Vanderbilt Report Card: Massachusetts

Vanderbilt defeated Massachusetts 24-7 on Saturday in Foxborough, Mass.'s Don Yates grades the Commodores' performance in several key team areas.

Austin Carta-Samuels went 18 for 27 for 219 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. His first pass of the game was a long throw to Jonathan Krause that was intercepted at the UMass 33. Later he would throw deep to Krause again finding him for a 42-yard reception which was the senior receiver's first career TD reception (71 total catches). Krause finished with six receptions for 105 yards. In the fourth quarter with Vandy at the UMass 11 and clinging to a 10-7 lead, Carta-Samuels was under pressure and barely got off a short pass to Matthews. What looked like it might be a sure incompletion was turned into a touchdown when Matthews snatched down the pass and then sprinted across the field towards the sidelines before cutting back two the end zone. He then juked one defender before leaping over a second one to go into the end zone. Matthews finished with eight catches for 76 yards. He now has 182 receptions for 2,753 and 20 touchdowns for his career. He has 32 for the season and is on a pace to finish with 96 this season. Wesley Tate completed a 21-yard pass to Kris Kentera during the game. Tate now has two completions for his career. The tossed a 3-yard TD pass against Tennessee last season.

We knew early in game when Vandy went for it on fourth-and-1 and didn't make it that Vandy wasn't going to win by 30 points. It was Vandy's second best rushing performance of the season but a better performance was expected. The Commodores finished with 169 yards (4.8 YPC) versus Austin Peay. Against UMass Vandy had a season high 39 rushes for 166 yards (4.3 YPC). Vandy just hasn't shown much improvement running the ball since game one. Of the 39 rushes, 18 of them were for three yards or less. Ten were for 1 yard or less (one of those was a TD). It's obvious looking at the drives and play selection that VU was using this game to work on the running game. In this game when the 'Dores passed more they moved the ball better. When they relied on running drives often bogged down. Wesley Tate finished with 14 carries for 64 yards. Nine of his carries were for four yards or more. Jerron Seymour had 15 carries for 56 yards and the 1-yard touchdown. Should have been an 8-yard TD run but the SEC officiating crew was short spotting the 'Dores all game long. Thankfully Seymour got his TD on the next play. Six of Seymour's runs for for more than four yards. Carta-Samuels finished with 39 yards on nine carries.

UMass gained 149 yards on 23 attempts for 33 completions. Most of these completions were short passes for no more than 10 yards. Starter A.J. Doyle was 20 for 28 for 133 yards. He was knocked around and sacked once eventually coming out of the game in the third quarter for an injury. Adam Butler and Caleb Azubike were credited with the sack. Backup quarterback Mike Wegzyn relieved the injured Doyle and completed 3-of-5 passes for 16 yards. Doyle later returned to finish out the game. The Commodores had no interceptions although Kellen Williams, Darreon Herring and lineman Vince Taylor each broke up passes. Herring might have had an interception during the game if not for a penalty.

UMass gained just 99 yards on 31 carries for no touchdowns rushing. Starting running back Stacey Bedell five carries for just 12 yards. Doyle, the quarterback had the most yardage of any rusher with a whopping 29 yards on eight carries. The Minutemen combined for 33 yards lost rushing. Adam Butler (1.5), Andre Hal (0.5), Caleb Azubike (1.5), Ja'Karri Thomas (0.5), Kyle Woestmann (0.5), Walker May (0.5), Jared Morse (0.5) and Vince Taylor (0.5) all had tackles for losses. Darreon Herring was all over the field finishing with eight tackles while Jacob Sealand added another eight.

Taylor Hudson had just one punt during the game but it was a thing of beauty. He boomed it 52 yards and it bounced out-of-bounds perfectly at the UMass 3-yard line. Carey Spear made his only field goal attempt of the game, a 32-yard boot in the second quarter. Spear kicked off five times and three were touchbacks. Two were returned, each for 18 yards. Kick return man Darrius Sims returned a pair of kickoffs, one for 42 yards and the other for 18 yards. Vandy's kick coverage units had no breakdowns.

Again, James Franklin did what he needed to do to get Vanderbilt a win. It looked like he was trying to work on the running game early on but when that wasn't productive enough he cut loose Carta-Samuels to put the ball in the air which got Vanderbilt some points. The Commodores even used a couple a trick plays during the game to get gains. I think that's smart. You can always implement new trick plays for future opponents but once you've lost that game you can't get it back. Vandy converted 8-of-13 third downs and 2-of-3 fourth downs. It was one of those games that you almost wish you'd have gotten that root canal done instead of going. Fans endured those dumb penalties and poor spots by the officials that help snuff out VU drives.

The team came out with a win; that's the most important thing. If they have beaten Alabama on Saturday they would have the same 2-2 record as they have now by beating UMass. We need to give UMass credit though, they are a young team that played hard and is showing improvement as the season progresses. Our team needs to do the same.

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