Vanderbilt Report Card: Mississippi State

Vanderbilt was dominated by Mississippi State 51-0 on Saturday in Starkville.'s Don Yates grades the Commodores' performance in several key team areas.

Vanderbilt's quarterbacks completed 17-of-36 passes for 179 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. You might think that 179 yards is a not bad passing amount against the No. 4 team in the nation but the Bulldogs have given up well over 280 yards per game on average this season. Johnny McCrary completed 15-of-31 passes for 161 yards and an interception. Patton Robinette came in briefly in the second half for McCrary but was hurt and had to replaced himself by McCrary. McCrary then played until late in the fourth quarter when he himself was injured and replaced by Steven Rivers who threw two incompletions into the end zone. Davis Dudchock and Steven Scheu each had three catches. Fullback Kellen Williams had a nice 18-yard catch. Latevius Rayford fumbled after on reception in the second quarter. The ball was returned 51 yards for a Mississippi State TD. Vanderbilt blockers allowed two sacks and State finished with an impressive 10 quarterback hurries.

Vanderbilt needed about 150-200 yards rushing to have a shot at shocking State but gained just 49 yards on 27 rushing attempts (1.8 YPC). Ralph Webb, who averaged about 85 yards rushing per game coming into the MSU game, gained just 14 yards on 11 carries (1.3 YPC). Dallas Rivers had seven carries for 11 yards (1.6 YPC). McCrary was the 'Dores leading ground gainer with 21 yards on 8 carries (2.6 YPC). He had the longest run of the game for Vanderbilt (16 yards).

The Bulldogs, led by Heisman Trophy candidate Dak Prescott, attempted 25 passes and completed 19 of them for 219 yards. MSU averages about 265 yards passing a game so this was somewhat of a victory for Vandy although State likely saw they were having so much success running that they most stuck with that offensive method. MSU has averaged 14.1 yards per catch this season but against Vandy it was 11.5 but the Bulldogs had four passing touchdowns. Vanderbilt's Kyle Woestmann had the only sack of the game for the 'Dores. Vandy's Torren McGaster dropped a likely interception in the second half that might have been returned for a TD>

The Commodores defense was burned for 283 yards on 51 carries (5.5 YPC). Brandon Holloway led the Bulldogs with 68 yards on 10 carries. Josh Robinson had the longest run of the game for MSU, 26 yards. Vanderbilt played without Nigel Bowden. Zach Cunningham replaced Bowden and finished with 13 tackles. Stephen Weatherly had 12 stops.

Tommy Openshaw missed his only field goal attempt of the game from 41 yards. Colby Cooke averaged just 34.8 yards on five punts, way below his average. Vanderbilt had multiple kickoff return opportunities but never got anything significant. On one kickoff return a Vanderbilt player was flagged for an embarrassing unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Vanderbilt's kick/punt return coverage teams gave up no significant returns.

Vanderbilt had two weeks to prepare for the vaunted Bulldogs but you wouldn't know that by watching the game. The players were often out of position and didn't seem to know what to do. Tackling was pitiful with the Bulldog backs sometimes breaking through multiple hand slaps for big gains or scores. The cheap shot unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was an embarrassment to the university.

It was an overall disappointing performance for Vandy in every facet of the game. There were occasional solid plays made but not enough make Vandy competitive against the No. 4 team in the nation. Now the team must put this loss behind them and focus on sending the seniors out with a win. Beat UT!

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