Jen Smith on UK Football

Vandy’s Mason hints that offense has big-play plans for Kentucky

Herald-Leader

It’s been no secret that Vanderbilt wants to run its offense through star playmaker Ralph Webb.

Of the Commodores’ 339 plays this season, some 37.8 percent of them have involved the junior running back in some way.

But on the Southeastern Conference teleconference this week, Coach Derek Mason hinted that his Vandy offense had plans well beyond Webb this weekend at Commonwealth Stadium.

“We’ve got to look at some other options,” Mason said. “I don’t want to speak about everything because part of it is going into the game plan we have versus Kentucky.

“We’re going to look to the pass and move it around a bit, give those guys quicker opportunities to get some touches and still pound it on the ground and take some shots.”

The head coach said he expects there will be a “good mix” to test Kentucky’s defense.

A day before in his Tuesday news conference, Mason said he was looking for more “splash plays” as he called them. This season, there are only three other schools in the country that have had fewer plays of 20 yards or more.

The Commodores have had just 13 of those. Their six plays of 30-plus yards are better than only four other teams nationally, with three coming on the ground and three via pass.

“It comes down to splash plays,” said Mason, whose passing offense is the worst in the league averaging just 154.6 yards a game mostly behind sophomore Kyle Shurmur (three touchdowns, three interceptions).

“And you need to have splash plays. And being methodical and efficient is what you want to do, but you have to have splash plays in ball games.”

Against Florida, Webb carried Vanderbilt on his back, rushing for 110 yards on 24 carries, the first 100-yard rusher against the stingy Gators defense so far this season. He also caught two passes for 17 yards in the 13-6 loss.

“They really got in big sets, they got in two-tight-end-and-a-fullback sets and/or 12-personnel, two tight ends and two wide outs,” Stoops noted. “They were getting in big sets and really pounding the football.

“He’s a very, very good player. He gets quality yards. He’s tough to bring down. He’s got good vision, and they’re riding him right now because they’re making it difficult on defenses.”

Kentucky is coming off a game against the Southeastern Conference’s best offense, with Alabama averaging 44 points per game.

Vanderbilt is at the opposite end of the spectrum, managing just 20.2 points a game (better than only South Carolina’s 14 points a game). The Commodores’ 302.4 yards of offense a game is 13th in the league.

Jennifer Smith: 859-231-3241, @jenheraldleader

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