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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Commodore Brunch Week 7: What just happened?

Blake Dover
October 15th, 2016 – Kyle Shurmer passes during the Commodores’ 17-16 win against the University of Georgia in Sanford Stadium Saturday afternoon. Credit: Blake Dover





They did what?

They had how many yards?

It was on the road?

Should we stay on fall break forever?

If you’ve asked any of these questions in the past 24 hours after Vanderbilt beat Georgia 17-16 on the road on Saturday, you are not alone. The game had all the markers of a typical football loss: Georgia heavily outgained the Commodores on offense 421-171, Tommy Openshaw booted a kickoff out of bounds and Vanderbilt’s running backs combined for fewer than 100 yards rushing.

The fact that Vanderbilt still pulled off a win (head coach Derek Mason’s first SEC road win in his time at Vanderbilt) can only mean one thing: This team is an enigma beyond normal understanding. The only certainty with Vanderbilt football is uncertainty.

Okay, yes, Georgia made many blunders throughout the game, especially on special teams. Letting Darrius Sims run 95 yards nearly to the house in the first half, then fielding the first kickoff of the second half out of bounds is not an ideal day on special teams. But, Georgia is objectively a better team than Vanderbilt.

The victory was even more shocking when you consider that in the last three times Vanderbilt went to play in Athens, they’ve been outscored 135-20. This was a recipe for disaster for the Commodores.

And yet, they came out on top.

With the exception of its Week 2 victory against Middle Tennessee State, it seems Vanderbilt has lost every game it had a chance at winning and won games it had no business winning.

Let’s start with South Carolina in the opener. The Commodores came in as the favorites and went up early. Then they completely blew it in the second half and lost, completely dampening expectations for the season. To their credit, they came back and took care of business against MTSU the next week.

Then, they went into Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech with some confidence and proceeded to get blown out 38-7. While defending Georgia Tech’s triple option is difficult, scoring more than seven points against that defense should not have been hard.

With more dampened expectations, Vanderbilt marched into Bowling Green, Kentucky, to take on WKU. Natually, quarterback Kyle Shurmur threw for 279 yards and led a game-tying drive at the end of regulation and the game-winning drive in overtime to seal another victory.


After that, they played competitively against Florida at home and, if we’re being honest, probably could have won if Shurmur had been able to see properly late in the fourth quarter. All in all, it wasn’t a complete damper.

The next week, however, was. Losing 20-13 to Kentucky on the road was brutal and unacceptable, especially considering the way they had competed in the previous week.

Which brings us to this week.

When the season seemed to be slipping from its grasps, Vanderbilt walked into Athens and emerged with a victory, much to the surprise of, well, everyone.

It’s great to see Mason get his first road SEC win, and great to see the Commodores right the ship in general, but why couldn’t this team show up like that for four quarters against Georgia Tech? Or Kentucky? Or Florida? If they had played like that for maybe two more quarters throughout this season, they would be in prime position to make a bowl game right now.

As I said before, the only certainty with the Commodores is uncertainty. They seem to play badly and win, and then play well and lose. They’ll beat a talented team on the road then put up a dud against a weaker team at home. Running back Ralph Webb will run for 150-plus yards in a loss, then run for 55 in a win.

Next week, the Commodores take on Tennessee State. It’s a game the Commodores should win.

But does that mean anything anymore?

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About the Contributors
Cutler Klein, Former Sports Editor
Cutler Klein ('19) was the Sports Editor of the Vanderbilt Hustler. He previously served as Assistant Sports Editor. He majored in communication studies in the College of Arts and Science. When he's not writing stories, tweeting silly GIFs or watching any hockey game he can find, Cutler is running the sports department of VandyRadio, hosting VU Sports Wired on VTV and covering the Nashville Predators as a credentialed media member for Penalty Box Radio. Cutler has had bylines on and
Blake Dover, Author
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