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Vanderbilt 63, Hawaii 10: Yeah, that happened

For once, a Statistical where Vanderbilt dominated the game!

Vanderbilt v Hawaii Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

Box Score

Five Factors Vanderbilt Hawaii
Five Factors Vanderbilt Hawaii
Plays 70 81
Total Yards 607 358
Yards Per Play 8.67 4.42
Rushing Attempts 42 23
Rushing Yards 412 130
Rushing YPP 9.81 5.65
Passing Attempts 28 58
Passing Yards 195 228
Passing YPP 6.96 3.93
Rushing Success Rate 59.52% 47.83%
Passing Success Rate 39.29% 32.76%
Success Rate 51.43% 37.04%
Avg. Field Position 31.9 23.7
PP40 5.44 2.00
Turnovers 0 2

Since some of you may be new here (or, hell, some of you may have been here a while), let me explain the Five Factors:

  • Yards Per Play: Pretty self-explanatory, this is a measure of how many yards you averaged per play. This may differ from the official numbers because I don’t count plays that are not intending to gain yardage (either kneel-downs at the end of the game or intentional spikes.)
  • Success Rate: This is a measure of efficiency; how consistently are you moving the ball? A play is defined as “successful” depending on down and distance; on 1st down, any play that gains at least 50 percent of the yards to gain is counted as a success; on 2nd down, 70 percent; on 3rd or 4th down, 100 percent. A team with a low success rate but a high-ish yards per play is dependent on big plays; a team with a high-ish success rate but low yards per play is good at moving the chains but lacks explosiveness.
  • Average field position: The average yard line at the start of your drives. Also self-explanatory.
  • PP40: This stands for “points per trip inside the 40.” This is a measure of how well you’re cashing in scoring opportunities. Any offensive drive that gains a first down inside the opponent’s 40-yard line is considered a scoring chance (note, though, that if you score from beyond 40 yards out this also gets counted as a scoring chance.) This is kind of an advanced version of red-zone scoring, and accounts for the fact that somewhere in the 30s is the edge of most kickers’ field goal range. It also accounts for the difference between settling for a field goal and scoring a touchdown.
  • Turnovers: You know what these are.

Anyway, winning the Five Factors is pretty strongly correlated with winning the football game, and as you’ll see above, Vanderbilt won all of the Five Factors in Saturday night’s game at Hawaii. You might be surprised to learn that Vanderbilt won this game by a wide margin, because “Vanderbilt won this game by a wide margin” is a phrase that has not appeared on this site in a long time. It had been since 2019 that Vanderbilt won a game by four touchdowns or more, and since 2018 that Vanderbilt had done that against an FBS team.

Suffice to say, this was a historic blowout by Vanderbilt’s standards. I cannot remember Vanderbilt winning a game against an FBS team by 53 points; it may not have happened since World War II. All the caveats about Hawaii being bad, probably one of the worst teams in FBS this season, and that just allows me to bring up the fact that Vanderbilt faced a historically terrible UConn team last season and needed a last-minute field goal to win. Hell, Vanderbilt lost to FCS East Tennessee State last season.

It’s hard to overstate the level of dominance Vanderbilt showed on Saturday night, but consider this: Vanderbilt ran 70 plays last night and not a single one of them went for negative yardage. That’s right: every single play the Commodores ran at least got back to the line of scrimmage. (No, I’m not counting the two kneel-downs at the end of the game.)

Vanderbilt did what you’re supposed to do against a bad team; last night’s game looked more like a typical SEC team playing a Week 1 body-bag game than it looked like Vanderbilt typically does against bad teams. That’s at least a notable sign of progress, and not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but the team we saw last night is capable of winning a few games this season. There might be a hard ceiling on how many games that Vanderbilt can win this season; after all, five of the top 11 teams in Bill Connelly’s SP+ are on the schedule, and Vanderbilt isn’t that kind of team. But if you can utterly destroy Hawaii, you should be able to beat Northern Illinois and compete with Wake Forest or Missouri or South Carolina. That’s not a huge ask in Year Two.

I just hope this result hasn’t set our expectations for this season too high. Remember: this was a bad, possibly awful, team that we were playing.

The last thing I’ll say here: well, this team started slow, again. Hawaii’s first drive of the game went 75 yards in eight plays; the Rainbow Warriors wouldn’t find the end zone again after that, but the other team’s scripted drives are still this defense’s bugaboo. (If you’re interested in explanations here, remember that Hawaii was in its first game under a new coaching staff; the coaches likely didn’t have any film to watch.) Meantime, Vanderbilt’s first two drives only saw four successful plays (out of 12) and 39 yards of total offense.

Hawaii’s offense after its first drive: 34.2 percent success rate, 3.9 yards per play. Vanderbilt’s offense after its first two drives: 55.2 percent success rate, 9.8 yards per play.

Yeah, those are some hellacious adjustments. (Also, I wouldn’t worry too too much about Hawaii’s rushing success rate; Hawaii was weirdly running a bit during the fourth quarter, when Vanderbilt’s defense was more than happy to give up ten yards on the ground.)

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
Mike Wright 13 21 61.90% 146 2 0 0 0 146 42.86% 7.0
A.J. Swann 3 7 42.86% 51 0 0 0 0 51 28.57% 7.3

Rushing Stats

Rushing Att Yds YPA TD Success Rate
Rushing Att Yds YPA TD Success Rate
Mike Wright 13 163 12.54 2 69.23%
Chase Gillespie 10 63 6.30 0 40.00%
Ray Davis 8 86 10.75 1 50.00%
Rocko Griffin 5 63 12.60 1 80.00%
Jayden McGowan 2 16 8.00 0 100.00%
Cooper Lutz 1 7 7.00 1 100.00%

Obviously, this was a good performance by Mike Wright, though his ability as a passer still leaves something to be desired. Then again, his ability as a runner is something else, and just based on the small sample we got of A.J. Swann in the fourth quarter it’s probably going to be a while before Wright relinquishes the job, if he even does this season.

Chase Gillespie getting the most carries of the running backs was unexpected, but then we weren’t expecting the game to be completely out of hand in the fourth quarter. In a competitive game, obviously, Ray Davis and Rocko Griffin are going to get more carries. (No idea where Patrick Smith was last night.)

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
Jayden McGowan 6 5 27 0 83.33% 4.5 5.4 33.33%
Will Sheppard 6 3 39 2 50.00% 6.5 13.0 50.00%
Quincy Skinner 5 3 29 0 60.00% 5.8 9.7 60.00%
Devin Boddie 4 1 38 0 25.00% 9.5 38.0 25.00%
Gavin Schoenwald 2 1 27 0 50.00% 13.5 27.0 50.00%
Logan Kyle 2 0 0 0 0.00% 0.0 N/A 0.00%
Ben Bresnahan 1 1 21 0 100.00% 21.0 21.0 100.00%
Ray Davis 1 1 8 0 100.00% 8.0 8.0 100.00%
Chase Gillespie 1 1 8 0 100.00% 8.0 8.0 0.00%

I remember a few years back being completely and utterly frustrated with Derek Mason’s consistent inability to figure out how to utilize Darrius Sims, a similar player to Jayden McGowan (in the “undersized guy who’s also really fast” bucket), so it’s nice to see Lea’s staff already figuring out how to get McGowan involved in the offense.


Obviously a lot is going to be weird in a game where the bench got emptied late, but Max Worship had a really good game (a team-leading seven tackles, a forced fumble, and a pass breakup in the end zone.) Anfernee Orji and C.J. Taylor had scoop-and-score touchdowns. This was overall a really good night for the defense.

True Freshman Watch

The full list of true freshmen who played last night is a pretty long one: Jayden McGowan (who started), A.J. Swann, Steven Sannieniola, Ja’Dais Richard, Jeffrey Ugochukwu, Langston Patterson, Chase Gillespie, Grayson Morgan, Darren Agu, and BJ Diakite all played according to the participation report. Obviously, with the four-game redshirt rule, some of these will end up redshirting — because if you were going to play in four games and still redshirt, this was obviously going to be one of the four (but especially with how the game actually played out.) I do think, though, that any freshman who isn’t hurt and didn’t play last night is almost certainly redshirting this season.

What’s Next

Vanderbilt hosts FCS Elon at 6:00 PM CT on Saturday on the SEC Network+. That seems like a good opportunity to get to 2-0.