4 reasons for Vanderbilt loss

The Vanderbilt Commodores lost to No. 9 South Carolina 17-13 on Thursday night. Here are four reasons the Commodores weren't able to pull off a victory, in no particular order.

1. Dores don't take advantage of first quarter opportunities.

Thanks to two USC turnovers, Vanderbilt had the ball nearly the entire first quarter. The Commodores drove into USC territory but the drive stalled at the USC 44 after Vandy failed to gain five yards on fourth down. On the ‘Cocks first play of 2012 Marcus Lattimore promptly fumbled. Vanderbilt got the ball back exactly where it had left off on the previous drive. Result? Three and out. Vanderbilt then had its best opportunity of the game when Kenny Ladler intercepted a Connor Shaw pass and returned it to the USC 17. But again, Vanderbilt failed to capitalize after driving to the 5-yard line. Jordan Rodgers' pass was intercepted and returned to the VU 49.

2. Penalty on missed field goal.

During the second quarter Vanderbilt drove from its own 20 to the USC 32. Carey Spear booted a field goal but it was waived off due to a false start call on VU. Had the ‘Dores gotten those points things might have been much more interesting late in the game.

3. No call on USC pass interference.

We all saw it. The game is on the line so who do you get the ball to? Your playmakers, of course. Rodgers fired off a pass to what looked like an open Jordan Matthews. It looked like Matthews had dropped the ball but upon further review it's obvious that was pass interference. The Gamecock defensive back clearly swiped down Matthews' left arm way before the ball ever got to him. No call and the Vandy drive is stalled thanks to the officials turning a blind eye to the obvious, just like they did last year in Gainesville.

4. VU offense unable to mount sustained drives.

Vanderbilt drives kept bogging down and giving the Gamecocks more opportunities. We all love the big plays but sometimes you need to be able to pin your ears back and mount a sustained drive. Matthews's 78-yard catch was a thing of beauty but if you take away that big gain the VU offense only had 198 yards of offense, and yes, I know we've seen a lot worse than that in the past. However, consider that Vanderbilt had 12 total drives during the game and four of those drives went for negative yardage. James Franklin summed it up well after the game.

"On offense, we have to consistently be able to make plays," said Franklin. "Good football teams get the ball back at the end of a game and run it out with a great running back. Even with that tonight, we had a chance to win… It was 17-13 tonight. We are 0-1 this week. We had an opportunity to win this game, but we'll move on to next week."

All in all it wasn't a total debacle. Vanderbilt was in the game and had a chance at the end to beat a top 10 opponent. Both the offense and defense had great moments and grim moments. But as Franklin said, in the end it was a loss. It means Vanderbilt now must win 6 of its next 11 to be bowl eligible.

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