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Let’s Try That Again: Week 5 vs Mississippi State

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This game has no place on the actual schedule, and it looks bad for the virtual Commodores.

NCAA FOOTBALL: OCT 22 Tennessee State at Vanderbilt
Jared Pinkney fears no Bulldog.
Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Vanderbilt and Mississippi State did not play in football during the 2018 season. The last time Vanderbilt football played Mississippi State was 2014 in Starkville where the Bulldogs won 51-0. The Commodores will host the Bulldogs in 2021. Unlike other conference matchups disrupted by expansion, this one was already rare. The Commodores and Bulldogs have only played 22 times since 1904. The team stats laid out in the preview provided during the Notre Dame article painted a scary picture of the Bulldog defense. The pre-game screen lists their defensive rating as a 95 to Vanderbilt’s 83. However, on offense, Vanderbilt has the higher rank at 90 compared to 84. I fear the worst.

As an aside, Coach Anchor O’Gold is also hosting his first 2 recruits, a 68 overall QB and 78 overall WR, of the season. Both recruits want to see 250+ yards passing. Vanderbilt leads handily on the QB and seems to be the only one chasing him hard. We are NOT getting the WR. But, hey, having him on campus helps with the QB’s visit.

Vanderbilt comes out in my favorite combo: Black helmets, gold jerseys, and black pants. Mississippi State wears White-White-Maroon. Their colors suck, though the recent trend of using gold trim with their maroon jerseys does add an interesting flair. Back to the field, Vanderbilt loses the toss and is forced to receive the opening kickoff. Wakefield sees a seam on the kick return, but one missed block means Shurmur trots to start at the 16. The first play is a counter to Vaughn swallowed for a loss of 4. A screen to the HB gets 5. On 3rd and 9, Shurmur is forced to throw and cannot find a deep completion to Bolar.

The Bulldogs start at their own 47. QB Keytaon Thompson breaks tackles from Dayo Odeyingbo AND Joejuan Williams on a speed option to get 15. Aeris Williams takes a counter forward 4 yards followed by 4 more for Thompson on an option keeper. No yardage is gained on another speed option with the pitch option taken away perfectly. Mississippi Stat will go for it on 4th and 2. A coverage mix-up turns an intermediate throw and catch into a huge gain and points. The score is 7-0 MSU with 4:25 left in Q1.

The Dores start the drive going to Vaughn off-guard but go nowhere. Ke’Shawn runs off-tackle for 5 then grinds out 4 more to make it 4th and inches. Coach O’Gold goes off-script with the distance so short and decides to go for it at his team’s own 31. The ball is again given to Vaughn, who lowers his shoulder for 4 and the 1st easily. The gamble pays off this time. The reliance on Vaughn this drive continues for one more yard. A slant to Pierce gets 11 after the OL and Vaughn pick up a nasty blitz. A draw to Ke’Shawn then finds a crease for 12. A pass to Bolar is nearly picked. Shurmur is sacked on another heavy blitz. A badly thrown to ball to Pinkney is knocked down. It is 4th and 15 at the MSU 44. Even in much better territory, the odds of converting at that distance force a punt. Thome lobs it out of bounds at the 11.

Oh…a slant gets 75 when I switch and dive to the wrong person. That stings. Speed option with a pitch to Kylin Hill loses 3. Tae Daley gets beat on another slant for the TD. Mississippi State leads 14-0 with time ticking down in the first quarter. If I could defend the slant route, I might have a chance for a stop or two. Eventually.

With Shurmur struggling to complete passes early, Ke’ shoulders more workload and takes an inside for 11. Press man across the board causes an audible to try and beat it deep, but Shurmur just misses. The first quarter ends. Shurmur misses an easy out throw to Tennyson that would have helped get to 3rd and manageable. The senior QB then misses an in route to Bolar by 5 yards to hit a DB right in the hands. This one is picked, and MSU will start at the Vanderbilt 40.

Thompson keeps for 6 then gives to Williams to lose 2. Cameron Tidd and Dayo Odeyingbo both break through on a 4-man pressure to combine on the sack with Tidd making first contact and Odeyingbo finishing. The Mississippi State punt lands in the end zone, and Shurmur can breathe a sigh of relief that his interception did not hurt his team while already facing a two-touchdown deficit.

A throw behind Jaire George in the flat forces him to stop and get lit up for a loss of 1. Vaughn gets 2 up the middle. A screen to the Mamba gets 5, but it is still 4th and 4 at the Vanderbilt 26.

MSU will start at their own 30. An out to Austin Williams includes a whiff by Hamilton and broken tackle against Haynie to get 25. Williams finds room for 5 on the next play. Wiley, helping over the top, reads Thompson’s pass and picks it off at the Commodore 20 then takes the ball 22 yards up the sideline.

The Commodores, starting at their own 42, need points. Power to Vaughn gets 3. Pinkney on a post finds a gap in the zone for 18. It might have been Kyle Shurmur’s first good throw of the game. Shurmur goes back to Pinkney on a go route and leads his TE away from the single safety, and the big target makes a diving grab at the goal line for a 37-yard TD pass! After the shaky start, Vanderbilt’s quarterback just made two spectacular tosses to get their first points on the board. Guay gets Vanderbilt within 7 at 14-7 with 2:47 left in the first half.

A bubble screen gets 11. Joejuan Williams NEARLY picks off a comeback route, but it falls incomplete off both hands. A draw to Williams gets nothing. The 3rd down HB screen loses 2! Vanderbilt takes a timeout.

Ellis returns the punt 11 yards, so the offense starts at their own 32 with 2:07 until halftime. A counter to Vaughn loses 1. A double move to Pierce gets 12. Bolar snags a pass in traffic for 11. Shurmur rolls right and keeps rolling out with nothing open until the man covering Lipscomb leaves coverage to attack Shurmur who calmly finds the now-open WR for 30! Vanderbilt has the ball at the MSU 15 with 1:15 until halftime. An intended screen to Vaughn is diagnosed too well, and Shurmur tosses to the opposite side of the field to a WIDE OPEN CJ Bolar in the flat for an easy 12 yards. Facing a goal line defense from the shotgun, Bolar starts to run a slant then sits down and makes the easy catch as his defender runs well past him and where the ball is thrown. After the difficult start, the score is tied at 14 with 57 seconds remaining in the first half.

Another 4-rusher sack! This one by Birchmeier with Tidd deserving another assist as he had forced Thompson to step up right into his linemate’s grasp. And another! Tidd finally gets his on the attempted HB screen that Thompson could not release fast enough! The Bulldogs let the game go to halftime. Wow! What a finish to the half!

Mississippi State receives to start the 2nd half. Their offense has struggled mightily since the second touchdown. The Commodore defense has moved to more Nickel to combat the spread formations and put speed on the field to defend the option while also pinching the DL inside and having them crash to the middle to collapse the pocket. Williams gets nothing on a draw. Thompson then gets sacked trying to run away from no pressure, but Tidd and Dayo both get an arm out to tackle him together as he tries to slip between them. Deddrick Thomas just gets the first down on an in route. Tidd makes another play! Well, he made the first hit then Dare played cleanup this time on a 7-yard sack. None of these sacks have been from bringing extra pressure. Williams tries to carry around left end but goes nowhere. Thompson does get this HB screen off, but it only gets 1. On the punt return, Ellis only gets 4 due to a missed block.

Ellis gets only 4 with a missed block. Shurmur leads the offense out at their own 32. Vaughn goes inside for consecutive carries of 6, 3, and 3. A PA throw to Lipscomb on a curl turns into 46 yards when Kalija makes the first man miss but is finally tracked down at the Mississippi State 11! The ball goes back to Vaughn on the ground for back-to-back physical runs for 5 yards each. The last one falls less than a foot short of breaking the plane of the goal line. I call the wrong play while typing and throw away a pass from a 5-wide shotgun set. Oops. The left side of the line and Jaire George shoves everyone in white 5 yards into the endzone for a walk-in TD for Ke’Shawn! They redeemed by playcalling error. Vanderbilt has completed the turnaround, leading 21-14 with 2:47 in Q3. I am legitimately giddy.

Williams takes inside for 2. Then the Commodores face near disaster when Williams fell on a downed Tidd and was able to stand back up without being down, but the rest of the defense was aware and immediately put him back down for a loss of 1. The HB screen to Kylin Hill loses 4 and forces another 4th down!

Ellis returns for 18 back to midfield, and here comes the rolling Vanderbilt offense. Vaugh carries for 4 then loses 1. Shurmur nearly throws another interception, and Vanderbilt punts from the MSU 47. Another beauty from Thome makes MSU start at their own 8.

Aeris Williams goes left for 1. Dayo gets another sack at the 3 to end the 3rd quarter. Wiley makes his second pick on a slant-corner! This interception was entirely user-controlled, unlike the previous one where the computer did all the work. He goes out immediately, so the ball is at the MSU 22.

Ke’Shawn grinds out a yard. Pierce catches a slant for 5. On the next play, Vaughn only gets 2 where it looked like he had a hole. Guay easily makes the 31-yard FG to stretch Vandy’s lead to 24-14 with 5:40 to play. Oh, and Reece Davis steps in to tell us Ole Miss leads #1 Alabama 24-14 at halftime!

Austin Williams holds on to catch a slant for 10. Thompson lasers one past Hayne’s ear hole for a 21-yard completion to Osirus Mitchell. Wright joins the sack party when his responsibility stays in to block! More pressure flushes Thompson, who runs for his life and gets 8. A HB screen to Williams gets 12 and a first down to the Commodore 28. Justin Johnson gets nearly 10 on an out but leaves inches to go. Thompson goes back to Johnson for another 10 yards. Williams carries for 3 to the 5-yard line. Thompson somehow breaks tackles from Josiah Sa’o and Tae Daley before running to paydirt. It is now 24-20 Vanderbilt with 3:30 remaining. By the way, Bama has cut it to 3 against Ole Miss early in the 3rd quarter.

This Commodore drive cannot be too conservative. Vaughn gets 6 on the first play though. Shurmur throws one to Vaughn in the flat for 9. Ke’Shawn carries for nothing on the next play. The clock ticks towards 2 minutes. Pinkney gets open on his preferred corner route and holds off the trailing LB until he has rumbled 55 yards to the MSU 7 with 2:03 on the clock. Vaughn goes wildcat and fakes a handoff to Pierce on a sweep then drives through a defender at the goal line to score! 31-21 with exactly 2 minutes to play.

Oh no! Stephen Guidry somehow gets open downfield for 39 yards on the first play! Austin Williams makes a 19-yard reception on the next play. Thankfully, a HB screen loses 3. Guidry has the 2nd down pass knocked free when Williams hits him. Unfortunately, Mitchell catches a pass that barely gets past the outstretched hands of Wiley to the 2-yard line. Thompson keeps and gets flattened by Dare. Dare burst through to flatten Williams for a loss of 4 on the next play! The defensive line is winning this game with little help. Thompson sails the 3rd down pass into the stands behind the goalposts while under a rare 6-man pressure. The pass to the flat is complete, but the tackle is made at the 4! Vanderbilt gets the ball back on downs.

Vaughn goes for 2 from the wildcat. MSU is out of timeouts with 50 seconds left on 2nd down. The game is over as long as I do not go too fast again. Vaughn gets 4 more yards before losing 1 as the game officially ends with a Vanderbilt win over the #9 team in the country.

Game Stats

Vanderbilt Mississippi State
Vanderbilt Mississippi State
First Downs 14 12
Rushing Attempts 28 26
Rushing Yards 80 -2
Passing (Comp/Att) 14/28 19/24
Passing Yards 257 303
3rd Down Conv. 1/9 3/10
4th Down Conv. 1/1 1/2
2PT Conv. 0/0 0/0
RZ (Trips-TD-FG) 4-3-1 3-2-0
Turnovers 1 2
Interceptions 1 2
Fumbles 0 0

I am too lazy to make the different charts for just a few players each game. Shurmur was 15/23 passing for 257 yards with 2 TDs, 1 INT, and 1 sack. Vaughn had 27 carries for 85 yards and 2 TDs while Shurmur’s sack gives him one rush for -5 yards. Vaughn, Pierce, Bolar, and Pinkney all had 3 catches. The yardage totals were 18 for Vaughn, 28 for Pierce, 26 for Bolar, and 110 for Pinkney. Lipscomb made his 2 catches count for 76 yards. Jaire George had 1 catch for a loss of 1. The defense had several standouts. Wiley’s 2 picks and 7 tackles (5 solo) were crucial. Tidd wreaked havoc all day but only had 2 sacks. Dayo also had 2 sacks along with 1 other tackle for loss. Not to be too outdone by his younger brother, Dare had a sack, 2 other TFLs, and 6 total (all solo) tackles. Drew Birchmeier had a sack and another TFL. Charles Wright had a single sack. Thome’s leg was again on point with 4 punts for 158 yards and 153 net! Two were downed inside the 20. Guay made his lone FG attempt from 31.

Oh, Alabama won 49-24. That upset bid did not age well. Meanwhile, the QB who visited committed! The WR locked us out. C’est la vie. AND WE ARE RANKED #22! HERBIE THINKS WE WILL BEAT MISSOURAH! The Yankee Tigers are unranked with blowout wins against an FCS team, Arkansas State, a 17-point loss at LSU (who is 2-3?), a 3-point (34-31) win at Arkansas, and a 42-14 win at Indiana. Enjoy how balanced Missourah is statistically while marveling at Vanderbilt’s imbalance.

Upcoming Opponent Comparison

Vanderbilt Missourah
Vanderbilt Missourah
Points Per Game 27.8 (#49) 35.4 (#15)
Total Offense 317.6 (#103) 418.0 (#18)
Rush Offense 78.0 (#126) 200.0 (#31)
Pass Offense 239.6 (#22) 218.0 (#33)
Total Defense 344.8 (#71) 298.2 (#39)
Rush Defense 50.2 (#1) 133.6 (#32)
Pass Defense 294.6 (#126) 164.6 (#44)
Turnover Diff. 8 (#2) 4 (#19)
Good thing Vanderbilt can stop the run and win the turnover battle.

I am starting to grasp at straws for poll ideas. I apologize for not doing any onside kicks in this game, but I really wanted the win and was nervous it would come back to bite me. For the next game, I will let you all decide how often I onside kick without alterations. You can choose between every, half, a quarter, and only if necessary. There will only be one poll (to close at midnight Thursday) for the Missourah game. Suggestions are of course welcome!

Poll

How often should I try for an onside kick?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Always, you coward!
    (2 votes)
  • 11%
    Half of them
    (3 votes)
  • 25%
    One out of four
    (7 votes)
  • 55%
    Never, you psycho!
    (15 votes)
27 votes total Vote Now