CLOSE

Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason tells why his veteran team knocked off No. 18 Kansas State.
Adam Sparks

 

Vanderbilt knocked off No. 18 Kansas State 14-7 amid a sellout crowd Saturday.

The Commodores improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2011. They have beaten their last two ranked opponents, including a victory over then-No. 24 Tennessee last November.

“Tonight our guys really believed,” coach Derek Mason said. “… That’s a great win for the Commodores, a great win for Commodores nation.”

Here are five things we learned from Vanderbilt’s win:

Kyle Shurmur won’t be teased over game-winning touchdown

Shurmur, Vanderbilt’s junior quarterback, scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 2-yard run, when he dropped the shotgun snap and sliced into the end zone with 8:23 remaining. A week earlier, pocket-passer Shurmur scored on a 1-yard roll-out and admitted to playful teasing from teammates about his slow speed. But this time he danced around the Kansas State rush, powered toward the end zone and reached over the goal line for perhaps the biggest score of his career.

“When something goes wrong, you try to minimize damage,” Shurmur said. “… I tried to get all I could, and maybe score I guess. It was cool.”

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

Vanderbilt defense paved the way for win

Shurmur’s touchdown was set up by Ryan White’s interception. Before that, LaDarius Wiley picked off another pass that was deflected by former Father Ryan standout Joejuan Williams. It was the first two interceptions thrown by Kansas State quarterback Jesse Ertz this season. Linebacker Emmanuel Smith, a former Oakland High standout, made a career-high 12 tackles. And Wiley and Oren Burks combined for the tackle on Ertz’s scramble on Kansas State’s final failed fourth-down play. 

“(Ertz) went to the ground,” said Mason of the final fourth-down stop. “I knew he was short. I threw my hand up and said, ‘Thank you, Jesus.'”

Vanderbilt entered the game ranked first in FBS in red-zone defense, second in scoring defense and third in total defense, and it looked like an elite defense in this one. The Commodores held Kansas State — which had scored 55 points in each of its first two games — to only seven points.

This Vanderbilt team scores in a hurry

Previously a slow-starting team during Mason’s tenure, Vanderbilt has scored a touchdown before its opponent in all three games this season. The Commodores scored on their first three possessions against MTSU and on five of their first six possessions against Alabama A&M. They scored a touchdown on their second possession against Kansas State, marching 84 yards on 13 plays. Last season, Vanderbilt scored a TD before its opponent in only two of 13 games.

C.J. Duncan became a goal-line target again, just in time

Duncan, a senior wide receiver, scored his first touchdown since his 2014 redshirt freshman year. He caught a 2-yard TD pass from Shurmur in the first quarter, reaching the end zone for the first time since Oct. 25, 2014, at Missouri. Duncan has been a sure-handed receiver with more than 80 catches in his career, but most of his receptions had come outside the 20-yard line for the past three years.

“That felt good,” Duncan said. “We always talk about when your time comes and when your number is called, you’ve got to answer the phone.”

Vanderbilt’s apparent first turnover was ugly, but it never happened

As Shurmur was being sacked in the second quarter, he fumbled on an apparent attempt to flip the ball forward to a receiver. It was instead recovered by Kansas State’s D.J. Reed, who returned it 35 yards for an apparent go-ahead touchdown. But upon official review, Shurmur was ruled down and the fumble overturned. It would have been Vanderbilt’s first turnover of the season and given Kansas State a pivotal lead, but there was no harm done. In the fourth quarter, Ralph Webb lost a fumble for the actual first turnover of Vanderbilt’s season.

Reach Adam Sparks at asparks@tennessean.com and on Twitter @AdamSparks.

  • Vanderbilt facing 4 ranked foes in 4 weeks

    Vanderbilt facing 4 ranked foes in 4 weeks

  • Kyle Shurmur sets Vandy passing record

    Kyle Shurmur sets Vandy passing record

  • Triplets stay close thanks to Vanderbilt basketball and Tennessee State volleyball teams

    Triplets stay close thanks to Vanderbilt basketball and Tennessee State volleyball teams

  • Derek Mason: 'Black college football needs an opportunity'

    Derek Mason: ‘Black college football needs an opportunity’

  • Derek Mason saw flaws in win over MTSU

    Derek Mason saw flaws in win over MTSU

  • Vanderbilt snaps season-opening losing streak

    Vanderbilt snaps season-opening losing streak

  • How LB Charles Wright got to Vanderbilt

    How LB Charles Wright got to Vanderbilt

  • Instant analysis: Vanderbilt beats MTSU 28-6

    Instant analysis: Vanderbilt beats MTSU 28-6

  • Vandy offensive coordinator previews MTSU opener

    Vandy offensive coordinator previews MTSU opener

  • Vanderbilt assistant coach battles liver cancer

    Vanderbilt assistant coach battles liver cancer

  • MTSU vs. Vanderbilt: 5 games of modern era

    MTSU vs. Vanderbilt: 5 games of modern era

  • Joejuan Williams 'acting like a professional'

    Joejuan Williams ‘acting like a professional’

  • Brent Stockstill a left-handed Ben Roethlisberger?

    Brent Stockstill a left-handed Ben Roethlisberger?

  • Vanderbilt fans predict (almost) perfect season

    Vanderbilt fans predict (almost) perfect season

  • 2017 Vanderbilt football schedule

    2017 Vanderbilt football schedule

  • Derek Mason talks Vandy offensive line

    Derek Mason talks Vandy offensive line

  • Vandy fixing pass protection problems

    Vandy fixing pass protection problems

  • Ralph Webb played with Jay Cutler?

    Ralph Webb played with Jay Cutler?

  • Derek Mason praises his 'mad professor'

    Derek Mason praises his ‘mad professor’

  • Andy Ludwig lays out Vandy offensive objectives in camp

    Andy Ludwig lays out Vandy offensive objectives in camp

  • Vanderbilt's head coach Derek Mason on recruiting success

    Vanderbilt’s head coach Derek Mason on recruiting success

  • Kyle Shurmur steps into leading role at Vanderbilt

    Kyle Shurmur steps into leading role at Vanderbilt

  • Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason: "We have national appeal"

    Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason: “We have national appeal”

  • Is Vanderbilt's Ralph Webb the most underrated player in the SEC? He thinks so.

    Is Vanderbilt’s Ralph Webb the most underrated player in the SEC? He thinks so.

  • So where is Vanderbilt's Ralph Webb from anyway?

    So where is Vanderbilt’s Ralph Webb from anyway?

  • SEC Media Days 2017: Shurmur claims spirit animal is a sloth

    SEC Media Days 2017: Shurmur claims spirit animal is a sloth

  • SEC Media Days 2017: One Vanderbilt fan spotted

    SEC Media Days 2017: One Vanderbilt fan spotted

  • Derek Mason breaks down Vandy spring showcase

    Derek Mason breaks down Vandy spring showcase

  • Vanderbilt Commodores spring showcase fans

    Vanderbilt Commodores spring showcase fans

  • LBs coach Warren Belin returns to Vanderbilt

    LBs coach Warren Belin returns to Vanderbilt

  • Vanderbilt 2017 signing day class

    Vanderbilt 2017 signing day class