Three Keys Revisited Vanderbilt at Missouri

Vandy may have returned from Columbia on the wrong end of a 24-14 score line, but compared to earlier VU contests, there are definitely positives coming out of Saturday’s result. Vanderbilt was able to take advantage of a slew of Missouri mistakes and penalties to keep this one close throughout, but were never able to get their noses in front and put real pressure on their hosts.

If the offense and defense can put all the pieces together in just one game this year then the ‘Dores will be very difficult to beat, no matter who they play.

1) Don’t ask too much of Johnny McCrary – Fail

Part of the plan here should have been to establish the run far more than the Commodores were able to. The lack of production from the run game at points this season has been one of the biggest frustrations for all involved with the Vandy program. The school seems to have a stable of backs who are talented, dedicated, and who should be able to control the tempo of games with their running ability. This is especially true when you consider that the ‘Dores offensive line was expected to be the strength of the program in 2014.

On Saturday in Columbia the Vanderbilt running backs combined to rush for 44 yards on 27 carries. That would be an average of a paltry 1.6 yards per carry. Interesting Ralph Webb was the only back to get more than two carries, but the workload (17 touches in total) wasn’t enough to get anything going. Johnny McCrary actually played very well despite getting no support from his backs, save for one horribly advised pass which led to a Missouri interception. All this leaves you wondering how the game would have turned out if the ‘Dores had been able to get a ground game going to help their quarterback in his first start.

2) Neutralize Shane Ray – Pass

Shane Ray came into the game with 10 sacks, two short of the Mizzou season record. Shane Ray left the game with 10 sacks, two short of the Mizzou season record.

In simple terms the Vanderbilt did a great job on Ray in the passing game, negating one of the best speed rushers in the nation and holding him sackless on the day. The line may have not been a factor in the run game, but when McCrary dropped back to throw the main Missouri weapon had little impact on the contest.

3) Win the turnover battle – Fail

The Commodores lost the turnover battle 1-0 as a result of Johnny McCrary’s only really horrible decision of the day. On the first drive of the second half, when the ‘Dores had pulled the game back to 10-7 and had the momentum, McCrary threw a pass off of his back foot into a crowd which Missouri defensive back Braylon Webb picked off. It may not have led directly to a score, but the Tigers were the next team to score after an exchange of punts to go back up by ten points.

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