Day After Observations tomorrow.
Vandy tacks on three before the half. In a game of field goals that could be big later on.
The only touchdown in the game has been Bo Wallace’s 9-yard pass to Vince Sanders. Nice half for Sanders. AFter an early drop he’s finished with three catches for 66 yards including a 41-yard gain to help set up one of Bryson Rose’s three field goals.
Rose has hit from 22, 28 and 41.
It looked like the Rebels might survive the poor field position at the end and keep the Commodores off the board. An off-sides call against Cameron Whigham moved the Dores up 5, and Vandy needed those 5 yards. Carey Spear’s 44-yard kick wouldn’t have been good by much more. Spear previously hit from 22 late in the first to make it 7-3.
The Rebels emphasized the run this week but haven’t had much success in the first half with just 31 yards on 22 carries. They have, though, been good in the passing game against Vanderbilt’s national top 10 pass defense.
Wallace has had a couple of short passes that could easily have been picks, but there’s been no turnover yet, and Wallace is 15-for-23 for 173 yards and a TD. There have been several drops.
Donte Moncrief, who didn’t have a catch last week, has four for 43 yards, most of them in the tempo game.
Credit the Rebels for converting good fortune after Vanderbilt fumbled on its first possession into the game’s only touchdown to this point.
The Rebels have a 204-128 edge in total yards and two sacks.
In addition to losing the football on its first drive, Vanderbilt lost starting RB Zac Stacy, the SEC’s fifth-leading rusher. He rushed for 17 yards on two carries before leaving with an injury. Vanderbilt has rushed for 74 yards on 19 carries.
Ole Miss gets the ball to open the second half.
A few odds and ends about Vanderbilt here.
The Commodores are ranked nationally No. 19 or better in some pretty impressive defensive statistical categories: Pass defense yards (3), pass defense efficiency (7), scoring defense (14), total defense (19).
Vandy’s schedule is pretty challenging with all four of its losses coming to teams currently ranked in the BCS poll, three of those — Georgia, Florida and South Carolina — in the top 8. The fourth, Northwestern, lost at Michigan today.
Vandy has already won three SEC games, where most of those defensive numbers have been compiled. The opponents are Missouri (19-15), Auburn (17-13), Kentucky (40-0).
Missouri had quarterback health issues at the time.
Elsewhere, the Commodores lost 48-3 at Georgia and were competitive in SEC home losses to South Carolina (17-13) in the season opener and to Florida (31-17).
Sometimes pass defense numbers rise when opponents don’t need to pass and prefer to run. The better SEC teams have run on Vanderbilt, South Carolina with 205 yards, Georgia with 302 and Florida with 326.
The lesser teams have had less success: Missouri with 150, Auburn with 103 and Kentucky with 101.
Bottom line is Vanderbilt’s successful pass defense will be negated if Ole Miss can revive a once-successful run game. The Rebels have reached 100 yards as a team since getting 200 yards against Auburn here on Oct. 13.
It will be interesting to see what Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has prepared to try and make that happen.
Early success on the ground will energize a big home crowd tonight. The game was never officially announced a sellout, but I suspect it will be sometime today. Ross Bjork told me last night that Vanderbilt kept only about 700 tickets, so if all the ticket-buyers come, this could be the largest pro-Ole Miss crowd in this stadium.