Vanderbilt coach sticking with QB Johnny McCrary
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Vanderbilt's quarterback carousel appears to have stopped once again with Johnny McCrary set to make his second straight start at quarterback against Old Dominion on Saturday night.
Yet coach Derek Mason also says backup Patton Robinette could play as well.
''Patton is still our guy, but as we look right now Johnny is coming off a great week and we're going to let him go,'' Mason said Tuesday. ''Patton is going to get the other half of the reps and we're going to go get ready to play a game, and hopefully we'll get a chance to see both of those cats.''
McCrary was 17 of 31 for 196 yards passing and two touchdowns in last week's 24-14 loss at Missouri. He threw a 29-yard touchdown pass that pulled the Commodores within 17-14 in the fourth quarter.
Vanderbilt (2-6) is the nation's only team to start four quarterbacks already this season. Wade Freebeck has four starts, Robinette two with both McCrary and Stephen Rivers starting one each. Robinette has the most experience, but he has missed five games due to injuries with the latest a concussion suffered Sept. 20. He wasn't cleared until late last week.
''When you're cleared and you're coming off a concussion, OK man, that doesn't mean you're in game shape,'' Mason said. ''He's missed almost a month. OK, so what he's got to do is come back and show from a conditioning standpoint he can get these things done and he can still manage the offense, and play.''
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound McCrary plays surprisingly loose for a redshirt freshman.
''Johnny is always loose,'' tight end Davis Dudchock said. ''He is who he is and he has a great passion for the game, and we feed off that passion, too. He's loose in the huddle, he's loose on the line of scrimmage, he's loose on and off the field.''
Tight ends helped McCrary put up impressive numbers in his first career start, catching 10 of his 17 completions. Steven Scheu led the way with a career-high six catches for 81 yards and Dudchock added three for 29 yards. Nathan Marcus pulled in a 9-yard pass for his first career touchdown in the second quarter.
''We knew going in that we were going to use more tight end-oriented packages moving forward and we were excited about the opportunity to make more plays, and help put this offense in the position to be the best it can be,'' Dudchock said.
The improvement out of the passing game was nice, but now Vanderbilt needs to get its running game back on track after being held to a season-low 44 yards against Missouri. Old Dominion (3-5) is allowing 231.9 yards rushing per game and an average of 49.4 points in the last five games.
Mason says the Commodores simply can block better.
''You're talking about making sure that you stay on blocks and finish,'' Mason said. ''Our backs are always one arm tackle or one defender away.''