Vanderbilt 12, WKU 14.
Let’s be clear: Last night we should have won, and could have won. We were absolutely the better team in virtually every phase of the game, except for the turnover margin.
Coaches and playcalling: I think that for the most part, they did a good job. I didn’t see anything that looked ridiculous, and we got more first downs that I think we’ve seen in a long time. The biggest worries were that our running backs didn’t do very well, and naturally we couldn’t convert the 2-point play that would have sent us into overtime.
Defense: Amazing. They held WKU scoreless for 44 minutes, and only gave up 2 touchdowns total. We got a couple of sacks, and generally made life hell for WKU. One big play set up a TD from the 4 yard line, but had that play been stopped, we’re talking 1 TD from a team that’s used to scoring 6 per game. Derek Mason showed us why he’s a great DC in this game.
Offense: A marked improvement in the passing game, a slight regression in the running game, and still jelling together. WKU’s defense was about what I expected. The problem is that a new snapper and holder cost us a field goal in the first, and two interceptions in the red zone cost us the game. McCrary played pretty well and had some great scrambles. He was 18 of 34 for 217 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs. Some of those drops were the receiver’s faults—we just don’t have the playmakers at those positions. One of those incompletions was a go-ahead TD in the third that a receiver bobbled and dropped out of bounds. McCrary didn’t give up despite the 2 picks thrown in the end zone. With 2 minutes left, he engineered a fantastic 77-yard TD drive. We needed a 2-pt conversion to tie it. McCrary threw the tying pass and it was caught, but we were stopped one yard short. Apparently, Ludwig calls this play pretty often. That’s a bad sign; Ludwig should know better than that by now.
Overall, we were one yard short of tying a game that, had the offense been a bit cleaner in the red zone, we would have been ahead in anyway. You can’t leave 17 points on the field. Despite that, there was improvement in every phase of the game. The team didn’t give up, and we almost had another opportunity after the failed 2-point conversion by recovering the onside kick; unfortunately the ball bounced and hit one of our guys one yard too early, and the ball was given to WKU.
Let’s see how well the team does against the SEC East favorites, UGA next Saturday.