NASHVILLE — The Georgia Bulldogs rushed for 325 yards and held Vanderbilt to 225 total yards during Saturday night's 30-6 whipping of the Commodores.
Georgia built a 21-0 lead by the midway mark of the second quarter, with fourth-year Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart learning equally as much about his team from that opening outburst as the lulls that followed.
"We have a chance to be explosive offensively, and we're going to try and be aggressive defensively," Smart said late Saturday night. "The backs I kind of knew about, and the wideouts had a chance to make some plays. Either something positive or that we struggled in the second half will be blown out of proportion, but that doesn't matter to us.
"We're going back to work Monday, play good on good, put the hammer down and find out who is going to get better."
Georgia will be an overwhelming favorite these next two weeks against Murray State and Arkansas State, with those paycheck opponents followed by the anticipated Sept. 21 showdown against visiting Notre Dame.
The Bulldogs were led Saturday by the junior tandem of quarterback Jake Fromm and running back D'Andre Swift. Fromm completed 15 of 23 passes for 156 yards and one touchdown, and Swift rushed for 149 yards on 16 carries.
Swift was a little more critical of the inaugural performance compared to Fromm.
"I don't know how I got up to 150 yards," Swift said. "We just need to work on finishing more, and I think our short-yardage situations could have been a lot better. We need to get more movement up front, and we need to be more downhill as running backs. We need to get the ball into space more."
Said Fromm: "I think we learned tonight that we can come out and run the football and that our guys on the outside are ready to make plays, too."
It was hard to find too many faults defensively other than pass-interference, late-hit and facemask penalties that helped result in the Bulldogs getting flagged 10 times for 117 yards. Vanderbilt's 225 total yards were noticeably lower than the 321 the Commodores amassed during last year's 41-13 loss in Athens.
"I think we did pretty good," Bulldogs redshirt freshman outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari said. "I mean, we don't want them to score any touchdowns."
Georgia players admitted to celebrating with Smart and the assistant coaches afterward, but bigger and better parties are expected down the road. At least, that's what Smart has in mind.
"We grew up some tonight, but we haven't scratched the surface of where we can go," he said. "There are so many things that we can improve on. This team has to decide that they want to get better, and that's all I'm asking — 'Do you want to get better, or are you just OK being good?'
"Good is not going to be good enough."
'Not that far'
After Vanderbilt got on the scoreboard in the second quarter with Ryley Guay's 26-yard field goal, Guay launched the ensuing kickoff 7 yards deep into the end zone. James Cook took the return out to Georgia's 22-yard line, and Smart was asked afterward how far into the end zone he gives the green light.
"Not that far," Smart said. "That was youthful exuberance."
Odds and ends
The Bulldogs improved to 96-27-3 in season openers, including 4-0 under Smart. Rodrigo Blankenship has made 157 consecutive extra points. The Southeastern Conference record of 198 is held by former Auburn and current Oakland Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson. Smart on Saturday's crowd: "It felt like a home game."