Oct 29, 2022; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) reacts after being sacked by the Missouri Tigers in the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Struggling offenses collide as Vanderbilt faces South Carolina

South Carolina and Vanderbilt are both coming off losses to Missouri, with each defeat exposing shortcomings with their offenses heading into their matchup on Saturday in Nashville.

South Carolina (5-3, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) lost 23-10 to Missouri at home last week, a week after Vanderbilt (3-5, 0-4) fell 17-14 on the road against the Tigers.

The Commodores, coming off a bye week, will host the Gamecocks after producing only 299 yards of total offense (57 rushing) vs. Missouri.

South Carolina’s offense averaged 3.8 yards per play against Missouri, including 5.7 yards per pass attempt and a sack-adjusted 3.2 yards per carry.

Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler was sacked four times for 28 yards. He said after the game South Carolina’s offense did not have a “good enough” idea of what to do offensively.

South Carolina coach Shane Beamer responded by saying, “I met with Spencer and we talked about that comment. I understood where he was coming from. We didn’t go into that game uncertain about things. I’m aware Spencer said it, but he and I met on it and don’t think it’s an issue.”

Vanderbilt’s AJ Swann, the only true freshman quarterback starting for a Power 5 program, is questionable to play after sustaining an undisclosed injury against Missouri.

Swann exited that game early and did not return. He rejoined the Commodores at practice on Tuesday after not practicing during the bye week.

“My expectation is he’ll be playing against South Carolina,” Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea said. “Obviously we have to give him a chance to heal and demonstrate that he is ready, but I feel like there’s time to do that. I feel like he’s on course to do that.”

Swann has completed 57.7 percent of his passes for 1,068 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception for an offense that ranks last in the SEC at 341 yards per game.

Rattler, a former Oklahoma standout, has a career-high nine interceptions with five touchdowns while completing 64 percent of his attempts for 1,637 yards.

The Gamecocks have won their past 13 matchups against the Commodores.

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores wide receiver Quincy Skinner Jr. (3) runs the ball as Missouri Tigers defensive back Kris Abrams-Draine (14) makes the tackle during the first half of the game at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri comes out on top in tight SEC matchup vs. Vanderbilt

Brady Cook went 17-for-25 passing for 211 yards and a touchdown to lead Missouri to a 17-14 home win over Vanderbilt in an SEC contest on Saturday.

Cody Schrader ran for 84 yards on 14 carries for Missouri, which overcame three turnovers to snap a three-game losing streak.

Missouri opened the scoring early in the first quarter, taking a 7-0 lead with 12:12 left in the first following a 35-yard touchdown pass from Cook to Luther Burden.

The Tigers then grabbed a 14-0 lead with 12:19 remaining in the second quarter on a 10-yard touchdown run by Burden.

Missouri (3-4, 1-3) then took a 17-0 lead into halftime after a 38-yard field goal by Harrison Mevis with one second left until intermission.

In the third quarter, it was Vanderbilt’s defense that got the Commodores (3-5, 0-4) on the board.

Vanderbilt’s Anfernee Orji sacked Cook deep in Missouri territory and forced a fumble, which CJ Taylor picked up and returned 2 yards for a touchdown that made it 17-7 Missouri with 8:07 remaining in the third.

After a missed 36-yard field goal by Mevis, Vanderbilt cut Missouri’s lead to 17-14 with 3:59 remaining on an 80-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Mike Wright to Gamarion Carter, who caught a pass at the 25-yard line, eluded a couple of defenders and then raced down the field to the end zone.

After forcing a Missouri punt, Vanderbilt drove to the Missouri 43-yard line.

But on 4th-and-1, Vanderbilt running back Ray Davis was stopped short of the first down to give the ball back to Missouri.

The Tigers then kneeled out the clock to preserve the win.

Wright, who came on in the second half for starter AJ Swann, finished 9-of-15 passing in defeat for Vanderbilt, which has lost four straight.

–Field Level Media

Oct 15, 2022; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Kenny McIntosh (6) scores a touchdown past Vanderbilt Commodores linebacker De'Rickey Wright (43) after catching a pass during the first quarter at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 Georgia makes quick work of Vandy, 55-0

Stetson Bennett threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns to lead top-ranked Georgia to its second straight shutout of visiting Vanderbilt with a 55-0 victory in a Southeastern Conference game on Saturday in Athens, Ga.

Bennett went 24-for-30 passing and completed at least one pass to eight Bulldogs before being replaced by Carson Beck with 38 seconds left in the third quarter and Georgia (7-0, 4-0 SEC) leading 34-0.

Darnell Washington caught four passes for 78 yards while Dillon Bell finished with five catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, and Ladd McConkey added 49 yards on four receptions.

Kenny McIntosh had nine carries for 43 yards and a touchdown in addition to two receptions for 20 yards and a touchdown. Daijun Edwards rushed for a game-high 49 yards and a score on 10 carries.

AJ Swann went 12-for-23 passing for 105 yards, with Will Sheppard finishing with three receptions for 45 yards. Ray Davis was held to just 29 yards on 12 carries.

Vanderbilt (3-4, 0-3) mustered just 45 yards in the second half and was outgained 579-150.

Georgia defeated Vanderbilt 62-0 in Nashville last year and 30-6 in 2019. The teams didn’t play in 2020 due to coronavirus, meaning the Commodores haven’t scored a touchdown against Georgia in four years.

After Bennett found McIntosh out of the backfield for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 10:01 left in the first quarter, the Bulldogs doubled their lead two possessions later.

McIntosh’s 7-yard burst up the middle capped a four-play, 42-yard drive that extended the Bulldogs’ lead to 14-0 with 1:40 left in the first quarter.

Edwards’ 1-yard touchdown run up the middle capped an 11-play, 81-yard drive that pushed Georgia’s lead to 21-0 with 9:00 left in the first half.

After Vanderbilt fumbled the ball away on Georgia’s 15-yard line, the Bulldogs turned the miscue into points when Bennett threw a 10-yard scoring strike to Dominick Blaylock for a 28-0 lead with 1:06 left in the half.

Jack Podlesny kicked field goals of 28 and 35 yards in the third quarter to make it 34-0.

Beck, who finished 8-for-11 passing for 98 yards, threw fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Bell and Arik Gilbert before Cash Jones’ 36-yard touchdown run capped the 55-0 rout with 1:31 left.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) attempts a pass during the first half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at FirstBank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

No. 9 Ole Miss run away from Vandy in 2nd half, 52-28

Jonathan Mingo had a school-record 247 receiving yards and reeled in two of Jaxson Dart’s three touchdown passes to lift No. 9 Ole Miss to a 52-28 victory over host Vanderbilt on Saturday in Nashville, Tenn.

Dart completed 25 of 32 attempts for 448 yards, and Mingo eclipsed the previous receiving yards record of 238 held by current New York Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore.

Quinshon Judkins rushed for two touchdowns, Zach Evans and Matt Jones each had one, and Jordan Watkins added a receiving score for the Rebels (6-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference), who have won their first six games of a season for the first time since 2014.

Vanderbilt’s AJ Swann completed 27 of 38 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns. Jayden McGowan had seven catches for 104 yards and a touchdown, and Will Sheppard added nine receptions for 87 yards for the Commodores (3-3, 0-2).

Ole Miss overcame an early 10-point deficit by scoring a touchdown on its next four possessions.

Watkins came out of the backfield, caught a pass over the middle and bolted for the end zone to trim Vanderbilt’s lead to 13-10.

The Commodores’ Ray Davis bulled his way in from 5 yards to cap a 15-play, 75-yard drive before Judkins countered by scoring from 2 yards out just before halftime.

Evans raced around left end and avoided an attempted tackle before scoring from 24 yards out to give the Rebels a 24-20 lead.

Swann’s attempted backward pass resulted in a fumble, and Ole Miss made Vanderbilt pay on the next snap as Judkins scored from 6 yards out for his eighth rushing touchdown of the season.

The Commodores went three-and-out on their next possession and Dart connected with Mingo on 71- and 72-yard touchdown passes to stake the Rebels to a 45-20 advantage. Mingo’s first touchdown reception came after he gained a step over the top of the defense, while his second score was off a screen.

Sheppard reeled in a 9-yard touchdown for his team-leading eighth touchdown reception of the season.

The teams traded field goals in the first quarter before McGowan reeled in a short pass from Swann and scampered down the left sideline. McGowan just broke the goal line to cap a seven-play, 68-yard drive and stake the Commodores to a 10-3 lead with 13:35 left in the second quarter.

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2022; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) hands the ball off to Mississippi Rebels running back Quinshon Judkins (4) during the third quarter against the Kentucky Wildcats at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

No. 9 Ole Miss walking tall into meeting with Vanderbilt

Quinshon Judkins and No. 9 Ole Miss will aim to continue their fast start to the season on Saturday when they visit Vanderbilt at Nashville, Tenn.

Judkins was named Southeastern Conference Co-Freshman of the Week on Monday, two days after rushing for 106 yards and a touchdown in the Rebels’ 22-19 victory over then-No. 7 Kentucky.

Judkins has rushed for 535 yards and six TDs this season for Ole Miss (5-0, 1-0), which has won its first five games of a season for the first time since 2014.

Rebels coach Lane Kiffin said he isn’t concerned with Judkins’ workload at this point in the season.

“He’s great. He was really struggling early in the week physically from all the pounding two weeks ago, but he was better by the end of the week,” Kiffin said. “… He didn’t take the pounding that he took the week before. He’s doing a phenomenal job.”

Micah Pettus helped pave the way for Judkins, and in doing so was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week on Monday. Pettus played at right tackle in lieu of the team’s injuries along the line.

“He did play great for a first start; he played great whether it was his first start or not,” Kiffin said. “Really physical, how we talk about straining to finish, finishing people with a violent attitude, and that was awesome to see. So we pointed him out today in film, told our players again, this is how you’re supposed to do (it) in this program.”

While applauding Pettus’ effort, Kiffin also said Ole Miss needs to put the Kentucky game in the past and focus on Vanderbilt.

“Just like last week, we said, you’ve got to prepare the same regardless,” Kiffin said. “Last week, everybody built up the game and everything. Told them, it’s a faceless opponent. It’s not just when you play a team that’s not ranked and you’re heavily favored with. It’s both ways. That way you avoid playing like this. Hopefully they listened.”

The Rebels’ defense has allowed an average of just 11.8 points per game and has held nine of its last 10 opponents to 21 points or less.

Vanderbilt (3-2, 0-1) has been idle since being steamrolled by then-No. 2 Alabama 55-3 on Sept. 24. The Crimson Tide had a decisive 628-129 advantage in total yards.

Commodores coach Clark Lea plans to make adjustments following the one-sided setback.

“It’s just about improvement,” Lea said. “We’ve pinpointed some areas we want to strengthen from the performance (against Alabama), and we’re just going to pull that learning forward. And as we go, I think also these (bye) weeks give you a chance to kind of make adjustments and adaptations, not in big ways, but in subtle ways that kind of equip you schematically, so we’ll look at that, too.”

AJ Swann struggled mightily in his second career start, completing just 13 of 26 passes for 115 yards in the loss to the Crimson Tide.

Will Sheppard leads the team in catches (26), receiving yards (365) and receiving touchdowns (seven) this season. He had two catches for 13 yards in Vanderbilt’s 31-17 setback to Ole Miss last season.

–Field Level Media

Dec 4, 2021; Charlotte, NC, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman (10) during the first quarter in the ACC championship game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

No. 23 Wake Forest at full strength to face Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt has not experienced a big-game feel in recent years, particularly in nonconference play, with that changing a bit Saturday afternoon when No. 23 Wake Forest visits for a showdown at Nashville, Tenn.

“We’re happy to be 2-0 to have a chance to play (Wake Forest),” Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea said. “Wake Forest has become a standard-bearer, winning through differentiation.”

Wake Forest (1-0) produced an 11-win season a year ago and has high expectations entering 2022. Vanderbilt (2-0) is aiming to move to a 3-0 mark for the first time since 2017.

This will be Wake Forest’s lone nonconference road game and its only road outing until October. Mitch Griffis had solid debut at quarterback for the Demon Deacons last week, but standout Sam Hartman is scheduled to return after he had a blood clot removed.

“I am just really excited to get back on the field with my teammates and compete each day to help our team get ready for Vanderbilt this Saturday in Nashville,” Hartman said in a statement after he was cleared to return to the field.

Hartman passed for 4,228 yards and 39 touchdowns in 14 games last season with 14 interceptions while completing 58.9 percent of his passes.

Wake Forest began its season last Thursday by defeating Virginia Military Institute 44-10. That gave some insight in several areas.

“We did a lot of good things, but just had too many penalties,” Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson said. “We had five holds, two of them cost us a touchdown and the other one cost us a two-point conversion. There were just a lot of lack-of-discipline penalties that we had.”

In Saturday night’s home opener, Vanderbilt held off Elon for a 42-31 victory. There were positive elements to that outcome, but also concerns in some areas.

“There’s too much that we left on that field that certainly Wake will be set up to make us pay for,” Lea said. “We love learning from good results. I don’t want to take that away from this team. It’ll be an exciting week for this program, and we’re excited to play that game in our stadium.”

Vanderbilt quarterback Mike Wright rolled up big numbers vs. Elon, becoming the first player in program history to account for six touchdowns in a game. He threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more.

Vanderbilt wide receiver Jayden McGowan was named the Freshman of the Week in the Southeastern Conference after recording four catches for 118 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown against Elon.

Vanderbilt leads the all-time series with Wake Forest 10-6, including three consecutive wins. The Commodores won 23-21 in the last meeting in the 2013 regular-season finale, which marked the last game as coach for Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe.

Wake Forest has won nine of its last 11 games played in September.

–Field Level Media

Vanderbilt Commodores    Miles Capers during the Vanderbilt Spring Game at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville , Tenn., Saturday, April 16, 2022.

Spring Game004

After offensive outburst, Vanderbilt looks to spoil Elon’s season opener

Following one of the best offensive performances in recent school history, Vanderbilt will look to improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2018 when the Commodores host Elon on Saturday night in Nashville, Tenn.

The Commodores opened the season with a 63-10 rout at Hawaii last Saturday to end a seven-game losing streak with its highest-scoring output since a 63-8 win over Davidson in 1969.

The 53-point win over the Rainbow Warriors was the Commodores’ largest margin of victory since a 58-0 win over Presbyterian in September 2012.

“This is a program that we’re building, it’s an identity we’re building. It’s not something that we want to celebrate — it’s something that we want to expect,” Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea said.

“This isn’t the goal, this isn’t the end point. This is the beginning, this is the start of the journey, and there’s a lot more out there for this team to accomplish.”

Mike Wright went 13-for-21 passing for 146 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 163 yards on just 13 carries with two more scores, including one covering 87 yards. He became the fourth Commodore to have multiple rushing and passing touchdowns in the same game since 1996.

Will Sheppard had three catches for 39 yards and two scores, and Ray Davis rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.

Vanderbilt’s Anfernee Orji returned a fumble 28 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, and CJ Taylor had a 14-yard scoop-and-score in the third quarter.

After leading 21-10 at halftime, the Commodores scored 35 points in the third quarter, their highest-scoring quarter since scoring the same amount in the second quarter against Austin Peay in September 2013.

Vanderbilt, which went 2-10 last season, can equal last season’s win total with a victory over Elon.

The Phoenix, who play in the FCS, won five of their last seven games to finish 6-5 last season. Saturday’s game will be their season opener.

Elon will turn to quarterback Matt McKay, who transferred from Montana State, to lead an offense that returns All-Colonial Athletic Association receiver Jackson Parham (57 catches, 820 yards, one TD).

Defensively, Elon returns nine starters, including defensive end Torrence Williams, cornerback Tre’Von Jones and safeties Cole Coleman and Omar Rogers.

Elon coach Tony Trisciani is excited about the challenge that awaits his team Saturday.

“What we want is earned, not given,” he said. “We’ve got to earn it every day by practicing with a purpose and being resilient.”

–Field Level Media

Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman (4) gets his hands on the ball but it falls incomplete in the NCAA college football game between the Tennesse Volunteers and Vanderbilt Commodores in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, November 27, 2021.

Kns Tennessee Vanderbilt Football

Hendon Hooker propels Tennessee past Vanderbilt with big-play attack

Hendon Hooker threw for two touchdowns before leaving with a left hand injury Saturday as Tennessee closed its regular season with a 45-21 win over Vanderbilt in Knoxville, Tenn.

Hooker completed 10 of 18 passes for 156 yards as the Volunteers (7-5, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) beat their in-state rivals for the third straight year. Tennessee now waits to see what bowl game it will get invited to, making coach Josh Heupel’s first season a big success.

Mike Wright hit on 16 of 31 passes for 198 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Commodores (2-10, 0-8), which have now lost 21 consecutive SEC games, dating back to 2019.

Wright’s one big mistake put Vanderbilt down 7-0 less than three minutes into the game. He tossed an interception that Theo Jackson returned 55 yards for a touchdown.

After the Commodores controlled the ball for most of the first quarter, the Volunteers took over in the second quarter, cranking up their high-powered attack. Jabari Small’s 6-yard scoring run with 9:05 left in the half upped the margin to 14-0 and Hooker made it 21-0 less than five minutes later on a 24-yard touchdown pass to Cedric Tillman.

Chase McGrath connected on a 31-yard field goal in the last minute, but Wright got Vanderbilt on the board with a Hail Mary pass of 56 yards to Will Sheppard, drawing it within 24-7 at halftime.

The Commodores’ momentum lasted all of 33 seconds. On the second play of the third quarter, Hooker and Tillman hooked up for a 46-yard touchdown pass that increased the lead to 31-7.

Rocko Griffin scored on a 13-yard touchdown run for Vanderbilt at the 6:28 mark of the third, but Tennessee answered back 76 seconds later with Small’s second touchdown run, an 11-yarder.

Each team added a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Wright scored on a 4-yard run with 9:17 remaining for the Commodores and Jaylen Wright countered for the Volunteers with a 10-yard run at the 3:12 mark.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores cornerback Jaylen Mahoney (23) tackles South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Dakereon Joyner (5) at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina rallies late to upend Vanderbilt

Quarterback Zeb Noland came off the bench late and hit Xavier Legette on a 9-yard touchdown pass with 37 seconds remaining to lift South Carolina to a 21-20 Southeastern Conference victory against Vanderbilt on Saturday at Columbia, S.C.

Noland replaced Luke Doty with 1:36 remaining and was 5-of-8 passing for 75 yards on the decisive final drive to help the Gamecocks (4-3, 1-3 SEC) snap a nine-game SEC losing streak.

The Commodores (2-5, 0-3) lost their 16th consecutive SEC game.

Vanderbilt QB Mike Wright, making his first career start in place of injured Ken Seals (hand), hit Will Sheppard 52-yard catch-and-run touchdown late in the third quarter. South Carolina’s Darius Rush failed to tackle Sheppard, who ran down the sideline for a 17-14 led with 5:17 remaining in the quarter.

Vanderbilt’s Joseph Bulovas added a 28-yard field goal for a 20-14 lead with 1:36 remaining in advance of Noland’s heroics.

Wright was 11-of-21 passing for 206 yards, one TD and one interception. He also ran 15 times for 41 yards.

Doty was 17-of-26 passing for 242 yards and two TDs for the Gamecocks, who had four turnovers.

South Carolina’s Parker White missed a 38-yard field-goal attempt in the final minute of the third quarter. It was his first miss in 10 attempts this season.

Doty’s two first-quarter TD passes helped South Carolina take a 14-10 halftime lead against its SEC East Division rival.

The Gamecocks’ quarterback found tight end Nick Muse on a 2-yard scoring pass with 9:49 left in the first quarter, and then hit Jaheim Bell on an 82-yard pass play less than 10 minutes into the game.

Vanderbilt’s Rocko Griffin ran 1 yard for a touchdown with 2:53 to go in the second quarter. The scoring drive was set up by Dashaun Jerkins’ recovery at the South Carolina 14 after MarShawn Lloyd fumbled.

The victory was South Carolina’s 13th consecutive in the series and gave them victory No. 100 in the SEC (100-137-1) since joining the conference in 1992.

–Field level Media

Florida Gators quarterback Emory Jones (5) flies forward for extra yards in the first half. The Florida Gators lead 21-0 at the half over the Vanderbilt Commodores Saturday afternoon, October 9, 2021 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]2021

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Emory Jones and No. 20 Florida flatten Vanderbilt

Emory Jones established career highs of 273 passing yards and four touchdowns as No. 20 Florida continued its domination of Vanderbilt with a 42-0 trouncing on Saturday in SEC action in Gainesville, Fla.

Dameon Pierce scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) as the Gators (4-2, 2-2 SEC) beat the Commodores for the eighth straight time and 30th in the past 31 meetings. Jones completed 14 of 22 passes.

Jacob Copeland, Ja’Quavion Fraziars and Trent Whittemore also had scoring receptions for Florida. Rashad Torrence racked up 15 tackles while Trey Dean III and Daquan Newkirk had interceptions for the Gators.

Vanderbilt (2-4, 0-2) dropped its 15th straight SEC game since defeating Missouri 21-14 on Oct. 19, 2019.

Ken Seals completed 22 of 43 passes for 192 yards and two interceptions for the Commodores. Dashaun Jerkins and Elijah McAllister had interceptions for Vanderbilt.

Joseph Bulovas missed field goals of 39, 41 and 33 yards as the Commodores were shut out for the second time in the past three games.

The Gators totaled 479 yards to Vanderbilt’s 287.

Florida outgained the Commodores 202 to 33 in the third quarter while scoring 21 points to stretch its lead to 42.

Pierce got the assault going when he caught a short pass from Jones and turned it into a 61-yard touchdown with 12:07 left in quarter.

Copeland caught a 25-yard scoring pass from Jones to make it 35-0 with 10:26 remaining. Pierce tacked on a 1-yard touchdown run to boost the lead to 42 with 8:46 left in the stanza.

Vanderbilt ran 49 plays to Florida’s 31 in the first half but still trailed by three touchdowns. The Gators had 215 yards and the Commodores had 200 in the half.

Pierce scored from the 1 with 11:16 left in the first quarter to get the Gators on the board. Nearly six minutes later, Jones connected with Fraziars on a 5-yard scoring pass to make it 14-0.

Jones and Whittemore teamed up on a 9-yard strike to increase the margin to 21 with 3:55 left in the first half.

–Field Level Media