Vandy Wins, Mason Emotional, Ralph Webb Runs Into History

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Derek Mason and his Vanderbilt Commodores wait to take the field against Western Kentucky. Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, TN on November 4, 2017. Photo by Kate Pearson-Halyburton, LWOS

Vandy Wins, Mason Emotional, Ralph Webb Runs Into History

Vanderbilt Commodore C.J. Duncan #19 lifts Trey Ellis #36 in celebration after his first career touchdown. Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, TN on November 4, 2017. Photo by Kate Pearson-Halyburton, LWOS

The Dores have been on the skids since their game against Alabama. On Saturday, an unusually warm November day, Vanderbilt lined up against Western Kentucky in front of a crowd of hundreds. The loyal few that showed up witnessed Ralph Webb breaking records as well as a Top 10 highlight-worthy touchdown from Trey Ellis. They started fast and finished strong with a much needed 31-17 victory over the Hilltoppers.

 

 

Love The Process

Kalijah Lipscomb #16 of The Vanderbilt Commodores advances 11 yards on the first play of the game. Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, TN on November 4, 2017. Photo by Kate Pearson-Halyburton

Life is tough in the SEC, fans are fickle, and Vandy is having growing pains. Derek Mason and the team he is building at Vanderbilt is on the cusp of greatness. I have said it more than once, and I will continue to say it until it comes to fruition: Derek Mason is building a great Vanderbilt football program. Greatness is not achieved overnight; it is a process.  When you are building it correctly, it is a slow process. There will always be ups and there will always be setbacks. As long as you trust and love the process, it will continue to grow for the greater good. Countless players have spoken of the Mason-ism ‘love the process’, and they are trusting the process. Now more than ever, the Commodore fans need to love the process.

Offense Offense Offense

Jared Souther #71, Nathan Marcus #83 and Justin Skule #58 make running room for Ralph Webb #7 of The Vanderbilt Commodores. Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, TN on November 4, 2017. Photo by Kate Pearson-Halyburton, LWOS

Ralph Webb showed up ready to work on Saturday. He is running deeper into the Vanderbilt history books as he added yet another 100-yard game to his resume, with 23 carries for 104 yards. He also broke Zac Stacy’s career touchdown record of 31. Webb moved up 11th on the SEC all-time rushing list with 3,885 career yards. Trey Ellis was Johnny on the spot with fast reflexes as a pass from Kyle Shurmur bounced off a WKU defender. Ellis caught the ball and high tailed it into the end zone to put Vandy up 21-14 in the second quarter. The Vanderbilt offense is playing well. They are consistently putting points on the board. With three more conference games left to play, they will need to keep firing on all cylinders. Kentucky and Missouri have been playing well the last few games and will be fighting for wins. Tennessee is anyone’s game and at the end of the night, it will come down to who wants the win more.

Defense Defense Defense

Vanderbilt Commodore Oren Burks #20 tackles Western Kentucky’s Jakairi Moses. Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, TN on November 4, 2017. Photo by Kate Pearson-Halyburton, LWOS

The Black Death defense held The Hilltoppers to three points in the second half and racked up six sacks as well as 10.5 tackles for loss. If you look at the box score, it was a true team effort on defense with 22 different defenders on 69 tackles. The Hilltoppers still managed 355 passing yards but negative six rushing yards. The defense looked good and seems to be back on track. Mason will have them ready for a strong finish in their final three games of the regular season.

Football Is Emotional

If you wonder why Mason gets emotional when speaking about Ralph Webb, you need to understand the amount of work that these coaches pour into their teams. The coaches spend as much time, if not more, with their football players than they do their own children.  The relationship between coach and player is like no other.

I know firsthand how strong that bond is, so when Mason gets emotional in the post-game presser and says “I love that dude, it is hard sometimes. You coach a lot of kids. You coach a lot of young men. They work hard, they play hard. Ralph Webb is as good as it gets. I’ll take that dude with me anytime, any place, anywhere. He comes to practice. You know he’s hurt. He gets through it, he works through it. Again, a lot of times why you see so much emotion from me is because we love each other. You know? Man, I love these kids.  And these kids love me. And we work hard for one another, but that dude is just consistent. Nobody knew his name when he walked in here, everybody’s going to know his name when he leaves. And that’s what’s special.” It is hard not to get choked up right along with him.

1-0

Ultimately, Vanderbilt needs to keep the momentum going and continue to strive for 1-0 these last three weeks of the regular season. College football ebbs and flows, and any given Saturday can be the best game or the worst game ever. If you have ever cheered for the Commodores, if you were on the bandwagon last November, please make an effort to get to a game. There are two more left at Dudley. I feel confident in saying Coach Mason and this 2017 team would love your support. You will get the distinct pleasure of saying “I got to see Ralph Webb when…” Webb is a genuine talent. This football team and this coaching staff are full of amazing men doing great things. They deserve your time and attention. Looking forward to seeing you next Saturday and Anchor Down!

Main Photo Credit:

Derek Mason and his Vanderbilt Commodores wait to take the field against Western Kentucky. Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, TN on November 4, 2017. Photo by Kate Pearson-Halyburton, LWOS

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