That reserve's name is one that should be familiar to Nashvillians. Ethan Flatt, a redshirt sophomore from Nashville David Lipscomb High School, came off the bench to complete 5-of-12 passes for 63 yards vs. Alabama late in the game, including a 6-yard scoring toss to tight end Eric Rice.
Before the season Spurlock, a junior, was expected to be the heir apparent to graduated All-SEC performer Eli Manning. But head coach David Cutcliffe benched Spurlock in the third quarter after watching him throw for only 54 yards on 5-of-15 completions.
Cutcliffe said after the game that both performances would be evaluated, and playing time decisions would be made based on practices this week.
"We just weren't getting it done much," Cutcliffe said after watching Ole Miss fall to 0-2 for the first time in 17 years. "Michael just didn't get it done and we had talked about going in if we were inconsistent again. We wanted to let Michael see it from the sidelines. Ethan came in and did a good job, so we decided to stay with him. It doesn't mean anything at this time (for next week)."
After two games Ole Miss, which led the league in total offense a year ago with Eli Manning at the controls, is averaging just 216 yards of total offense per game. The Rebels dropped their opener to Memphis, 20-13, on Sept. 4.
"We blew some opportunities early in this game," Cutcliffe said. "We tried to get some momentum going. We had field position and maybe an opportunity to go up in the ballgame, but we didn't take advantage of it and from there it just got worse."
Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson is in Birmingham Monday to speak to the Touchdown Club. The Commodores practiced Sunday, have Monday off and will return to the practice field Tuesday in preparation for Saturday's 11:30 a.m. CT game at Ole Miss (Jefferson-Pilot TV, 104.5 The Zone).
After viewing film of Vanderbilt's 31-6 opening loss to South Carolina, Johnson said he was encouraged by the fact his team never gave up.
"Even when we threw that last interception [returned 98 yards for a touchdown by Jamacia Jackson], we had 11 guys trying hard to chase that guy down. We didn't catch him of course, because he had a good head start on everybody. But our players didn't quit.
"We don't plan on quitting on the season. We're going to come back and try to get ready for Mississippi."
Johnson was asked last week if he had watched one of his former players, M.J. Garrett, on TV's "The Real World: Philadelphia", and whether he was a fan of reality TV shows.
"I have never watched a reality TV show," Johnson said flatly, "and probably never will. But M.J. is a good guy, and I hope everything works out for him as well as it can."
Talk about this story on our Vanderbilt football message board.