Report Card: Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas

The game is over now: Arkansas 49, Vanderbilt 14. analyzes every element of the Commodores' performance and assigns a grade to each area.




Vanderbilt attempted only 17 passes completing six and gained just 36 yards through the air. Late in the first quarter Larry Smith found Brandon Barden in the corner of the end zone for a 8-yard touchdown pass. Jared Funk came for the third series and completed a short pass before firing a pass to Barden who was hit as he attempted to catch the ball resulting in an interception that was returned to the VU 20. Things went down hill from there. Early in the fourth quarter when Funk returned to the game, Jerico Nelson jumped in front of one of his passes and returned it 39 yards for a Hog touchdown.
The running, again, wasn't as poor as it seemed. The Commodores gained 117 yards rushing and had a nice touchdown run by Jonathan Krause on the end around in the first quarter. The running stats would have been better if 40 yards wouldn't have been lost on sacks. Warren Norman had 64 yards rushing, including a 51-yarder, in his final game as a sophomore (he's out for the season due to a dislocated wrist). Zac Stacy added 24 yards rushing.
Ryan Mallett passed for a career high 409 yards and three touchdowns. Eight different Razorback receivers caught passes and four had four or more catches. Arkansas had 48 attempts and no interceptions compared to Vanderbilt which had two interceptions in only 17 attempts. Despite the high passing yardage yielded Vanderbilt was able to break up nine Razorback passes.
The Vandy defenders allowed 138 rushing yards to Arkansas. The Razorbacks averaged 3.8 yards per carry. Knile Davis led Arkansas with 82 yards and two touchdowns. Chris Marve had 10 tackles, a 1/2 sack and one other tackle for a loss.
For the second straight week special teams performed well. Norman and Eric Samuels each had long kick off returns of 40 yards or more. Richard Kent continues to impress at punter. Kent averaged almost 48 yards a punt and had a long of 61 yards. He put three punts inside the 20 and one of those backed the Hogs up on their 1. One of the things that contributed to the Hogs' second quarter explosion was a 66-yard kickoff return (after the safety) by Lance Ray which helped a score of 22-14 bulge to 29-14 rather quickly.
New offensive coordinator Des Kitchings did a great job on first two drives of the game with his play calling. Much has been said about switching quarterbacks after scoring on two straight drives. While many say that the switch was a mistake, Caldwell argued that the planned switch might have been what lit a fire under Smith for the first two drives. The staff probably should have shown some flexibility and not took their quarterback out after two straight sparkling scoring drives. The pass by Funk might have hit Barden in the hands but part of the job of a quarterback is to throw balls in a way that receivers don't get hit as soon as they touch the ball.
The first interception of Funk and then the safety scored on Smith got things really out of control and from then on it appeared as if the team may have quit. Will the Commodores win another game in 2010? That remains to be seen. Next up is a game with the surging Florida Gators on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium.

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