Vanderbilt can't quite run down South Carolina in opener

Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 9:34pm

As Steve Spurrier shook James Franklin’s hand he complemented the Vanderbilt coach on the speed of his team.

“They don’t have any slow dudes like they used to,” the veteran South Carolina coach said.

Even so, the Commodores weren’t fast enough to slow down Connor Shaw. When they did get to the Gamecocks quarterback and knock him out of the game, he didn’t stay down long. Vanderbilt's inability to contain him ultimately was a significant factor in a 17-13 loss in the season opener Thursday night at Vanderbilt Stadium.

Shaw shook off a shoulder bruise and a poor passing night to torch Vanderbilt’s new turf for 92 rushing yards. His tough 12-yard run that ended with a dive to the 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter set up the game-winning touchdown. He later closed the door on a Commodores comeback by scrambling for seven yards on a third-and-five, a conversion which allowed No. 9 South Carolina to run off the last 90 seconds.

“Whenever your starter is in the game you’re better,” Franklin said. “Did he make a difference? Yeah, I think your stats show that. ... I wish he could have stayed out a little bit longer because we were having success when he was on the bench.”

The defense held Shaw to 67 yards passing but couldn’t slow down the run. Running back Marcus Lattimore, in his first game back since an ACL injury last year, overcame a first-play fumble and added 110 yards on 23 carries.

An ill-advised pass from Jordan Rodgers resulted in a South Carolina interception and led to the first Gamecocks score. After Shaw rushed for 20 yards, Lattimore showed his speed and physicality, knocking through safety Kenny Ladler on his way to a 29-yard score.

“Our defense, I thought, played very well but they’ve got to eliminate the big play,” Franklin said. “We can’t give up the big play.”

After knotting the game up midway through the second quarter, the Commodores got a reprieve when Shaw went out. As he lowered his head to absorb a blow, linebacker Archibald Barnes delivered one to the shoulder of Shaw, who exited the field with his right arm hanging limp.

Vanderbilt turned up the defensive pressure up front, harassing backups Dylan Thompson and Seth Strickland. Entering the fourth quarter, South Carolina had just 30 passing yards — all courtesy of Shaw — through the third quarter. Along the way the Commodores took a 13-10 lead.

Then Shaw returned. He completed all three passes for 37 yards, including a 20-yard connection to Justice Cunningham, who absorbed a huge helmet-to-helmet blow by Andre Hal and drew a 15-yard penalty.

Two plays later, Shaw again cruised through an open field and dove just short of the end zone, taking a hit from safety Javon Marshall. Shaw left the game again, only to return one play later to hand off to Lattimore, who plunged in for a 1-yard score.

“Shaw, he is a tough kid. I was really impressed with his toughness,” Vanderbilt linebacker Chase Garnham said. “He was banged up a little bit and he fought through it. They did a really tremendous job running the zone read. We had a lot of trouble with that.

“He is a lot faster than I anticipated.”

Funny, those were Spurrier’s thoughts about Vanderbilt.

Briefly

• Franklin refused to comment on what appeared to be a missed pass interference call on a critical play late in the fourth quarter.

Trailing 17-13 with 1:47 to play, Vanderbilt was faced with a fourth-and-seven on its own 38. Rodgers lofted a pass down the sideline to Jordan Matthews. Replays showed safety D.J. Swearinger put his hand in before the pass arrived and tugged on Matthews’ left arm.

Matthews put his right hand on the ball but lost control as the pass fell incomplete. He made an immediate plea for a penalty but to no avail.

“You did know the SEC just came out with very clear rules about talking about the officials and what happens after games?” Franklin said. “Trying to get me fined.”

• Though senior kicker Ryan Fowler was listed first on the depth chart, he did not see the field.

Junior Carey Spear made two of three field goal attempts, converting from 25 and 44 yards. The latter was Vanderbilt’s longest field goal since 2009. Late in the third quarter, with Vanderbilt up 13-10 he missed a 51-yarder as the kick fell three yards short.

• Junior Warren Norman was on the sidelines in uniform but did not play. The former SEC Freshman of the Year missed all of last season with a knee injury. On Monday, Franklin didn’t give a timetable for his return.

Sophomore running back Jerron Seymour did not dress out. Seymour’s 268 rushing yards were the third-most on the team last season. However, this year, he figured to be further down the list behind Zac Stacy, Norman, Brian Kimbrow and even back-and-forth receiver/running back Wesley Tate. Seymour was limited at times in preseason camp and battled a knee injury in 2011.

The Commodores had just 62 rushing yards led by Stacy’s 48 on 13 carries. Kimbrow, a true freshman, had two carries for five yards.

13 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 8/31/12 at 1:20

It is so sad! Vanderbilt is obviously a historical football loser. They do it with much gallantry but the final result is that Vanderbilt is a loser.

The Northwestern game next week is far more critical than the loss to South Carolina. It is a must win.

By: TITAN1 on 8/31/12 at 6:25

Good game, Vandy! You went toe to toe with a top 10 team when most said you would get blown out. That will shut up some of the naysayers, but not those like RaspRump. If Vandy had won he and those like him would say they got lucky. After all, joy sucking is their life, they have nothing else.

By: Jughead on 8/31/12 at 7:19

Man--this team is the real deal. Jordan Rogers is a rock star. And, if the ref had called the interference correctly at the end of the game, Vandy might be celebrating a victory.

I'd rather go to any Vandy game this year than a boring azz Titans game.

By: Rasputin72 on 8/31/12 at 7:25

No, Titan1 you are wrong. You have no idea how many times what happened last night has happened in the last 65 years. The blatant no call on pass interence is just an example of what has happened to Vanderb ilt...I do not recall in the last 65 years (I was 6 at my first game) that Vanderbilt won a football game because they got a break/. Had I known how bad it would be when I ws 6 years old I would have kept a list of how many times Vanderbilt has been beaten because of officating or bad breaks at the wrong time. I am sure the list would include at least 100 games.

The official had to have seen this blatant pass interference but because Vanderbilt does not really count and a top 10 SEC team does matter he made no call.

Vanderbilt is where hopes go to die!

By: TITAN1 on 8/31/12 at 7:48

I have been a Vandy fan since I was old enough to follow football. I saw a different team last night, a team that does not give up. A team with a lot of talent and speed. The no call on the interference hurt and I agree Vandy does not get the calls in a close game. That is the ref's fault, not Vandy's. Ronnie Milsap could have seen the defender grab the receiver's arm. Refs need to be fired when they swallow their whistle. It shouldn't matter if a team is 10-0 or 0-10.

By: jwk6179 on 8/31/12 at 8:04

I've said it before and I'll say it again. James Franklin won't be coaching at Vanderbilt next season. Another school will scoop him up after the season because of how well he has done with Vanderbilt. And it pains me to say that because I HATE VANDY!! I BLEED ORANGE AND WHITE!!!

By: TITAN1 on 8/31/12 at 8:18

With all the improvements I hope they can keep him, but they will have to dig even deeper into their pockets. He is one heck of a coach and motivator. The new indoor facility looks like it will be first class and all of these things help with recruiting.

By: Bennyhaha on 8/31/12 at 11:11

Sad Truth about Rasputin, dont get sucked down to his level: Question: What Is an Internet 'Troll'? How Should I Deal With Trolls?

Answer: An internet 'troll' is an abusive and obnoxious user who promotes hate and disharmony in online communities. Named after the wicked troll creatures of children's tales, an internet troll is someone who stirs up drama and abuses their online anonymity by purposely sowing hatred, bigotry, racism, mysogyny, or just simple bickering between others. Trolls like a big audience, so they frequent blog sites, news sites, discussion forums, and game chat. Trolls thrive in any environment where they are allowed to make public comments.

The Sad Truths of Internet Trolls:

1.Trolls are immune to criticism and logical arguments. True trolls cannot be reasoned with, regardless of how sound your logical argument is.
2.Trolls do not feel remorse like you and me. They have sociopathic tendencies, and accordingly, they delight in other people having hurt feelings.
3.Trolls consider themselves separate from the social order.
4.Trolls do not abide by etiquette or the rules of common courtesy.
5.Trolls consider themselves above social responsibility.
6.Trolls gain energy by you insulting them.
7.Trolls gain energy when you get angry.
8.The only way to deal with a troll is to ignore him, or take away his ability to post online.

By: wiseguy1 on 8/31/12 at 11:24

jwk ... don't YOU wish you had a coach in Knoxville that SOMEBODY wanted. Is Franklin opportunistic? Sure, otherwise he wouldn't be at Vanderbilt. Previous stint at Maryland was 5 years ... I don't think he is going to follow the DiNardo and Sloan models. Those proved less than successful.

By: wiseguy1 on 8/31/12 at 11:52

Now to the game ... Lattimore must not be as healthy as advertised or SC would have kept Shaw on the sidelines and pound the ball down the field. ESPN showed the stat several times that SC OL has 40 lbs avg on the VU DL. What I saw last night from SC looked almost desperate.

OR ... Spurrier didn't want to tip his hand for his plan B against the rest of the SEC if (when) Shaw goes down.

I thought Franklin's game plan was sound. Roger's interception in 1st quarter was an athletic play by SC. Fought through a blocker and grabbed the ball away from receiver. All in all a pretty gutsy call knowing points had to come from SC mistakes. Wiggle on OL for 49 yd field goal was disappointing. Good to see that Spear has some 40+ range. A few key dropped passes were disappointing. D performance was pretty sound, obvious the key was Lattimore with running success Shaw had on the zone read.

By: Rasputin72 on 8/31/12 at 12:10

BennyHaHa.........I am very sorry for the pain I have brought to your life. Remember it was not I who took away your food stamp elgibility.

By: jwk6179 on 8/31/12 at 12:16

jwk ... don't YOU wish you had a coach in Knoxville that SOMEBODY wanted. Is Franklin opportunistic? Sure, otherwise he wouldn't be at Vanderbilt. Previous stint at Maryland was 5 years ... I don't think he is going to follow the DiNardo and Sloan models. Those proved less than successful.

Every Vanderbilt thinks that James Franklin is going to stay here in Nashville coaching Vandy for the long haul and turning the Commadores in a winning program. Steve Spurrier had success at Duke but left after TWO SEASONS for Florida. Do you really think that Duke would have become a National Power if Spurrier had stayed at Duke? No, they wouldn't and Spurrier would have been just another of mill coach. That's why I think he will be gone after this season if they have a successful season. Success at Vanderbilt is 6-6 or 7-5. At least Tennessee will be back at 9-3 or 10-2 someday. Maybe not under this coach.

By: wiseguy1 on 8/31/12 at 1:06

jwk ... so you apply the someday logic to UT ... and why does that same logic not apply to VU? Situation used to be quite the opposite. UT hired Gen Neyland because they got tired of losing to VU and others, mostly VU. Wrap your mind around the concept that winning attitude of the administration has changed to extend to athletics too. If not with Franklin, then somebody else.