ATHENS — In its first two home games against lesser opponents, Georgia gave the Bulldog nation a few early uneasy moments with first-half struggles.
But Saturday night against Vanderbilt, the 92,764 fans at Sanford Stadium enjoyed the pleasant September evening, with the fifth-ranked Bulldogs putting together their most complete effort on the young season in a 48-3 rout.
"I just like the way everybody played," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "I think our guys really wanted this one bad. I think they didn't feel very good about how things went a year ago (a 33-28 Georgia win in Nashville in which the Bulldogs had to hold on at the end). They know we very easily could've lost that game."
Unlike last year's game, as well as previous games this season against Buffalo and Florida Atlantic, Saturday's game was never really competitive.
The Georgia (4-0, 2-0) offense racked up 567 total yards behind 18 of 24 passing for 250 yards and two touchdowns from Aaron Murray and a combined 212 yards and four TDs from freshmen running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, and scored 40 or more points for the fourth straight game — the first time in school history the Bulldogs have done so. Marlon Brown also had five receptions for 114 yards.
Meanwhile, the defense stifled Vandy (1-3, 0-2) for just over 337 total yards, only 106 on the ground.
"This was just definitely our first complete game in all areas," said starting center and Wesleyan grad David Andrews. "The defense played one hell of a game, and we were rolling from the beginning on offense. … (Offensive coordinator Mike) Bobo put together a heck of a game plan and we knew if we'd go out and execute it, they couldn't stop it."
Vanderbilt appeared rattled from the opening kickoff, committing two false start penalties and a substitution infraction during its first, brief possession before punting.
And it didn't take Georgia long to rattle the Commodores further as Malcolm Mitchell returned the punt 22 yards to the Vandy 47-yard line.
It took the Bulldogs seven plays and just 2:11 to turn the field position into points as Gurley, who finished with 130 yards on 16 carries, barreled in from 4 yards out to put Georgia in front 7-0 only 5:06 after the opening kickoff.
"That's our goal every game — to really come out firing on offense and defense. The coaches preached all week that we need to play a full 60 minutes. We need to have a good start, have a good end and in between, play as hard as we can. Our guys took that challenge. That's how we have to play every week."
And following a roughing the punter penalty on Vandy that kept a drive alive late in the quarter, the Bulldogs' other freshman sensation running back got into the act.
Marshall burst through a hole up the middle and outran the Vanderbilt secondary for a 52 of his 82 yards on the night and the score.
A bad snap on the extra point, kept the lead at just 13-0 with 2:20 left in the opening frame, but the Bulldogs were in control.
The Georgia passing game then got into the act early in the second quarter.
One play after a 7-yard completion from Murray to Michael Bennett on third and 7 from the Vandy 22 picked up a first down, Murray hit Tavarres King on the numbers with a bullet for a 22-yard touchdown pass, pushing the Bulldogs' lead to 20-0 with 12:34 left in the first half.
Another possession later, another score for Georgia — with this one being the most impressive yet, despite being pinned down at their own 4-yard line by a Richard Kent punt and backing up to the 2 after a false start penalty.
Aided by key third-down conversion completions by Murray of 22 yards to Marlon Brown and 11 yards to Rhett McGowan, the Bulldogs marched 96 yards in 12 plays and eating up 5:19 off the clock, with Ken Malcome contributing 30 rushing yards.
The drive culminated when Murray sneaked in from a yard out, making the score 27-0 with 5:17 left in the first half.
Vanderbilt finally showed some life late in the half, with Jordan Rodgers completing five passes for 53 yards as the Commodores quickly moved 67 yards down to the Georgia 9.
But on third and 5, Shaun Williams blew up an screen pass from Rodgers Zac Stacy for a 3-yard loss, forcing the Commodores to settle for a 29-yard Carey Spear field goal with 20 seconds left in the half, which sent the Bulldogs into intermission still in complete control with a 27-3 lead.
And after Murray capped a 10-play, 63-yard drive with a 6-yard TD pass to Brown to make the score 34-7 with 9:04 left in the third quarter, Jarvis Jones and the defense came up with a play that pretty much summed up the entire evening.
With Vanderbilt electing to go for it on fourth and 8 at the Georgia 28, the 6-foot-3, 241-pound linebacker sped in untouched from the left side on a blitz to sack Rodgers for an 11-yard loss and give the Bulldogs the ball back on downs.
Even when it appeared the Commodores finally got into the end zone with Georgia leading 48-3 in the fourth quarter on Rodgers' 2-yard scamper, the ball literally bounced the Bulldogs' way.
The play was reviewed by the replay official, and instead became a touchback when the Vandy quarterback was ruled to have lost control of the ball before he broke the plane of the goal line.
The whole package made for a fun evening for the Bulldogs and their fans.
"It was a great night," junior guard and Buford grad Dallas Lee said. "The fans were awesome. … They were so loud the whole game. … It was a great atmosphere. Coach Bobo was on point calling his plays, everyone was blocking well together and it was great watching the running backs run."