Aug. 28, 2008
Commodore Game Notes
Vanderbilt at Miami (Ohio)
Yager Stadium, Oxford, Ohio
Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008
August 28 marks the earliest date Vanderbilt has ever started its regular season. The Commodores have twice played on August 30, most recently vs. Ole Miss (2003).
This marks Vanderbilt's second appearance on ESPNU. Previously, the Commodores opened the 2005 season on ESPNU, winning 24-20 over Wake Forest (Sept. 1) in Winston-Salem, N.C
Senior co-captain George Smith dressed out for the game despite missing virtually all of preseason camp with a foot injury. He did not see action.
Vanderbilt now leads the all-time series between the two schools, 3-1.
The 34-13 win over Miami is Vanderbilt's largest margin of victory since defeating Eastern Michigan, 30-7, on Sept. 29, 2007. It was VU's largest margin of victory on the road since beating Army, 41-10, on November 2, 1991.
This is the first time since 1993 and 1994 that Vanderbilt has opened back to back seasons with victories. The Commodores knocked off Richmond, 41-17 in the season opener in 2007. VU defeated Wake Forest in 1993 (27-12) and 1994 (35-14).
Vanderbilt is now 2-0 all-time on ESPNU.
Jennings Named to Wear Doster "KD1" Patch
Redshirt senior tailback Jeff Jennings wore the "KD1" patch honoring the memory of former Commodore standout Kwane Doster. Jennings becomes just the second Commodore to wear the insignia, following former All-SEC linebacker Jonathan Goff, who earned the honor in 2006-07.
The patch is awarded by the nine-player Leadership Council. It is given to the Commodore player who most exemplifies the standards and commitment Doster brought to the program.
Doster died Dec. 26, 2004 of wounds suffered in a shooting in Tampa, Fla. A 2002 SEC Freshman of the Year recipient, Doster was one year shy from earning an undergraduate degree.
Commodores Earning First Career Starts
Ten Commodore players earned their first career starts versus Miami. Jamie Graham (R-Fr., WR), Reilly Lauer (R-So., LT), Bradley Vierling (R-Jr., C), Thomas Welch (R.-Jr., RT), Austin Monahan (So., TE), Greg Billinger (Jr., DT), Adam Smotherman (R-So., DT), Broderick Stewart (R-Jr., DE), John Stokes (So., SLB), and Chris Marve (R-Fr., MLB)
Commodores Earning First Career Action
Sixteen Commodores saw their first collegiate action. Besides Graham and Marve, other Commodores getting into their first game were John Cole (WR, Fr.), Kyle Fischer (OT, R-Fr.), Udom Umoh (WR, R-Fr.), Brandon Barden (TE, R-Fr.), T.J. Greenstone (DT, R-Fr.), Sean Richardson (SS, Fr.), Rich Tompkins (DB, Fr.), Casey Hayward (CB, Fr.), Davis Flowers (LB, R-Fr.), Turner Wimberly (WR, R-So.), David Giller (LS, So.), Chris Aaron (C, R-So.), Rob Ashabranner (G, R-Fr.), David Leinweber (DE, R-Jr.)
Senior Chris Nickson Returns To QB Starting Role With A Bang
After returning to the starting role at quarterback for the first time since the Georgia game last year, senior Chris Nickson had a monster game against the Redhawks.
Nickson scored two touchdowns on the ground, one from a yard out with 11 seconds to go in the first quarter and a 14-yard dash with 6:22 to go in the second quarter, and gained had a 59-yard run, the longest of his career. He now has 13 rushing touchdowns in his career.
Nickson also ended the night with 166 yards on 20 carries, the second time he has rushed for 100 yards in his career (Duke on October 28, 2006). It was the most by a Commodore since tailback Lew Thomas rushed for 173 yards against Auburn on Sept. 29, 2001. It was also the second-most single-game rushing total by a quarterback in the history of Vanderbilt football - only Van Heflin's 167-yard performance on the ground against Air Force on November 17, 1979 was better than Nickson's game against Miami.
He also passed for 91 yards (9-16) on the night and a touchdown (four-yard strike to Sean Walker).
Nickson became only the fourth quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in his career, joining Jay Cutler (2002-05), Eric Jones (1986-88), and Marcus Wilson (1989-92). Nixon now has 1,087 career rushing yards.
First Quarter = DJ Moore
In the first quarter alone, junior cornerback D.J. Moore picked off a pass, recorded two tackles, forced a fumble on a sack that pushed Miami out of field-goal range and had a 91-yard punt return to Miami's one-yard line.
Commodore Rushing Attack
The Vanderbilt running game amassed 272 total yards on 49 carries, the most since last year's game against the RedHawks in Nashville, when the Commodores ran for 290 yards.
After a rushing first down by QB Chris Nickson, Vanderbilt turned over its first offensive possession with Jennings fumble at the 12:11 mark of first quarter... Five plays later, the RedHawks successfully converted with a 36-yard FG.
Brandon Barden had his first career reception, a 10-yard pass from Nickson. One play later, Nickson hit Sean Walker on a 49-yard strike, the longest of Walker's career. Nickson concluded the drive three plays later, hitting Walker with a 4-yard TD. It was Nickson's first touchdown pass since he connected with Walker on a 17-yard pass against Eastern Michigan on September 29, 2009.
One play after the Vanderbilt score, D.J. Moore had a big play, intercepting a deflected Miami pass... Bryant Hahnfeldt concluded the possession with a 42-yard FG.
With 2:25 left in the first quarter, Moore had another big defensive play, sacking the Miami QB and forcing a fumble on 3rd & long. On fourth down, Moore then took the Miami punt 91 yards to the Vanderbilt 1-yard line. Moore's return is the second longest in team history, behind only the 93-yard return by Phil King against Middle Tennessee on Oct. 27, 1956. Nickson's 1-yard plunge three plays later was his 12th career rushing TD.
Redshirt freshman Jamie Graham had his first career reception in the third quarter.
Junior Myron Lewis tied a career-high with eight tackles (Wake Forest, 11/24/07). Rashard Langford was next for Vanderbilt with seven tackles.
Junior Brett Upson had two punts inside the 10 in the second half. Upson missed the first three weeks of preseason camp with a stomach ailment.
Redshirt freshman Chris Marve notched the first sack of his career with 5:25 left in the fourth quarter, and ended his first collegiate game with six tackles.
Redshirt senior Josh Allen intercepted his second career pass in the waning seconds of the game in the Miami endzone.