Commodores Open Season Against Georgia

Notes on the home opener against nationally ranked Bulldogs Saturday

Vanderbilt Commodores (0-0)
#3/3 Georgia Bulldogs (0-0)
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August 31, 2019 • 6:30 p.m. CT
Vanderbilt Stadium (40,350) • Nashville, Tenn.

Tom Hart (play-by-play), Jordan Rodgers (analyst), Cole Cubelic (sideline)

WLAC 1510 AM / WNRQ FM 98.3
Joe Fisher (play-by-play), Norman Jordan (analyst), Mitch Light (sideline)

Touchdown Radio
Taylor Zarcour (play-by-play), Gino Torretta (analyst)

• Vanderbilt opens its 130th season with a Southeastern Conference game against fellow SEC member Georgia.

• Vanderbilt is 2-5 all-time in August. Vanderbilt’s first game in August came in 1997, a 29-12 home win over North Texas. The Commodores’ other August victory came in 2008 — 34-13 at Miami (Ohio). The Commodores are 0-2 in August openers against SEC opponents.

• Vanderbilt is 80-45-4 all-time in season openers. The Commodores will be seeking their  third straight victory in a season opener, with both wins coming against Middle Tennessee (35-7 in 2018; 28-6 in 2017). This marks the ninth time in the last 10 years for the Commodores to open the season in Vanderbilt Stadium.

• Eleven Commodore student-athletes hail from Georgia: Sophomore WR Amir Abdur-Rahman (Atlanta/Mays), redshirt freshman TE Ben Bresnahan (Cumming/West Forsyth), freshman RB Keyon Brooks (Powder Springs/Kennesaw Mountain), freshman LB Tré Brown (Loganville/Grayson), redshirt junior OT Devin Cochran (Norcross/Greater Atlanta Christian), junior S Tae Daley (Warner Robins/Northside), redshirt freshman DB Tré Douglas (McDonough/Eagles Landing Christian), redshirt junior DB Elijah Hamilton (Roswell/Blessed Trinity Catholic), graduate LS Scott Meyer (Alpharetta/Blessed Trinity Catholic), redshirt senior TE Jared Pinkney (Norcross/Norcross), redshirt sophomore OL Jonathan Stewart (Lawrenceville/Mountain View).

• Derek Mason is one of just two Vanderbilt head coaches to lead the Commodores to multiple postseason bowl appearances. With 24 wins, Mason is six victories away from joining the program’s five winningest coaches.

• Gerry Gdowski moves into the offensive coordinator role for the Commodores this year. Gdowski is the longest-tenured Vanderbilt assistant, having been on campus since Derek Mason’s first year in 2014. For the last three years, Gdowski served as quarterbacks coach, helping mold three-year starter and current Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Kyle Shurmur into the Commodores’ all-time leading passer.

• Four coaches are new to Derek Mason’s staff this season: Devin “Fitz” Fitzsimmons, Jovan Haye, Tim Horton and Matt Weikert. Fitzsimmons serves as tight ends coach and special teams coordinator. Haye, a former Commodore All-SEC defensive end, enters his first year as defensive line coach. Horton comes to the staff as running backs coach after extremely successful SEC tenures. Weikert serves as outside linebackers coach, coming from an 12-year tenure at Air Force.

• The Vanderbilt roster includes six graduate transfers: OL Rowan Godwin (South Alabama), LS Scott Meyer (Alabama), QB Riley Neal (Ball State), WR/R Justice Shelton-Mosley (Harvard), CB Cam Watkins (Illinois), DT Eddie Zinn-Turner (Marist).

• Vanderbilt’s 2019 roster includes student-athletes from 27 states.

• Vanderbilt season-opening tilt with Georgia has been designated as the program’s “Set The Expectation” game. Vanderbilt will be the first SEC program to host a “Set The Expectation” game. The event started in June, when Brenda Tracy, a registered nurse from Portland, Oregon, shared with the football team her devastating personal story and vital message of preventing sexual violence. Tracy has addressed dozens of college teams and many more on the high school level in the past year. Tracy also serves on the NCAA’s Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence. Tracy, who calls her campaign “Set The Expectation,” will be in attendance and introduced to the crowd during an on-field recognition.

• The 2019 Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame class will be introduced during the Georgia game. The 2019 class includes two Commodore football All-Americans: LB Chris Gaines (1984-87) of Old Hickory, Tennessee, and OT Josh Cody (1914-16, 1919). Previous Commodore gridiron greats named to the Hall of Fame are QB Bill Wade (1949-51), head coach Dan McGugin (1904-17, 1919-34), OL John Hall (1951-54), RB Herb Rich (1946-49), P Jim Arnold (1979-82), OL Will Wolford (1982-85), WR Bucky Curtis (1947-50), OL Carl Hinkle (1935-37), LB Jamie Duncan (1994-97), RB Charley Horton (1953-55) and QB Jay Cutler (2002-05).

SEC Nation, the SEC Network’s traveling pregame show, will air from the Vanderbilt campus on Aug. 31. The show, featuring host Laura Rutledge, Tim Tebow, Marcus Spears and Paul Finebaum, will air live from 9-11 a.m. CT. The SEC Nation set will be located on Vanderbilt’s Ingram Commons, the residential area for first-year Commodore students. Additionally, the SEC Nation set will also the Paul Finebaum Show on Friday from 2-6 p.m.

• The SEC Network will premiere Homecoming with Willie Geist on Aug. 30. The 30-minute show will air at 6 p.m. CT. Geist, host of NBC’s Sunday Today program and co-anchor of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, sits down with Paul Finebaum to discuss his days as a Vanderbilt undergraduate and his continuing support of the Commodores.