The Vanderbilt Commodores lost to Missouri 45-17 on Saturday night at Vanderbilt Stadium. Prior to the game, three keys were established in order for the Commodores to win the game. We will now review those three keys.
1) LOCK DOWN ON LOCK - FAIL
Vandy actually did a pretty good job on Missouri quarterback Drew Lock. He completed just 10 of 25 passes for 235 yards but 30 percent of his completions (3) went for touchdowns. In this game, it was not a battle of attrition that beat the Commodores. It was three or four explosive plays, two of them were scores by Mizzou's defense and special teams. Vandy allowed a 74-yard punt return for a TD in the second quarter. Just before that score, VU gave up a touchdown on a 42-yard interception return. These two should probably have been discussed under key No. 2. Someone probably deserves to be fired over these special teams breakdowns the past few weeks. As a leader though, how do you fire someone if you haven't performed well at your own responsibilities?
2) ELIMINATE DUMB PLAYS - FAIL
Three interceptions, one returned for the aforementioned TD. Another one, late in the game, was almost returned for a TD. A big, fat lineman outran nearly everyone on Vandy's offense. The punt return for a TD. Ninety percent of teams that experience those two incidents (Int. return for TD, punt ret. for TD) during a game will lose. Furthermore, we have players running around acting foolish over making a basic play when the team is down 35-0. The Commodore Creed says "Play like a champion, live like a champion and practice like a champion." I know the team didn't do two of those three things. For one of them (practice) it looked like we skipped on some important things.
3) STOP THE RUN - PASS
The Commodores did pretty well stopping the run. If you had told me before the game that Mizzou would complete just 10 passes and run for just 191 yards I would have been very excited about Vandy's chances of winning. Again, it was explosive plays along with the pick six and the returned interception for TD that beat Vandy. The Commodores gave them lots of problems on the ground, even stopping them twice on fourth and short. That's something we haven't seen much of all season and this gives us some hope going into the UT game.
As for the UT game, few Vandy observers give the team a shot at winning. However, the Vols are experiencing the same attitude in regard to their chances of victory from their own folks. This game is hard to figure. I hope the team will keep the runs up the middle to a minimum. With as many interceptions as have been thrown the past couple weeks it might make sense to keep it on the ground but at least attack the edges more often than the middle.