In the aftermath of Saturday night's beat down in Oxford, it's time to admit that the Vanderbilt Commodores are exactly what their record says they are.
Sitting at 1-4 overall and 0-3 in SEC play, the Commodores are an average at best team team struggling to find an identity, and wins.
While the Commodores continue to get a pass in the Georgia and LSU contest- they were never going to win either of those games with their absolute best performances- the ugly loss at Purdue and the no-show Saturday against Ole Miss prove that this team is just not very good right now.
Fans want to place a lot of blame on quarterback Riley Neal, and some can fall on his shoulders, but the biggest issues with this squad are bigger, and outside anything Neal can change.
OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE LINE ISSUES
The biggest issues this team has right now are on both lines of scrimmage. Both are being dominated by teams that they should be able to compete against.
Purdue, Ole MIss and even Northern Illinois in that win dominated the Commodores throughout, or in the case of NIU, in the second half.
The thought was that the Commodores would be better up front with the return of injured players, and that depth was being created by playing younger players during their absences would bode well going forward. That could be true, but the fact is that not many of the o-line unit are playing at, or near a satisfactory level right now.
Consider Saturday night when the Ole Miss defense held Vanderbilt to a pedestrian 264 yards total offense, 202 passing and 62 rushing.
Neal was sacked 3 times, harrassed and hit most every time he threw the football and the Commodores allowed 9 tackles for loss in the game.
Ke'Shawn Vaugh ran hard, but had no where to go most of the night, and was visibly frustrated when speaking with media following the game. No less than four times, Vaughn responded to different questions with the same answer.
"We've just got to play better football," replied Vaughn to multiple questions.
When your o-line struggles, it doesn't matter who the quarterback is, it's not going to go well for those who rely on their blocking to run, pass or catch the football and Vanderbilt is definitely no exception to that rule.
The Commodores managed to sack Ole Miss freshman quaterback John Rhys Plumlee three times Saturday night, but by the time they started to get to him he had already rushed for 113 yards......in the first quarter!
Ole Miss rushed between, around, over and through the Vanderbilt defense like a hot knife through butter, with the defensive line routinely being knocked off the line creating huge holes for the Rebels backs to exploit.
For the game Ole Miss ran the football for 413 yards. It was the first time the Rebels had passed 400 yards aganst an SEC opponent since 1979.
Who was it that Ole Miss gashed for over 400 yards in 1979? Vanderbilt.
For further context, the last time Ole Miss rushers surpassed 400 yards in a game, it was 2014 against Presbyterian. Let that one sink in.
Besides Plumlee, who lead the Rebels in rushing as a quarterback, Ole Miss had two other backs who were near the century mark (Jerrion Ealy- 97 and Snoop COnnor 91 yards) that could have surpassed that mark too, if not for the Rebels opting to give Scottie Phillips 11 carries, which he turned into 62 yards.
The Commodores have UNLV visiting Vanderbilt Stadium this Saturday for a 3pm kickoff. It's a chance to earn a much needed win, but both lines will have to improve dramatically from what we witnessed Saturday in Oxford if they are to get the victory, in a game that they should, and now must win.