The Vanderbilt Commodores defeated Tennessee 42-24 on Saturday in Knoxville. Prior to the game, VandyMania.com established three keys for a Commodore victory. We will now review those three keys.
1) WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE - PASS
There weren't many turnovers in this game but the Commodores won the turnover battle. Leading 35-17 in the fourth quarter Taurean Ferguson intercepted a pass thrown by Tennessee's Jarrett Guarantano. Two plays later Vanderbilt led 42-17 after a Ralph Webb 20-yard touchdown run. There were no freebies for the Vols on Saturday as the Commodore offense protected the ball well.
2) STOP JOHN KELLY - PASS
John Kelly is the leading receiver and rusher for the Vols. However, on Saturday he was virtually taken out of the game. Kelly had just 20 yards rushing on 10 carries for a paltry two yards a tote. His longest run was for nine yards. Kelly caught just one pass during the game, for five yards. He was essentially taken out of the game by a 'Dore defense which frustrated him and his Vol teammates for most of the game.
3) SPECIAL TEAMS SHINE - PASS
There were no field goals attempted during the game by Vanderbilt, which was a good thing because it meant the Commodores were scoring touchdowns. Sam Loy attempted only one punt but it was downed inside the 20 after traveling 37 yards. Jamauri Wakefield had a 30-yard kickoff return. Tommy Openshaw was 6-of-6 on extra-point kicks. while there wasn't anything extraordinary here, the special teams did what they were called on to do. They didn't make costly errors that gave the opponent short fields. They didn't allow the opponent big plays to get back in the game. Vandy's special team's players did their job well and shined Saturday.
That's it for the 2017 Vanderbilt football season. The Commodores finish the campaign 5-7 (1-7 SEC). The team got off to a great start but then nose-dived after a disastrous loss to Alabama. Who knows what would have happened if Vandy had played Arkansas instead of Alabama this season? My guess is that the team might have beaten Arkansas but still lost all those other SEC games. Thankfully the Commodores finished 2017 with a win. When you look at the last 50 or so seasons of Vanderbilt football the 'Dores have only ended their season with victories maybe 10 times, if that, so its great to be on a 1-game winning streak heading to the offseason.