Ole Miss RECAP: A Tale Of Two Halves, Yet Again

The Vanderbilt Commodores faced off against the No. 9 ranked Ole Miss Rebels in Nashville on Saturday. This weekend, Vanderbilt was healthier than they have been all season, and maybe even in years. Vanderbilt tried to take advantage against a high-powered Ole Miss team but unfortunately, fell short that afternoon.

Offense Shows Flashes

In the first half against Ole’ Miss, the Vanderbilt offense seemed to be firing on all cylinders. Freshman quarterback AJ Swann continued to show why he is the future of Vanderbilt football. Swann went 27 for 38 on the afternoon, throwing for 281 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Swann also boasted a hearty 150.2 RTG against the Rebels. Swann continues to control the offense with poise and most importantly, with safety. Swann threw no interceptions and had only one fumble on a backward pass to running back Ray Davis

Bleacher Report

The Swann-Sheppard connection continues to grow. Whenever receiver Will Sheppard is on the field he shows why he is the best athlete on the field. Sheppard ended the day with 9 receptions for 87 yards and 1 touchdown.

Overall, the receiving corps had a good day. Seven different players recorded receptions on the afternoon including sophomore Gamarion Carter (3 receptions for 35 yards) who only had one reception all season going into this Saturday. 

Running back Ray Davis also had a day for himself. In what many thought would be a running back by committee group, Davis has emerged as the alpha of the group. Davis had 27 carries for 105 yards and 1 touchdown on the afternoon. What Davis lacks in speed he makes up for in tenacity. He continues to run hard and behind his pads continually. Davis has also shown to be a weapon in the passing game; Davis had 4 receptions for 22 yards on Saturday. 

Lack of Speed on Defense Rears its Head

The first half showing that the Vanderbilt defense had was shocking, to say the least. Ole’ Miss came into this weekend with the number two rushing attack in the SEC led by Quinshon Judkins. The Vanderbilt defense played with purpose in the first half, particularly in the trenches against an elite rushing offense. Vanderbilt held Ole’ Miss to just 45 yards rushing in the first half. Ole’ Miss continued to try and get the running game going but Vanderbilt would not allow it. Unfortunately for the ‘Dories, Ole’ Miss realized all they had to do was attack Vanderbilt over the top and the floodgates would open. 

John Amis, Freelancer

From the beginning of the second half on, Jaxson Dart continued to send bombs over the Vanderbilt secondary as he finished the day 25-32 for a whopping 448 yards through the air. Ole’ Miss found loads of success, particularly when attacking the middle of the field. The Vanderbilt secondary often found themselves duped and allowed receivers to find themselves with lots of green around them.

Vanderbilt’s lack of speed on defense was ever apparent against the Rebels. Vanderbilt defensive backs often found themselves in one-on-one situations with Ole’ Miss receivers and simply lacked the speed to keep up and force them to make a contested catch. 

The Vanderbilt defense finds itself with a Sisyphean task. Play predominately nickel coverage and five to seven yards off the line of scrimmage and defend the pass as best they can, knowing they simply do not have the athletes to stop it while getting gashed up the middle. Or, add an extra linebacker and try to protect the short game and get bombed over top. It is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation for Vanderbilt’s defense and one that can only get better with time and recruiting.

A Trip Down Murders’ Row

Vanderbilt’s hellish schedule continues this next week when they travel to Athens for a date with the Georgia Bulldogs. This will be the third game in a row that Vanderbilt will have played a top-ten opponent, and the second time this season that they have played a top-ten opponent on the road. Nevertheless, this will be a good experience for freshman AJ Swann. The Vanderbilt staff trains and prepares to win every game but for the fans, all you can hope for is for the Commodores to come out of Athens healthy. 

MVPs for Week 6

Offensive MVP: Ray Davis

27 carries for 105 yards, 1 touchdown

4 receptions for 22 yards

Defensive MVP: De’Rickey Wright 

4 tackles, 2 interceptions 

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