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The Statistical: The passing game worked, and exactly nothing else did.

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There’s really no good way to spin this box score.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Georgia Tech Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia Tech 38, Vanderbilt 7 -- Five Factors
Vanderbilt Georgia Tech
Total Yards 275 511
Plays 61 63
Yards Per Play 4.51 8.11
Points Per Play 0.11 0.60
Success Rate 37.7% 41.9%
Rushing Success Rate 21.4% 47.7%
Passing Success Rate 51.5% 27.8%
Avg. Starting Field Position 21.1 35.0
Points Per Scoring Chance 2.33 4.75
Turnovers 1 1

Yeah, there’s really no positive spin to put on this one. The Vanderbilt Commodores got dominated by the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Really, Vanderbilt did manage to keep things interesting for a half before Georgia Tech poured it on in the second half. And there’s at least some positive in a 51.5% passing success rate; oddly, it was the Vanderbilt running game that wasn’t working. Georgia Tech’s passing success rate of 27.8% is mitigated by exactly how successful those five “successful” pass plays were: they went for 81, 10, 16, 17, and 77 yards. The three in the middle all came on second or third-and-long situations, meaning Vanderbilt’s defense couldn’t get off the field when they needed to. And the two bookends, well, there’s no way to positively spin giving up long passing touchdowns.

And aside from that? Vanderbilt technically had three scoring chances, though one came at the end of the game and the clock ran out. Vanderbilt converted its first drive of the game and then Khari Blasingame failed to convert a 4th-and-1 on the Georgia Tech 28 later in the game. Again, by and large the running game couldn’t get going on Saturday, and even a rather impressive effort from Kyle Shurmur wasn’t able to save Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt Rushing
Carries Yards YPC Touchdowns Success Rate
Ralph Webb 18 69 3.8 0 33.3%
Khari Blasingame 5 11 2.2 0 0.0%
Dallas Rivers 2 6 3.0 0 0.0%
Wade Freebeck 1 2 2.0 0 0.0%
Josh Crawford 2 1 0.5 0 0.0%
Kyle Shurmur 1 5 5.0 0 0.0%

Well... that was depressing. Moving along...

Vanderbilt Passing
Comp Att Comp. % Yards INT TD Success Rate YPC YPA Sacks
Kyle Shurmur 17 26 65.4% 149 1 1 51.9% 8.8 5.7 1
Wade Freebeck 3 5 60.0% 41 0 0 60.0% 13.7 8.2 0

Okay, well there’s one positive. Honestly, we can live with that kind of performance from Shurmur. The offensive ineptitude on Saturday had nothing to do with the passing game, and that’s a positive development. Unless, of course, the running game we saw against Georgia Tech becomes the new normal, in which case we’re screwed.

Freebeck even put in a decent performance, admittedly in garbage time.

Vanderbilt receivers
Targets Catches Catch % Yards TD YPC YPT
Kalija Lipscomb 11 6 54.5% 59 1 9.8 5.4
Caleb Scott 4 3 75.0% 31 0 10.3 7.8
Jared Pinkney 4 3 75.0% 24 0 8.0 6.0
Trent Sherfield 3 2 66.7% 22 0 11.0 7.3
Ralph Webb 2 2 100.0% 15 0 7.5 7.5
Nathan Marcus 2 1 50.0% 8 0 8.0 4.0
C.J. Duncan 2 1 50.0% 22 0 22.0 11.0
Dallas Rivers 1 1 100.0% 7 0 7.0 7.0
Latevius Rayford 1 1 100.0% 2 0 2.0 2.0

Kalija Lipscomb continues to be, against all odds, Vanderbilt’s best receiver. He’s also getting most of the downfield targets, which is why his catch rate is lower than you might expect.

But then most of the passing game worked on Saturday, which makes it a bit depressing that exactly nothing else was going right for Vanderbilt.

Participation Report

In a rather humorous error, Vanderbilt’s official scorebook for the game lists Kyle Shurmur as the starting strong safety. (It was the other #14, Ryan White.)

Through the first two games, four true freshmen had played: Lipscomb, punter Sam Loy, defensive back Joejuan Williams, and wide receiver Donaven Tennyson. We can add a fifth to that list: walk-on kicker Ryley Guay, who took over kickoff duties from Tommy Openshaw and actually did a decent job, booting kickoffs of 63 and 62 yards. Openshaw did handle the team’s lone extra point, but between that and the decision to go for a 4th-and-1 at the Georgia Tech 28 yard line, it’s fairly obvious that the coaching staff has lost whatever confidence they had in Openshaw.

Notable absences included Arnold Tarpley, Donovan Sheffield, Jalen Banks (second week in a row), Josh Smith, Andrew Rector, Nehemiah Mitchell, and DeAndre Woods (who hasn’t played yet this season.)

Backup offensive tackle Jared Southers saw what I believe was his first action in a Vanderbilt uniform.