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Vanderbilt’s newfound aerial excellence carves up Alabama A&M, 42-0

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The Commodores were on a different plane than their FCS opponent Saturday

NCAA Football: Alabama A&M at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday’s showdown with Alabama A&M was everything Vanderbilt wanted in an FCS matchup — a glorified scrimmage that gave the Commodores a chance to shine.

Vanderbilt dominated the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball, streaking out to a 35-0 halftime lead and never looking back against an overmatched non-conference opponent. Kyle Shurmur shined against a weak secondary, completing his first 12 passes (his 13th was dropped) and scoring four first-half touchdowns (three passing, one rushing).

While A&Ms cornerbacks didn’t put up much of a fight, Shurmur did a great job of recognizing his open targets and putting the ball right on their numbers.

He also ran for a touchdown, which was ... less elegant.

He’d finish the day with a 15-18, 202-yard line and four passing touchdowns. He gave way to Deuce Wallace in the third quarter, allowing the redshirt freshman his first action with the Commodores.

Shurmur’s excellence was matched only by the Vanderbilt pass rush. Charles Wright and company wrought havoc on A&M’s accuracy-challenged quarterbacks, collapsing pockets and leaving little time to make good decisions. Wright followed up last week’s three-sack performance with assists on two sacks.

The one concern to come out of Saturday’s blowout loss was Vanderbilt’s continued struggles along the offensive line. An undersized Bulldog line was able to push back Commodore blockers in spurts Saturday, including a fourth-and-inches stand in the first quarter. All-SEC tailback Ralph Webb had just 53 yards on 14 carries.

Vanderbilt improved to 2-0 with the victory, while Alabama A&M dropped to 0-2. The Commodores return to the field next week for the biggest test of their budding 2017 season when No. 19 Kansas State comes to Nashville. The Wildcats will provide a major challenge for Vandy’s stingy defense — they dropped 55 points on Charlotte earlier Saturday.