Monday, September 12, 2011

Vanderbilt Beats UConn - General Excitement Ensues

James Franklin is off to a hot start as the Commodores advanced to 2-0 after beating UConn on Saturday.

Perhaps more important, however, is the way the 'Dores won. After coming out of the gates with 14 points in the first, Vandy let UConn get back in the game in the second half with two untimely mistakes. In the third quarter, Richard Kent's punt was blocked as the 'Dores were pushed back against their own end zone, and was recovered in the end zone by UConn's Byron Jones for a touchdown that brought the score to 14-13. Then in the fourth quarter, Larry Smith was clocked on 3rd and 8, forcing him to fumble. The ball was scooped up by Yawin Smallwood and returned 64 yards for a touchdown. UConn then converted to bring the score to 21-14.

But where other Vandy teams might have wilted, this one stood strong, thanks to the help of an extremely opportunistic defense. Casey Heyward intercepted a pass from UConn QB Johnny McEntee and returned it 50 yards for a TD to tie the game with 6:45 left in the fourth. Then, with 2:56 left, Carey Spear drilled a 31 yard field goal to give the team it's winning lead at 21-14.

The game was a display of strong defensive effort. Vanderbilt held UConn to 193 total yards, allowing just 104 yards through the air. Additionally, Vanderbilt picked three balls off thanks to the efforts of Hayward, Kenny Ladler and Javon Marshall. Vanderbilt also sacked McEntee five times, with Tim Fugger picking up two, and Rob Lohr picking up one to go along with his 3 other tackles for loss.

Offensively, Vanderbilt still sputtered, but showed some big play burst that simply lacked under the old regime. Larry Smith's 42 yard strike to Chris Boyd off play action in the first quarter was a thing of beauty, as was his nice 31 yard loft to John Cole. Freshman Jerron Seymour showed a tremendous amount of burst as the Commodores are attempting to rest Warren Norman for as long as they can. However, it was difficult to find positives in the offensive performance after the first quarter. Vanderbilt allowed Larry Smith to be sacked seven times, including a couple real whoppers. At that rate, we'll need every QB on the roster simply as an injury concern. Larry started out the game 5 for 6, but finished the game only 12 for 24 for 141 yards, the majority of which were gained in the first quarter.

Still, there are signs that the Vanderbilt program is on the rise. ESPN now projects the 'Dores to make a bowl game, which may be a bit premature, but is certainly viable after Vandy's first 2-0 start since the 2008 season. All in all, fans in VSL Nation should be pleased with the opening to the James Franklin era, and also with the fact that Coach Franklin himself is not pleased (and thus expects more).


Andrew Smith said...

I'm not sure we watched the same game. The defense, granted, looked absolutely marvelous. The offense, on the other hand, left me feeling as bad after this win as I normally feel after a crushing loss.

Larry Smith ranks high on the list of bad Vanderbilt QBs. The first quarter strike was no thing of beauty. It was a layup for any competent QB. He had all day and the receiver was wide open. As for the rest of his day, he made a really bad decision on at least half of his passing attempt. How many times did he throw into blanket double coverage? Seven. How many times did he throw a ball across the field at a low enough trajectory to get picked off? Three. If UConn's D could catch at all, he'd have had seven interceptions at least.

And the O line might have been even worse. Every single member of it was beaten, basically immediately, on almost every single play. We had to run all those absurd sweeps because we had no control whatever of the line of scrimmage, even though UConn was not crowding the box. And this, I remind you, was a Big East school. There are not a lot of players on that UConn D who could start at any SEC school.

Anonymous said...

Wow...that's pretty strong Andrew. I was at the game and would credit Vandy with the victory rather than down-play the Uconn level of talent or mistakes made by Uconn. CJF understands that this program must take small steps to build a winning foundation. Complaining about LS after a win seems, well a little small-minded. If I had one objective complaint about the Vandy effort, it would be the domination at times by the Uconn front 4 against the Vandy O-line. When LS was given time, it seemed that he made proper reads but he still holds on to the ball a split-second too long. From the game I saw, your complaints and frustration should be directetd at the O-line, not LS in this game. He took a pounding.I will take 2-0 with Ole Miss coming to our place anytime. Given that CJF does not even have 1 full year of his own recruiting class, I really like where we are headed. Andrew, would be happier if Robbie Caldwell ( or BJ) was on the sideline calling that game especially in the 2nd half ? Go Dores !

Anonymous said...

Ole Miss game is HUGE Saturday! If we want to make it to a bowl game this year, we have to beat Ole Miss.

Elon - W
UConn - W
Ole Miss

We can win the rest of those games. Plus, we could pull an upset. Go Dores!

Anonymous said...

Oh and no one bad mouth Bobby Johnson. Our football program would still be waiting to go to a bowl game if it wasnt for him

Stanimal said...

No bad-mouthing at all. Just stating that we were a lot more conservative offensively with him than we seem to be now.

I agree with Anonymous at 8:47's analysis. I believe we can win each of those last games, particularly with our defensive play. That will be enough to get us into a bowl game, which would be an incredible feat for James Franklin in his first year.