Tuesday, December 16, 2008

VANDERBILT SEASON REVIEW: 10 offensive plays to forget

Trust me, I'm not trashing the Commodores here. We're going to look at some plays that kept a good season from being even better. And then starting tomorrow, we'll count down the 12 Plays of Christmas, in which we count down the top 10 plays of the year on offense, defense and special teams.

But back to the subject of plays Commodore fans would like to forget. Let's start with the offense.

And when we say offensive, we mean offensive. Think about it: In the last eight games of the season, the Commodores managed more than 14 points only once — and won twice, thanks to Auburn's inept offense.

1. DUKE: MACK GAMBLES AND LOSES (DUKE 10/25): Mackenzi Adams goes for broke on second and 10 on the Duke 39 with 2 minutes remaining. He’s intercepted at the 1 yard line. Game over.

2. MSU: NICKSON GIVES GAME TO DOGS (AT MISS STATE 10/11): Deep in his own territory and trailing Miss State 10-7 early in the fourth quarter, Chris Nickson throws a pass directly to a Bulldog defender who returns it to the Vanderbilt 7 yard line.

3. UT: BERRY MAKES NICKSON PAY (TENNESSEE 11/22): With Vanderbilt down 10-0 in the first quarter, Chris Nickson heaved a desperation pass on third and 20 and was picked off by Eric Berry, the all-world cornerback, who returned it 45 yds for a touchdown and a 17-0 Volunteer lead.

4. WALKER’S DROP (AT WAKE FOREST 11/29): Backed up in his own end zone in an icy rain on the road, smith gunned a 60-yard pass to Sean Walker. Instead of a 91-yard touchdown to tie the game, Walker dropped it. Smith was intercepted on the next play, and a few plays later the game was out of reach.

5. MACK SWINGS MOMENTUM WRONG WAY (AT WAKE FOREST 11/29): After D.J. Moore took a swing pass 54 yards down to the Wake 24 yard line with the game tied in 3-3 in the first quarter, Mackenzi Adams threw an ill-advised pass that was intercepted on the goal line. With a shot of momentum, the Demon Deacons drove 98 yards to take a 10-3 lead.

6. JAMIE TIPS OFF ENEMY (TENNESSEE 11/22): With a minute left in the first half and down 17-0, Mackenzi Adams entered the game and directed the Commodores downfield to first and 5 on the Tennessee 34 yard line. He then hit a wide open Jamie Graham who was streaking for the end zone but Graham bobbled the ball into the hands of Vol Brent Vinson, who grabbed it and raced 69 yards to the Vanderbilt 7 with seconds remaining. Fulmer called for the field goal to make it 20-0 at halftime.

7. NICKSON REACHES TOO FAR (TENNESSEE 11/22): With Vanderbilt winning the battle of field position in the first quarter, Nickson fumbled at the Tennessee 48 while struggling for extra yardage on third down.

8. LINE COLLAPSES (TENNESSEE 11/22): Starting the game in the red zone after a Myron Lewis interception, the Vanderbilt line was overwhelmed by the Tennessee defensive front, which chalked up two sacks and drew an illegal block penalty. The Commodores were forced to punt.

9. WALKER STOPPED SHORT (TENNESSEE 11/22): With time running out and Vanderbiltdown by 10 on fourth and 10 on the Tennessee 39, Sean Walker caught a Mackenzi Adams pass but was stopped a yard short, returning the ball to the Volunteers.

10. JENNINGS STRIPPED (AT WAKE FOREST 11/29): After Vanderbilt recovered a fumble at the Wake 40 on the first play of the second half, running back Jeff Jennings took a clean handoff from new quarterback Larry Smith, lost 5 yards and was stripped of the ball.


MACK SETS WRONG TONE (DUKE 10/25): In the Commodores’ first drive against Duke, Mackenzi Adams threw an interception in Vanderbilt territory.

MACK GIVES GATORS GIFT (FLORIDA 11/8): Mackenzi Adams’ interception deep in Vanderbilt territory in the first quarter led to a quick 21-0 Gator lead.

HAWKINS STUFFED (DUKE 10/25): On the opening drive of the second half against Duke, Hawkins took the ball up the middle on third and one and was stopped for no gain, forcing the Commodores to punt.

NICKSON TO JERRY (AT OLE MISS 9/20): On Vanderbilt’s second drive of the game, and trailing Ole Miss 3-0 in Oxford, Chris Nickson fumbled the football, which was scooped up by the Rebels’ Peria Jerry and returned for a touchdown to punt Vanderbilt in a 10-0 hole.

NICKSON DIGS HOLE (AUBURN 10/4): Chris Nickson tossed an interception in the first quarter, giving the Tigers the ball on the VU27. Two plays later, Auburn had a 14-0 lead that seemed insurmountable.

HAWKINS COUGHS IT UP (AT OLE MISS 9/20): With Vanderbilt trailing Ole Miss 10-0 in the first quarter, Jared Hawkins fumbled at the VU20 yard line, giving the ball back to the Rebels.

MILLER DELIVERS GAMECOCK SCORE (SOUTH CAROLINA 9/4): In the first quarter against South Carolina, Gaston Miller took the handoff at the VU35, lost five yards and fumbled the football, which was recovered by the Gamecocks at the VU20. Five plays later, quarterback Chris Smelley hit Kenny McKinley for a 19-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 Gamecock lead.

JENNINGS OPENS SEASON WITH FUMBLE (MIAMI-OHIO 8/28): Jeff Jennings fumbled on the Commodores’ first drive of the season, on the VU49, leading to a Miami (Ohio) field goal and a 3-0 Jayhawk lead.

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