NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Looking to make a statement, Georgia’s short-staffed defense couldn’t get the job done against Vanderbilt.
Following a loss to Missouri, Georgia’s defense had to prove it hadn’t taken a step in the wrong direction. The absence of freshman safety Tray Matthews, combined with the game-ending injury to Josh Harvey-Clemons and mid-game ejection of Ray Drew didn’t make that any easier for Georgia as it fell to Vanderbilt in a 31-27 loss.
“Just losing anybody on either side of the ball is big so it was a big deal, but we just have to strap it up and keep playing,” safety Corey Moore said.
Drew was ejected in the second quarter after drawing a flag for targeting and the officials upheld the ejection after reviewing the play.
Drew’s teammates weren’t in agreement with the final call. Linebacker Jordan Jenkins isn’t a fan of the rule in general.
“I think it ruins the game,” Jenkins said. “I think it’s going to ruin the game of football.”
Though Georgia coach Mark Richt said he didn’t feel comfortable speaking about the rule or the official ruling on Drew, he said it’s an area his staff has worked on in weeks prior.
“We work on drills to make sure we’re not hitting above the shoulders and we’re conscious of that, but the game’s being played very fast,” Richt said. “It’s a tough rule for the officials, too. It’s a tough rule for everybody.”
Cornerback Sheldon Dawson said the loss of one or two players can’t be the sole reason for a defense’s lack of production.
“It was pretty big, but we’ve got other players on the team that can step up and play the positions,” Dawson said. “It’s a team game. It’s never been shown that if one person goes down the whole team goes down.”
The defense showed brief signs of hope, but it still wasn’t enough to keep Vanderbilt out of the end zone on key possessions.
“We did pretty good. We played hard, but the thing is we just have to play a little harder because the outcome didn’t come out the way we wanted it,” Dawson said.
Georgia’s defense allowed 337 total yards of offense. Regardless of which attack amounted to more yards, the defense wasn’t pleased with its performance.
“We’ve just got to work on everything we put out here on the field,” Moore said. “Not just one particular thing, but just everything.”
Jenkins said the loss, Georgia’s second consecutive SEC loss, hurts.
“We thought we had it won, we should have won, and then some unfortunate things happened today and we’ve just got to come back ready to work,” he said.