Good, Bad & Ugly: Vanderbilt falls to South Carolina

Vanderbilt football suffered a punch in the stomach on Thursday night when the Commodores allowed a 10-0 lead to slip away and ultimately suffered their third straight season-opening loss to non-juggernaut opposition under Derek Mason.


The Commodores were getting it done on both sides of the ball.  Vandy gained 76 yards including 51 yards rushing and 25 yards passing on 4-of-6 completions by Kyle Shurmur.  The Commodore offense piled up six first downs and while special teams recovered a muffed punt to set Vandy up for its first points of the game, a 36-yard field goal by Tommy Openshaw.  Vandy's defense limited the Gamecocks to just 23 yards of offense in the opening stanza.  Some other good things:  Khari Blasingame and Ralph Webb's running (165 yards combined). Zach Cunningham and Oren Burks' defensive play. Kick/punt coverage teams along with Sam Loy's punting and nice hang time. 


Vandy had the offense clicking early and things were looking good. However, in order to provide backup quarterback Wade Freebeck some experience, the coaches opted to insert him into the game after Vanderbilt had scored a touchdown and taken a 10-0 lead. Excuse me, but if you ordain your starting quarterback before fall camp he must be pretty darn good and well ahead of the others.  A 10-0 lead is nothing in the SEC. You leave your best guy in.  The move wrecked Shurmur's confidence and threw his rhythm off along with destroying Vandy's momentum. There were good intentions with the decision to insert Freebeck, and Freebeck's play in itself did not harm Vandy's chances, but the substitution ultimately caused another Vanderbilt loss and now makes the road to a Vandy bowl game much rougher. Some other bad things:  Passiveness on offense that allowed USC to slowly come back and win.  No answers for former walk-on quarterback Perry Orth... two years in a row. 


The sight of jubilant South Carolina fans celebrating throughout Vanderbilt Stadium was absolutely disgusting and ugly. Vanderbilt gets the dubious honor of being the only SEC win for South Carolina in 2015 and now likely again in 2016.  With wise decision making along with some better play making both those games would have been Vanderbilt wins. 

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