Jonathan Crompton managed the game well and was efficient, completing 20 of 34 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns. A drop by Gerald Jones cost Crompton a touchdown and a bobble by tailback David Oku resulted in UT's lone interception.
Running Backs A-
UT's offensive line calls it riding the "Deuce Train," and the Vols did just that. Montario Hardesty rushed for 171 yards on 32 carries and looked like his usual consistent self. Fullback Kevin Cooper laid a nice lead block on UT's first touchdown.
Jones' drop could have hurt if Vanderbilt's offense was more potent. The Vols spread it around well. Luke Stocker had five catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. Denarius Moore caught four passes for 35 yards and a score. Jones and Hancock each had three catches.
Offensive Line B
The Vols were solid in pass protection and opened running lanes against a defense determined to stop the run. They also provided solid protection in the passing game and Crompton was rarely hurried.
Defensive line A-
The Vols might have been pushed around a little against the run, but they routinely supplied pressure and eventually put the game away with a 25-yard interception return by defensive tackle Wes Brown. The other tackle had another productive outing with Dan Williams adding two tackles for a loss.
There might still be a few alignment issues, but Herman Lathers and Rico McCoy erased a few of them with pure athleticism. Lathers finished with 12 tackles in his second start in the middle, and McCoy closed out his home career on an achy knee with a team-high 15.
UT couldn't play as much man coverage as it normally would, and that helped eliminate any real threat of getting hit for big gains. The Vols were mostly content to give up short passes underneath and rely on its tacklers, and for the most part the backline was better at it against the Commodores.
Special teams B+
The Vols found a surprising contributor in walk-on kicker Devin Mathis, who filled in for Daniel Lincoln and made a 25-yard field goal and four extra points - without having one blocked. The return game was a bit better, but the unit still hurt itself with penalties, including a rare interference-with-the-snapper flag.
UT's defensive coaches are to be commended for playing with a patchwork group due to all the injuries they've had to overcome. Still, the Vols could have been more aggressive on defense, and likely would have forced more turnovers. Offensively, the Vols should have relied even more on the run.
UT beat Vanderbilt in typical fashion - ugly. Still, it's a win and the Vols are bowl eligible and perhaps closing in on a nice postseason destination.
HOW THEY SCORED
UT: Montario Hardesty 5 run (Devin Mathis kick).
Drive: 7 plays, 60 yards, 2:58.
Big play: A 22-yard Jonathan Crompton pass to Kevin Cooper made it first-and-goal at the 5.
UT: Mathis 25 field goal.
Drive: 12 plays, 53 yards, 4:34.
Big play: Crompton converted fourth-and-4 with a 9-yard pass to Tauren Poole to the Vandy 11.
VU: Ryan Fowler 31 field goal.
Drive: 9 plays, 48 yards, 3:16.
Big plays: A 21-yard run by Zac Stacy moved the Commodores for a first down at the UT 28.
VU: Ryan van Rensburg 2 pass from Mackenzi Adams (Fowler kick).
Drive: 11 plays, 92 yards, 6:04.
Big plays: Vandy's drive was aided by two penalties, a personal foul on Eric Berry and pass interference against Rico McCoy.
UT: Denarius Moore 11 pass from Jonathan Crompton (Mathis kick).
Drive: 11 plays, 72 yards, 5:08.
Big play: A 20-yard completion to Quintin Hancock was good for 20 yards to the Vandy 15.
UT: Luke Stocker 16 pass from Crompton (Mathis kick).
Drive: 4 plays, 61 yards, :30.
Big play: A roughing-the-passer penalty tacked on 15 yards to an 11-yard completion to Hancock with only 26 seconds left in the half.
VU: Fowler 27 field goal.
Drive: 9 plays, 34 yards, 3:58.
Big play: Jamie Graham's interception gave Vandy the ball at the Tennessee 44.
VU: Fowler 32 field goal.
Drive: 11 plays, 55 yards, 3:00.
Big play: Wes Brown sacked Adams and an intentional-grounding penalty on the play forced the field goal.
UT: Brown 25 interception return (Mathis kick).
Drive: 1 play, 25 yards.
Big play: With the clock running out Brown intercepted Adams' desperation pass and lumbered to the end zone.
- News Sentinel staff