Report Card: Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas

Vanderbilt fell to Arkansas 31-28 on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium. analyzes every element of the Commodores' performance and assigns a grade to each area.




Jordan Rodgers showed improvement over his previous two games completing 15-of-27 for 128 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Early in the third quarter Zac Stacy attempted a pass that was intercepted. Jordan Matthews had a solid game receiving catching six passes for 151 yards. He had a 21-yard scoring reception in the first quarter to put Vandy ahead 7-0. His six receptions spanned 21, 14, 39, 15, 48, and 14 yards. Vandy's offensive line continues to show improvement. Commodore blockers gave up two sacks.
Another solid rushing performance by the Commodores. Zac Stacy, who is on a pace to run for 1,000 yards, picked up 128 yards on 19 carries. He had a beautiful scoring run of 62 yards in the third quarter. Unfortunately, Stacy, who rarely fumbles, put one on the ground that likely cost his team the game. Jordan Rodgers ran for 66 yards and scored two touchdowns. In the second half it seemed as if the Hogs did a better job of stopping Rodgers. Fitz Lassing gained 25 yards on a nice fake punt.
It was a spirited effort to slow down Arkansas passing attack but in the end it didn't work. The Commodores had chances to intercept at least five Razorback passes but came up with none. Had the 'Dores come up with a pick or two that likely would have tipped the scales in Vandy's favor at the end. Arkansas finished with 316 passing yards, five under its average. Casey Hayward finished with five broken up passes but likely should have picked off at least two of them. The Hogs' Tyler Wilson showed that he is tough as nails. He was sacked three times and knocked down countless other times but kept getting it done for his team. Tim Fugger came up with two sacks for the Commodores and Rob Lohr had another.
The Commodores again did a fine job of shutting down an opposing team's rushing game. The Hogs, who are pass happy, attempted to get their ground game going but with no success. Vanderbilt limited Arkansas to just 72 yards on 26 rushing attempts (2 rushes were sacks). The Hogs longest run was just 21 yards (Robert Wingo). Dennis Johnson led Arkansas with nine rushes for 52 yards.
Carey Spear missed a field goal that could have tied the game and sent it into overtime. In defense of Spear, he shouldn't have been put in that situation. Vanderbilt had plenty of other failures to make plays that cost them this game (fumbles, missed interceptions). Richard Kent punted well averaging 44 yards a punt and booming a long punt of 54 yards. Andre Hal had a long kickoff return of 33 yards. Jonathan Krause returned two punts for one yard and took a viscous illegal hit from Marquel Wade who has since been suspended for one game by the Southeastern Conference. Wade had one punt return for 12 yards for the Hogs. Dennis Johnson had four kickoff returns with a long of 27 yards.
Some critics say James Franklin "Didn't go for the win". That's far from the truth, he went for the win the entire game. Going for it at his team's own 29-yard line early in the game was a signal that he wasn't looking for a "moral victory". Some wonder why, at the end, he didn't run some reckless play in an effort to win or go for it on fourth down. There was no need as the field goal attempt seemed very makeable. With a short field in overtime the Commodores would have an easier time containing the Hogs attack. At that point there was no reason for the Commodores to think they needed to execute some crazy, risky trick play in order to win. Vandy had played the Hogs tough the entire game and had a good chance of winning during the additional play.
It was another valiant effort by our Commodores. Before the season started few observers would have given Vanderbilt a snowball's chance in hell of winning this game. Vanderbilt not only competed but played well enough to win, out-gaining the Hogs in offense and shutting down their rushing game. This is certainly not, "Same Ole Vandy" here. Plenty of good teams blow games with mistakes and missed field goals. Just look at any football box score. It happens.

As the Commodores increase their talent level and depth they will build bigger leads and have less of a likelihood of blowing leads. Commodore fans should be celebrating a new era in Vanderbilt football not crying over this "Same ole Vandy" garbage.

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