Very proud of Coach Mason and the players for getting it done late on the road at Western Kentucky as the Commodores scored on the last play of regulation on a clutch Ralph Webb 3 yard run/dive and some clutch play by the offensive line, and the team scored a 7 in overtime and prevented Western from converting a 2 point conversion after their TD in a tremendous 31-30 victory.
With the victory, the team moves to 2-2 on the season and head into this Saturday's matchup with the Florida Gators at 11 AM CT/ Noon ET on the SEC Network with tons of momentum.
The final drive of regulation with 1:02 left in the game and the team down 24-17 was Elway-eske in a way. It was beautiful. With the ball on our own 25, Kyle connected with tight end Jared Pinkney for 22 yards. Then Kyle connected with stud freshman wide out Kalija Lipscomb for 12 yards to the WKU 39. Kyle then hit Trent Sherfield for 24 yards to get the ball to the Western 15. We had no timeouts left and Kyle and the receivers still showed so much poise. After 2 incompletions, Kyle threw it for Trent close to the goal line. It was incomplete but Western was flagged for a pass interference penalty, so the ball was placed at the 2 yard line, first and goal. But there were only :03 left.
Western called two timeouts on defense before we ran our last play of the game. Coach Mason said afterwards that Coach Ludwig asked him what he wanted to do run or pass. Coach Mason said to run it. We ran it over the right side of our line and Ralph leapt into the end zone for the six. Tommy Openshaw connected on the extra point and we were going into overtime tied at 24.
We got the ball first in the OT, and Kyle hit Jared, who was super down the stretch, for a 14 yard gain to the Western 11. Ralph rushed for 7 yards to the Western 4. Ralph then rushed for 3 more yards to get us to first and goal at the one. After a couple of loss of yardage plays, we had the ball third and goal at the Western 5, Kyle rolled to his right and found tight end Nathan Marcus open in the end zone for the 7. Tommy connected. We were up 31-24.
Western scored on an 8 yard TD pass, and, somewhat surprisingly, Coach Jeff Brohm went for 2. Our line batted the pass in the air and our defensive backs knocked it down to secure the gigantic victory, that puts us at 2-2 overall as we head back into conference play. We are 0-2 in the SEC, but a victory over Florida could really jump start this football team for the rest of the season. Last Saturday was a huge momentum and confidence builder for the team.
Ralph ran for 95 yards and three 7's, Kyle was 18-of-29 for 279 yards a TD along with an int, but was super clutch when it counted the most. C.J. Duncan caught five passes for 66 yards, Kalija caught 3 passes for 56 yards, Jared caught 3 for 41 yards, and Trent caught 2 for 38 yards. Our offense looked tremendous on that last drive and in the overtime period. Tons of credit goes to Coach Ludwig, Coach Mason, of course, for making the courageous run call on the last play of the game. Kyle and his awesome receiving corps and the awesome play of our offensive line were huge keys to the victory. We just wore them down at the end. Center Barrett Gouger, right guard Bruno Reagan, right tackle Justin Skule, left guard Delando Crooks, and left tackle Will Holden got the job done and done extremely well in the clutch. Really proud of our offense.
The defense may not have had their best game against Western, but there were some super individual efforts and some really good turnovers. Cornerback Torren McGaster finished with 9 tackles and a fumble recovery. Linebacker Zach Cunningham, as usual, had 9 tackles. Zach is just all over the field every game. He gives it max effort every time out, and he is a superb football player. Linebacker Ja'karri Thomas also had 9 tackles. Star linebacker/safety Oren Burks had four tackles and a tackle for loss. Zach and Ja'karri also had a tackle for loss. Zach had 1 1/2 TFL's. Taurean Ferguson had 5 tackles and a forced fumble. Tre Herndon played a super game with five tackles, a fumble recovery, that was caused by Taurean's strip on the Western running back at the goal line that popped into Tre's arms and he ran if back for 27 yards, and Tre also added an interception. While we gave up 496 yards of total offense, which is too much for our defense, we made some big plays. I know we'll be better against Florida.
Huge victory for a team that has now realized they can win these toss up games. Now it's onto Florida. Huge test for the team on Saturday, but I see us playing well and we could very well pull this out. The Gators lost to Tennessee, 38-28, in Knoxville last Saturday after squandering a 21-3 halftime lead. Florida is playing their backup quarterback, Austin Appleby, and he was pretty good for a while against the Vols finishing 23-of-39 for 296 yards and 3 TDs, so he's very capable. They've got a pretty good running game and a good defense, so it's a major test for our football team. Florida's stud receiver Antonio Callaway caught 4 passes for 134 yards against UT, but was hobbled some, so he could be a little banged up heading into Saturday. Anyway, we've just got to believe we can get this done and we will.
Tremendous victory for Coach Mason and the team. So proud of them.
Huge news on the Basketball front
Vanderbilt basketball Coach Bryce Drew landed his third commitment for the 2017 class. Six foot-nine, 220 pound, 4 star power forward Ejike Obinna from Ashburn, Virginia has committed to VU. Watched Ejike on film and he looks tough, talented offensively and athletically, an enforcer on the defensive end, a ferocious rebounder, and a shot blocker. Huge pickup for Coach Drew and the staff. Ejike chose us over Clemson and Florida, who were other final contenders. Ejike had offers from close to 30 programs including LSU, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Missouri, Seton Hall, Miami, Texas A&M, West Virginia and Xavier. So Ekije is a huge get for the program. Well done by Coach Drew and the staff.
Ekije joins four star point guard Saben Lee out of Tempe, Arizona and 4 star combo guard Maxwell Evans out of Bellaire, Texas. Pumped about football, but also getting pumped about basketball. Not sure if Coach Drew is through yet. I believe he'll be looking for another power forward or a center before this recruiting period is over. The early signing period for basketball starts November 9th, that's a Wednesday. So, we'll get these three studs in the fold and maybe add another before then as well. Will keep you posted.
Jordan Matthews caught another touchdown on Sunday in a 34-3 Philadelphia Eagles victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. JMatt caught a 12 yard TD pass from super rookie quarterback Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State. Wentz has energized this football team, and they're playing superbly on both sides of the ball. JMatt already has 15 receptions for 204 yards and a pair of 7's. He's been terrific. The Eagles moved to 3-0 on the season and head into their bye week with major momentum. Love to see the man doing well once again. He's so consistent. Hoping JMatt will be at the game Saturday to help our emerging receiving corps like he did this past summer when he spent a major amount of time with them and told Coach Mason they were ready for SEC football. They look like it now. JMatt is a total stud and his presence on the sideline would mean a lot to our receivers and our entire football team. Love what the man is doing in Philly. The Eagles do, too.
Casey Hayward doing a tremendous job at corner for the San Diego Chargers. Casey signed with the Chargers in the offseason and already has three interceptions this season. The Chargers are 1-2, but look pretty competitive and Casey is playing tremendous football.
Andre Hal is a staple in the Houston Texans secondary at safety. Andre has one interception this season, it was actually off Jay, and 10 tackles. They love Andre in Houston. He's a real pro just like JMatt and Casey.
Wesley Johnson has played center in all three games for the Jets. Wesley was one of the best linemen to ever come through VU, and I'm hopeful he'll be the Jets or somebody's starting center down the road. I know he can get the job done and done well.
Zac Stacy hasn't been picked up yet. He suffered a tough broken ankle last year and was waived by the Jets before the season started. But I believe Zac will land somewhere this season. Zac is a really good player, and with the injuries at running back in the National Football League, several teams will need a running back probably sooner rather than later. Will keep an eye on Zac's status.
Jay Cutler is having a tough year so far. His team is 0-3 and he struggled mightily last week against the Eagles at home before spraining his thumb. Hopeful Jay can come back and rally his team and get them back in the NFC North race. Jay is tough and comes back from injuries as quickly as possible, so he could be back this Sunday as the Bears host the Detroit Lions. The Bears are still playing hard, but they have five or six defensive starters who are out with injuries right now, and Jay is hurt, so it's been a struggle. They lost to the Cowboys Monday Night, 31-17. Brian Hoyer is doing a good job in relief of Jay. Hopefully Cut can come back on Sunday.
David, Pedro Dans, Tony, Sonny
David Price is 8-0 in his last 9 starts with a 2.91 ERA. David has been superb and so have the Red Sox. The Sox have won 11 in a row, and now, at 92-64, have the best record in the American League as Texas lost last night. With six games to go, if the Sox can hold off the Rangers, they would have the home field advantage throughout the AL playoffs and would get the home field in the World Series as the American League defeated the National League in the All-Star game and earned the home field due to that, if they can win the AL pennant. With Big Papi, Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Xander Bogaerts, Sandy Leon, and super rookie Andrew Benintendi, the Red Sox have some amazing lumber in their lineup. The Sox are playing stellar defense and getting outstanding starting pitching. The bullpen has become very reliable. David earned the victory last Thursday over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, 5-3, going 7, giving up six hits, three runs, with 2 walks and 5 K's. David threw 99 pitches, 72 of them for strikes against 27 balls, an excellent strike-ball ratio. His fastball was hitting 92-93, but he did hit 95 in the bottom of the 5th. His change up and cutter were stellar, particularly his change up. It's a circle change, meaning there is movement as it moves into a right handed hitter and away from a left handed batter. It's a really awesome pitch. It's effectively a curve ball with more velocity, coming in at 85-86. Dave's cut fastball has good movement on it too. David moved to 17-8 with the victory and now has a 3.91 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP, getting closer to the walks and hits per innings pitched that he wants. His ERA keeps going down, too. The Sox are sizzling right now. Like where they're headed as we matriculate into the postseason which starts next Tuesday, Oct. 4th with the AL Wild Card game Tuesday Night and the NL wild card game next Wednesday Night, Oct.5th. TBS will televise the AL Wild Card game and ESPN will have the NL wild card game. I will have my predictions for the playoffs on Monday, Oct. 3rd on my all sports blog. I'll send out an email to you guys as well to alert you when it's up.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today has already coronated the Cubs the World Series champions, but I'm not buying the Cubs yet. They have to get through the Nationals and/or the Dodgers in the National League postseason, and face hopefully the Sox in the World Series if they get there. So there is plenty to be decided and nothing is given. I really like that Nationals squad too, and the Dodgers, and I'm still not discounting the Mets if they can make it in as a wild card. In the AL, the BoSox, the Rangers, the Indians and the Blue Jays look like the best teams, and the wild card is still wide open with the O's hanging on.
Pedro Alvarez is playing some. Still want to see him get more of a shot, he's had a really good year with the bat and deserves more of a shot, but don't get me started. Pedro needs to be somewhere where he is valued as the stellar player that he is. Maybe the O's will give him more of a shot the rest of this season and in the postseason if they make it. Chris Davis is still striking out at a tremendous rate and he's a terrible first baseman. Seems like Showalter would give Pedro a look at first to see what he could do. Still unclear why Showalter continues to play Davis and not give Pedro an opportunity. I'm still really ticked off about it.
Dansby Swanson is doing a super job for the Braves at shortstop and hitting over .300. Like where Dans is. He's the shortstop of the future for a team that looks like they could break through as a playoff team, if not next year, in 2018.
Tony Kemp is playing left field for the Astros and doing well. Tony was 2 for 3 on Sunday, and the Astros are hanging on by a thread in the AL wild card race. They are 3.5 back of the second place O's with 5 games left. Tony looks like he'll have a good future in the majors, whether it's with the Astros or somebody else. Like Pedro, somebody needs to put Tony in the lineup and stick with him. They'll be happy they did.
Sonny Gray is going to make one last start for the A's tomorrow night @ the Los Angeles Angels. Sonny has been out for a month and a half with a forearm injury, but wanted to pitch one more time this season for the A's. He'll probably go for a short period of time according to the San Francisco Examiner, anywhere from 2-3 innings, but it'll be good to see him out there competing, and hopefully have a good outing and get some momentum for next year. Sonny should be back with the A's next season. Not positive with the way they move players in Oakland, but just ready to see Sonny back out there full time in 2017.
David pitches tonight against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The next six games mean a lot to the BoSox for the division title and the home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Just need to start the week off right by taking care of business tonight in the Bronx. David will face Luis Cessa, a right hander who is 4-3 with a 4.30 ERA. The Yankees have to win out and hope for help to make the playoffs, so they'll be locked in. Dave will have to pitch well. I expect him to. Will have a report tomorrow.
David lost a close friend to cancer a week and a half ago and he learned about it a couple of hours before his start against the Yankees. David's former roommate and close friend, Terry Wanthalangsy, lost his battle with cancer. David didn't have his best start against the Yankees which was understandable. He competed hard, but it's really tough when you lose somebody you care a lot about and try to do your job to the best of your ability. He's still been stellar.
David's lost a couple of close friends in the past five years. That's tough, but David is strong and resilient. I know he misses his great friend though. Rest in peace, Terry.