Vanderbilt Report Card: Western Carolina

The game is over now: Vanderbilt 45 Western Carolina 0.'s armchair quarterback analyzes every element of the Commodores' performance and assigns a grade to each area.



Western Carolina

Larry Smith showed good accuracy and didn't make any costly mistakes passing the ball. As expected, Vandy's tight ends were in the thick of the receiving action with each catching three passes. A third tight end, Justin Green who is now a wide receiver, scored Vanderbilt's first touchdown of the 2009 season on a 46-yard catch from Smith. Several VU receivers made fine catches but in the first quarter it was especially great to see late signee Collin Ashley snare a 10-yard bullet pass from Smith.
The success of the Vanderbilt rushing game on Saturday night was probably beyond most Vandy fans wildest dreams. Two true freshmen run for over 100 yards each. 433 total yards rushing? Last year Vandy failed to get over 433 total yards offense in a game much less 433 rushing yards. Simply incredible and much of the credit must go to the more experienced Commodore offensive line that bulldozed holes for these backs to run through. A fumble by Smith was the only blemish on the night. Smith needs to use both hands to secure the ball or he's going to have several fumbles at LSU. I'm not really talking about the fumbled away touchdown here either. During other plays he was making contact while scrambling from opposing players and only used one hand to hold the ball. Hopefully the coaches will fix this during practice this week.
Vanderbilt held WCU to only 74 yards passing which is very impressive. Zack Jaynes completed 13 of 25 passes. Those 13 passes were mostly short passes, here they are: 11, 0, 14, 2, 0, 7, 4, 8, 6, 6, 11, 5, and 0 yards. T.J. Greenstone, Chris Marve, and Theron Kadri all recorded sacks for the Commodores. True freshman Eric Samuels had a nice interception of Jaynes' backup and 19-yard return that resulted in three more Vandy points.
We must keep in perspective that this wasn't Florida Vandy was facing but 41 yards rushing, that's stunningly good. 24 rushing attempts for a 1.7 yard per carry average. Big T.J. Greenstone and Adam Smotherman terrorized the undersized Catamount offensive line. Greenstone, by the way, led the Commodores in tackles with 5. Greg Billinger was listed as a Vandy starter at defensive tackle but never registered a tackle.
It's the same old song the past few years. Other than Bryant Hahnfeldt and Greg Johnson, Bobby Johnson has just had bad luck signing kickers. Ryan Fowler came to Vandy highly touted out of high school and yet me missed two of three field goals. Fowler missed badly on a 42 and 32 yarder. He finally connected on a 25 yard field goal just before the game ended. Maybe it was just butterflies but if he has those in a stadium full of black and gold Commodore clad fans what will he do in front of over 80,000 screaming LSU fans? What's up with Brett Upson? He punts went for 42, 7, 24 and 38. One hit the back of one of the offensive linemen; what a disaster. Upson will be okay, we know he can get the job done. He might end up being the VU field goal kicker too. WCU averaged 16 yards per kickoff return and one yard per punt return (2 returns).
Good job getting an offense put in that looks like it's going to help Vanderbilt score more points this season. The defense is looking better than ever despite not having some of their best players on the field. Good job getting lots of players some game experience and giving them a chance to make good plays while not appearing to be running up the score. Punting problems and Larry Smith's lack of ball security are the only issues.
Total domination on both sides of the ball. Bobby Johnson now has reached the .333 win percentage and that may not seem like a lot but when you figure he was just 6-29 after his first three seasons then it sounds a lot better. Work on punting and kicking game (Same as last 7 years).

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