Report Card: Vanderbilt vs. Army

The Vanderbilt Commodores improved to 4-3 with a convincing 44-21 victory over Army. grades the Commodores' performance in several critical game areas.




In his first career start at Vanderbilt, Jordan Rodgers finished 10 for 27 for 187 yards, a touchdown and one interception (returned for a touchdown). His 43-yard touchdown pass to Chris Boyd in the first quarter was perfectly thrown and gave the Commodores a 13-0 lead. While Rodgers completion percentage isn't great, he made passes that counted and inflicted damage on the opponents. Jordan's completed passes spanned 29, 0, 41, 43, 5, 8, 10, 9, 8, and 33 yards. Larry Smith would typically have a better percentage of completions but many of his passes would be for 1-4 yard gains or even losses. Andrew Bridges started at left tackle in place of Wesley Johnson who filled in at center for Logan Stewart in the first half. Army had no sacks during the game but did get to Rodgers on the pick six, although not a sack it did cause a touchdown.
Vanderbilt finished with a game season high 344 yards rushing. Zac Stacy finished with 198 yards on 21 carries. Stacy's 198 yards is the third-most in a single game in Vanderbilt history and his three touchdowns are the most by a Commodore since Cassen Jackson-Garrison scored three times against Ole Miss in 2007. Stacy moved into 20th place on Vanderbilt the all-time rushing yards list with 1,388. Jordan Rodgers proved that last week's rushing performance against Georgia was no fluke as he gained 96 yards on 18 carries and scored a 12-yard touchdown on a quarterback draw in the second quarter.
Army sits at the bottom of the FBS in passing offense but the Black Knight's Trent Steelman had completed 11 straight passes coming into this game. Steelman finished going 1 for 3 for 18 yards and was sacked twice. After he unfortunately left the game with an injury, his counterparts Max Jenkins and Angel Santiago, completed no passes in three combined attempts. Santiago was sacked once. Chris Marve, Rob Lohr and Archibald Barnes all came up with sacks for Vanderbilt. Steven Clarke and Sean Richardson had pass breakups for the 'Dores.
Vanderbilt limited the nation's No. 1 rushing offense to just 270 yards, about 90 yards under its average prior to the game. Raymond Maples, Army top rusher after QB Steelman, was limited to just 66 yards. Steelman had only 40 net yards in a half of play. Freshman Larry Dixon, who has a bright future at West Point, came in and averaged 10 yards a carry mostly in the second half after both sides had pulled the starters. Vandy's defensive line manhandled Army's undersized offensive line and made it difficult for the Cadets to execute their offense.
Vanderbilt's Carey Spear missed his second extra point when it hit one of the goal post. He did not attempt a field goal. Ryan Fowler attempted the last Commodore extra point which he made. Richard Kent looked like he was back to normal. He had two punts for a 45-yard average. Ryan Fowler had one punt of 30 yards which was downed inside the 20. It looks like James Franklin may be allowing Kent to just boom them away from now on and giving Fowler the opportunity to handle "pooch" kicks. This should give Kent's average a boost. Vandy's kickoff coverage teams played well. Of the seven kickoffs only one went longer than 30 yards. Army had one punt return for 2 yards. Vandy had a 53-yard kickoff return on its first possession by Andre Hal.
All too often Commodore fans have seen their team narrowly lose a game to a team that was heavily favored only to fall to a team they were heavily favored to beat in the following game. Franklin and his staff had the team mentally ready for this one and avoided a devastating letdown. The Commodore staff exploited the undersized Army lines on both sides of the ball with much success. Great call by Franklin in doing the classy thing by pulling Stacy rather than letting him go for two more yards (for 200 yards) and potentially running up the score on our nation's finest.
Most Vanderbilt fans would have been very pleased if they had known before the season that their team would be 4-3 at this point. The continued fine play by the defense coupled with the emergence of Rogers at quarterback could very well spell "bowl bid" in 2011 for the Commodores and their faithful fans. If Vanderbilt does somehow slip into a bowl look for recruiting to get even more eye popping than Franklin's first class and the current group of stellar commits. And better talent means more wins in future seasons. Next up for Vanderbilt is a visit from the SEC's third best team, the Arkansas Razorbacks.

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