The Vanderbilt Commodores put a major scare into the Texas A&M Aggies and their fans on Saturday night in College Station, playing above their perceived level against the No.10 team in the nation before falling 17-12 in the end.
There were some good, some bad, and some ugly things in this game., However, the good outweighed the bad other than the final score, where it matters most, and where the Commodores fell short again.
Ken Seals: The freshman quarterback wasn't perfect, or even close to it, but what he did was paly better than most expected from a true freshman in his first career start on the road and against a top ten team. He is poised, mature beyond their years, and oh, by the way, he's got some talent and skill to play the position.
Defensive Line: The defensive line was supposed to be a strength and lead this team, especially early on this season. They didn't disappoint as they played tough, smart football and competed from the opening kickoff to the final whistle.
Yes, they gave up over a hundred yards rushing to the Aggies Isaiah Spiller, but they allowed just 17 points and recovered four Texas A&M fumbles that helped keep them close enough for the offense to have a chance to win in the fourth quarter.
No one thought they would be within 28 points in the end, much less be fighting for the win.
Offensive Line: It wasn't great, but it was far better than coaches had hoped, or most fans thought possible considering how many opt-outs, transfers, and losses this group endured.
They still have a long way to go, but at least for this night, this group has something to hang their hat o and a reason to feel good about themselves and have optimism for the next game.
The Secondary: It's hard to find much that was bad, actually considering how terrible this team was projected to be and how badly they were supposed to be destroyed by the Aggies. However, as well as the defense played, there were still some bad moments in the back end where the Aggies receivers could make some play.
Those issues will likely be magnified this Saturday against an LSU team that, even with w new starting quarterback, are a better passing offense that Texas A&M.
Cleaning those things up must be a focus for defensive coordinator Ted Roof and his staff this week, or the Tigers could destroy any good feelings this team built in Texas.
Clock Management: Once again, Derek Mason and company had issues with clock management, including using a timeout before deciding to punt the football away in the second half.
This issue didn't cost the Commodores the game, but it is something a veteran coach and veteran staff shouldn't have to do in that situation. TImeouts are valuable commodities, especially in close games, so maybe that's the reason. The Commodores haven't been in enough close games lately to remember how to handle that situation.
Mason Penalty: I'm all for coaches sticking up for their players and teams and getting after officials when a bad call is made; however, the penalty called on Mason in the closing minutes was costly and simply can't occur in close games.
Mason knows better, and it's not something he will do regularly, so it's not a huge concern, but it was an ugly moment in this game.