NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Vanderbilt Commodores are realists. So what if they ran for 433 yards in the season opener? Running room will be much tighter when they visit No. 11 LSU and a stadium called Death Valley.
"We know we're not going to be able to run the ball against LSU as easily as we did against Western Carolina," coach Bobby Johnson said Monday. "We've got to be more attentive to detail in what we're doing and everything we do. But it's a good first start. We had a good time."
Vanderbilt (1-0) broke in its new no-huddle offense last weekend with a 45-0 win over Western Carolina, and the Commodores put up some impressive numbers against the team from the Football Championship Subdivision.
The 620 yards of total offense was the first since Vandy had 621 Nov. 11, 2006, in a loss at Kentucky. The Commodores rushed for 433 yards — most since Nov. 18, 1978, when Vandy had 547 behind Frank Mordica's 321 yards — and it marked the best performance by any Southeastern Conference team opening weekend.
They also ran 95 offensive plays and earned 33 first downs, both highs under Johnson.
Johnson played seven true freshmen, and that included Zac Stacy, who turned in 133 yards rushing. That's the highest single-game total ever by a Vanderbilt freshman. He was joined by freshman Warren Norman, who ran for 105 yards, and they became the first duo at Vandy to run for at least 100 yards each in a game since 2002. It's something Vandy has done just four times in the past 15 years.
"They ran the ball well," Johnson said. "We, I think, sometimes got a little picky in there and waited. If we wait against LSU, somebody's going to be knocking them upside the head."
Another good stat? Vanderbilt was penalized only three times despite running the offense at such a fast pace. Johnson said they had tested the no-huddle against noise and against the clock, trying everything to replicate game conditions.
"But you never know until you get in the game, and you never know until you get in a hostile stadium like we're going into this week. That'll be another big test for the signaling system and how we run our offense. Hopefully, it's a lot better than the old audible system that we had and hopefully we'll be able to operate without too much trouble," the coach said.
Vanderbilt does have some things to fix. The Commodores had some kicking game "snafus" as Johnson called them that were disappointing.
Freshman kicker Ryan Fowler missed field goals of 43 and 32 yards before connecting on a 25-yarder late. Punter Brett Upson, the most valuable player of the Commodores' Music City Bowl win last December, averaged a measly 12.8 yards on five punts. One went off the back of a teammate.
"I know Brett's a much better punter than that. I don't anticipate those things happening each week, or hopefully ever again," Johnson said.