Vanderbilt Report Card: Houston

Vanderbilt defeated Houston 41-24 on Saturday in the BBVA Compass Bowl.'s Don Yates grades the Commodores' performance in several key team areas.

Patton Robinette completed 6-of-19 passes for 154 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Matthews caught all Robinett's passes and broke the BBVA Compass Bowl record for receiving yards in the first half with 143 yards. Matthews notched his 19th career 100-yard receiving game and finishes his career with 262 receptions, 3,759 yards and 24 touchdowns. This season Matthews had 112 catches for 1,477 yards and seven TDs. Commodore blockers, led by Wesley Johnson who added to a program record for career starts at 51, allowed just one sack.

Vanderbilt gained 211 yards on 52 carries (4.1 YPC) and scored three rushing TDs. It was Vandy's best rushing game of the season after the UAB game (206 yards, 5.9 YPC) Jerron Seymour gained a game leading 89 yards on 20 carries (4.4 YPC). Seymour's two-yard TD in the fourth quarter matched Zac Stacy's school record with 14 rushing scores this season. Brian Kimbrow ran for 75 yards on just 13 carries for a 5.8 yard per carry average. He scored his third rushing TD of the season in the fourth quarter with a 21-yard run to put the Commodores back on top. Patton Robinette rushed for 37 yards on 15 carries for a 2.5 yard per carry average. Robinette's longest run was an 8-yard scoring carry in the first quarter that put his team up 14-0. Vandy went to the wildcat in the fourth quarter with great results. In all, Vandy ran 17 times for 86 yards and two touchdowns in the final quarter and passed just twice (both incompletions).

Vanderbilt held Houston's heralded freshman quarterback John O'Korn to 20 completions on 47 attempts for 228 yards, two interceptions and two touchdowns. O'Korn had only thrown a total of eight interceptions in the Cougars' other 12 games. Jahmel McIntosh intercepted the first pass of his career in the fourth quarter and returned it inside the Houston 20-yard line. Andre Hal's sixth career interception late in the game set up the Commodores at the Houston 2-yard line. Hal led the Commodores matching career-bests with nine tackles and three pass break ups. Vanderbilt sacked Houston four times. Vanderbilt tied Houston opponent Rutgers for the most sacks given up by the Cougars in a game. Vandy's Karl Butler, Stephen Weatherly and Barron Dixon all had sacks. Kyle Woestmann and Darreon Herring combined for another sack.

Vanderbilt limited Houston to 146 yards rushing on 27 carries. Kenneth Farrow scored the Cougars only rushing TD of the game on a 6-yard run up the middle in the third quarter. That score got the Cougar rally going. Daniel Spencer had a 62-yard run to put the Cougars in position for their second touchdown. Karl Butler and Stephen Weatherly each had two tackles for loss on the day to lead the Dores in that category. Andre Hal led Vandy in tackles with nine, six of those were solo stops. In the first quarter the Commodores limited Houston's high powered offense to just 21 yards total offense including 16 rushing yards.

Carey Spear's 24-yard field goal in the second quarter set the school record for single-season scoring with 93 points. Spear's 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter gave him two field goals on the day and marked his fourth multi-field goal game in the team's last five games. Colby Cooke started as the 'Dores punter. Cooke punted 10 times in the game for an average of 45.2, placing six punts inside the 20-yard line. Vanderbilt gave up a 62-yard kickoff return to Houston's Demarcus Ayers late in the third quarter.

Vanderbilt improved to 22-for-28 on fourth down this year when Patton Robinette converted for the team's second touchdown of the day. The Commodores finished the day 4-for-4 in the red zone to improve to 50-for-56 (89%) for the season scoring points in the red zone. When Houston rallied to tie the score at 24 in the third quarter, James Franklin nearly abandoned the pass and went on a running rampage while relying on the wildcat to pull out a bowl win. Franklin has done well to keep his team focused despite the offseason travesty and his name constantly being in the media as a possible coaching replacement.

Vanderbilt took control early in the game and then re-grouped when Houston made its third quarter rally. The Commodores weren't perfect but they at least made the plays they had to when the game was on the line. Vandy did have three turnovers but finished the game with a zero turnover margin by forcing three from the Cougars. Houston had feasted on the turnover all season, until Saturday. The bowl win was just the fourth in the program's history and was surely the most exciting of them all.

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