It was an early game on Saturday, but the ‘Dores came out awake and ready to defeat the Nevada Wolfpack. After a few offensive miscues in the red zone, Vanderbilt won the game handily 41-10.
The offense moved down the field in each possession during the first half, but they failed to convert touchdowns twice. The first attempt was a series of two plays from under center resulting in a net of three yards gained and then a fumble by Chris Pierce, who was hit with a questionable (it was) targeting call, causing him to fumble.
Two trips to the redzone and two trips without points. #Vandy— Shawn Allen (@ShawnerAllen) September 8, 2018
By the first possession of the second half, though, the kinks were worked out, and the Vanderbilt offense made quick work of the Wolfpack offense with a nice RPO from Shurmur to Lipscomb. Shurmur read the collapsing defensive line, pulled the ball, and hit a one on one Lipscomb, leading him up and away from the defender for the third touchdown of the game.
Shurmur finished 23/32 for 258 yards and two touchdowns. Lipscomb had ten receptions for 85 yards and was the recipient of Shurmur’s two TD passes.
In addition to Lipscomb’s receiving effort, the TE play stood out in today’s game. Jared Pinkney had four receptions for nearly a hundred yards. His long of 53 came on the second drive signaling a more dynamic offense.
Continuing the trend of a variety of targets, Cam Johnson, Chris Pierce, and Sam Dobbs all had two receptions for 26, 21, and 20 yards respectively.
Vaughn had the longest run of the day with a 46 yarder from a single back set where he broke a tackle at the line and ran away from the Pack defense. In the Vanderbilt Tailgate comments, I questioned if Vaughn was the guy for the job between the tackles, not having seen him break tackles early on. I thought that might be left to someone like Blasingame. However, Vaughn proved me wrong and showed his toughness, elusiveness, and speed as a home run threat.
On Twitter, I joked that Shurmur is the best QB in the SEC, but after today, I might not be joking. He was accurate, threw darts, and dropped dimes. He is a poised senior who knows the game and now has the weapons to find mismatches against opposing defenses.
The story might be the emerging offense and their weapons, but it was made possible by the Vanderbilt defense.
The defense held the explosive Nevada offense to only 250 yards of total offense.
They forced two fumbles, one inside Nevada’s own ten yard line by Kenny Hebert, and two interceptions, one where Joejuan Williams dropped into coverage off the soft CB position and jumped a deep out. They stuffed the line of scrimmage allowing only 34 yards on the ground, and forced the Nevada offense into obvious passing situations. They only allowed four of 14 3rd down conversions and didn’t give up any 4th down conversions.
The only real lapse of the day was at the end of the first half when they allowed the Nevada offense several completions and to go tempo, resulting in a touchdown with 49 seconds left in the half.
After the game, Mason told SEC Network Dawn Davenport that they didn’t call the game differently, but “they played differently.” He was proud of his team and Vaughn, who should be a dynamic part of the offense. He said Vaughn was patient and, “found the holes” the OL opened up for him.
The offense was a versatile mix of spread and power. Shurmur was accurate on nearly every throw. The ground game had home runs and grinders. The passing game had deep balls and attacked each level.
The defense played aggressively and came into its own, finding resolve and consistency.
The next game is an important test at No. 8 Notre Dame. The windows on offense will be smaller, and the players matched up against the defense will be speedier.
It was enjoyable to watch the Vanderbilt team find a rhythm today and be confident in what they can do.
The offense only punted once
The team had 6 penalties for 44 yards
LaDarius Wiley lit some WR’s up and didn’t get thrown out.