Presbyterian used multiple quarterbacks and formations with some success early in the game. Vanderbilt adjusted, however, to defeat the Blue Hose 58-0 in front of 35,491 at Vanderbilt Stadium. Presbyterian (1-2) lost 59-3 last week to Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy rushed for 174 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, including an 86-yard carry on the Commodores' first offensive play of the game. In his first career start, Austyn Carta-Samuels passed for 195 yards and a touchdown as Vanderbilt (1-2, 0-1 SEC) outgained Presbyterian 605 yards to 140.
"(The option) is something we talked about some in the offseason," Presbyterian coach Harold Nichols said. "I figured it would get them off balance a bit, and it did early because we were able to get some first downs."
On its opening possession, Presbyterian converted a third-and-6 and a third-and-8 on pass plays from Tamyn Garrick.
The Commodores adapted to the changes and limited Presbyterian to seven three-and-outs and forced two turnovers.
"I thought they had a good plan to start the game," Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said. "Those types of offenses - you have to spend two weeks to prepare."
Presbyterian's best chance to score came in the second quarter when a Vanderbilt holding penalty erased a blocked punt. The Blue Hose converted the ensuing fourth-and-2 and drove to the Vanderbilt 5.
The scoring bid ended when Vanderbilt cornerback Trey Wilson intercepted Garrick in the end zone, returning the pick 100 yards for a touchdown.
"It was a big play and a big momentum turner," Nichols said. "Let's say we can punch it in right there, it was third down, best case scenario we punch it in and worst case scenario we kick a field goal and go into halftime down 20-3. It's a whole different mindset. You go down 27-0 and they come out with all the momentum. It just totally changed the concept of the game."
In his first career start, Carta-Samuels' first snap of the season for Vanderbilt was a handoff to Stacy, who broke a tackle at his feet to run for an 86-yard touchdown, the longest rush in Vanderbilt history.
A preseason second-team All-SEC running back, Stacy had rushed for 84 yards in the Commodores' first two games. He more than doubled his season output on his first carry.
"I started looking at the Jumbotron a little bit," Stacy said. "It's hard not to sometimes."
The meeting with Presbyterian gave Vanderbilt an opportunity to notch its first win of the year after losing fourth-quarter leads against South Carolina and Northwestern to start the season.
Vanderbilt will face No. 7 Georgia on the road next week, but Franklin did not say if Carta-Samuels would remain the starter of if the job would return to Rodgers.
"After the first couple of weeks, we felt we needed to look at some things," Franklin said. "We decided (to make a change at quarterback) early in the week. It wasn't finalized until later in the week."
The lopsided score also allowed Vanderbilt to go to its bench early, with four running backs accounting for at least one touchdown and two backs topping 100 yards. Vanderbilt rushed for 410 yards as a team and amassed 605 total yards.
Freshman Brian Kimbrow rushed for 137 yards on 14 carries, including a 49-yard score. Wesley Tate added 24 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.
With his first touches on offense since a season-ending injury on Oct. 30, 2010, Vanderbilt running back Warren Norman received a spirited ovation when he entered the game in the second quarter. Norman rushed for 26 yards and a touchdown.
Carta-Samuels was the most notable player to receive his first extended playing time for the Commodores this season. The former starting quarterback at Wyoming sat out for Vanderbilt last season per NCAA transfer rules. Carta-Samuels completed 13 of 20 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown before he was relieved by John Townsley in the fourth quarter.
"We made most of the throws we should have made," Franklin said. "We missed a couple early, which were his first throws (since 2010). That's understandable."
Vanderbilt blasts Presbyterian, 58-0
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