3 Keys Revisited: Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee

(Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE)

When was the last time that Vanderbilt could afford to relax late in the fourth quarter of a game and still win 41-18? The Commodores beat the listless Tennessee Volunteers in every way possible on Saturday in a game which shows that the state of football in Tennessee has changed in a strictly black and gold direction.

When was the last time that Vanderbilt could afford to relax late in the fourth quarter of a game and still win 41-18? The Commodores beat the listless Tennessee Volunteers in every way possible on Saturday in a game which shows that the state of football in Tennessee has changed in a strictly black and gold direction. The game led directly to the firing of Derek Dooley and is yet another step in the most historic season in Vanderbilt football history. Here is a look back at the three keys.

1) Stop the big play

Not only did Vanderbilt completely shut down a big play offense which averaged almost 38 points per game, but the offense also had a sensational coming out party which saw big play after big play in the Commodores favor. Jordan Matthews in particular was a one man wrecking crew as the uber-talented junior receiver scored on both a perfectly blocked 47-yard end around and on a 71-yard pass reception. James Franklin completely blew apart the play book as he also found a running back-tight end jump pass somewhere in there which saw Wesley Tate connect with Kris Kentera for a 3-yard score. To add insult to injury the lock down defense was so good that Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray found himself benched for the first time this season for a long stretch of game. Amazing effort all around!

2) Be disciplined on special teams

Cordarrelle Patterson managed to do his thing on Saturday night, but his electric punt return for a touchdown came when the 'Dores were up 41-10 and the game was beyond doubt. Special teams though did give one glimpse into the way these two teams are headed. On one Patterson kick return Vandy kicker Carey Spear knifed through the Vol return unit to deliver a hit stick like blow to the wide out. The hit served to do more damage to Spear than it did to Patterson, but the sheer desire and passion with which Franklin has running through his players could not be shown with more clarity.

3) Zac Stacy

Just as he always does Zac Stacy kitted up for Vanderbilt and did just about everything right when he was in the game. Just having your leader playing through the pain does wonders for the confidence and morale of a team, and when Stacy took a direct snap 10 yards to pay dirt to give the Commodores a 34-10 lead it was the final nail in the Tennessee coffin. No one embodies the new era of Vandy football like Stacy and in his last home game the senior delivered, just business as usual.

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