Vanderbilt defeated No. 18 Kansas State on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium. Prior to the game, VandyMania.com established three keys to defeating the Wildcats. We will now review those three keys.
1. PUT THE HURTZ ON JESSE ERTZ - PUSH
Ertz gained 126 yards on 24 carries with a long run of 27 yards. He was far from contained but when the game was on the line Vandy got the job done with Oren Burks and Ladarius Wiley making the stop on fourth down, one yard short of a first. Ertz had slipped and slashed through and around the VU D all night but on that fateful final play he was snagged just short. When you get down to it this game came down to two good quarterbacks making key runs or not. Ironically Shurmur, who netted one yard rushing all night, somehow made his way into the end zone after a botch snap for the winning TD. Ertz, who mostly ran wild all night, could not get that one final yard.
2. PUT A BODY OR TWO ON DE REGGIE WALKER - PASS
Vandy limited Walker to just two tackles on the night. You could see Walker fighting hard to get to Kyle Shurmur but he never could. Vandy's blockers have had little success with run blocking but part of that could be due to opponents focus on stopping the VU running game. K-State had only one sack all night (by Will Geary) so at least something is working with Vandy's blockers. Let me emphasis blockers and not just the offensive line. Anyone who has seen Ralph Webb's painful block of a blitzer will know what I'm talking about.
3. DOMINATE THE DAY OR AT LEAST THE GAME - PASS
It was pretty much a close battle the entire game but in the end, Vandy did dominate the day. The Commodores had two interceptions to none by KSU, nine tackles for losses to two by the Wildcats and eight passes broken up to two by KSU. Offensively Vandy had seven less total yards and two fewer first downs (13-11) but twice as many points as the Wildcats.
Vanderbilt has won the first of the four "murderer's row" games. The next matchup will be the toughest test of season but something tells me this group Commodores will make a good accounting of themselves.
Kickoff on Saturday against Alabama is at 2:30 pm CT. Wear black and gold, show up early, and be loud!