Vanderbilt Report Card: Tennessee

Vanderbilt fell to Tennessee 24-17 on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium.'s Don Yates grades the Commodores' performance in several key team areas.

Vanderbilt quarterbacks completed 13-of-30 passes for 149 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Johnny McCrary started the game, was switched out with Patton Robinette, and then re-inserted in the game before Robinette came back in for good in the second quarter. McCrary didn't have one of his better games passing finishing with just 2 completions in seven attempts for 18 yards and an interception. Robinette was did somewhat better moving Vandy down a short field for a field goal score and then firing a pass to Steven Scheu from 36-yards out to tie the score at 10 shortly before halftime. Robinette's stats weren't spectacular but they gave Vandy a chance. He finished with 11 completion in 22 attempts for 131 yards, 1 TD and a pair of interceptions. One of those was a pass that deflected off a receiver and another the Vol DB made a spectacular catch that was at first ruled out-of-bounds but then correctly changed to an interception. Scheu finished with three catches for 62 yards and the TD, Latevius Rayford also had three catches for 35 yards. Chandler Dorrell snared two passes and five other Commodores caught made a single reception. Vandy blockers allowed three sacks.

Vanderbilt gained 123 yards on 36 rushing attempts (3.4 YPC). Ralph Webb finished with 55 yards on 16 carries (3.4 YPC). Robinette gained 37 yards on 12 carries (3.1 YPC) and had the longest run of the game for the 'Dores (20 yards). Vanderbilt needed to do more in this department to have a shot at winning. Webb and Robinette and the others gave their best but some of the schemes which often had runners running up the middle instead of around the ends made it difficult to gain much more yardage on the ground.

The Commodores allowed Tennessee just 92 passing yards on 20 attempts. Joshua Dobbs completed 11-of-20 passes for 92 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns. Torren McGaster made both the interceptions and could have had a third if not for a late hit call that negated it. Vanderbilt got good pressure on Dobbs all game long which contributed to those picks. Vandy's sacked Dobbs three times including one by Adam Butler and another by Stephen Weatherly. Vince Taylor and Zach Cunningham combined for the third.

The Vols gained 170 yards on 45 rushing attempts (3.8 YPC). Dobbs led the Vols with 21 carries for 91 yards and two TDs. The number of yards gained by UT might seem good for the VU defenders but consider that the Vols average only 135 rushing offense a game. Weatherly led the Commodores in tackles with seven. An incredible five of his tackles were for losses. Zach Cunningham also had seven tackles along with 2 1/2 TFLs. Nigel Bowden played this week but only had four tackles.

Tommy Openshaw made his only field goal attempt of the game in the second quarter when he connected on a 36 yard attempt. Colby Cooke had six punts for a 46 yard average including a long of 55 yards. One Cooke punt appeared to lack adequate hang time and was returned 76 yards for a Vol touchdown. Cooke later had a 32-yard punt when punting from his team's own 35. Darrius Sims returned three kickoffs for 47 yard, the longest going for 26 yards. He had another that he caught in the end zone right behind the goal line but then accidentally dropped the ball forward of the goal line. Luckily he was able to pick up the ball and run but the result was Vanderbilt started a drive inside their 10-yard line instead of at the 25. Trey Ellis had two punt returns for six yards.

Looked much improved. The players were fired up and bouncing off the walls. The defense came out challenging the Vols instead of having the DBs play with a huge cushion. Although this was a mediocre opponent at best, Vandy showed that the players are beginning to learn the new defensive system that Mason brought from Stanford. Although there were wasted timeouts and players being in the wrong place at times, my only real complaint of the coaching was with about 90 seconds remaining in the first half when the staff chose to run it up the middle instead of at least trying for a field goal or something. You only get so many offensive opportunities in a game. One little pass might have gone for a TD and could have changed the whole game. We'll never know what would have happened if the team had gone all out for a score in that situation. It's not like VU was ahead by two TDs at that point; they were losing. Within reason, don't ever let off of the gas pedal until the final horn blows.

Yeah, it was another loss and it stinks but the defense looked much better than usual and this led to more offensive success. Now the team must work hard in the off season preparing for 2015. With all the experience coming back the 'Dores should be improved. Who plays quarterback should also easier for the staff. It's obvious that Patton Robinette and Johnny McCrary are the two most qualified QBs. Reports are circulating that Vanderbilt will be making some staff changes. Hopefully there will be some young, innovative coaches coming in with fire in their bellies, ready to help the struggling offense.

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