Our football team played their best game to date under Derek Mason in a tremendous victory over the Ole Miss Rebels, 38-17, before 27,763 at Vanderbilt Stadium Saturday Night. It was spectacular.
Game balls go to the entire team and, of course, Coach Mason and the staff. It's hard to single out a particular player because the whole team was so dominant in this football game. Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson put on a superb performance against A&M the week before in College Station and everyone, including me, picked Ole Miss to win. I was wrong and I couldn't have been happier. I believe in this football team, this staff, and I got away from my belief last week. I apologize to Coach Mason and the team. That won't happen again.
I'll start with the offensive line. From left tackle to right tackle, respectively, Will Holden, Ean Pfeifer, Barrett Gouger, Bruno Reagan and Justin Skule were dominant, and just out-physicaled the Ole Miss defense. Our skilled players were tremendous, but it all started with how seniors Holden and Gouger and the younger three guys opened holes for Ralph, protected Kyle and dominated the line of scrimmage. More than terrific effort by this group once again. Coach Cameron Norcross has brought a toughness and physicality to our offensive line. He's been fantastic. Love this line.
Ralph was typical Ralph. He's been bothered by a sore ankle the past month but has been toughing it out and playing through it. But Saturday he was back to being Ralph Webb, rushing for 123 yards on 20 carries with three TDs. Ralph is something like 25 yards from breaking Zac Stacy's all time rushing mark at VU. He's also a redshirt junior, so we have another year of Ralph, along with a ton of other guys. Sophomore quarterback Kyle Shurmur was off the charts good as well. Kyle was 17 of 30 for 273 yards and 2 TDs, one to junior Trent Sherfield, and the other to freshman Bailey McElwain. Superb effort by Kyle and the receivers. Trent and Bailey did some super things, and wrs C.J. Duncan, Caleb Scott and tight endJared Pinkney were awesome. Darrius Sims made his presence known again. Darrius had 10 carries for 50 yards as we are using him more and more in the running game and he caught 2 passes for 53 yards. He's just been a phenomenal player for us. What a super football player Darrius is. He made a beautiful catch over the middle and ran it for 39 yards on a perfect Kyle pass. Love the Darrius explosive play factor. This offense under Coach Andy Ludwig has blossomed and there is another game and very hopefully two more to get even more explosive and use that toughness that we have running the ball with our dominant offensive line and Ralph, Khari, Dallas Rivers and Josh Crawford.
And our defense just wore out Shea Patterson. He was running for his life all night with our defense putting massive pressure on him and putting lick after lick on him. Zach made a huge fumble recovery. It was a beautiful scoop pickup off a lost ball by Ole Miss tailback Akeem Judd. Nickel back Taurean Ferguson posted eight tackles, linebacker Jordan Griffin added six, Oren Burks also finished with 6 and played with superb leadership like Oren always does, and Zach posted five. But it was a collective effort by our defense. Adam Butler, Jonathan Wynn and our d line were constantly getting the heat on Patterson. Zach and others were playing the role of a spy on Patterson and never let him break one off. Our secondary, Taurean, Torren McGaster, LaDarius Wiley and Arnold Tarpley were superior. We put pressure on their receivers all night, causing their really good receivers to drop balls.
Coach Mason did another spectacular job with the defense. This may have been his best work in three years and that's a pretty high bar. I just loved the way our defense and our entire football team played Saturday Night.
We've got a chance to make a bowl with 5 wins because of our off the charts APR numbers. Our kids do so well in school and there may not be enough six win teams to fill the bowl slots, so our APR numbers will get us in even if we don't get 6 victories. And that is a distinct possibility.
But we don't want that. We want six wins and we want it against our rival from some other place. Coach Mason embraces this rivalry. We want this game. We want our seniors to go out with 6 wins and a 7 with a bowl win. We want to get the extra 20 days of practice for a bowl game to prepare for next season and win a bowl game again for our super seniors, and it is huge for recruiting to go to a bowl game. I've got something on recruiting coming up in a moment.
So we want to take care of business Saturday Night in Vanderbilt Stadium at 6:30 PM CT/7:30 PM ET on the SEC Network. They have a good quarterback in Joshua Dobbs, a really good running back in Alvin Kamara and some good skilled players. Their defense is talented. They're big and physical. So we have to have a super week of practice to get ready for this hugely important game Saturday Night. I like what I'm seeing out of this football team. If we play like we played against Ole Miss we're going to like the result Saturday Night and beat this intense rival.
We got a stellar commit yesterday from 6'4", 205 pound solid three star safety Nico Bolden. Nico is our 13th commit for the 2017 class. I watched Nico's film and he took two kicks back to house for 90+ yards, he is a super punt returner and Nico is a superior hitter as a safety and an explosive player at wide out and on jet sweeps. Nico is out of St. Paul, Minnesota, Woodbury Senior High School. He joins solid three star corners Randall Haynie, 6'0", 178 and Adam Sparks, 6'0", 170, and safety Tae Daley, 5'11", 175, as our secondary commits. Coach Mason loves his secondary and these are superb additions to a loaded group for 2017. I love this class and there are more to come.
Zach was named a finalist for the Butkus Award, given to the best linebacker in the country. The Butkus Foundation will announce their 32nd Award winner on or before Tuesday, December 6th. Hopeful that our spectacular linebacker and first class young man wins this highly prestigious award. Zach is more than deserving. Zach leads all linebackers in the country with 16.5 tackles for loss. Zach also shares the conference lead with three fumble recoveries. He is the first Commodore to post back to back 100+ tackles since Jamie Winborn accomplished that in 1999-2000. His fourth and one stop of Isaiah McKenzie of Georgia won the game for us in Athens this season. Zach came out of nowhere to blast McKenzie and secure our tremendous victory. And his amazing jump over the center and block of Daniel Carlson's field goal attempt was one for the ages in Vanderbilt lore and to me the best play of the college football season so far as he gave our team a chance to tie Auburn late in the game at Auburn in a game in which we were a double digit underdog.
Joining Zach as finalists are Kendall Beckwith of LSU, Jarrad Davis of Florida. Reuben Foster of Alabama and Josey Jewell of Iowa. All of these guys are deserving, but Zach's work this season is so superb. Obviously I'm biased, but to me Zach's resume is the best. Pulling hard for our stud from Pinson, Alabama. Zach has a very bright future in this game, and wants to go to a bowl game like the rest of our football team does. Let's beat the Vols.
Dave donated $2.5 million to the baseball facility which has completed the necessary funding for the project and it is all systems go now. Typical DP. One of the best pitchers in baseball, David has a special place in his heart for Corbs and Vanderbilt University. He's been a superb ambassador for our program. Proud to have him represent us in the major leagues and looking forward to some more super years from DP. Excited for Dave and the Bosox in 2017. Dansby, Curt Casali and Mike "Yaz" Yastremski were in attendance for the press conference last Friday. What a representative of the best baseball program in the country. Ready for our team to get cranking in January of 2017. Also ready to see David, Dans, Sonny, Carson, Pedro, hopefully Mike, Curt, hopefully Yaz, who is with the Baltimore Orioles organization and played for the Triple A Norfolk Tides this season and has a shot to make the big squad in Baltimore next season, and many of our other guys compete in the major leagues. David is a dedicated Vanderbilt man. Proud to have him as one of our guys. Our baseball facility will be the crown jewel in college baseball. It's going to be a masterpiece.
Basketball lost last night to Bucknell. We play Butler Thursday Night at 7 PM CT/8 PM ET in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fox Sports 1 will televise. Butler is outstanding, so it'll be a major challenge. We have a lot of good players on our team led by Luke Kornet, Matthew Fisher- Davis and Riley LaChance, we just need to figure out our chemistry. it's a work in progress, but we'll get there by conference time. It's a challenge against a very good Butler team Thursday Night, but I'm excited to see our guys compete again and keep getting better. We're 2-2 right now.
The women's basketball team got a huge 77-73 victory over Duke Sunday Night at home. Duke has been to Final Fours recently and is one of the standard bearer programs of women's basketball. Super job by Coach Stephanie White and the girls. We have a chance to be pretty special.