Vanderbilt Report Card: Kentucky

Vanderbilt defeated Kentucky 22-6 on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium.'s Don Yates grades the Commodores' performance in several key team areas.

Vanderbilt quarterbacks completed 20-of-25 passes for 197 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels returned from injury and started for the first time since the Georgia game. Carta Samuels threw for 184 yards while going 19 for 25. Backup quarterback Patton Robinette came in late in the game and tossed a "shot put" pass up the middle to Kris Kentera for 13 yards and a Vanderbilt touchdown. Jordan Matthews led the Commodores in receiving with 12 catches for 141 yards. Brian Kimbrow and Jerron Seymour each had two catches for short gains. Trent Pruitt, Trey Wilkins, Jordan Cunningham and Kentera all had one catch. Pruitt in particular made a difficult catch on third and long for VU to keep a drive going. Vandy's blockers allowed three sacks of Carta-Samuels.

Vanderbilt gained 116 yards on 37 carries for a 3.1 yard per carry average. That's not great, especially against a two win team. It was even worse in the first half but in the second half the 'Dores picked things up and took care of business. Jerron Seymour continues to be the most reliable of the Vandy running backs. He finished with 77 yards on 21 carries for a 3.7 yard average. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews had a couple carries for 31 yards. He had a nice end around run that got gained 28 yards, the longest run of the game for either team. Brian Kimbrow continues to show improvement running the ball. He had 10 carries for 27 yards and scored one of Vandy's two touchdowns during the game off a 21-yard run up the middle in a run that culminated with a dive into the end zone. It's the second year in a row that Kimbrow has scored a touchdown on the Wildcats.

An outstanding performance by the VU defense. Vandy's passing defense allowed Kentucky quarterback Jalen Whitlow to complete 14-of-28 passes for 120 yards on 14 for 28 passing. For the second game in a row Vandy's defense had a field day intercepting passes. Vandy came up with four interceptions and the team scored two touchdowns off those turnovers (one was just before the half). It all started with an interception by Andre Hal late in the first quarter. Paris Head then picked off another pass in the second quarter to thwart a Kentucky drive that had reached mid-field. Andrew Williamson had the third interception when he intercepted a long throw by Whitlow in the end zone. Kenny Ladler had the final pick of the game late in the fourth quarter when he intercepted a Whitlow pass at the UK 32. Javon Marshall, Jared Morse (2), Andre Hal and Adam Butler all broke up UK passes. Morse had the only sack of the game for Vanderbilt.

Kentucky gained 142 yards on 40 carries (3.5 YPC). Whitlow led the Wildcat rushing attack gaining 69 yards on 17 carries (4.1 YPC). Raymond Sanders gained 60 yards on 14 attempts (4.3 YPC). The Wildcats got a touchdown, their only score of the game, off JoJo Kemp who scored on a 2-yard run in the UK opening drive. Kemp finished with 20 yards on seven carries (2.9 YPC). Safety Kenny Ladler led the 'Dores in tackles with 8. Karl Butler, Darreon Herring and Javon Marshall each had six tackles. Including the lone sack, Vandy had 10 tackles for losses.

Vandy's Carey Spear made 2-of-3 field goals including a long of 38 yards. He missed his first attempt in the third quarter (34 yards) and then made one from 26 yards early in the fourth quarter. Later in the fourth he canned his long of the day to give Vandy a 15-6 lead. Taylor Hudson had a solid day of punting with five punts for a 46.4 average. His five punts traveled 41, 42, 48, 69 and 32 yards. The 69 yarder went all the way to the UK 4-yard line before being returned five yards. Vandy's field goal coverage team made a big play when Adam Butler blocked the UK kicker's kick and Steven Clarke returned the ball 98 yards for two Commodore points. Butler blocked multiple kicks in high school so more of this is to be expected. Darrius Sims had one kickoff return for 18 yards. At least he got past the 25. Paris Head had a 12 yard kick return to the VU 18. There were no significant returns by either team's punt return unit and no major breakdowns by the Commodore kickoff coverage team.

Despite Franklin's emphasis on taking one game at a time it was obvious the team was somewhat flat in this game. They woke up in the second half and took control. The Commodores won the turnover battle with zero turnovers to the Cat's four. Vandy also won the penalty although that was much closer (UK 10-85 yds to VU 9-74 yds). Vandy converted on just 4-of-15 third downs but made up for it by converting on 2-of-3 fourth downs. The VU staff successfully rolled the dice early on going for it on fourth and 1 at their own 27. It's ironic that in the past Commodore staffs have punted at opponent's 30.

It's wasn't perfect but the end result was what we wanted. Three SEC wins is something Vandy fans would have been celebrating in the past. It's business as usual now and we want more. Now the team must face an improved but beatable UT squad in Knoxville. If the Commodores can pull off a win they will have done something that hasn't been accomplished since 1925-26 and that is beat Tennessee two seasons in a row. Another one to add to Franklin's long list of achievements.

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