NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Vanderbilt Commodores are proving to be slow starters offensively, and coach James Franklin says they have to understand the need to work hard every minute of the game.
Quick improvement would be good considering the Commodores visit No. 13 South Carolina and Jadaveon Clowney on Saturday night.
The Commodores have scored only a field goal in the opening quarter of their first two games, and that came last week against FCS opponent Austin Peay. They can blame a poor kickoff return and a shanked punt for a slow start against Mississippi in the opener, but they had no such excuses against Austin Peay.
"It's getting guys to understand we're a blue collar program and you've got to play well for four quarters," Franklin said Monday. "We can't turn it on. We have to play our best ball every single rep, 6 seconds at a time. But there's no doubt that's an area if you look at we've been really good in the second quarter and we haven't been good enough in the first, third and fourth quarter."
Vanderbilt is just fine in the second quarter. The Commodores scored 21 points in the second against Ole Miss and 35 in that quarter against Austin Peay. Scoring in the first 15 minutes is the issue.
Franklin said the Commodores played a good opponent in the opener against Ole Miss, a game in which the offense lost an interception. The coach blamed poor execution for the lack of scoring against Austin Peay.
"Why that is I'm not sure," Franklin said. "We're just going to go back to work and correct things we see on film, make sure we practice well and make sure we've got really good energy at practice."
The Commodores could use some help from their run game. They lost all-time leading rusher Zac Stacy to graduation and are using Wesley Tate, Brian Kimbrow and Jerron Seymour. Vanderbilt ran for only 62 yards against Ole Miss and had much more success against Austin Peay. Kimbrow and Seymour each ran for touchdowns.