Passing Offense: B
In his first start as a Vanderbilt quarterback, Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels was 13 for 20 for 195 yards with a touchdown pass and no turnovers.
Carta-Samuels under threw true freshman running back Brian Kimbrow on a wheel route that should have been caught and may have gone for a score as the Blue Hose defender overran him; Kimbrow couldn't get ahold of the ball that bounced out his shoulder pads.
Until later in the second half it seemed sophomore receiver Chris Boyd was Carta-Samuels' favorite target. In The Opening drive of the third quarter the sophomore did a good job adjusting to a ball down thrown behind him down the left sideline for 38 yards. Boyd ended the day with 4 receptions for 90 yards.
The first completion of the year to a Vanderbilt tight end was a 3-yard Carta-Samuels touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to redshirt freshman Steven Scheu.
Jordan Matthews may have been overlooked early in the game with only one attempt thrown his way but ended the day with 4 catches for 54 yards. Early in the second half, Matthews showed off his strength on when he worked and pushed his way through the Blue Hose secondary for a 19-yard reception. On his third catch on the next drive the junior receiver stiff armed a Presbyterian defender for an 18-yard reception.
Carta-Samuels hit Josh Grady--it was perfectly thrown on a corner route good for 27 yards. Grady ended the day with two catches for 37 yards.
Rushing Offense: A
Zac Stacy and the offensive line set the tone on the first play of the game with an 86-yard touchdown run. On his next carry, the senior running back broke another one for 35 yards to break 121 yards on his first two touches of the day. Stacy led the offense with a whopping 21.8 yards per rush average, 174 yards rushing, and a rushing touchdown.
Brian Kimbrow showed a glimpse of speed at the end of second half when he outran defenders for a 39-yard gain. Coach Franklin said the true freshman played in a bit of a slump after dropping a pass earlier but improved later and got some quality game snaps. On a 49-yard touchdown and the first of his career, Kimbrow sped through giant holes on a counter. Virtually no Blue Hose defender came close to true freshman who ended the day with the most touches of any Commodore, a 9.8 yards per rushing attempt average, and 140 yards rushing.
It was great to hear the Commodore faithful showing their delight in seeing redshirt junior Warren Norman taking the field again. Norman saw action as early as the second quarter--he ended the day with 8 carries for 26 yards and a 3-yard touchdown run that put the 'Dores up 47-0.
Passing defense: C+
In Presybyterian's opening drive, Vandy's aggressiveness got the better of them as the Blue Hose were able to convert two first down's on screen passes and work their way into Commodore territory. Blue Hose quarterbacks were held to 10 for 21 for 102 passing yards and an interception.
Presbyterian's lone scoring threat came after converting on a 21 yard pass in the second quarter. After a Caleb Azubike blocked punt was negated by a holding penalty on the 'Dores, the Vandy secondary got sucked in by a play action pass that went 29 yards to Blue Hose tight end Joey Gilkey. Trey Wilson later redeemed with Vandy's first interception of the season which he returned 100 yards for a touchdown.
Eric Samuels led the secondary in his first career start at safety with five tackles, a tackle for loss, and an 11-yard sack on Presbyterian quarterback Tamyn Garrick.
Rushing Defense: B
The 'Dores were taken surprise by the Blue Hose Wing-T style offense but did not show it for long, holding Presbyterian to 1.4 rushing yards per carry and 47 total rushing yards.
Archibald Barnes forced a fumble in the first quarter that set up a 6-yard Wesley Tate touchdown run. Linebacker Chase Garnham played well with 5 tackles.
Senior defensive end Johnell Thomas also put together an impressive performance--with 3 tackles including 1½ tackles for loss and a pass break up. True freshman Caleb Azubike added two tackles, a tackle for loss, and his second sack of the season. True freshman linebacker Darreon Herring saw a good portion of playing time and added three tackles including a tackle for loss. Eric Sanders started in place of Kenny Ladler and impressed multiple times in run support.
Special Teams: B+
Carey Spear was penalized for a kickoff that went out of bounds in the second quarter; that penalty helped give the Blue Hose their biggest chance at scoring of the night. A holding penalty by Trey Wilson negated a blocked punt by freshman Caleb Azubike. Presbyterian nearly took advantage of excellent field position and negated block punt, marching as far down as the Commodore 5-yard line. Spear was an excellent 3-of-3, hitting field goals 23, 28, and 42 yards.
True freshman Brian Kimbrow returned a kickoff for 31 yards. Jordan Matthews handled punt return duties for the 'Dores with three punt returns for 36 yards.
Leading up into Week 4 at Georgia everyone will be questioning the decision to go with Austyn Carta-Samuels rather than Jordan Rodgers. In post-game comments when asked if Carta-Samuels seemed to be the favorite going into the game in Athens coach Franklin left the door open for either signal caller.
"If we feel like Austyn gives us a better chance to win against Georgia based on the film (against Presbyterian) compared to the film from the two previous games, then we will make that decision," said Franklin. But I don't think there is anything in stone right now."
It could be confusing to choose to go back to Rodgers after playing Carta-Samuels in a game that could have been a confidence boost for Rodgers, who had struggled in the red zone in the first two games. Regardless of what happens, three weeks from now we'll either be praising the genius of the move or wondering what the Vandy coaches were thinking.
The 'Dores looked as good as they were supposed to against overmatched and outgunned Presbyterian squad. Close to everyone who wasn't being preserved for a redshirt saw action as 27 different Vanderbilt defenders recorded tackles.
The Commodores netted 605 yards of offense with 410 coming on the ground, while holding the Blue hose to 149 total yards of offense. The 'Dores preserved the shutout with Wilson's 100-yard interception return.
Vandy also threw in a wrinkle for the Georgia game with redshirt freshman Josh Grady taking some snaps in the wildcat. Grady had three carries for 24 yards with a long run of 13 yards.
It's tough to know what to think playing an opponent like Presbyterian--you want to believe the 'Dores got some much needed confidence heading into a tough stretch of games. There's a lot more we're going to learn about this Commodore team over the next four weeks of SEC play.
Vanderbilt Report Card: Presbyterian
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