Vanderbilt Report Card: Missouri

Vanderbilt was routed by Missouri 51-28 on Saturday night. VandyMania.com's Don Yates grades the Commodores' performance in several key team areas.

PASSING OFFENSE: B
Austyn Carta-Samuels completed 35 of 41 passes for 338 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was picked off once early in the game which helped lead to the Tigers building a 17-0 first quarter advantage. The 300 yard passing performance was Carta-Samuels' third of the season which makes him the first VU quarterback to do that since Jay Cutler wore the black and gold. Jordan Matthews made seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. His 26-yard TD catch in the third quarter moved him ahead of the great Dan Stricker in VU career TD receptions (22). Matthews is now the all-time leader in that category. He has 197 career catches and needs 39 more to break Earl Bennett's SEC career record of 236 receptions. Jonathan Krause didn't make a catch in the first half but made five for 81 yards in the second stanza. Krause caught the second TD reception of his career on a 35-yard catch. Kris Kentera had five catches for 39 yards matching his career high. Vanderbilt's beat up offensive line allowed a horrendous seven sacks on the night.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D
Vanderbilt gained just 130 yards rushing offense including 27 yards in the first quarter and 22 yards in the second quarter (See beat up offensive line). Jerron Seymour gained 65 yards on 12 carries (5.4 YPC). Wesley Tate picked up 27 yards on seven carries. Brian Kimbrow had one carry late in the game for 25 yards. Interestingly, as bad as things were none of VU's running backs lost a yard all night. Most of Vandy's rushing yards by the RBs came later in the game but those rushes were offset by the enormous number of sacks by the Tigers. Austyn Carta-Samuels scored his fifth rushing TD of the season on a two-yard run in the third quarter. He rushed for 58 yards but lost 38 due to sacks for a net of 13 yards rushing. Vandy's offensive line now has a bye week to heal before Georgia visits.

PASSING DEFENSE: D-
Probably should be an 'F' grade here but there were some good performances by some VU players. Receivers were frequently wide open and VU defenders were out of position. It was by far the worst game of the season for the Vandy pass defenders. Quarterback James Franklin riddled the Commodores for 278 yards and four touchdowns on 19 of 28 passing. Marcus Lucas had six catches for 60 yards and a TD. 'Damian Washington is a big framed receiver like Jordan Matthews and he caught three passes for 86 yards and two TDs. Andre Hal matched a career-high with two tackles for loss. Kenny Ladler made 10 tackles in the first half. Linebacker Larry Franklin had a big sack of James Franklin in the second half. Barron Dixon and Walker May combined for another sack. Darreon Herring, Steven Clarke and Hal all broke up passes but Vandy could never get that badly needed interception. It was just an ugly day for Vandy's passing D.

RUSHING DEFENSE: D-
An "F" grade is likely deserving here too but, again, there were some decent performances. Vandy did force three field goals in the first half. Had those been TDs we could be looking at a 60 or 70 point output by the Tigers. Missouri's quick strike spread passing attack opened up the run for the Tigers. On just 43 rushes the Tigers were able to gain 245 yards and two touchdowns. That's lofty 5.7 yards per carry. The elusive Josey Henry gained 69 yards on 14 carries for two touchdowns. James Franklin, another mobile QB that the 'Dores struggled to contain, had 63 yards on 12 carries. Safety Kenny Ladler led Vandy with 14 tackles and forced a fumble that was recovered by the Tigers. Herring was the most active of the VU linebackers in garnering eight tackles. Defensive end Caleb Azubike had 2 1/2 tackles for loss which is a career high for him.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B
Taylor Hudson averaged 43 yards per punt on the night. On the season he is averaging 44.7 yards a punt. Carey Spear didn't attempt a field goal but made all four of his PATs. All four of Spear's kickoffs were for touchbacks. Brian Kimbrow returned four kickoffs out of the end zone and never made it to the Vandy 25. One "no fear" return resulted in the Commodores starting a drive at their own 10.

COACHING: D+
In his post-game press conference James Franklin apologized to fans and accepted full responsibility for the debacle. The Vandy staff still hasn't solved the problem of the slow starts in SEC play. Despite two solid recruiting classes in a row, the Commodores seem to be regressing defensively. Franklin blamed many of the breakdowns on depth in his postgame comments. The solid recruiting should be helping in that area. Vandy still hasn't figured out how to defend against a mobile quarterback. The strategy to return all kickoffs that go into the end zone needs to be looked at. It might make sense some times to bring it out of the end zone but when you do it all the time you are giving opponents chances to pin you back near your end zone and the opponents are feasting on it.

OVERALL GRADE: D
The offense again slept walked through the first quarter allowing Missouri to stay on the field too long against the VU defense. By the time the offense got things going there was too big of a margin to come back and Missouri's offense kept up the pressure on the VU defense. Now Vandy has a badly needed off week to get things in order. Most importantly a lot of injured players will have time to heal. The most important thing that needs to be fixed is the porous defense. Georgia can be beat if the team and staff work hard to improve and "Don't give up the ship!"

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