The Vanderbilt Commodores could be in trouble, and it’s not even a full month into the season. Vandy (1-2) has been on a roller coaster of results that has taken its fan base on the same ride.
Saturday’s upcoming matchup with Western Kentucky is already a must win, and the Commodores are a 7.5 point underdog.
The Dores’ expectation of a bowl game was put on hold after a disappointing season opening loss to South Carolina. A win vs Carolina could’ve been a launching point into a year where Derek Mason figured out this head coaching thing. Instead, it ended with the same questions we’ve had: is he in over his head? Mason pulled the plug on his starting QB Kyle Shurmur, before halftime, after a summer of building up Shurmur to the media.
Confidence was high on West End after blowing out in-state foe, Middle Tennessee 47-24 in week two. Shurmur got on a roll and played the whole game. Running back Ralph Webb had a career day, and the defense held a powerful Blue Raider offense to one second half score.
That confidence was short lived as Georgia Tech gained 511 total yards on offense and dominated Vandy 38-7 last week in Atlanta. Mason, and his defense, was supposed to be able to contain the Tech triple-option. But, the Jackets ran for 289 yards, and they THREW for 222 yards, including an 81 yard TD pass on the first play of the game.
Defense is supposed to be Derek Mason’s strong point. But his defense has given up 1,006 total yards in the last two contests.
IS VANDY IN TROUBLE?
Hell yes, they are. Vandy needs five wins to get bowl eligible in the last nine games. The schedule is not easy. The Dores play four current Top 25 teams (Florida, Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee). Don’t forget tough road games at Auburn and at Missouri to start November.
I’ll give Vanderbilt a win over Tennessee State… I’ll give them the win at Kentucky. The Wildcats are awfully gross.
This game at Western Kentucky is extremely pivotal.
A Vandy win could feed it much needed momentum into the heart of the SEC schedule. A 2-2 Commodore team hosting a Florida Gator bunch, with a back up QB, has a great chance to get above .500 to begin October. Follow that up with another road win at Kentucky and the Commodores are cooking. Vandy is currently 1-10 on the road under Mason, but back to back victorious trips to the state of Kentucky would have this team riding high.
A Vanderbilt loss vs Western Kentucky this weekend could be a disastrous 1-3 start to a season with hopes of something different. The chatter about the program taking the next step under Mason needed a hot September.
This weekend’s trip to Bowling Green, Kentucky could be the beginning of a Vandy bowl run, or the beginning of another head coaching search for AD David Williams.
I want to believe in Derek Mason and the program he wants to build. But, the time is now for him to “put the rubber to the road,” as he would say, and win.