Vanderbilt Report Card: Tennessee

Vanderbilt defeated rival Tennessee 14-10 on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.'s Don Yates grades the Commodores' performance in several key team areas.

We've seen much better in the Vandy passing game this season. The Commodores finished with 195 yards passing after completing 24-of-37 passes for an interception and no touchdowns. Vandy played both Patton Robinette and Austyn Carta-Samuels throughout the game. Carta-Samuels got more reps and completed 21-of-27 passes for 181 yards no touchdowns. He had an interception in the first half in which there was no Vandy receiver in the area he threw to. Carta-Samuels did make some good throws though. Patton Robinette completed 3-of-4 passes for 14 yards. Both Robinette and Carta-Samuels favorite target was none other than Jordan Matthews who piled up 13 catches to set the new SEC record for career receptions. Probably the biggest catch of Matthews's career came late in the fourth quarter when he snared a 25-yarder from Carta-Samuels on first down to put Vandy at the Vol 5. We all know what happened two plays later. Wesley Tate is back and he helps the game both running and catching. Against the Vols Tate had five catches for mostly short yardage but he did have one for seven yards. Jonathan Krause and Jerron Seymour each had three catches. Vandy's blockers had one of their finest games of the season. The Commodores allowed no sacks.

Vandy's rushing game isn't what it was last season with Zac Stacy now a St. Louis Ram. However, even though the team isn't piling up rushing yards (Vandy had 90 in this game), the Commodore have been able to punch some TDs in the end zone via the ground game. With two touchdowns against Tennessee, Vanderbilt has now scored 30 TDs by running the ball in 2013. Compare that to 12 TDs by passing even though the 'Dores average about 100 yards more per game through the air. Wesley Tate, who hadn't had a carry in the past two games, finished with 10 carries for 43 yards. You could tell he was playing angry because he was fighting for every inch and not going down easily. Jerron Seymour started the game and scored the first touchdown of the game on a 4-yard run in the first quarter. However, he was injured (along with about a dozen other Commodores!) and had to leave the game. He finished with five carries for 12 yard. Patton Robinette was the 'Dores second leading rusher with eight carries for 36 yards. In a play that will forever be recalled in the annals of Vanderbilt football history, he scored the game winner on a 5-yard run after faking a jump pass.

It was another amazing effort by Vandy's pass defense. The 'Dores held UT's passing attack to just to just 53 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. Starting Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs was 11 for 19 for two interception. His longest completion was for 23 yards to Pig Howard. Kenny Ladler and Paris Head each intercepted Dobbs passes. Head got a second interception when the Vols attempted a fake field goal early in the fourth quarter. Kicker Michael Palardy's pass was thrown poorly and was easily picked off by Head. Darrius Sims broke up a pass. The Commodores had two sacks on Dobbs by Stephen Weatherly and Javon Marshall.

Tennessee gained 184 yards on 45 carries (4.1 YPC) but no run went for more than 16 yards. Tailback Rajion Neal had 22 carries for 95 yards. His second quarter 5-yard run tied the score at seven. Backup Marlin Lane added another 53 yards on 9 carries (5.9 YPC). Vandy middle linebacker Chase Garnham had a whale of a game, piling up a team leading 10 tackles including seven solos. Garnham made a key stop early in the third quarter when he stopped Dobbs way short on a third and long run attempt. Javon Marshall and Walker May each had seven and six tackles respectively.

Adam Butler blocked a kick for the second game in a row to snuff out a UT field goal attempt in the first quarter. Carey Spear missed short his only field goal attempt of the game, from 42 yards. Taylor Hudson struggled punting averaging just 37.8 yards on five punt. One was a touchback and another a downed inside the 20. Hudson had one of his prototypical early game bad punts when he shanked a 15-yard punt after Vandy's first drive. In the fourth quarter he did have a nice 51-yard punt that was fair caught at the UT 13. Darrius Sims nearly took a kickoff return to the house in the second quarter with a 71-yard return to the Tennessee 26. UT's Devrin Young had a 30-yard punt return.

Now we really know what James Franklin was doing at the end of the UK game with the jump pass. He seemingly ran this play again against UT but instead of throwing he had Robinette fake the throw and then take off running for the winning touchdown. Vanderbilt lost its entire starting defensive secondary but younger players were well prepared to step in for the veterans. There has been times over the past two years when some observers have asked "why aren't all the Franklin multi star recruits in the game?" They aren't asking now as players like Paris Head, Adam Butler, Caleb Azubike, Patton Robinette, Austyn Carta-Samuels and others have contributed well on the field.

Talk about never giving up. This was a true test of a team's perseverance. Vandy shot itself in the foot multiple times with fumbles in the red zone and lame penalties in the red zone. The team also experienced several very poor spots by officials along with clock running errors. And this was a day when the ball just didn't seem to ever bounce Vandy's way. However, the team and staff kept grinding before finally pulling out the win at the end. The staff also showed its innovation by inserting Jordan Matthews in the game as a DB on the final play of the game. Matthews helped keep the Vols from making a miracle play that was have prevented Vandy's monumental win.. and another bowl less Volunteer season.

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