Three Keys Revisited Vandy vs CSU

A game in which the ‘Dores rolled out to an 18-3 lead got unnecessarily close by the end as Vanderbilt squeaked out a 21-20 victory over Charleston Southern of the Big South. If you go by the mantra that a win is a win then this game will have pleased you greatly.

For anyone else the flashing signs of positivity and youth are being offset by mistakes and concentration lapses which have come to define this season. Here is a look back at the three keys.

1) Make the run the focus – Pass

On Saturday Vanderbilt quarterbacks threw 15 passes and the ball was rushed 31 times. With Jerron Seymour sitting out for an unspecified violation of team policy it was left to Ralph Webb and Dallas Rivers to shoulder the workload and each did so in a very able manner. Behind a line which still seems far too hesitant and mistake prone in their run blocking, the two lead backs combined to rush 26 times for 103 yards, or just about 4 yards per carry.

Rivers was the slightly more effective of the two backs as his 225 pound frame was breaking tackles and dragging defenders as the Buccaneers started to load the box. The ground game would have looked even more viable if a number of decent length runs including one really big play in the second half had not been called back on highly debatable holding calls.

2) Take advantage of sloppy play - Fail

The ‘Dores were not able to take advantage of the Charleston Southern sloppy play by actually being worse than their visitors. Both teams threw an interception and both had 10 penalties called on them, but the big play which defined this area of the game was the blocked punt at the end of the first half. With everything that has happened to the Commodores this year the special teams have actually been a positive, but a blocked punt at your own end of the field with 45 seconds left on the clock simply cannot happen. Give the black and gold credit for the way they rebounded from this to still end the half with a field goal, but the blocked punt game life to a team which was on the verge of being dead.

3) Make the Buccaneers kick field goals – Pass

The Vanderbilt defense was gashed by the run all day (giving up 199 yards to an FCS team) but the unit did do a great job of stiffening in the red zone and forcing the Buccaneers to take field goals instead of touchdowns. The CSU offense only scored one touchdown, the other score was of course the aforementioned blocked punt return, and it would make sense with how this season has gone that Bucs kicker David Kennedy would have his best game of the year in Nashville. Giving up three is always better than giving up seven and the Commodores defense can certainly take something from the way they ended Charleston Southern’s drives.

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