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Ole Miss 54, Vanderbilt 21: I can see positives... on one side of the ball

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But even there, I have complaints about the coaching staff.

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

Box Score

Five Factors Vanderbilt Ole Miss
Five Factors Vanderbilt Ole Miss
Plays 74 78
Total Yards 422 657
Yards Per Play 5.7 8.4
Rushing Attempts 33 40
Rushing Yards 112 210
Rushing YPP 3.4 5.3
Passing Attempts 41 38
Passing Yards 310 447
Passing YPP 7.6 11.8
Rushing Success Rate 30.30% 55.00%
Passing Success Rate 61.00% 73.70%
Success Rate 47.30% 64.10%
Avg. Field Position 21.9 28.6
PP40 5.25 6
Turnovers 3 0

Tennessean: Derek Mason says Vanderbilt football is “off a little bit” after another blowout loss

Hustler: Vanderbilt falls 54-21 to Ole Miss, drops fourth game in a row (pssst — this was Vanderbilt’s fifth loss in a row, actually)

247 Sports: Vanderbilt blown out by Ole Miss in return to SEC action

Red Cup Rebellion: Ole Miss buries Vanderbilt on Halloween, 54-21

Well, what is there to say about this? Vanderbilt played an Ole Miss team that came into the game with a 1-4 record, and the defense gave up 54 points and 8.4 yards per play — and that was with Ole Miss missing two extra points and a field goal, and basically taking the fourth quarter off. This was an extremely damning performance by a unit on what is supposed to be Derek Mason’s side of the ball, a unit that returned ten starters from last season and hasn’t been affected by COVID-related opt-outs nearly as much as the other side of the ball, and specifically the offensive line.

See, I could maybe live with this season if the defense were up to snuff while the offense struggled with a true freshman quarterback behind a patchwork offensive line. Basically, if every game were the Texas A&M game, I’d be willing to chalk it up to pandemic-related goofiness. Instead, this team is giving up a career day to Matt Corral, a guy who a lot of Ole Miss fans thought should have been the backup to John Rhys Plumlee entering the season, and the defense has given up 136 points over its last three games.

And the disaster on the defensive side of the ball is only slightly mitigated by the progress on the offensive side, and even there, you can sort of see where it’s being held back by the coaching staff:

Yep. On its first drive of the game, following an easy Ole Miss touchdown to open the game, Vanderbilt punted from the Ole Miss 38 — granted, it was 4th and 18, but when the defense was playing in such a way that it simply didn’t matter if you made Ole Miss drive 93 yards instead of 62, what was even the point? On its first drive of the second half, Vanderbilt would punt away a 4th and 10 from the Ole Miss 42, and there was the aforementioned 4th and 2 from the Vanderbilt 45 in the third quarter.

There was a time when Derek Mason’s punting philosophy made some amount of sense, but that was when he had the Adam Butler and Zach Cunningham defenses at his back and was facing an SEC whose offenses were still largely stuck in the last century. In the context where you might have some hope of winning a game by a score of 17-14, well, you could justify punting away drives in an effort to pin the opponent deep. But now, when 63-48 is an actual score of an SEC game played three weeks ago involving this week’s opponent, punting from the other team’s 38-yard line is just asking to have fans call for your head.

Oh, yeah, and all of this came with Vanderbilt using its backup punter with Harrison Smith out for an undisclosed reason. (On an unrelated note, the secrecy and depth chart gamesmanship employed by this coaching staff is really starting to piss me off.)

I mean, when Simon Gibbs is writing this in the Commodore Brunch on Sunday:

What ensued at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster. A record-breaking disaster, in fact. They got thumped. Destroyed. Crushed by the hands of one of the more mediocre teams in the SEC.

You know things are bad. There is currently no one who cares about the Vanderbilt football program who thinks that Derek Mason should keep his job except for, possibly, the Athletic Director and some influential boosters, the same people who thought he should keep his job after the 3-9 turd the Commodores laid in 2019 because reasons.

Seriously, is there any accountability here? Why did we have to watch that performance yesterday over a year after this team, and this coaching staff, lost by 24 points to UNLV?

Passing

Passing Comp Att Comp % Yds TD INT Sacks Yds Lost Net Yds Success Success Rate YPP
Passing Comp Att Comp % Yds TD INT Sacks Yds Lost Net Yds Success Success Rate YPP
Ken Seals 31 40 77.50% 319 2 1 1 9 310 25 61.00% 7.6

Receiving

Receiving Targets Catches Yds TD Catch Rate Yds/Target Yds/Catch Success Success Rate
Receiving Targets Catches Yds TD Catch Rate Yds/Target Yds/Catch Success Success Rate
Cam Johnson 15 14 97 0 93.30% 6.5 6.9 11 73.30%
Ben Bresnahan 7 6 72 1 85.70% 10.3 12 4 57.10%
Chris Pierce 6 4 46 1 66.70% 7.7 11.5 4 66.70%
Keyon Henry-Brooks 5 5 89 0 100.00% 17.8 17.8 5 100.00%
James Bostic Jr. 2 1 12 0 50.00% 6 12 1 50.00%
Tyrell Alexander 2 0 0 0 0.00% 0 #DIV/0! 0 0.00%
Rocko Griffin 1 1 3 0 100.00% 3 3 0 0.00%
Amir Abdur-Rahman 1 0 0 0 0.00% 0 #DIV/0! 0 0.00%

I really, really hate that this passing game is being wasted on this defense. Almost as much as I hate that this passing game still feels like it’s being constrained by the play-calling.

Rushing

Rushing Att Yds YPA TD Success Success Rate
Rushing Att Yds YPA TD Success Success Rate
Keyon Henry-Brooks 22 62 2.8 1 4 18.20%
Rocko Griffin 6 22 3.7 0 3 50.00%
Mitchell Pryor 2 19 9.5 0 2 100.00%
Ken Seals 2 4 2 0 0 0.00%

At least some of the issues in the run game are on the offensive line, and Ja’Veon Marlow (violation of team rules and we’re not gonna tell you which team rule he violated) and Jamauri Wakefield (unspecified reasons, because fuck you, we don’t have to tell you) being out probably didn’t help, but I’m still not super impressed with Keyon Henry-Brooks this season. Rocko Griffin did get what I think were his first carries of the season in this game.

Notes

  • True freshman Bradley Ashmore started on the offensive line, though the starting lineup listed in the box score just lists “OL,” because I guess they don’t feel like telling us what spot guys were playing on the line.
  • Also, yesterday was the first time I’ve seen Logan Kyle and Brayden Bapst Blue Ribbon pop up in the participation report, granted I haven’t been paying as much attention to it as I normally do.
  • Also seeing his first action: kicker Wes Farley, who went 3-for-3 on extra points in his first football game at either the college or high school level. Pierson Cooke still handled kickoffs. And Jared Wheatley got his first action as well in relief of Harrison Smith.
  • As far as scholarship kicker Javan Rice, who still hasn’t seen the field through all of this... well, “Vunter Slaush Kapushkuh.”

What’s Next

Vanderbilt travels to Mississippi State next Saturday. Kickoff time is 3 PM CT on the SEC Network. Mississippi State’s offense has scored three touchdowns in a month so... maybe? Can we hope?