Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews kicked off his senior season in a big way Thursday night, catching 10 passes for 179 yards against Ole Miss. However, it's what he did after the whistle blew that has many fans concerned.
Matthews caught a 12-yard pass over the middle to give the 'Dores a first down, but absorbed a vicious hit from Ole Miss's Cody Prewitt in the process. Prewitt's shoulder connected squarely with Matthews's abdomen and laid the receiver out briefly, but he recovered to get back to the line of scrimmage before it became clear that he was hurting. One play later, Matthews was vomiting on the field. The whole sequence looked like this (courtesy of our SBNation overlords):
Matt Millen, expert in...something...addressed Matthews's discomfort and vomiting as the symptoms of a possible concussion. However, one play later, the senior receiver returned and put together the biggest play of Vandy's young season when he converted a fourth-and-18 pass from Austyn Carta-Samuels despite facing double coverage. This immediately drew concerns about Vanderbilt's priorities and Matthews's well being. However, according to the senior captain himself, these concerns were unfounded:
I got hit making a catch on a great throw by Austyn. I had a lot of fluids in my stomach from rehydrating and everything, so I probably regurgitated a lot of that and threw up a little bit. But I was able to stay in the game...It was tough, but I knew I couldn’t come out because my team needed me.
- Jordan Matthews (courtesy of The Tennessean)
If the culprit here is dehydration - a cause that makes sense after Matthews missed time earlier in the game due to calf cramps in an outdoor game where it was 88 degrees out at kickoff - then he should be set to return for some snaps in next week's contest versus Austin Peay. He's unlikely to handle a similarly tough workload in that contest - the FCS Governors went 1-9 against Division I competition last year. That suggests that the 'Dores young players will earn plenty of playing time in the second half of that matchup.
So Commodore fans can exhale, for now. Matthews doesn't appear to be seriously injured, and dehydration is a very fixable problem. The senior receiver earned himself a ton of fans on Thursday, and hopefully the rest of the country will now rate him as highly as everyone who's seen what he's done for Vanderbilt over the past three years. He may be known briefly as "that guy who threw up on ESPN," but thanks to the way Matthews plays, he'll be able to change that perception back to "that guy who carries the Vanderbilt offense."