Vanderbilt Looks Impressive in First Game

(AP Photo/David Kohl)

The Commodores' new uniforms were far from the only thing on display Thursday night in Oxford, Ohio as the Vanderbilt offense overcame an early Jeff Jennings fumble to hang 17 points on the RedHawks in the first quarter and cruise to an eventual 34-13 win.

Despite concerns from the Media and Vegas odds-makers that Vanderbilt would go out and be, well, Vanderbilt, the Commodores took care of business by dispatching the team favored to win the Middle American Conference Championship. It would certainly be folly to read into this game more than I should because one game does not a season make, but The 'Dores do return to Nashville with positive momentum and a long list of things they did right.

Highlights of the game included:

HUGE performances from Chris Nickson and D.J. Moore.

Nickson rushed for a career high 166 yards on 20 attempts and two touchdowns. The fifth-year-Senior Nickson also went 9 of 16 passing for 91 yards and a touchdown. More importantly Nickson was able to evade Miami's rush and did not turn the ball over.

Moore was Mr. Everything for Vandy last night, illustrated by the interception, QB sack and forced fumble, and 91-yard punt return (which later resulted in a TD) all in the first quarter. Moore, who was selected to the Preseason All-SEC First Team Defense, was absolutely electrifying on defense and is fast becoming one of the preeminent playmakers in the SEC.

Sean Walker and Chris Nickson connected on a 49-yard strike to the Miami 1-yard-line in the first quarter setting up the game's first touchdown. Vanderbilt's offense stalled twice before Nickson found Walker in the back of the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown pass. Nickson showed great patience on the play, staying in the pocket, and Walker did a great job finding a soft spot in the Miami secondary.

Bryant Hahnfeldt opened strong for the Commodores going 2 for 2 on field goals of 32 and 42 yards and nailing all 4 extra point attempts.

All in all, things were exactly as they should have been on this late summer's eve in Oxford, Ohio. An SEC team boasting superior speed and athleticism physically dominated a lesser Mid-Major opponent on their home turf. Vanderbilt looked well prepared and well coached. The Commodore defense played with a swagger and intensity that I have rarely if ever seen a team wearing the Black and Gold display. The Commodores found a weakness in the Miami defense and exploited it until they had put the game out of reach.

Now the question becomes: Can Vanderbilt impose its will against a more worthy adversary in South Carolina on Thursday night under the bright lights of ESPN? The Commodores have put themselves in prime position to showcase their new and improved look (and I'm not talking uniforms) to a national audience, and if last night's game was any indication, this is not a team to take that opportunity lightly.

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