NCAA Football

Ellis: VU must turn page from Bama

September 23, 2017

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Sept. 23, 2017

By Zac Ellis

NASHVILLE, Tenn.Derek Mason didn’t sugarcoat Vanderbilt’s performance against Alabama on Saturday.

“No excuses,” Mason said. “Alabama’s a really good football team. We ran into a buzzsaw today.”

The scoreboard backed up Mason’s assessment. The Commodores fell to No. 1 Alabama, 59-0, at Vanderbilt Stadium. The Crimson Tide looked dominant from start to finish, and Vanderbilt wasn’t able to muster an answer to the visiting team’s energy.

Now, for the first time in 2017, Mason’s Dores must bounce back from a loss. And they won’t have much time to regroup: next week, Vanderbilt hits the road to take on a ranked Florida team in Gainesville.

How Vanderbilt turns the page from its first setback of 2017 is now Mason’s primary concern.

“You can’t let one [loss] become two,” Mason said. “The thing we’ve got to do is get back to work… I’m more concerned with our response. I’ve got to be concerned with a football team that needs to respond. 

Alabama looked every bit like the top-ranked team in the country on Saturday. Following a punt on the Tide’s first series, the visiting squad staged four straight touchdown drives to take a 28-0 lead. Alabama never truly looked back from there.

Vanderbilt, meanwhile, struggled to find a rhythm in its areas of strength from this season. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur, who entered Saturday as the most efficient passer in the SEC, finished 4-15 for 18 yards. The Dores ran for just 40 yards on 16 carries. Vanderbilt’s defense allowed 677 yards of offense from Alabama after kicking off the weekend as the top-ranked unit in FBS.

Afterward, Mason said his team never took advantage of early opportunities, allowed Bama’s lead to snowball.

“We never changed momentum,” Mason said. “We never turned ebb and flow our way.”

Per Mason’s policy, the Commodores move from one game to the next when the clock strikes midnight – win or loss. Vanderbilt is still 3-1 this season, and its players don’t plan to let this loss linger.

“It was only one game,” safety Ryan White said. “It doesn’t define our seasons. We’ve just got to bounce back and get back to work.”

That work begins this week as Vanderbilt prepares to travel to Florida. A trip to Gainesville represents the Dores’ first shot at an SEC East opponent in 2017. As this team hunts for a division title, plenty to play for remains on the horizon.

For Mason, it’s time to bounce back.

“We ride together, we walk together, we’ll take the loss together, wake up tomorrow and be better,” Mason said.

Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics.

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