Looks like the Black Death defense may have made a return, at least for one game. Mason's defense held a Gator unit that averaged 450 yards total offense in its first four games to less than 250 offense. That's 2015 season type numbers and good news if you are a Commodore fan. Zach Cunningham led the Commodores with 14 tackles and Adam Butler had five tackles and two sacks for the 'Dores. Although the defense was much improved over previous games this season they missed on at least one interception and Butler, himself, let an almost certain tackle for loss turn into a Gator TD when he let the Florida back slip out of his tackle, a mistake he lamented on after the game.
Wade Freebeck's interception on the Commodores final drive. Freebeck threw the ball into double coverage and the ball bounced off one defender's hands and was caught by another defender. There was enough time left in the game that Freebeck didn't need to roll the dice by throwing in that situation. He could have thrown the ball away or dumped it off to someone closer and near the sideline. Just a bad decision and one he'll likely learn from.
The personal foul called on Landon Stokes that continued a Florida drive for a touchdown. Not sure what happened or who was at fault but it was ugly either way. Whether Stokes lost his temper and lashed out or whether he was provoked by being hit in the face, which is illegal and in which case a call should have been made to off-set penalties.Stoke's big mistake though was turning around and going back to push the UF players. We saw all the pushing and shoving by MTSU a few weeks ago that mostly went uncalled. Now the book is thrown at Vanderbilt for doing something much less than what we saw from some of the Blue Raiders do. Of course, Conference USA officials were used in that game with Middle. Another reason that the NCAA should take control of all Division I officiating.
The Commodores now move on to Kentucky. This game is likely a must-win for Derek Mason who was named No. 9 on the Coaches Hot Seat list by the CampusInsiders.com. Word on the street is that Mason has only a 3-year contract and most big-time boosters are unwilling to tolerate anymore blown victories. Although the coaches "textbook" says that you punt with three timeouts remaining and just over a minute remaining in the game, it was one of those borderline situations that get a coach into trouble if the team loses after his decision. Some will argue that if your more seasoned starting quarterback is not playing, maybe your chances are better to go for it on fourth down to keep your lesser experienced backup from needing to drive 80 yards in about a minute. Others will argue that Mason's plan to punt and then force a Florida punt, which could be blocked, was futile because Vanderbilt has been much more a liability punting with two blocked punts so far this season and a fumble by Sam Loy on Saturday while Vandy has yet to block an opponent's punt.