Vanderbilt runs past Army, 44-21
Commodores improve to 4-3 on the season.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)--
It may be time to start thinking of Jordan Rodgers as something other
than Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' little brother.
Vanderbilt quarterback gave the Commodores just what they've been
looking for -- a little spark and a lot of consistency -- in his first
start, a 44-21 win over Army on Saturday night. He rushed for 96 yards
and a touchdown, threw for another and helped open up the field for Zac
Stacy's career highs of 198 yards rushing and three scores in a 44-21
win over Army on Saturday night.
Coach James Franklin wasn't ready to announce the Commodores are fixed, though.
don't know if we have figured anything out yet," he said. "We're going
to be doing that for a long time, I think. But we are getting better.
We are starting to show somewhat of an identity."
snapped a three-game losing streak for the Commodores (4-3) and more
importantly appeared to right an offense that was faltering after a
fast start. It also kept them in the race for their first postseason
appearance since 2008. Two more wins and they clinch bowl eligibility.
prospects seem much more bright with Rodgers, a redshirt junior, under
center. He kept the Black Knights (2-5) off balance all night. Though
he completed just 10 of 27 passes, he kept Army's secondary on its
heels with deep passes, including two completions of more than 40
yards. That opened things up for Stacy, whose rushing total was third
most in a single game for Vanderbilt and it was the first
three-touchdown game since 2007.
"We were blowing holes," Rodgers said. "We had a lot of gap schemes. Linemen just man on man trying to beat them and they did."
The Commodores finished with a season-high 530 yards and a handle on the possibilities to come.
brings that versatility of throwing and running the ball," Stacy said.
"He is going to keep getting better and we are just going to build off
Vanderbilt's coaching staff utilized some
deception to make the most of Rodgers' abilities. On some plays, he
took the snap, set to pass, executed a pump fake, then pulled the ball
down. That worked to perfection on Vanderbilt's first and third scores,
runs of 1 yard by Stacy and 12 by Rodgers.
Rodgers also had
nice timing. After Steelman fumbled a handoff on Army's first drive,
Rodgers found Chris Boyd on a fly pattern for a 43-yard touchdown that
made it 13-0.
Things eventually got so wide open, Franklin found himself in the unusual position of calling off the Commodores' onslaught.
line coach Herb Hand) wanted to put him back in to get the 200 yards
and I just didn't think it was worth it," Franklin said. "We are not
really focused on the statistics. We're focused on the wins and doing
what's best for our team and our program."
It wasn't all
offense, though. Vanderbilt built a 23-6 halftime lead by holding Army,
the nation's top rushing team, to 104 yards on the ground in the first
half. The Commodores also knocked out Trent Steelman, the Black
Knights' most dangerous threat, with 2:20 left in the second quarter.
does not reveal the nature of injuries, but Steelman did not return and
could not put weight on his left leg when two members of the team's
training staff helped him off the field. His streak of 32 straight
starts, a record for an Army quarterback, could be in danger when the
Black Knights host Fordham next Saturday.
Army, which was
averaging 361.3 yards rushing per game, struggled even with Steelman in
the game and finished with 270 on the ground. Steelman's replacements,
Max Jenkins and Angel Santiago, couldn't get much going either and the
Cadets finished with just one pass completion.
quit in them," Army coach Rich Ellerson said. "I told them after the
game, 'Guys, you're playing hard enough, you're competing hard enough.
You've got to play well. We've got to coach better, we've got to play
better and good things will come.'"
Franklin's decision to
refocus on the run appeared to be the right call. The Commodores opened
3-0 under the first-year coach but stumbled with three consecutive
losses. Rodgers, a redshirt junior who missed last year and was limited
in spring drills by a torn labrum, relieved Smith last week against
Georgia and guided the Commodores to three scores while rushing for 80
His only real mistake against Army came in the fourth
quarter when under pressure he threw an interception to Geoffrey Bacon,
who returned it 70 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 37-21. But
Stacy sealed the win with second-half scoring runs of 8 and 55 yards.
Commodores will have to keep it rolling if they hope to make the
postseason. Though they need just two more wins to clinch bowl
eligibility, three of their final five opponents have winning records.
lot of teams, when you lose three straight, you're going to have a hard
time bouncing back," Franklin said. "It shows the character of our
team. We're going to keep fighting and competing."