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Commodore Brunch Week 10: Vanderbilt vs. Mizzou

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Commodore Brunch Week 10: Vanderbilt vs. Mizzou

Photo by Ziyi Liu

Photo by Ziyi Liu

Photo by Ziyi Liu

Photo by Ziyi Liu

Cutler Klein, Sports Editor

Whoever said “it’s always darkest before the dawn” is a liar and a damn fool.

Or, at the very least, has never seen the Vanderbilt Commodores play football.

A week ago, I was telling you that Vanderbilt would make a bowl game IF and only IF it played like it did in the loss to Auburn.

ICYMI: It didn’t.

Within just a week, it seems all hope in this team has been lost, and with two tough opponents coming up, Vanderbilt’s bowl hopes hang in the balance.

But I’m here to tell you that despite the fact that things look grim, there is some hope that Vanderbilt could right the ship, but it’s not the kind of hope you might imagine.

Here is your Commodore Brunch for this week:

The Turnover Demon

Through the first eight weeks of the season, Kyle Shurmur threw a total of three interceptions, and never more than one in a game. In the past two games, Shurmur has thrown three interceptions, including two against Mizzou.

Much had been said about Vanderbilt “solving” the turnover issues it faced last season. Now, much of that has unraveled, as Vanderbilt can’t get out of its own way on offense. The Commodores will put together some good plays and start gaining yards before shooting themselves in the foot with an interception or a turnover.

Shurmur’s first interception was a backbreaker, as it immediately followed a 24-yard completion to Caleb Scott. The second one, the one that went for a touchdown, was, well…disastrous.

If Vanderbilt were losing with the same issues that plagued it early in the season, it wouldn’t be so concerning. But, the fact that new (or even older) issues are popping up is cause for major concern going into the stretch run.

Strengths become weaknesses

Two things Vanderbilt has been particularly good at this season is defense and punting. They’ve been able to limit opposing offensive production and pin opponents deep when needed.

Neither of those things happened on Saturday.

The 26 points the Commodores conceded to Mizzou were the most given up to an SEC opponent all season. The 481 yards of total offense the Commodores gave up were also the most given up to an SEC opponent.

In addition, freshman punter Sam Loy struggled on the day, with an average punt distance of 34.6 yards, his lowest on the season.

Once again, these are new problems for Vanderbilt, and that’s cause for serious concern. Defense and sound punting were supposed to be the bedrock of this team and the safety net when the offense struggled. After this game, it appears the defense needs to regroup and figure out what is going on.

The only reason Vanderbilt has won a single game this season is because the defense has stymied some very talented offenses. In the next two weeks, Vanderbilt will face some of the most talented offenses in the SEC. If it plays anywhere close to the way it played against Mizzou, Vanderbilt will have no chance to get a fifth win.

Hope: It’s not what you think

Despite the struggles, despite the bad looks, despite everything that went wrong against Mizzou, there is some hope for the Commodores. Objectively, there shouldn’t be any hope, but there is for one simple reason: The only certainty with the Commodores is uncertainty.

You may remember my column after the Georgia win when I said that Vanderbilt football is an enigma beyond understanding. They lose games they’re supposed to win and win games they’re supposed to lose.

Many people chalked up the Auburn game as a blowout loss and the Mizzou game as an easy win for Vanderbilt. Instead, Vanderbilt played Auburn close and lost handily to Mizzou.

The only hope for the Commodores going forward is in their inconsistency. Yes, inconsistency is a bad trait, but in this case, it provides some hope. Based on the trends of this season, a bad loss in a winnable game is usually followed by a strange win over a tough opponent. It happened between the Kentucky loss and Georgia win, perhaps it can happen again.

So, Commodore fans, take some solace in the fact that Vanderbilt is such an inconsistent team that it just might get that fifth win after all.

And if that’s not the most Vanderbilt Football sentence ever uttered, then I don’t know what is.

 

Vanderbilt takes on Olé Miss at home this Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on SEC Network.

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About the Writer
Cutler Klein, Sports Editor

Cutler Klein ('19) is the Sports Editor of the Vanderbilt Hustler. He previously served as Assistant Sports Editor. He is majoring in Communication Studies...

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