You wouldn’t know it from the final score, but there was tangible progress in Vanderbilt’s 42-0 loss to
For a half anyway, the Commodores looked like they belonged on the same field as the Gators. The
total yardage was almost even – 215 for Florida versus 200 for Vanderbilt. The Commodores were
dominating time of possession, 19:50 to 10:10. Unfortunately, the scoreboard still read 21-0, and
therein lies the story of the game for Vanderbilt – missed opportunities in the first half.
Vandy easily could have had 13 points by halftime. “Big Leg” Joseph Bulovas missed two makeable field
goals. But the real gut punch came after Chris Pierce caught what was initially ruled a touchdown
reception just before the half, only to be overturned after a long review that was controversial to say
the least – leaving fans to legitimately wonder if any other program in the SEC would have had the same
“It’s very frustrating,” Vanderbilt head coach Clark Lea said. “When you look at the time of possession in
the first half, we were executing on our formula to try to control the game, try to tax their defense and
stay on the field but we have to find some chunk gains and we have to find the end zone.”
Vandy came out flat in the second half, and never threatened to make a game of it. The Commodores
appeared to stop Florida on their first drive of the second half, but the Gators ran a fake punt that
gained 28 yards.
“From there, it’s the same story as the first half. When we gave up chunk plays on defense, they scored
touchdowns.” Lea said. “When we forced them to drive the field, they stalled out. The breakdown there
early in the second half was about having to eliminate chunk gains.”
For the game, quarterback Ken Seals finished 22 of 43 passing for 192 yards with two interceptions.
Running back Patrick Smith stepped up after an injury to starter Rocko Griffin to finish with a game high
75 yards rushing on 17 carries. Cam Johnson (4 catches) and Devin Boddie Jr. (5 catches) led the
Commodores with 49 receiving yards each.
The results of Vandy’s first two SEC games certainly aren’t pretty – outscored by a combined 104-0 – but
the good news is the Commodores should have a much better chance at pulling an upset with their next
three conference opponents: South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Missouri.
The challenge for Coach Lea and the team is to build on what they showed in the first half against the
Gators. A team with such a razor thin margin of error like Vanderbilt simply must capitalize on their
opportunities. The Commodores clearly won’t ever get a break from officials in SEC games, so they have
to find a way to make their own breaks.
“You come into a season with a base installation and the more you learn about your team, the more you
learn about ways that you can generate successful plays.” Lea said. “You have to continue to adjust and
adapt, and we’re trying to find out what our personnel can do really well, put them in the best positions
to do that. So there will be some things for us to build on. There’ll be some positive points coming out of
this game where we were able to do some of the things that we set out to do, and I think right now for
this program that’s where we’ll focus. We’ll focus on how we respond and how we build further into the
things that we had success doing.”