by Barca Blog - With plenty of opportunities but only a 10-10 tie to show for it, Vanderbilt regrouped after the half to dominate the rest of the game and secure a 36-17 victory over Rice Saturday night in Houston.
Credit the Commodores' offense for not folding after a couple of costly mistakes killed drives and left points off the board in the first half. Yes, VU's lack of execution in key moments early on mirrored their struggles against Mississippi State a week ago, but the 'Dores responded with some big plays to pick up the much needed win.
"We came up a little short in the first half with only 10 points," said quarterback Larry Smith, who set new career highs in passing yards (268), attempts (41) and completions (23). "They were blitzing quite a bit and we just had to change some minor protections to give me more time to throw the ball down the field."
The turning point on offense occurred late in the third quarter when Smith connected with sophomore receiver Udom Umoh on a 54-yard strike down the sideline. Vanderbilt's longest pass play of the season set up a six-yard touchdown run by Smith to push the Commodores ahead 20-10. Two series later in the fourth quarter, freshman tailback Warren Norman rumbled 58 yards for a touchdown on the first play to put the contest out of reach.
"We made the adjustments in the second half and executed on all cylinders," Smith added. "The offensive line did an excellent job of protecting me and the running backs did an excellent job of running. It was good for us to bounce back from last week's poor performance. It gives us a little confidence back."
You can watch postgame press conference footage of head coach Bobby Johnson, linebacker Patrick Benoist, cornerback Myron Lewis and quarterback Larry Smith by clicking here.
(photo by Stan Jones)
I'll leave you with the song of the day.... Billy Joel reminds us to never forget our second wind.