Vanderbilt's victory over No. 18 Kansas State shows Wildcats' weaknesses

Dr. Saturday
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/players/228393/" data-ylk="slk:Jesse Ertz">Jesse Ertz</a> rushes to gain a first down during the final moments of a 14-7 Vanderbilt victory over Kansas State (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Jesse Ertz rushes to gain a first down during the final moments of a 14-7 Vanderbilt victory over Kansas State (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Kansas State fans traveled in droves to watch the No. 18 Wildcats take down Vanderbilt. Instead, KSU fans saw Vandy pick up its first non-conference win over a ranked opponent since 1946.

Now nearly half the fans at Vanderbilt Stadium — the ones decked out in purple, specifically — know the truth: Kansas State has one trick, a Wildcat offense run as close to perfection as quarterback Jesse Ertz can get it. And that might not be good enough for KSU. Again.

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A 14-7 loss to the Commodores all but solidified it.

Bill Snyder’s system isn’t cutting edge. It’s not fooling defenses anymore. Worst of all it’s not adjusting. Without a passing game — Ertz went 10 for 28 with 76 yards and two interceptions — to complement the ground attack, it’s becoming increasingly easier for opponents to lock in on the Wildcats’ quarterback and stop him from getting anywhere.

That is exactly what Derek Mason’s Commodores did on Saturday night. After watching Ertz repeatedly bounce out of a scrum and pick up six-plus yards over and over again on keepers, Vandy started to hang back and close off any room he would’ve otherwise had to run. Thusly, Ertz ended up with nearly 90 of his 126 rushing yards coming in the first half and was why K-State couldn’t find any rhythm in the second.

That was despite numerous opportunities to take control of the game including forcing a fumble with Vanderbilt in the red zone.

So while Kansas State looked to force plays that Vandy knew it could stop, the Commodores’ defense just had to hang in and keep giving its offense a chance. Interceptions on back-to-back drives by KSU did just that. The latter put Vanderbilt’s offense deep in Wildcats territory, helping to set up for a 2-yard run by quarterback Kyle Shurmur for the go-ahead touchdown with just over eight minutes left. Shurmur finished 14 for 23 passing with 205 yards and a touchdown as well.

Kansas State couldn’t muster any more than it already had, especially with a lethargic passing game. It was, again, no surprise to see the game end with Ertz scrambling around looking for help on fourth down only to try to run it himself and get stopped short of the first.

(via ESPN)
(via ESPN)

This isn’t to put the loss solely on K-State’s quarterback. The Wildcats wouldn’t have scored at all without him. But this is now a system that is catching no one off guard despite the talented players the Wildcats have running it. That’s a problem the Commodores exposed. Whether or not Snyder can find the answer will determine the rest of the season.

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Blake Schuster is a writer for Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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