PASSING OFFENSE: A-
Vanderbilt's Austyn Carta-Samuels passed for an impressive 334 yards while completing 23 of 29 passes for two touchdowns and an interception. This was his second 300 yard passing performance this season. You have to go back to Jay Cutler's days to find another VU quarterback that has passed for more than one 300 yard game in a VU season. Jordan Matthews led Vandy with eight catches for 115 yards a touchdown. He is now in third place with 190 career receptions at Vandy. Jonathan Krause continues to play well catching four passes for 108 yards. Jerron Seymour is proving to be a duel threat player. He had three catches for 45 yards. Senior fullback Fitz Lassing also had a trio of passes including 1-yard catch for a touchdown from Carta-Samuels in the fourth quarter. UAB managed just one sack during the game.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A
It was the Commodores' best game rushing the ball so far (by far) this season. The 'Dores ran the ball 35 times for 206 yards and five (5) touchdowns. Vandy averaged more than a yard more per carry (5.9 YPC) than it averaged in its second best rushing game of the season which was against FCS Austin Peay (4.8 YPC). It looks like Vandy has finally found its bread and butter back in Jerron Seymour. Seymour gained 107 yards on just 12 carries (8.9 YPC) and scored two touchdowns. His 58-yard scoring run in the second quarter was a thing of beauty and put the Commodores in control. Seymour scored another TD on a 7-yard run in the first quarter which gave Vandy an early 7-0 lead.
Wesley Tate was solid as well with nine carries for 53 yards and an 8-yard scoring run late in the third quarter.
PASSING DEFENSE: B
The Blazers accumulated 206 total yards passing for two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. UAB starter Austin Brown completed 10 of 20 passes for 51 yards and an interception. He was sacked twice, once by Barron Dixon and again by Kyle Woestmann and Larry Franklin. Brown split time with backup Jonathan Perry who connected on 9 of 16 passes for 155 yards. Perry connected on two touchdown passes for the Blazers. In the fourth quarter he found Darius Powell for a 29-yard scoring toss and later against mostly Vandy reserves Jamari Staples caught a 17-yard pass from Perry to finish the contest's scoring. Darreon Herring and Kenny Ladler each has interceptions for Vandy. Vandy also had three quarterback hurries during the game. One the hurries was made by Woestmann and it ultimately forced a Blazer field goal attempt.
RUSHING DEFENSE: B
UAB gained 156 yards on 29 carries (5.4 YPC) with no touchdowns. Starter Darrin Reaves had 14 rushes for 52 yards. Reaves is on a pace to finish the season with over 1,500 yards rushing but the Commodore defense held him to well under his average. Jordan Howard gained 92 yards on nine carries (10.2 YPC). His average was inflated by a 52-yard run in the first quarter that led to the Blazer's first field goal. Javon Marshall led Vandy in tackles with seven; two of them were for losses. Barron Dixon was second in tackles for the 'Dores with six tackles, including three solos. Vanderbilt averages 6.6 tackles for losses which is 45th best nationally. Against UAB the 'Dores were just under that (6.0) but with the two interceptions, a turnover on downs and low third down conversion rate (26%) things worked out just fine.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
For the second time this season Vandy's Carey Spear made a field goal from over 50 yards. In week three he had a 54-yarder at South Carolina, on Saturday night he canned a 50 yarder to give the 'Dores a 10-3 second quarter lead. Taylor Hudson continues to be one of the biggest surprises of the 2013 Commodore season. Hudson averaged 43.7 yards on three punts on Saturday night. Vanderbilt leads the SEC and is seventh nationally in net punting (43.0 YPP). The Commodores also shine is "Kickoff Return Defense" (14.82 YPR) where they rank third nationally and first in the conference. On Saturday night Spear had eight kickoffs, five of them were touchbacks and none of the three that weren't were returned past the 25-yard line.
Backup kicker Colby Cooke had one kickoff that was returned to the 26. Darrius Sims continues to excel at returning kickoffs. He had four returns for 96 yards against UAB including a long of 42 yards.
After a lackluster game at UMass when nothing seemed to go right but the final outcome, James Franklin and his assistants were on top of things as far as getting the team's morale back up. The team seems to have re-gained the swagger that it had last season during the final eight games. The Commodores were also solid in third down conversions, converting on 5 of 10 for strong 50 percent rate. In spite of all the off-the-field distractions Franklin and his crew have kept the Commodore ship on course for a record third straight bowl bid.
OVERALL GRADE: B+
A refreshing win that makes Vandy halfway qualified for postseason play. A strong yet far from perfect performance both offensively and defensively. Special teams were nearly perfect. Now Vandy has another hurdle to make. The Missouri Tigers have been whipping opponents and have a star quarterback in James Franklin. Meanwhile reports are already circulating that our own Franklin may be a target the Southern California. The team must keep focused on the mission at hand: Win this week's game and worry about their head coach's status when and if the time comes. It should be an interesting week and exciting football game.
Vanderbilt Report Card: UAB
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