Report Card: Vanderbilt vs. Connecticut

The game is over now: Connecticut 40, Vanderbilt 21. analyzes every element of the Commodores' performance and assigns a grade to each area.




Larry Smith looked great on his two second quarter touchdown passes to Brandon Barden and Udom Umoh but then he looked terrible in the second half when he threw two interceptions, one of which was taken back for a UConn touchdown. Head coach Robbie Caldwell said on Monday that the pick six was a case of a blown assignment by a "young" wide receiver but the other pick was Smith's fault. The offensive line seemed to be much improved after the Ole Miss game but now appears to be back to its LSU form. Five sacks in inexcusable and to have four of them in one quarter is frankly unbelievable.
It was kind of a crazy game for the Commodore rushing game. Zac Stacy and Warren Norman only had 12 combined carries? Smith did a good job running the ball. He had a nice 57-yard run in the first quarter which the team failed to capitalize on. If you take away the five sacks Smith had 99 yards rushing. Jonathan Krause had an outstanding 44-yard scoring run on an end around. Kennard Reeves had a couple of solid runs including an 11 yard gain. The offensive line blocked well at times in the first half but had some problems in the second half.
No too bad of a game statistically. Vandy only gave up 179 yards through the air but UConn didn't need to pass as much because their ground game was so affective. Cody Endres completed 21 of 30 passes for an interception and two touchdown. Vanderbilt defenders bit twice on play action and allowed Endres two short scoring passes. Vanderbilt's defensive line seemed to miss T.J. Greenstone. Vanderbilt recorded no sacks and put little if any pressure on Endres. Casey Hayward's interception not only thwarted a UConn drive but put Vanderbilt in excellent position to run the play in which Krause scored. Hayward now has an interception in each of his last three games and is tied for sixth nationally in interceptions. Hayward also had a forced fumble during the game.
The Huskies' Jordan Todman rushed for 190 yards on 37 carries and had two touchdowns. Todman is just an exceptional player who is very quick and elusive. Vandy is not the first team that he has torched on the ground. Todman has gained at least 100 yards in every game he has played in this season. He had 37 carries against Vandy, 11 more than any other game. Although Vandy gave up the 190 yards they can take solace in the fact the they held Todman to list lowest average yards per carry of the season (5.14) Vanderbilt was led in tackles by Chris Marve who had 11 tackles including 7 solos. It was later revealed that Marve was playing injured. Vanderbilt without T.J. Greenstone, could muster very little pressure from the front four. Hopefully both Greenstone and Adam Smotherman will be back soon.
Warren Norman had an excellent 72-yard kickoff return to setup Vanderbilt's first touchdown. He also had another return of 46 yards. Vanderbilt allowed a 54-yard UConn kickoff return to start the second half. The Huskies eventually cashed in on the good field position. A roughing the kicker penalty took away a Vanderbilt possession and resulted in a UConn field goal. Richard Kent averaged almost 40 yards per punt and had one go for 57 yards. He did have two punts that should have been longer (27 and 31 yards) but there was a strong wind in one direction.
After the game Robbie Caldwell admitted that he was out-coached. He might have been outcoached but his team was also out-physicaled and out-experienced. The long scoring plays show that the offensive staff is getting the right idea. Many thought it was a fluke that Vandy scored on the long plays at Ole Miss but here they were again doing it against UConn. This offense is certainly improved and that's a tribute to Caldwell who brought in Herb Hand to help with the offense. Things are certainly not perfect but they are headed in the right direction. Still the sacks and missed assignments fall on the coaching staff whose responsibility it is to have the team ready.
Just a mediocre performance by the Commodores. There were many good things in the game and many bad things. The worst thing of all was another 'L' in the loss column for Vandy. This is a game the team could have won if they'd done what they were supposed to do on the field. Now the team must put this loss behind them. They finally get the type of team that other SEC schools have been beating on for weeks. Despite Eastern Michigan's struggles the Commodores can't afford to overlook the Eagles. A loss to EMU and Caldwell will likely be history by the end of November. Let's hope they get it done.

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