Vanderbilt defeated MTSU 28-6 on Saturday in Murfreesboro. Prior to the game, VandyMania established three keys to a Commodore victory. We will now review those three keys.
1. PRESSURE BRENT STOCKSTILL - PASS
Vanderbilt sacked Stockstill five times during the game. Outstanding work by the Black Death Defense. Charles Wright came up with three of those while Dare Odeyingbo had a pair. The official stats say that VU had only one quarterback hurry but it looked like there were more to me.
2. LOCK DOWN RICHIE JAMES - PASS
James made 10 receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown. Last year he had 14 receptions for 183 yards and a TD. Ten receptions for 112 yards may not sound like "locking down" but consider that that 74 yards of 112 came in the fourth quarter when the game was all but over and Vandy was playing reserves. James had 27 yards in the first quarter, zero yards in the second quarter, and 23 yards in the third quarter. The Vandy defense did a good job on this future NFL player.
3. VANDY SCORES POINTS - PASS
In the previous three openers under Derek Mason Vanderbilt scored a grand total of 29 points. For us non-Vandy grads, that's under nine points a ball game so 28 points on the road is pretty good. Vandy probably could have scored more but they played it smart and safe in the second half with a 28-point lead. See Texas A&M and that team's 27-point halftime lead that disappeared in the second half to realize why Mason is smarter than Kevin Sumlin. Twenty-eight point leads after halftime are pretty hard to overcome unless the leading team employs dumb clock management or forgets about ball security.
What we saw offensively in this game is that Vanderbilt has a multi-dimensional offense. You can load the box to stop Ralph Webb (24 rushes, 54 yds), which Middle did, but Kyle Shurmur (20-28 for 296, 3 TDs) can pick you apart via several capable receivers.
Hats off to the Commodores for a dominating road win over a local rival. Some of you youngsters may think this win is no big deal but if you were around in the early 2000s to endure the three losses to these guys you'd be much more joyous about this win.
Next up for these formidable 'Dores is a home game against FCS Alabama A&M on Saturday at 3 pm on the SEC Network Alternate Channel. Better look into TV because many Vandy fans have complained they can't access that channel.