Commodore Brunch Week Nine: Pig roast


Emily Gonçalves

Vanderbilt faces Kentucky on Saturday, October 20, 2018.

Cutler Klein, Sports Editor

Contrary to what most medical professionals would say, a good heaping plate of roasted pork is just what the doctor ordered for the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Vanderbilt went into Fayetteville and put up a remarkable performance in a 45-31 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks. It was a game they needed to have, and it sets the tone for a November push for six wins and bowl eligibility.

Everything was better in this game, and now Vanderbilt heads into the bye week with a chance to rest up, heal up and get ready for the stretch run.

Here is your Commodore Brunch menu for this week.

Andy Ludwig Revenge Game

After last week’s fourth-and-one debacle in Lexington, the heat got turned up on offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig and his unimaginative play calling.

This week against Arkansas, Ludwig essentially said “How do you like them apples?”

The Vanderbilt offense threw the book at Arkansas and scored six times as a result. Four of those were on the ground as Vanderbilt used Ke’Shawn Vaughn in all types of runs and put him in positions to gain yards. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur utilized his top two targets, tight end Jared Pinkney and wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb, and found them in all different kinds of routes.

Heck, Ludwig even put backup quarterback Mo Hasan in for a couple of designed quarterback rushes that gained 11 yards.

This was a game in which the play calls were diverse, but more importantly, they utilized the weapons that Vanderbilt had to offer on offense, including Vaughn and Pinkney. For the first time all season, the play calling matched the talent on the field for a full 60 minutes, and it got Vanderbilt a win.

If Ludwig calls more games like this, there are a few more wins on the table in November.

The Marlow Factor

Over the last few weeks, the Commodores have found an ace-in-the-hole in true freshman running back Ja’Veon Marlow.

Against Arkansas, he had two carries for 22 yards and was a key part in Vanderbilt’s multidimensional offense. He has appeared in three games this season, meaning he can appear in one more before burning his redshirt.

Marlow has shown his ability to be shifty, speedy and dangerous out of the backfield. He might be Vanderbilt’s best player in plays outside the tackle box. The freshman has the potential to be a really special player for the next few years alongside Vaughn.

Vanderbilt has enough running backs to allow Marlow to likely keep his redshirt, so don’t expect to see him in more than one more game. But, if they’re going to burn his redshirt, they need throw the thing into the bonfire and make him a more integral part of the offense.

If he can do some considerable damage with just two carries per game, imagine what he could do with 10 carries per game.

The Commodores would be smart to let him keep his redshirt, but if they like what they see and want to give him a couple more appearances, they need to make them count.

The Audacity of Hope

Former president Barack Obama once said “Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it.”

This week, Vanderbilt has been gifted just that: hope. Against all odds, the Commodores are two wins from bowl eligibility with three games to play.

After a few weeks of considerable struggle, perhaps hope was the missing piece that will allow the team to succeed down the stretch. Instead of lamenting multiple missed opportunities, the Commodores enter the bye week with a decisive win and a whole lot of confidence.

In two weeks, Vanderbilt will take on a Missouri team that narrowly lost to a Kentucky team that Vanderbilt could have beaten. Then, bowl-ineligible Ole Miss comes to town, followed by the Tennessee Volunteers. Vanderbilt has gotten through the toughest part of the schedule and showed signs of the ability to compete with tough teams.

Couple that with a good SEC win this week, and you’ve got a recipe for what could be a fun two months that end in a bowl game.