Three Keys Revisited: Vandy vs. Northwestern

After each game week this season we will look back at the three keys which we believed would lead to a Vandy victory and assess how the team did in these areas. Doing this should provide some perspective on where the Commodores went right (or wrong) on game day. After another close defeat in a game that Vanderbilt probably should have won there is going to be an inquest underway in Nashville.

1) Pass, pass, and pass some more

Rodgers finished the game 17 of 33 for 217 yards and a touchdown, which would qualify as solid if unspectacular numbers. Watching the game though it felt like there was plenty more out there for the passing game that was left on the table for one reason or another. Even Jordan Matthews' six catch, 75 yard, with one touchdown performance feels a little underwhelming, especially when you remember how dominant Vandy was on the first drive of the game. As the season goes on the passing attack needs to increase its effectiveness.

2) Take advantage of turnovers

When the defense is unable to create a single turnover during the game it is difficult for the offense to capitalize. Vandy was able to quickly render the Wildcats passing game ineffective (they ended the game with just 133 yards through the air) but in the double edged sword world of college football this meant the defensive backs couldn't pick off errant throws. The bigger problem during the game was the inability of the Commodores to stop the running game, and that despite the fact Northwestern ran the ball 46 times no one was able to jar the football loose.

3) Find the running game

This is getting a little worrying. Once again the Vandy running game was rendered pretty much useless as the Wildcats were able to close lanes and stop everything the Commodores tried. Getting stopped by the defensive line of South Carolina is one thing, but after Northwestern held the 'Dores to just 101 yards on the ground it is time to have a rethink. The big worry is that if you take out Rodgers contribution on the ground Vandy actually had only 50 yards rushing at 2.6 yards per carry. It is not like Zac Stacy has lost a step either, as he proved he still has moves and speed by taking his one reception in the flat 55 yards up the sideline. The issue is that the blocking just isn't there at this point, which makes the electric Vandy backfield little more than a minor threat.

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