Vanderbilt Football Three Keys: Elon

Vanderbilt football Three keys

The Vanderbilt Commodores’ first 10 minutes of 2022 were shaky, but that was not the last word on the Dores’ season opener.

By Matt Zemek

Vanderbilt did receive a few gifts from the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors on the island this past weekend, but it also has to be said that VU shrugged off a slow start and delivered a 53-point pounding to an opponent which was noticeably inferior.

Be honest: You weren’t expecting that to happen.

Vanderbilt doesn’t win games by 53 points. Even if the quality of the opponent was not considerable, it remains that Vanderbilt looked and acted like a competent team over the final three quarters of a football game, especially in the second half. When a team puts a 35-0 third quarter on an opponent, it is doing something right. Crucially, the coaching staff is obviously getting through to the players at halftime. The game doesn’t indicate that Vanderbilt has turned things around. It does show that the team is capable of growing and evolving. It didn’t look good in the first several minutes but put those bad patches in the rearview mirror and played better as the game went along. If that is how Vanderbilt responds to on-field adversity all season, it’s going to be an interesting 2022, perhaps better than any of us expected. Let’s briefly look at some keys for this upcoming Week 1 game against the Elon Phoenix.

1 – Start quickly

If Vanderbilt has a slow first quarter, it can simply regroup in the second quarter and play better, ultimately claiming control of this game. In terms of winning the game, Vanderbilt doesn’t absolutely have to own the first quarter. Yet, this is a central game key because VU did not start quickly against Hawaii. If there’s a checklist of things for the Dores to tend to against Elon, one of them is certainly to get off to a good start and not create problems right out of the gate. VU doesn’t want to fall into a habit of producing slow starts. That’s not going to work in SEC play.

2 – Rotate players

Vanderbilt went to Hawaii, then has to come home and play another game instead of having an off week. This is a situation conducive to mental fatigue. Clark Lea needs to keep players fresh and not overload his starters with work. Spreading the workload to more players and getting a look at more lineup combinations would be a very good move for this particular game. If Week Zero was not a very long road trip, this point wouldn’t be emphasized nearly as much. All in all, coaches have to deal with the situation in front of them, instead of assuming outcomes.

3 – Mash the ball

Mashing the ball between the tackles will shorten this game. VU, after its long road trip, needs a brisk and uncomplicated game so that players aren’t overextended this early in the season. The team needs to save its strength for bigger, tougher tasks. Shortening the game is in the Dores’ best interests.

Mashing the ball between the tackles will shorten this game. VU, after its long road trip, needs a brisk and uncomplicated game so that players aren’t overextended this early in the season. The team needs to save its strength for bigger, tougher tasks. Shortening the game is in the Dores’ best interests.

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