The number of penalties dropped. The impact of Vanderbilt’s violations in Saturday’s 34-10 loss to Georgia was still high, though.
The Commodores were penalized just three times, which matched their season-low. That was down from an average of 11 over the previous three games.
Two of those calls went against the special teams, including one against linebacker John Stokes, who was called for ‘leaping’ on a 57-yard field goal attempt with 11 seconds to play in the first half.
“That was a tough one,” Stokes said. “I just ran up and jumped for the ball and blocked it. The official told me I took too many steps before I jumped.”
The call gave Georgia 15 yards and another kick. Blair Walsh’s 42-yard attempt was good and put the Commodores in a 17-3 halftime hole.
“I know the rule, and rule is if you take more than one step to get momentum to jump (and) you come down on somebody, that’s a penalty,” coach Bobby Johnson said. “John said he didn’t come down on anybody, but I don’t think they call anything if he didn’t.
“I don’t think it was a major flop-down on anybody. It’s a judgment call.”
The other call against the special teams was for an illegal block on a third-quarter punt return.
There also was a holding call against center Bradley Vierling on VU’s final offensive possession.
Back on offense
Johnson said Jamie Graham will remain a wide receiver for the rest of the season.
The sophomore out of Whites Creek High School had 15 tackles, one interception and two passes defensed as a cornerback during the first half of the season.
He was switched to wide receiver, where he played as a freshman, this past week. The move was to help add explosiveness to the offense. It was made possible by the emergence of three true freshman cornerbacks – Eddie Foster, Trey Wilson and Eric Samuels.
“When we moved him (to defense) we had more people available at the wide receiver position, and we didn’t know how well Eddie Foster and Trey Wilson and those guys were going to play on defense,” Johnson said. “We felt like we had to get (Graham) over there to fill in where D.J. Moore left.
“Jamie will be a good player the rest of the year for us at wide receiver.”
Graham caught one pass for 16 yards and rushed twice for minus-1 yard against Georgia.
On the run
Punter Brett Upson successfully executed a fake punt in the first quarter but paid a price for doing so.
On fourth-and-5 from the Georgia 45, Upson took the snap, ran left and gained seven yards before he absorbed a big it from Bulldogs’ cornerback Brandon Boykin.
“We all have been messing with him in practice about how he runs,” quarterback Larry Smith said. “He took a shot but got the first down.”
The play extended the Commodores’ third drive and contributed to the fact that they had the ball for 9:30 of the first quarter. Their time of possession never topped 6:55 in any of the final three periods.
Tight end Austin Monahan and left tackle Thomas Welch both sustained injuries in the first quarter but returned to the contest.
Each then had a reoccurrence of their respective injuries and left the game for good. Monahan’s last play came early in the second quarter. Welch was knocked out on the next-to-last pay of the third quarter.
Johnson said Monahan has a knee injury and Welch has an ankle injury, but there was no information on how severe either was.
• Cornerback Casey Hayward left temporarily after he sustained a blow to the head with just over six minutes to play. He got back in action.
• Running back Jared Hawkins missed a second straight game and his fifth overall because of continuing issues with a foot problem.
• Defensive end Steven Stone (foot) was in uniform for the first time this season but did not play.
Running back Warren Norman had a team-high 52 rushing yards, which gave him 450 for the season.
He already ranks eighth all-time for single-season rushing yards by a VU freshman and is 11 behind Dean Davidson (1947) for seventh place.
Norman currently averages 64.3 yards per game, which puts him just off the pace of Kwane Doster’s school record of 798 yards (66.5 per game) set in 2002.
Kicker Ryan Fowler matched his career-long with a 41-yard field goal. His last two have been from that distance. … Hayward intercepted his second pass of the season. He joined Myron Lewis as the only members of the VU defense with more than one. … A season-high 10 different receivers caught passes for the Commodores. … Of VU’s five tackles for a loss, three were by defensive tackles – one each by Greg Billinger, T.J. Greenstone and Rob Lohr. … Billinger, a senior, also had a sack, which gave him 2.5 for the season and matched his career-high.