Vanderbilt vs. UMass: Three Keys Revisited

As most expected Vanderbilt took care of UMass comfortably on Saturday in Nashville. This win should provide the momentum the Commodores need to attack the back end of the schedule and make that much sought after second consecutive bowl game. Here is a look back over the three keys to the game that we identified on Friday.

As most expected Vanderbilt took care of UMass comfortably on Saturday in Nashville. This win should provide the momentum the Commodores need to attack the back end of the schedule and make that much sought after second consecutive bowl game. Here is a look back over the three keys to the game that we identified on Friday.

1) Stay focused

The Vanderbilt focus level was tested somewhat this weekend as the team seemed to take much longer that would usually be expected to wake up and start to play like we know they can. The Commodores were noticeably sluggish offensively for most of the first half, and the game was far too close for comfort until a pair of touchdowns in a span of 55 seconds right before the break. Vandy then proceeded to blow the game open in the third (after a few pointed words from James Franklin I am sure) with a 28 point quarter. By this time the game was far beyond doubt and a late UMass touchdown was nothing more than a consolation.

It is notoriously hard for players to get up for a game like this in the middle of a tough and long SEC season. The Vandy players and staff all knew they did not have to be near their best to beat the Minutemen, and for the longest time it looked like this was going to be one of those closer than needed victories over an inferior opponent that does nothing for the Commodore program. In the end though the team picked up their game and the blowout was on.

2) Use the depth

The Vandy depth was tested more than anyone would have thought after Zac Stacy departed early in the first quarter with a foot injury. Thankfully for the 'Dores chances over the rest of the season word has come through that the injury is not serious and that Stacy could actually have returned to the game if needed. The injury to Stacy may have been a blessing in disguise however as it allowed Wesley Tate to see the most significant action of his career. Add in the work that Brian Kimbrow saw (using his explosiveness against a tiring defense) and you have a recipe that can be used going forward with more regularity.

3) Find more red zone success

The way the Commodores scored in this game actually limited the team's ability to work on red zone efficiency. Whether it was Kimbrow racing 74 yards for a score on the first play of a drive, the defense making a pick six, or even a punt return TD (all in the same quarter no less) the big play scoring kept the ball out of the UMass red zone. For almost the entire game it looked like Vandy would be perfect on the limited red zone chances that occurred, but a late red zone fumble means that James Franklin will have at least one point of emphasis in practice this week.

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