Vanderbilt overcame the perils of a road trip to altitude last weekend as they snapped an 11-game losing run – that went through an entire season – as a Joseph Bulovas field goal gave the ‘Dores a 24-21 win over Colorado State. Next up is Stanford and here are the three keys.
By Steve Wright
1 – Keep it close
Vanderbilt is not going to bomb away on Stanford for a bunch of explosive plays. This team – in its current form – just isn’t built for that. Kansas State beat Stanford by getting up early – Stanford also isn’t built to bomb away – and controlling tempo. Against USC – in the game that got Clay Helton fired – the opposite happened and USC had to pull out a 15 point fourth quarter to make the score look reasonable. Vanderbilt has to be a pain here, dinking and dunking and staying in the contest until crunch time.
2 – Find a running game
The ‘Dores have to be able to control the clock in this one. The Rams couldn’t get out of their own way last week with their penalty count through the roof and their inability to assert their tempo on the game. Stanford will not have that issue, especially if the Vandy running game is ineffective. The ‘Dores had 37 carries for 104 yards last weekend and an average of just 2.8 yards per carry isn’t going to get it done.
3 – Play smart
In a battle of smart schools the ‘Dores have to be smarter. The turnover battle has to be won – Ken Seals needs to be efficient – and the Commodores cannot give up drive extending penalties. It will also be vital that Vandy wins on third down – on both sides of the ball – as the best chance for a win is to keep the rapidly improving Stanford offense – and their monster offensive line – on the sidelines. Vandy isn’t yet good enough to play through mistakes. It worked last weekend and can do so again here if the ‘Dores play smart.