NASHVILLE, Tenn. | It took nearly 10 quarters of SEC action before Georgia surrendered its first touchdown in league play this season.
Moments after Vanderbilt dented the scoreboard with 28 seconds left in the half Saturday of a 45-14 Georgia win, Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart didn’t hide how he thought his defense was faring even with a two-touchdown lead.
“We didn’t play worth a crap on defense,” Smart said in an interview on the Georgia radio network before he headed to the locker room. “Horrible.”
Georgia had not given up a touchdown for 31 straight drives. That was the longest stretch since the 2006 defense also had 31.
The Bulldogs owned the nation’s No. 2 scoring defense as the day began, but gave up their most points since a 42-14 win over Samford on Sept. 16. Still, the Commodores were held to just 236 yards, the sixth opponent this season Georgia has held under 300.
Commodores quarterback Kyle Shurmur went 17 of 31 for 172 yards with a 3-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Duncan with 9:08 to go after Georgia led 45-7.
Vanderbilt got the ball at the Georgia 1-yard line after Jacob Eason was sacked on his first play in the game and Nifae Lealao returned the fumble 15 yards.
“I take blame for what happened to Jacob Eason,” Smart said of Eason, who went 3 of 3 for 24 yards when the game was long decided. “I wanted the kid to be able to come in and throw the ball and I called that play and put him in a bad situation.”
The first Vanderbilt touchdown was all on the defense.
Shurmur went 5 of 5 for 74 yards on the 75-yard drive before halftime, capped by a Ralph Webb 1-yard touchdown run.
“Did not play as well defensively as we need to,” Smart said. “Don’t think we got better this week. Just don’t think we executed first or second half to the level of what our standard is.”
Vanderbilt entered the game last in the SEC in third-down conversions at 33.8 but was 5 of 9 in the first half and finished 6 of 15.
“We showed signs of life,” Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said. “I thought there were some good things with Kyle Shurmur.”
Georgia didn’t get a three-and-out until Vanderbilt’s first possession of the third quarter.
“We made a lot of mistakes on the defensive side of the ball so we have to get in and correct those,” said inside linebacker Roquan Smith , who had a game-high seven tackles. “We didn’t play to our standard but we got better throughout the game.”
Georgia was playing without two starters and a top reserve.
Defensive tackle Trenton Thompson was out with a sprained knee ligament and inside linebacker Natrez Patrick was suspended after a marijuana arrest. Backup inside linebacker Reggie Carter was also out with an undisclosed injury.
With Thompson out, it was Michail Carter and freshman Malik Herrin pressuring Shurmur on a third-down incompletion in the third quarter. Michael Barnett came in for goal-line defense.
Davin Bellamy and Smith stuffed a fourth-and-2 run by Vanderbilt’s Khari Blassingame for a three-yard loss late in the third quarter.
“We could have played way better,” inside linebacker Juwan Taylor said. “We’ve just got to go to practice, approach it the right way and get better.”