Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt Report Card: Houston

Vanderbilt fell at Houston 34-0 on Saturday. VandyMania.com's Don Yates grades the Commodores' performance in several key team areas.

PASSING OFFENSE: F

Vandy quarterbacks had almost as many interceptions (3) as they did pass completions (5).   Commodore QBs completed 5 of 20 passes for 44 yards and three interceptions.  Kyle Shurmur started the game and struggled. He was spelled by McCrary late in the first quarter who promptly threw an interception putting Houston at Vandy’s 5-yard line for their first score.   Shurmur then returned to the game and threw an interception. Later Shurmur was knocked out of the game and McCrary returned only to throw a pick that was returned 55-yards for a touchdown.   Latevius Rayford led Vandy with three catches for 37 yards.  Vandy’s blockers, victimized by injuries on the offensive line due to sometimes dirty Houston blocking, allowed three sacks. 

RUSHING OFFENSE: C

Vanderbilt gained 141 yards on 42 carries (3.4 ypc).  Ralph Webb actually had a decent game with 99 yards on 26 carries (3.8 ypc).  His longest run was for 10 yards.  Darrius Sims gained 21 yards on 5 carries (3.8 ypc).  Johnny McCrary had the longest rush of the game (16 yards) and finished with 18 yards on the ground.   Josh Crawford gained 14 yards on four carries (3.5 ypc) but lost a fumble. 

PASSING DEFENSE: B

Vandy’s defense wasn’t as bad as the score indicated.  Houston started six drives in Vandy territory so they had their backs to the wall for nearly the entire game.  The Commodore D held the Cougars to their lowest passing output of the season, although only by 1 yard.  Quarterback Greg Ward Jr., completed 15 of 22 passes for 221 yards and 1 touchdown.  He had an 11-yard scoring pass Demarcus Ayers in the second quarter.   Ayers made a great catch in the back corner of the end zone.  He was actually covered as best as could be expected.  Andrew Williamson, Torren McGastor and  Stephen Weatherly all had pass breakups for the Dores.  Arnold Tarpley and Jay Woods both had 11 yard sacks.  Weatherly and Zach Cunningham shared another sack. 

RUSHING DEFENSE: A

Vandy’s rushing defense also limited the Cougars to their lowest rushing output of the season, 51 carries for 150 yards (2.9 ypc).  That’s the lowest by far rushing total in a game for Houston.  The previous low was 214 yards.  Zach Cunningham led Vandy with nine tackles and had two forced fumbles, recovering one of them.   Darreon Herring had eight tackles.  Stephen Weatherly also recovered a fumble. 

SPECIAL TEAMS:  C

Not sure what has happened to Tommy Openshaw.  Openshaw seems to be getting worse every game both in kicking and punting.  Against Houston he averaged just 38 yards a punt.  Some of those were the “pooch” varieties but he did have one for a paltry 11 yards when he was punting from the Vandy 29.  Thankfully the defense held Houston on that short field.  Colby Cooke had one punt for 43 yards.  Vanderbilt didn’t attempt a field goal during the  game.  Ryan White returned two punts for three yards.  He had a long return of five yards.   White muffed his first return of the game.

COACHING: D

The team was just not prepared for this football game, especially on offense.  This is the second time Vanderbilt has come off of a win and stunk it up.  We saw this three weeks ago when Vandy gifted South Carolina a win.  The offense is a, and I hate to use this term but it fits, a dumpster fire.   If Vanderbilt is to even compete in another football game, something really innovative needs to be done and quick.   Lots of slipping and sliding on the field.   Mason said before the game that the way he prepares for rain is in the indoor practice facility using wet balls.   Maybe he should have taken them outside and turned the sprinklers on if it wasn’t raining.   Not sure why, with the score still tied 0-0, we turnover prone McCrary attempting passes deep in Vandy territory.  If you are going to win ugly, you don’t gift opponents with possessions deep in your own territory.   In my opinion, Vandy’s best bet to compete from here on is to go without a quarterback and run a wildcat scheme using Webb, Sims (if available) and Sherfield.   Maybe McCrary could be part of that but don’t let him pass if there is more than one opposing player on the field. 

 OVERALL GRADE: D

Just an ugly root canal type of game.  I feel for Commodore fans that spent their hard earned money and took the time to drive down to Houston to witness such a depressing performance by the team they love.  Surely there is enough talent on the team for the program to at least compete with an American Athletic Conference team.  This is the second time under Derek Mason that Vanderbilt has been embarrassed in the rain by an AAC team.   


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