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UNLV 34, Vanderbilt 10: Analyzing a complete disaster

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There is nothing positive you can say about this performance.

NCAA Football: UNLV at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Five Factors Box Score

Five Factors Vanderbilt UNLV
Five Factors Vanderbilt UNLV
Plays 63 67
Total Yards 301 383
Yards Per Play 4.8 5.7
Rushing Attempts 21 51
Rushing Yards 163 211
Rushing YPP 7.8 4.1
Passing Attempts 42 16
Passing Yards 138 172
Passing YPP 3.3 10.8
Rushing Success Rate 61.90% 39.20%
Passing Success Rate 19.00% 68.80%
Success Rate 33.30% 46.30%
Avg. Field Position 30.5 42.5
PP40 2.5 4.25
Turnovers 2 1

Again, what exactly is there to say about this? It’s reaching a point that it actually seems like saying that this team has quit on the coaching staff (with the exception of one player, and we’ll get to that in a moment) is the nice thing to say, because the alternative is to say that this team lost to UNLV by 24 points while playing hard.

The lone exception, from all appearances, is Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Vaughn got 16 touches on Saturday, was successful on 11 of them, and averaged 12.1 yards every time he touched the ball. If you’re morbidly curious, the rest of the time, the offense ran a 21.3 percent success rate and averaged 2.3 yards per play.

The defense has been problematic for about three years running, ever since Zach Cunningham and Adam Butler went to the NFL, but the offense being a disaster as well means that we’re back to where we were in 2014, except that this time the lack of competent quarterback play is entirely on the current coaching staff, which had four years to recruit a successor to Kyle Shurmur and failed to do so. Actually, this is a pretty damning indictment of Derek Mason:

Kyle Shurmur: 19-24 record, 23.8 ppg

Every other quarterback, 2014-19: 6-19 record, 17.5 ppg

It’s certainly not unique to have a functional offense be largely predicated on getting competent production from the quarterback position; that’s practically par for the course in college football in 2019. On the other hand, that Vanderbilt has spent two and a half of Derek Mason’s now five and a half seasons (Kyle Shurmur wasn’t all that good in the latter half of 2015) getting substandard production out of the position is ... not good. That it’s now paired with a defensive implosion is how you get a 34-10 loss to UNLV that marks the functional end of Derek Mason’s tenure at Vanderbilt, even if the actual end may not come this week.

That end, by the way, was witnessed by an announced crowd of 20,048 that appeared to be maybe half that, and that by the fourth quarter was in the low four figures. For comparison, Woody Widenhofer’s final home game as head coach back in 2001 — after he’d already announced his resignation, by the way — drew a crowd of 32,422. Meantime, our game thread at Anchor of Gold had under 300 comments, most of which were some variation of “Fire Mason.” That fans are checking out on the team is hardly surprising, but the degree to which fans are checking out is certainly alarming. I shudder to imagine what the crowd will look like for the ETSU game next month (Kentucky will bring a crowd and as for Missouri, well, we won’t actually be able to tell the crowd split at that game.)

Individual Stats

Passing stats

Passing Comp Att Comp % Yds TD INT Sacks Yds Lost Net Yds Success Rate YPP
Passing Comp Att Comp % Yds TD INT Sacks Yds Lost Net Yds Success Rate YPP
Riley Neal 11 25 44.00% 104 0 1 1 2 102 23.10% 3.9
Deuce Wallace 5 16 31.30% 36 0 0 0 0 36 12.50% 2.3

Oh my God.

Rushing stats

Rushing Att Yds YPA TD Success Rate
Rushing Att Yds YPA TD Success Rate
Ke'Shawn Vaughn 15 140 9.3 1 66.70%
Keyon Brooks 2 13 6.5 0 50.00%
Riley Neal 2 -1 -0.5 0 50.00%
Justice Shelton-Mosley 1 8 8 0 100.00%
Deuce Wallace 1 0 0 0 0.00%

And, if you were wondering how this can get worse, reports during the game suggested that Ke’Shawn Vaughn went to the injury tent in the second half and didn’t return.

Don’t ever ask if it can get worse. It can always get worse.

Receiving stats

Receiving Targets Catches Yds TD Catch Rate Yds/Target Yds/Catch Success Rate
Receiving Targets Catches Yds TD Catch Rate Yds/Target Yds/Catch Success Rate
James Bostic 10 4 36 0 40.00% 3.6 9 20.00%
Jared Pinkney 5 2 16 0 40.00% 3.2 8 40.00%
Cam Johnson 5 2 8 0 40.00% 1.6 4 20.00%
Chris Pierce 4 2 9 0 50.00% 2.3 4.5 25.00%
Justice Shelton-Mosley 4 1 5 0 25.00% 1.3 5 25.00%
Keyon Brooks 3 3 4 0 100.00% 1.3 1.3 0.00%
Jackson Winrow 2 1 9 0 50.00% 4.5 9 0.00%
Kalija Lipscomb 2 0 0 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
Ben Bresnahan 2 0 0 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
Ke'Shawn Vaughn 1 1 53 0 100.00% 53 53 100.00%
C.J. Bolar 1 0 0 0 0.00% 0 0.00%

I am not sure that James Bostic had been targeted ten times in his entire Vanderbilt football career prior to Saturday, so it says something that he suddenly got targeted ten times on Saturday. What it says is not entirely clear, but something unusual is certainly at play here for a guy who had previously been a third-stringer to suddenly become Vanderbilt’s apparent go-to receiver on a team that also has Jared Pinkney and Kalija Lipscomb.

Notes

  • Sean McMoore got his first start of the season at center, replacing Grant MIller, who still got some playing time. Meanwhile, Allan George and B.J. Anderson were the starting cornerbacks.
  • True freshman watch: Daevion Davis and Jaylen Mahoney had already burned their redshirts, and now, so has Keyon Brooks. On the other hand, if Vaughn is actually out for an extended period of time, Brooks’ redshirt getting burned would have been inevitable either way. The only other true freshman to get on the field Saturday was Anfernee Orji, who appeared in his third game — so he has one more if the staff wants to preserve his redshirt. Of course, at this point, I kind of wonder if they’ll even care about that given that they probably won’t be retained anyway.
  • For the second game in a row, Pierson Cooke handled kickoffs in spite of Ryley Guay being at least healthy enough to kick field goals.

What’s Next

Missouri, which is 5-1 and has outscored its opponents by 23 ppg, comes to town on Saturday at 3 PM CT. This could get ugly. If not for the fact that ETSU is still on the schedule, I would say that I would be surprised if Vanderbilt wins another game this season.