Commodore Brunch Week 4: Vanderbilt vs. Western Kentucky

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Commodore Brunch Week 4: Vanderbilt vs. Western Kentucky

Cutler Klein, Sports Editor

Did the ending to this week’s matchup between the Vanderbilt Commodores and Western Kentucky Hilltoppers leave you in disbelief?

You weren’t alone.

As in, important people had already called the game for the Hilltoppers.

ESPN sent an errant alert with a final score of 24-23 for WKU after Vanderbilt’s Ralph Webb had scored a touchdown on the final play of regulation, needing only an extra point to tie the game.

While that can likely be blamed on an alert system that simply sends out scores when there’s zeroes on the clock, this tweet from Kentucky governor Matt Bevin is hard to explain away.

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It’s just like “Dewey Defeats Truman,” only way less important.

While that tweet was bad enough, it pales in comparison to some of the selfies posted to his personal Twitter account.

This man runs the Commonwealth of Kentucky and takes selfies like none other.

Without further ado, here is your Commodore Brunch menu this week:

Winning through Shurmur

Even though Webb had three touchdowns on the day, it was quarterback Kyle Shurmur who stole the show, throwing for 279 yards, one interception and one touchdown, which ended up being the game-winner in overtime.

Webb only rushed for 95 yards on 27 carries, so, aside from scoring in goal-line situations, he didn’t have that much impact on the game.

It was Shurmur’s leadership and poise that brought the Commodores back into this game. On all five of Vanderbilt’s scoring drives, Shurmur completed a pass of 10 yards or longer. On four of them, he completed at least one pass of 20 yards or longer.

This is the kind of passing offense that the Commodores have needed. At the beginning of the season, it looked as if offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig was being cautious with Shurmur. He wasn’t calling many deep passes, or many passing plays at all, for that matter.

Now, Shurmur is throwing the ball all over the field, is able to roll out of the pocket and throw with some accuracy, and has the confidence to get the ball downfield more. He hasn’t been perfect by any standard, but seeing him gradually progress throughout this season has been fun to watch.

If he can keep his progression steady, he may be a formidable, consistent offensive threat for the rest of his time at Vanderbilt.

Winning ugly

Let’s face it: Vanderbilt will hardly win any games by an obvious superiority to its opponents.

The Commodores did it against MTSU, and aside from upcoming games against Kentucky, Tennessee State and perhaps Mizzou, they won’t do it much for the rest of the season. The schedule is just too tough, especially with No. 23 Florida up next.

That’s why winning games even while not playing its best is so crucial to Vanderbilt’s success. They did just that against WKU.

This was a sloppy, grind-it-out, high-scoring affair that was not pretty for anyone involved. If the Commodores can win those games like that, they have the chance to do something special this season.

If they can win some ugly ones, as well as the ones they’re supposed to win, this team might surprise some folks.

Four more wins ’til a bowl game…

Just leaving that out there.

 

Vanderbilt returns home this week with a matchup against the Florida Gators. Kickoff is at 11 a.m. central on SEC Network.

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