ATHENS, Ga. — No first-half woes this time around.
After stumbling through the first 30 minutes against Buffalo and Florida Atlantic, Georgia's defense was dominant from the start Saturday night at Sanford Stadium. The Bulls and the Owls combined for an eye-popping 506 first-half yards against the Bulldogs earlier this month, but Vanderbilt was held to 136 as Georgia built a 27-3 halftime lead on its way to a 48-3 whitewash.
"We're still a top-notch defense, and we still believe in ourselves," senior cornerback Branden Smith said. "We still believe that we're a No. 1 defense."
Jordan Rodgers got the start over Austyn Carta-Samuels at quarterback for the Commodores, but that didn't pack much of a punch as Vanderbilt's first five possessions consisted of 22 plays, 62 yards and five punts. Rodgers had eight first-half carries for 12 yards after rushing 11 times for 80 yards in Georgia's 33-28 escape last year.
Georgia allowed 16 first-half points to Buffalo, 10 to Missouri and 14 to Florida Atlantic, and Saturday was the initial first half in which the Bulldogs didn't surrender a gain of more than 25 yards.
Chasing Zeier, Quincy
Bulldogs junior quarterback Aaron Murray opened Saturday's game by completing his first 12 passes, a feat that has been surpassed just twice in Bulldogs history.
In 1993, Eric Zeier completed his first 15 passes in a 43-10 drubbing of Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Quincy Carter matched the mark in 1998 by connecting on his 15 attempts in a 28-27 win at LSU.
Murray's 22-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King early in the second quarter was the 68th of his career, moving him past Zeier and alone into second on Georgia's all-time chart behind David Greene's 72. He added a 69th in the third quarter on a 5-yard pass to Marlon Brown.
Hold that thought
Georgia had an awkward recruiting moment this weekend when Kelsey Griffin, a 6-foot-2, 282-pound defensive tackle from Mill Creek High in Hoschton, Ga., held a news conference Friday to announce that he had committed. His commitment was placed on hold hours later, fueling speculation that Rivals.com's No. 12 defensive tackle didn't have a scholarship offer or that he is a backup option for Bulldogs coaches.
NCAA rules prohibit Georgia coaches from discussing specific recruits.
The Bulldogs have 28 commitments for 2013 according to Rivals.com, placing this group among the largest of the Mark Richt era. Georgia's biggest class under Richt occurred when 31 signed in 2002, a crop headed by offensive lineman Max Jean-Gilles and defensive lineman Kedric Golston but also containing lightly regarded cornerback Tim Jennings, who starts for the Chicago Bears.
Odds and ends
Georgia is now 53-18-2 all-time against Vanderbilt. ... Former Calhoun High snapper Ty Frix had a high snap on Georgia's second extra-point attempt late in the first quarter but recovered to make the tackle to prevent two points for the Commodores. ... Former Calhoun receiver Rhett McGowan had an 11-yard reception on a third-and-2 midway through the second quarter, and it was his first catch of the season.
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 ...