Three Keys Revisited Vanderbilt vs. ODU

Don’t look know, but Vanderbilt may have found themselves a starting quarterback. The debacle that was the beginning of this season has been oft visited, but for one afternoon at least it was forgotten as the Commodores looked every bit a competent offensive football team as they basically did anything they wanted against Old Dominion.

Even the final score of 42-28, by far the best end of game total the ‘Dores have put together in 2014, was not indicative of how dominant Vandy was on Saturday. Here is a look back at the three keys. 1) Stop Taylor Heinicke – Pass

The Commodores were able to slow down Taylor Heinicke, but they did so in a different way to how you would have expected going in. Heinicke was 21-of-36 for 291 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, but that falls far short of the 471 yard he put up in his last outing. The Vanderbilt defense was consistent in getting to Heinicke, putting him under pressure in the pocket. A big key to this was that the ‘Dores would not allow the Monarchs to put any kind of run game together, they totaled just 45 yards on the ground, so the front seven could just focus on getting to the quarterback.

The bigger way that Vandy controlled Heinicke however was simply by keeping him off of the field. The run game was the strongest it has been all season as the Commodores ripped off long run after clock churning long run, ripping off 243 yards on 56 carries. The result was that Vandy had the ball for an obscene 45:17 of time, or over three fourths of the game. If Karl Dorrell can tweak his offensive system to be like this then maybe he has a future in Nashville after all.

2) More signs of defensive improvement – Pass

This is the fourth game out of five where the Vandy defense has held an opponent to 24 points or less on offense (one ODU score was on a fumble recovery). As mentioned previously the rushing defense was the key. Even though the Monarchs do like to run an up-tempo, pass heavy attack, they need to be able to run the ball to keep a defense off balance. Vanderbilt completely shut down this attempt at offensive parity with a stifling run defense which made ODU give up on the run. This, plus the way that the score got out of hand a little in the third quarter, gave the defense a downhill pass all day long. Freshmen are making plays all over the field and it is only a matter of time before this defensive unit really starts pushing teams around.

3) Yards after contact/the catch - Pass

There were numerous big plays throughout the game aided by making yards after the play should really have been completed. The most obvious of all of these was the 50-yard catch and run touchdown by tight end David Dudchock in the fourth quarter which really put the game to bed. Dudchok took what was basically a flare pass, shook a couple of defenders, and showed crazy speed for a tight end barreling into the corner of the end zone. It is plays like that which make the pro-style offense effective when it is run right, and it also makes this Vanderbilt team an interesting destination for high level recruits at that position coming out of high school. This Vandy team has athletes, young athletes at that, and Saturday showed that the team has come a long way from the shambles at the start of the year

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