Report Card: Vanderbilt vs. EMU

The game is over now: Vanderbilt thrashed Eastern Michigan, 52-6. analyzes every element of the Commodores' performance and assigns a grade to each area.



Eastern Michigan

Larry Smith completed 16 of 27 passes for 253 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Smith had a lull in the first half where he missed a couple a wide open receivers; however, he recovered well and later found Udom Umoh for a 65-yard scoring pass. Had he connected with one of those wide open receivers an 'A' grade would have been recorded. Jared Funk completed 3 of 4 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. Funk had a screen pass to John Cole go 57 yards for a touchdown. Vandy did a good job of spreading the ball around as 11 different receivers caught passes. Mason Johnston made the first touchdown catch of his career and Turner Wimberly caught three passes. Smith just missed on a long scoring pass to Zac Stacy in the second half. Starting to look like a real spread offense!
It looked like EMU's plan was to shut down the Vandy run and force the Commodores to pass. It didn't work. The Commodores, led by Zac Stacy with 90, gained 205 yards on the lowly Eagle rushing defense. In the third quarter Stacy had an electrifying 67-yard run that increased Vandy's lead to 38-6. Warren Norman had 75 yards and Wesley Tate and Larry Smith added 38 and 17 yards respectively. The Commodore offensive line did a very good job of blocking. Three fumbles including one each by Smith and Funk hurt in this area but likely could have been applied to the passing offense section.
Vandy held the Eagles to just 99 yards passing. Alex Gillett actually did a decent job passing the ball but was replaced early in the second quarter by Devontae Payne who did little if anything. Gillett returned in the third quarter when the score was out of hand. Teriall Brannon, Walker May, and Johnell Thomas all had sacks for Vanderbilt. Sean Richardson had two quarterback hurries and Casey Hayward intercepted his fourth pass of the season. He has intercepted a pass in each of the previous four games and is second in the SEC and tied for ninth nationally in interceptions.
EMU, led by Corey Welch with 63, picked up 105 yard rushing during the game. Most of that yardage came in the first half. Once the Commodore staff caught on to what the Eagles were doing they made adjustments and shut down the EMU run game. Defensive tackle Rob Lohr led Vandy with six solo tackles including one for a loss. Defensive end Walker May also had six tackles and the earlier mentioned sack. It's a good sign when your top two tacklers are on the defensive line. The quickness and athleticism of nickel back Jamie Graham caused lots of problems for EMU.
Richard Kent averaged 39 yards a punt, net punting, which is solid. John Cole had a 54-yard punt return that came an inch or two from being a touchdown. Ryan Fowler made his only field goal attempt of the game from 22-yards. Fowler hasn't gotten many opportunities this season partly because the staff has chosen to go for it more on fourth down and partially because the team is scoring more touchdowns than a year ago. Warren Norman didn't get any opportunities to return kicks. However, Vanderbilt started in excellent field position twice because of the EMU respect of Norman.
The staff did a good job getting the team ready mentally for a lightly regarded opponent. Northwestern needed a late field goal last year to beat almost the same team. EMU scored 20 points at Ohio State. Watching the EMU offense in the first quarter you could see why the Eagles might be able to put up a fight if an opponent isn't on their toes. The Commodore staff also did a good job of making adjustments after the first quarter that essentially shut down the Eagle offense. The most important thing is that they earned the 'W' for the black and gold. This EMU team will eventually beat someone. They key is to not be that victim that ends their long losing streak.
All in all this was a very solid performance by the Commodores. The team avoided the sickening feeling it had after the Army game last year when the Commodores blew a very winnable game. The offense appears to be improved over 2009 but the jury is out on just how improved it is. We'll learn more about this team at Georgia. If the Commodore offense can continue to improve along with the defense then this team might just make some big waves down the road. Top Stories