NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt’s loss to No. 20 LSU on Saturday was a matter of the Tigers coming to Nashville prepared and focused. It was also a matter of the Commodores missing opportunities and falling short in execution.
“We just didn’t execute. That’s all it is – didn’t execute,” Vanderbilt safety Donovan Kaufman said. “We practiced great (during the week). You never expect to come out on a Saturday night and not execute.
“If you do, what’s the point of playing?”
Kaufman had some bright moments Saturday during the Dores’ 41-7 defeat, including a pass breakup and 58-yard kickoff return to go along with 10 tackles. But that did little to soften the blow of losing a game that was still up for grabs in the second quarter.
The Tigers, however, went on a 27-0 run to end the night.
“For us, we had our chances. We had some opportunities to create some momentum, put some points on the board and we didn’t,” Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason said. “I think in not doing that it starts to become a snowball effect a little bit for our guys. Our guys just got to continue to keep functioning, playing within the framework of what we do.
“We’re going to look at this game and all these guys are going to want some of this back. But you don’t get a chance to get it back, you just get a chance to pay it forward.”
With 5:07 left in the first half Saturday, quarterback Ken Seals threaded an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ben Bresnahan putting the Commodores (0-2, 0-2 SEC) within 14-7. LSU, the defending national champion, didn’t let that momentum last long by striking 55 seconds later thanks to a 51-yard pass from Myles Brennan to Terrace Marshall.
Vandy had two more drives into LSU territory the rest of the night, but one ended with a missed field goal and another ended with an interception.
“Everybody just has to stay consistent. You can’t just have a good play one time and a bad play another time,” Vanderbilt running back Ja’Veon Marlow said. “You just have to keep consistently moving and straining. That’s what coach always stresses is just strain. That’s just what we have to keep motivating ourselves to do.”
Big run from Ja’Veon Marlow pic.twitter.com/017MLbNDui
— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) October 3, 2020
Marlow finished with 83 yards on 17 carries – both career highs – and was complemented by Jamauri Wakefield’s 52 yards on 16 runs. Those totals amounted to 4.1 yards per carry.
But the Vandy passing game could only muster 113 yards and LSU pressured Seals into two interceptions.
“I think what you see are just pieces of an offense that’s really working toward trying to figure out exactly what it can do,” Mason said. “When you look at the time of possession (30:47), even in this ballgame – it doesn’t mean a lot in a ballgame like this that looks a little lopsided in score – but it just shows there’s an opportunity for ball control.
“If you can control the clock, if you can keep your defense off the field, if you can play better on special teams and put points on the board, there’s a formula there that this team can build off of. As we continue to move forward we’re going to have to be more dynamic in this league. We’re going to have to put points on the board – we know that.”
Vanderbilt now turns its attention to a South Carolina team (0-2, 0-2 SEC) coming off a 38-24 loss at No. 3 Florida. The Dores will be trying to break an 11-game losing streak when the Gamecocks come to town for an 11 a.m. kickoff at Vanderbilt Stadium.
They’ll also be looking to show they’re a better team than the score indicated against LSU and are continuing to improve as the 2020 season continues.
“I just learned a lot about this football team. Our football team still has a lot of football left to play. We’re going to get better,” Mason said. “We’re going to look at this tape and we’re going to see exactly where we need to go.
“We just got a lot to clean up in a short amount of time. We’ll look at the tape and get better.”
Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com. Follow him @MrChadBishop.