The Vanderbilt Commodores Come Up Short
This was a game of almost.
Vanderbilt almost beat South Carolina Thursday night as they kicked off Derek Mason’s third season in Nashville. In the first half, the Vanderbilt defense held South Carolina to 88 yards of offense and recovered two fumbles. Sophomore quarterback Kyle Shurmur came out of the game in the first quarter for two series while back up Wade Freebeck was in. Freebeck had back-to-back three-and-outs before Shurmur returned. This move had the media buzzing, but Mason insisted in the post game presser it was a non-issue. The Dores went into halftime leading the Gamecocks 10-0.
Ralph Webb and former linebacker Khari Blasingame almost broke loose several times for huge gains, and possible touchdowns. They accounted for 165 of the 242 yards of offense Thursday night. Blasingame’s bigger build was a welcome addition to the run game. This dynamic duo kept the ball moving in the right direction, but the Vandy offense failed to keep firing on all cylinders. As Mason said after the game “we were inconsistent…Kyle never found rhythm … you have got to find rhythm. We just didn’t find rhythm”. Vandy almost had rhythm, but some inopportune penalties killed it.
The After Half-time Show
The Gamecocks came out in the second half on a mission. The Commodores came out and gave up 10 unanswered points. With less than eight minutes left in the game, and the score tied 10-10, the Dynamic Duo (Blasingame and Webb) drove 49 yards and was able to get the Commodores in field goal range. Tommy Oppenshaw had a 44-yard attempt that almost went through the uprights but went wide left instead.
South Carolina had 3:44 left on the clock as they took the field late in the fourth quarter. Perry Orth, their veteran quarterback, took advantage of the opportunity and got the Gamecocks into Vandy territory. As the Dores defense tried to push them back, the Gamecocks were left with one option: a career-long field goal for Elliot Fry. And he nailed it, from 55 yards with :41 seconds on the clock. In return, Shurmur tried to get back into field goal range, but the Dores were out of time and out of gas.
Relentless, Tough and Intelligent
As Coach Mason said in his letter to the fans before the South Carolina game, “Something we preach in this program is ‘RTI’: Relentless, Tough and Intelligent.” Well, this Vanderbilt team is going to have to be relentless as they navigate through the rest of the season. The coaches will need to be relentless in their work to get these men ready to compete for all four quarters. This almost win will be a tough pill to swallow, but this team is tough. The Vanderbilt coaches have the understanding and proficiency to guide this team to a winning season. They will use the loss to South Carolina as a learning experience, so that they can readjust the play-calling and turn those almost plays into touchdowns.
This game left the Vanderbilt fans asking, “Are we getting any closer to winning games?”