Vanderbilt was totally dominated both offensively and defensively in a 59-0 loss to Alabama. Prior to the game, VandyMania established three keys to a Commodore victory. We will now review those three keys.
1) SLOW DOWN JALEN HURTS - FAIL
Hurts finished the game with 78 yards passing and 48 yards rushing; nothing to write home about but he ran the offense very effectively. On the day the Crimson Tide mostly slashed through the Vandy offense gaining 7 to 12 yards on most plays. While they didn't get too many explosive plays (25 or yards, 3), they got enough yardage to easily keep drives going and keep the Vandy defense on the field in the sweltering heat.
2) VANDY HAS A BALANCED OFFENSIVE ATTACK - FAIL
Technically it could be said that Vanderbilt had a balanced offensive attack. The 'Dores had whopping 40 yards rushing and 38 passing. However, this key surmised that Vandy would have some kind of a significant offensive threat. That wasn't the case, for whatever reason. Vandy had just 38 offensive plays to Alabama's 93. That's well over double Vandy's number. Early on it looked like Vandy might compete. Kyle Shurmur and Vanderbilt gained two first downs on the first two possessions but after that, they would get only one more in the game, late in the fourth quarter.
3) SOLID SPECIAL TEAMS - PUSH
Sam Loy actually punted pretty well in this game, averaging almost 44 yards a boot. Tommy Openshaw was solid on kickoffs, all one of them. Really, not much to complain about on special teams. VU did miss an opportunity to recover a punt return muffed by Bama. The player had signaled a fair catch and I don't know if the VU coverage guys had slowed up getting down the field or what but Bama recovered the ball. Could have been an opportunity for Vandy to score some points or at least give the Commodore defense some more time to cool off. After a stinker game like this, I can't give anything a "Pass."
Saturday was a disaster of a game. It was a day when nothing went right and things snowballed on the 'Dores. Is Vandy as bad as the score looked? They were for that one game. I think the early interception and then the deflected pass that ended up being a big Bama gain kind of took the air out of the 'Dores. The good news is that Saturday's loss only counts as one 'L' in the VU win/loss record. There are eight games remaining for the Commodores to make things better. I think this was a game that the stars didn't align correctly for the 'Dores. Vandy likely had a little hangover going after the emotional KSU win. Meanwhile, Bama was coming off a subpar performance against Colorado State, by Alabama standards. They likely had a hard week of practice and were more than ready for what was thought to be a very formidable Vandy team. Add in the crowd disparity that likely disheartened the VU players, even though Trent Sherfield stated after the game that the crowd didn't bother the players. I think the crowd likely fired Bama up even more. How often does a team go into an opposing SEC stadium and see more of their own fans than the opponent's? Back in the day 1960s-1990s when VU played Bama every year this was a normal occurrence. This Bama team had never experienced that before.