Aug 28, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores head coach Derek Mason during a lightning delay prior to the game against the Temple Owls at Vanderbilt Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Mason made a crucial mistake in the first game of the season against South Carolina. That mistake was pulling his starting quarterback, Kyle Shurmur, after accruing a 10-point lead early in the football game.

The Dores would go on to lose 13-10 after that momentum-killing coaching move.

In game no. 2, Mason learned his lesson. A big reason why Vanderbilt won Saturday’s mid-state matchup against Middle Tennessee 47-24 was sticking to one signal caller.

Shurmur started the game 0 for 7 and didn’t complete his first pass until 5:04 left to go in the 2nd quarter … let that sink in a little bit.

Mason could have easily ‘stuck to the script’ again and yanked Shurmur for backup Wade Freebeck like the previous week, but he didn’t.

I applaud Derek Mason and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig for letting Shurmur play through the slow start and the weather delay. His stat line is not jaw dropping by any means but ultimately the Dores QB did what he needed to do to manage the football game and get the win.

If Shurmur is throwing the ball 60+ times like opposing QB Brent Stockstill did, Vanderbilt won’t win many football games. This offense is designed to control the clock and rely screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-2-04-17-pmon the players surrounding the QB like RB Ralph Webb and WR CJ Duncan. 

“This team – the same team that has struggled, especially offensively – put up the most points in a game since 2013,” Mason said. “I’m very proud of this team. They rose to the challenge … I thought they gave it their best at the end of the day. Was it perfect? No, but I thought they gave it their best.”

The most important game is the next one that you play and the Commodores must come away with as many wins against non-conference opponents as they can. Vandy travels to Georgia Tech (2-0) this week where the Yellow Jackets will key on the run game and force Shurmur to do a little bit more.

It will be Derek Mason’s job to stick with his quarterback if he wants to win.