NASHVILLE, Tenn. — While the Vanderbilt football team was in no way pleased with the outcome of Saturday’s season-opening game at Texas A&M, there is some optimism this week that a foundation has been laid for success moving forward.
Head coach Derek Mason said he saw plenty of positives out of his Commodores during a 17-12 defeat. Now the challenge is building on those positives, continuing to improve and eliminating the crucial mistakes.
“All the way around a solid first performance – got a lot of things to clean up,” Mason said. “Excited about cleaning those things because that’s about improvement, but it’s also about investment and preparation. Our guys understand that and we’re motivated as we step into a game week with LSU.”
Vandy will get an LSU team ranked 20th in the nation and coming off a loss of their own, a 44-34 defeat to Mississippi State in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Coach Ed Orgeron’s team, however, is still the defending national champions and won 66-38 at Vanderbilt Stadium last season en route to a 15-0 campaign.
The Tigers (0-1-1 SEC) are making consecutive trips to Nashville after having not previously been to Music City since 2010.
“LSU is always a tough, physical team and they do play hard-nosed football downhill and like to run the ball,” Vanderbilt defensive tackle Daevion Davis said. “We’ve definitely seen glimpses of that like they’ve always shown in the film that we’ve already seen.”
Davis was part of a Vanderbilt defensive unit Saturday that forced three turnovers and held the Aggies to 17 points. Vandy’s defense also held Texas A&M to 4-for-10 on third down and to a modest 189 yards passing.
The Commodores’ offense, meanwhile had its bright spots with Ken Seals at quarterback and saw productive numbers from running backs Jamuari Wakefield and Ja’Veon Marlow and wide receiver Amir Abdur-Rahman. But Vandy fell short on 10 third-down calls, threw two interceptions and five times went scoreless after crossing midfield.
“When I look at what we were able to accomplish offensively, I thought we controlled the clock, I thought we moved the ball,” Mason said. “These were things that you wanted to do, but to actually see it come to fruition was a good sign for the Commodores.
“A young quarterback going into College Station and playing his first game, I thought (Seals) operated the offense with veteran-like experience. He did a good job of staying calm, didn’t get too high, didn’t get too low.”
Saturday’s home opener for Vanderbilt is scheduled to kickoff at 6:30 p.m. and will be televised live by SEC Network. The Commodores have faced LSU 31 times before and are looking to beat the Tigers for the first time since 1990.
“LSU and coach Orgeron will come in here ready to play, they’ll be prepared,” Mason said. “What we got to do is finish our preparation and make sure we line up and play football.”
Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com. Follow him @MrChadBishop.