BrentVU: Thoughts on Vandy's 47-13 WIN over Alabama A&M

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BrentVU: Thoughts on Vandy's 47-13 WIN over Alabama A&M

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Thoughts on Vandy's 47-13 WIN over Alabama A&M
Post by BrentVU » Sun Sep 03, 2023 7:27 am

If you missed it, here’s the story of this game: after some erratic play in the first half (after which Vandy led only 12 to 3), Vanderbilt got its mind right and exercised its superior athleticism in the second half, winning 47-13. Alabama A&M put up a valiant fight, but simply wore out in the second half on a warm night in Nashville.

There were some trouble spots, for sure: AAMU converting four third downs on its opening field goal drive; A.J. Swann’s 5-of-13 performance in the first half, culminating in a bad interception; a running game that started out sluggishly; and the Bulldogs completing a long bomb for a score in the second half. But those who stuck around were rewarded by seeing the ‘Dores light it up in the second half, including some dazzling play by some young players.

Most notable was true freshman RB Sedrick Alexander, with two spectacular touchdown runs, and another run in which he hurdled a Bulldog. (Sedrick the Entertainer? Alexander the Great?) He finished with a team-leading 87 yards, though a lot of it came in garbage time. After starting the season third-string, he has made a case for more playing time; he has great make-people-miss ability. Another true freshman, Bryan Longwell from Lipscomb Academy, blocked a punt and made a great diving tackle. Martel Hight got a chance to return a punt, and, man oh man, the rumors are all true... what shiftiness! Ken Seals, taking his first snaps since 2021, threw Vandy’s final TD to Kamrean Johnson, a true freshman TE from Lower Alabama. Langston Patterson came off the bench to lead VU in tackles with 7.

Throw out the first drive and the one busted coverage, and the defense had a pretty good night, holding AAMU to 278 yards and 6-of-18 on third down. After that poor first half, Swann looked a lot sharper in the second half, twice finding Will Sheppard for scores and sneaking in for a third score. He had a nice run in the first half to set up Vandy’s first field goal, and his best play of the night was when he broke out of a sure sack and found a streaking Justin Ball for a 27-yard gain. Several times Vandy went up-tempo, and it was effective.

And what a night for the punt return team! Vandy blocked two punts; Sheppard had two nice returns totaling 47 yards, on top of Hight’s dazzler for 22 yards. Vandy had 96 total yards in punt returns, the first time that’s happened in... just about forever.

Vandy’s top two right tackles were out with injuries; Grayson Morgan (50 pounds lighter than starter Junior Uzebu) got his first start. Vandy also had four D-linemen out for this game (Agu, Zunk, Bapst, James). De’Rickey Wright went down early with what looked like an ankle injury; he didn’t return, but hopefully that’s only precautionary. Vandy had only three penalties, two of them on the first-time OL starter Morgan.

After starting out 5-16 in his first 21 games, Coach Lea is now 4-1 in his last five.

The first two wins haven’t been pretty, but they’re in the books. The next four games will tell the story for this season, starting with Wake Forest next week. To keep bowl hopes alive, Vandy really needs to win at least three of those four games… before the going gets much tougher in the second half of the season. The Commodores should be favored against UNLV, but probably not in the others.

Kickoff next week is at 10 a.m. CT, the earliest kickoff in school history. It will also be Vandy’s first TV appearance ever on the ACC Network.