Vanderbilt Report Card: NC State

Vanderbilt defeated NC State 38-24 in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on New Year's Eve.'s D.T. Yates grades the Commodore performance in several key team areas.

Passing Offense: B
Chris Boyd added to the list of phenomenal catches this season with a spectacular one handed grab for a touchdown on the opening drive. It was initially called incomplete but was ruled a touchdown after further review. The redshirt sophomore totalled four catches for 18 yards receiving.

Redshirt junior receiver Jordan Matthews made an excellent move on a screen to make defenders miss and ran into the end zone untouched for an 18-yard touchdown; he ended the day leading the 'Dores with seven catches for 61 yards receiving.

Quarterback Jordan Rodgers drove the Commodores for points on the opening drive for the seventh game this season. The senior went out a winner, completing 64 percent of pass attempts for 108 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns. Rodgers took control on fourth-and-14, late in the fourth quarter when he connected with Matthews for a 14-yard gain to extend the Vanderbilt drive.

Though the Wolfpack threw for over three times the 'Dores, Vandy avoided crucial turnovers and gave up just one sack. With the assistance of the defense, Rodgers did enough to keep Vanderbilt safely ahead of the NC State in his final collegiate performance.

Rushing Offense: B+
Vanderbilt used the wildcat formation to near perfection against the Wolfpack, who did not have an answer for Zac Stacy. The senior running back finished 2012 with 1,141 yards rushing which was the second most in school history--behind the 1193 yards rushing he put up in 2011.

Much like the story from the rest of the season, Stacy was a work horse with 25 carries for 107 yards rushing. In the second quarter out of the wildcat, he scored from six yards out to put Vandy up 14-0. Stacy was named MVP for his performance and added cushion to his school record of 3,143 career rushing yards.

Redshirt junior Wesley Tate also got a crack out at the wildcat formation in the second quarter and scored from seven yards out to put the 'Dores back up by 14. Tate ran for 14 hard-earned yards on nine carries.

Rodgers got in on the action when he took a keeper 15 yards into the end zone to put the game out of reach at 38-17.

Passing Defense: A
Junior safety Kenny Ladler was unstoppable, leading the team with 10 tackles. Ladler intercepted quarterback Mike Glennon on NC State's first play of a drive to keep momentum in Vandy's direction.

With the assistance of pressure from defensive end Kyle Woestmann, Trey Wilson did an excellent job to knock a pass out of Tobais Palmer's hands in the end zone and save a score.

Vanderbilt came away with its second interception when senior safety Eric Samuels intercepted Glennon in the second quarter. Vanderbilt scored just two short plays later when Rodgers hit Matthews for a touchdown strike.

The Commodores collected their fifth turnover of the game when Trey Wilson picked off Glennon and returned it 65-yards before he was inadvertently brought down by defensive tackle Jared Morse. The senior cornerback now holds the school record with 285 return yards.

Glennon completed 35 for 53 pass attempts for 383 yards passing and a touchdown, having a lot of success over the middle. The senior's problem was turnovers, which kept the field position in Vandy's favor and led to 10 points for the 'Dores.

Rushing Defense: A
NC State heavily favored their passing game, running just 25 times averaging 1.6 yards per carry. True freshman linebacker Darreon Herring forced a fumble, which was recovered by Kenny Ladler and brought back to the NC State 27-yard line to set up the 'Dores second score of the game.

Redshirt sophomore Tony Creecy led the Wolfpack with 43 yards rushing and was able to get their first score of the game when he scored from a yard out. Johnell Thomas forced a fumble that was recovered by true freshman defensive end Caleb Azubike.

Middle linebacker Chase Garnham was second on the team with 7 tackles and a sack. Never trailing, Vanderbilt gave the Wolfpack little option but to throw. NC State ran for just 41 yards rushing on the day.

Special Teams: B
Andre Hal started the game with a 32-yard kickoff return that put the 'Dores out on the 35-yard line. After NC State's first score of the game true freshman Brian Kimbrow responded by returning a kickoff 52 yards. The 52-yard return tied Andre Hal's team-best set earlier in the season.

Redshirt senior Tobais Palmer returned his second kickoff return of the season for a score against the 'Dores near the end of the first half to pull the Wolfpack back within a touchdown.

Junior kicker Carey Spear had two field goal attempts in the third quarter; he hit the first from 30 yards out but missed from 44 yards wide right.

Senior punter Richard Kent ended excellently with three of his five punts pinning NC State inside their 20-yard line. Kent averaged 46.2 yards per punt, with a long punt of 51 yards.

Coaching: A
Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin continues to lead the 'Dores to new heights with the first nine-win season since 1915.

Near the start of the quarter, with a 14-point lead, Franklin went for it on fourth-and-1, from his own 34-yard line. Thankfully, it paid off; though we might be singing a different tune had the attempt failed to convert.

The Commodores made NC State stop the wildcat, but by the time they figured it out, it was already too late.

Franklin and his staff brought the 'Dores to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history. The 15 wins earned in his first two seasons are the most in consecutive seasons since 1928-29.

The seven consecutive victories are the most by a Commodore team since 1948 and is the longest current win streak in the Southeastern Conference.

Overall: A
The Commodores took control of the game from their first possession. The Wolfpack fought hard but could not overcome costly turnovers.

Other than turnovers, the most telling statistic of the game might be penalties. The Wolfpack were penalized nine times for a total of 90 yards; the Commodores just two times for 10 yards.

Vanderbilt was successful in the red zone, scoring in 4 for 4 trips with four touchdowns. The Commodores had taken the ball away from NC State four times in the first half, and were able to come away with 14 points off those turnovers.

The Vanderbilt seniors who experienced consecutive 2-10 seasons went to consecutive bowl games to end their college careers with the best season in modern Vanderbilt football history.

Some might be thinking the nine-win season is the pinnacle of Vanderbilt success but with one of the best recruiting classes in Commodore history set for the class of 2013, Franklin will have more handpicked players to run his flexible offense.

Fightin Gators Top Stories