Vanderbilt Report Card: Kentucky

Vanderbilt fell to Kentucky 17-7 on Saturday in Lexington.'s Don Yates grades the Commodores' performance in several key team areas.

Wade Freebeck finished the game completing 8-of-25 passes for 85 yards and three interceptions. He was under siege the entire game and showed courage and poise despite having opposing players on him almost immediately after taking the snap. Freebeck’s top target was C.J. Duncan who made three catches for 48 yards. All three of Freebeck’s interceptions came in the fourth quarter. Vanderbilt’s blockers allowed four sacks of Freebeck. Freebeck’s best pass was a 24-yard first quarter pass to Duncan. Latevius Rayford caught two passes for 21 yards.

UK basically stacked the box and dared Vandy to pass. Vanderbilt gained 54 yards on 22 carries for no touchdowns. The normally reliable Ralph Webb finished with just 44 yards rushing on 13 carries (3.4 YPC). Jerron Seymour played well picking up 33 yards on three carries. Seymour had the longest run (28 yards) of the game in the second quarter that put the ‘Dores at the UK 27.

It wasn’t pretty, especially in the first half, but the the D had their best outing of 2014. Kentucky starter Patrick Towles played the entire game for UK completing 23-of-30 passes for 201 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Towles connected with Ryan Timmons for a 20-yard catch and run in the ‘Cats first drive to put UK up 7-0. Multiple observers would swear that Timmons lost the ball before he crossed the goal line but the spineless SEC officiating crew ruled it a TD and so did the reviewing official. The situation was opposite to the Stephen Rivers “fumble” in the Temple game where the Owl defense returned to the field after seeing the replay on the jumbotron but then the SEC review official upheld the call on the field as a fumble. Vanderbilt recorded four sacks during the game. Darrius Sims picked off the first pass of the season for Vandy in the second quarter when he jumped in front of a Towles pass and then darted 13 yards for a touchdown.

Kentucky gained 183 rushing yards on 50 carries. UK backs Braylon Heard and JoJo Kemp combined for 122 of those yards. Kentucky scored its only legitimate TD during the game in the second quarter when Towles ran the ball in from 1-yard out with 8 seconds to go in the half. Nifae Lealao and Jake Sealand both had fumble recoveries for the 'Dores. Nigel Bowden and Zach Cunningham each had nine tackles to lead the Commodores.

Colby Cooke was solid yet again, averaging 44.8 yards per punt with a long of 63 yards. The 63-yarder was downed at the UK 1 and basically set up the ‘Cats for their 99 yard scoring drive that resulted in the bogus call by the SEC replay official. Vandy didn’t attempt a field goal. Tommy Openshaw made his only extra point attempt of the game. There were no notable returns or breakdowns of kick/punt coverage by either team. UK did have a 36-yard kickoff return.

Vanderbilt is dead last in the FBS in total offense at 255 yards per game. This is offensive. The object of the game is to advance the ball into the opponent’s end zone. With a spring practice, a preseason practice and four weeks of practice into the season this staff is still unable to score an offensive touchdown, even against one of the worst teams in recent SEC history. Does this mean that Vanderbilt is now the conference’s worst team? If yes, the fault lies with the coaches. Derek Mason said before the season that this team was loaded with talent. There are no excuses other than a staff that is trying to squeeze a circle into a square offensively. The team did show some improvement in the penalties department with just two; kudos to the staff for improving in that area.

The defense finally seems to be showing signs of improvement, that’s good because next up is Georgia in an environment twice as hostile as Lexington. The offense laid a goose egg yet again. Hopefully next week Patton Robinette is able to return and help his team get the offense going. Special teams continue to be the most stable segment of this team, thanks to the hard work of the lone holdover, Charles Bankins, from the previous staff. Thank God Derek Mason kept him.

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Also see: Kentucky 17, Vandy 7: The Good, Bad, Ugly Top Stories