Commodore Brunch Week 3: Vanderbilt vs. Georgia Tech

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Commodore Brunch Week 3: Vanderbilt vs. Georgia Tech

Vanderbilt defeated the MTSU Blue Raiders 47-24 at Vanderbilt Stadium September 10, 2016 (Ziyi Liu)

Vanderbilt defeated the MTSU Blue Raiders 47-24 at Vanderbilt Stadium September 10, 2016 (Ziyi Liu)

Ziyi Liu

Vanderbilt defeated the MTSU Blue Raiders 47-24 at Vanderbilt Stadium September 10, 2016 (Ziyi Liu)

Ziyi Liu

Ziyi Liu

Vanderbilt defeated the MTSU Blue Raiders 47-24 at Vanderbilt Stadium September 10, 2016 (Ziyi Liu)

Cutler Klein, Sports Editor

Is it finally over? Is it safe to survey the damage now?

Yes, this column is being published on a Monday instead of the usual Sunday, simply because I was hiding in my panic room to get away from that monstrosity that was Vanderbilt vs. Georgia Tech. Now that the blitzkrieg has subsided, it’s time to assess exactly what went wrong in the Commodores’ 38-7 defeat at the hands of the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta.

Here is your Commodore Brunch for Week 3:

Road Woes

Under head coach Derek Mason, the Commodores have won just once on the road.

Once.

While they haven’t been near perfect at home either, their dropoff in performance on the road is significant.

Take a look at these two charts:

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You’ll see that Vanderbilt’s offense sputters on the road, and their defense overall gives up more yards. In addition, the Commodores score around 10 fewer points and give up five more points on the road.

So, why does this team falter so much when they leave the friendly confines of Vanderbilt Stadium? Is it something in the way they practice? Is it in their mentality? Is it because they lack a distinct home-field advantage?

Whatever the reason is, they need to figure out what’s wrong, and fast. They have another road game coming up this week against Western Kentucky and have some tough road opponents down the line, like Georgia and Ole Miss.

“Start to Finish”

There’s been a lot of talk around this team about playing “complete” games. Against South Carolina, they played well early and collapsed in the second half. In their second game, they stumbled a bit early against MTSU but finished strong after the weather delay.

That would not be the narrative in this game.

The first play from scrimmage was an 81-yard touchdown pass for Georgia Tech. Aside from the ensuing touchdown drive in response for the Commodores, they didn’t play well at all for the rest of the game.

Here is how the rest of the Vanderbilt offensive drives ended (in order):

Punt, punt, punt, punt, halftime, turnover on downs, punt, punt, interception, punt, punt, end of game.

The only person that played a “complete” game for the Commodores was Sam Loy, their punter.

That’s what’s most concerning about this game. It was bad start to finish. When the team shows some signs of life and lose, there’s at least something to look forward to and improve upon in the next game.

There’s none of that after this one.

The best approach for Mason and the Commodores is to forget about this game and just move on. It’s nice to build on each game week to week, but this one just crumpled the foundation they built in the first two weeks.

Lone Bright Spot: Kyle Shurmur

Believe it or not, there was actually one little thing to take away from this game. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur continues to improve week after week. His passing yards, completion percentage and quarterback rating have improved each week, despite his number of passing attempts staying relatively consistent.

On the field, he seems far more confident in his abilities than he did before. He is rolling out of the pocket with confidence, stepping up and delivering strikes between the hash marks and trusting his receivers to make plays.

He did have an interception against Georgia Tech, but it was only after the game was already lost.

If he keeps this up, he could be a very formidable force at quarterback by the end of this season.

Quick Sides:

-Georgia Tech held Ralph Webb to just 69 rushing yards on 18 attempts in this one. While that raises some red flags, it isn’t cause for mass panic. Also, now that Shurmur is growing, Webb no longer needs to be the sole driver of the offense.

-Bad news: Vanderbilt couldn’t slow down the triple-option offense of Georgia Tech.

Good news: They probably won’t face another triple-option team this season. Hallelujah.

-Kalija Lipscomb continues to be the receiving leader for the Commodores after catching six passes for 59 yards in this one. If you penciled him in as your receiving leader after Week 3 in preseason, you, my friend, are a wizard.

Vanderbilt hits the field again this Saturday against Western Kentucky in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

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