Report Card: Vanderbilt vs. Elon

Vanderbilt thrashed Elon 45-14 on Saturday night. analyzes every element of the Commodores' performance and assigns a grade to each area.




The Commodores passed for 177 yards and two touchdowns on the night and Vandy QBs went 16-for-31 with no interceptions. Larry Smith completed 13-of-27 passes for 125 yards and two scores. He completed one TD pass to redshirt freshman Chris Boyd for one score and connected with fullback Fitz Lassing for the other. Jordan Rodgers came in the game later and hit Boyd for a 30-yard score. It was Rodgers' first completion of his Commodore career and the most well thrown pass by a Vandy quarterback since the days of Jay Cutler. Jordan Matthews is as advertised. Chris Boyd will probably see more playing time.
It was a surprisingly poor rushing performance by the Commodores. No Vanderbilt player finished with more than 50 yards rushing. Zac Stacy led the team with just eight carries for 48 yards. Larry Smith had a 13-yard scoring run and Wesley Tate later scored on a 23-yard run. One factor that may have affected the low rushing numbers by Vanderbilt was the lack of Warren Norman playing in the game. Hopefully Norman will be ready for the UConn game and the rushing yardage improves.
Wouldn't it be something if Vanderbilt had Aaron Mellette? The kid was nothing less than sensational. Eleven catches for 180 yards and a touchdown. Vanderbilt had no answer for him. After the likely future NFLer there wasn't much in the passing game for Elon. While Vanderbilt gave up big numbers to Mellette they also generally kept Elon out of the end zone and forced two costly errors by Elon quarterback Thomas Wilson. In the second quarter Trey Wilson jumped on a Wilson pass, intercepted it and returned it 21 yards for a Commodore touchdown. Later in the fourth quarter, Casey Hayward picked off a pass and returned it to the Elon 23. It took the Vandy offense just one play to capitalize on the Elon turnover.
Elon had 37 rushing attempts for only 83 net rushing yards. Not bad at all! Dontay Taylor led the Phoenix with 25 yards on 10 carries. Middle linebacker Chris Marve had a great game for the Commodores, finishing with nine tackles including two for losses. Linebacker Chase Garnham added four.
Carey Spear made his only field goal attempt from 33 yards. The ball split the uprights. Richard Kent did a solid job punting, averaging 42.8 yards per punt with a long of 48. Of Kent's five punts, none were returned for any positive yardage. John Cole had two punt returns for 14 yards for Vandy including one that went for 13 yards. No Elon kickoff return went for more than 20 yards. Vandy's Eric Samuels returned a punt 35 yards and Andre Hal returned one 22 yards.
The offense wasn't as dominant as expected and the defense struggled at times against a FCS team but it was refreshing to not be punting on the opponent's 32. Three times Vandy went for it on fourth down and three times they made. That negated a third down conversion rate (4-of-13) reminiscent of the Johnson-Caldwell era. Using Casey Hayward on offense was the type of innovation that we expected to see from Franklin and his staff. Although the defense gave up some yardage by over pursuing and gambling at times, they made big game changing plays.
A convincing win against a FCS team. Rougher seas are ahead and this staff has its work cut out for it. It'll be interesting to see how the return of Warren Norman affects the team.

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