year."

Odds and ends

Georgia is 69-17-2 in homecoming games, which includes an 18-3 mark against Vanderbilt. ... Junior receiver A.J. Green's 17 career touchdowns are fourth in program history behind Terrence Edwards (30), Fred Gibson (20) and Brice Hunter (19). ... The Commodores have played 13 true freshmen so far this season and only eight redshirt or true seniors.