Dores Delighted, Not Done, With Winning

Vandy vows to quickly turn focus to Stanford after victory at Colorado State

by Chad Bishop

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Make no mistake, Saturday was special.

“I’m more happy for every single one of those guys in the locker room right now that I was able to do my part and I was able to help get this team to the outcome that we wanted,” Vanderbilt quarterback Ken Seals said after a 24-21 win at Colorado State. “Whenever I come out to play I’m trying to win for those guys. I’m just so blessed and thankful that I was able to do that for them tonight.

“It’s sheer joy. The visuals, I’ll never forget hugging my teammates and being almost on the verge of tears.”

Seals, like many of his second-year Vandy teammates, had never experienced victory while wearing black and gold. That changed in Fort Collins, Colorado, where the sophomore quarterback helped orchestrate a 14-point comeback and then a game-winning drive at Canvas Stadium.

A 38-yard-field goal from Joseph Bulovas with 19 ticks left on the clock eventually gave Vandy its first taste of triumph since Nov. 23, 2019. The Commodores cherished the moment by lingering on the field and celebrating with the Vandy fans who had made the trip and who remained in the stands.

That was followed by a raucous party in the locker room.

“It was really special,” Seals said. “I think this game was really important for the direction of our program and this team. The feeling is so special. It’s a rewarding feeling that you don’t get often when you know that something is important and something is as big as what you’ve been working for for so long has finally come and you’re able to succeed and enjoy the feeling of being completely exhausted on the battlefield.”

Vanderbilt avoided a fourth straight 0-2 start to the season. It can be 2-1 for the first time since 2018 if and only if it conquers the next challenge on the schedule – a challenge much greater than the previous two this September.

Stanford, fresh off a 42-28 beating of No. 14 Southern California, is coming to Nashville. Head coach David Shaw brings a proven program that only once since 2011 (not counting the shortened 2020 COVID-19 campaign) has failed to win at least eight games in a single season.

The Commodores will be tested by Stanford’s strength, intelligence and discipline. First-year Vandy head coach Clark Lea deflected the notion that his squad could be over-confident simply from winning one game.

“We can’t draw our confidence from results. We can’t live in that world,” he said. “It has to be confidence through preparation. It has to be confidence through early-week practice and attention to detail. We build to a confident performance on Saturday through our work in the week.

“We don’t take confidence from this win. We celebrate, we enjoy it, we learn from it, we move on and we got to do that quickly because we got a good team coming into Nashville next week.”

Vanderbilt banished some long losing streaks via the victory at Colorado State. But there still lives a run of six home defeats in a row and seven straight home losses to Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.

Lea isn’t particularly interested in those streaks, nor is he concerned with what has happened in seasons past before his return to his alma mater in December. Taking lessons from what happened earlier this month, however, will be pivotal when the Dores meet the Cardinal.

And it all comes down to discipline.

“The biggest thing for us to recognize what we can control. And to put our effort into what we can control,” Lea said. “Not to sound overly cliche, but we got to look at (the ETSU game) as not something that happened to us but something that was a result we contributed to in our preparation. We came out (last week) on Tuesday and I told the team – and I don’t mind telling you – it was not good enough. There was still a lack of attention to detail, still a lack of focus.

“It’s not that they don’t want to do it. They do. We have to demand it from them and they have to understand how attention to detail and execution in practice – when you prepare with humility you can compete with arrogance and with some swagger and some enthusiasm and confidence. In game it’s not going to be perfect. We look for excellence in our game day. Excellence accounts for the fact that it’s going to be sloppy at times. There’s going to be mistakes. But we have so much more room to go in early-week preparation so that we’re controlling everything we can control to give our best effort on Saturday.”

— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for
Follow him @MrChadBishop.


• Stanford and Vanderbilt will be meeting Saturday for the first time.

• Vandy is 0-1 against current members of the Pac-12 Conference having lost at UCLA in 1961.

• As a team, Vanderbilt ranks second nationally having allowed zero yards on kickoff returns so far, fourth in punt return defense (-3.5), 26th in net punting (42.87) and 39th nationally with 33 total first downs allowed.

• Seals ranks 17th nationally with 23.5 completions per game.

• Seals is now 232-for-363 (63.9 percent) passing for 2,359 yards with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his career.

• Vandy receivers Cam Johnson and Will Sheppard each rank 26th nationally with 6.5 receptions per game.

• Vanderbilt linebacker Ethan Barr is making 11 tackles per game which ranks ninth nationally. Anfernee Orji’s 10.5 per game is 14th nationally.

— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for
Follow him @MrChadBishop.