Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Vandy followed up an impressive performance by laying an egg. After going toe to toe with top 10 Texas A&M in the opener, the Dores were thoroughly outplayed in every facet in their follow-up. Here are five take-aways I had:
Good Seals/Bad Seals
Freshman quarterbacks giveth and they taketh away. Ken Seals had good command of the offense early, finishing the first half 10-16 passing for 96 yard and a touchdown as Vandy held offensive possession for 20 minutes. The second half was a different story. Seals only completed one pass in nine attempts for 17 yards and two costly interceptions. The Dores couldn’t sustain much of anything, only possessing the ball 10 minutes in the half. After throwing two red zone interceptions against Texas A&M, he threw another one in this game. The freshman will have to learn when to try to make a play and when to eat the ball and live for another down.
It was a surprise when walk-on Pierson Cooke won place-kicking duties over presumptive favorite Javon Rice. So far that decision has not paid off. Cooke missed a 22 yard attempt, which should be a gimmie for an SEC kicker, bringing him to 1-3 for the season. No one is arguing this was the difference in a complete blowout, but the miss came at a point when Vandy as still in the game and had the momentum right before the half. The miss seemed to take the wind out of the Commodores’ sails as the tone of the game completely changed from that point.
Veteran Players Gotta Make Plays
While the coaches will take some criticism for the loss, and much of it is deserved, there were still plays to be made that could have completely changed the game. Aside from the easy field goal that was missed, Seals put a pass on the money to Marlow who had nothing but green ahead of him that he just dropped. In all three of the Tigers’ first-half touchdowns, Vandy had DB’s in good position. Receiver Jontre Kirklin was surrounded by defenders on his screen catch, but still managed to slip through to score. Cornerback Elijah Hamilton tripped on the turf as Terrace Marshall blew by for a long touchdown. And I’m still not sure how Frank Coppet, a 5th year senior, failed to haul in an interception on Marshall’s other touchdown. Yes, the coaching was lacking in many ways, but at some point players also have to make plays, especially your veterans.
Running Back by Committee
Je’Veon Marlow and Jamauri Wakefield have split carries through the first two games, almost completely even. Marlow has rushed 33 times for 148 yards (4.5 yards per carry) while the bruising Wakefield has 31 carries for 89 yards (2.9 yards per carry). Even though Marlow has a run over 20 yards in each game, but there still isn’t nearly the explosiveness we saw the last couple of seasons from Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Hopefully the return of Keyon Henry-Brooks will help complement the duo with more of a homerun threat.
Where is the Pass Rush?
While the defensive line was graded the best in the country by Pro Football Focus after week one, the defense still has only one sack after two games to show for it. If opposing quarterbacks continue to have clean jerseys after the game, as Myles Brennan did after this one, Vandy will have little hope of pulling out wins this season. Dayo Odeyingbo needs to play like the star we know he is, and they need more from their better pass rushers like Andre Mintze and Daevion Davis.