Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason danced at midfield after shaking hands with Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt
Mike Organ, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee
Anyone who has watched Tennessee’s secondary go against some top-tier quarterbacks this season couldn’t be too surprised by what happened Saturday at Vanderbilt.
Anyone who saw West Virginia’s Will Grier throw for 429 yards in the season opener or Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa move the Crimson Tide offense up and down the field or Missouri’s Drew Lock pick apart the Vols, couldn’t be surprised by the damage Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur inflicted on Tennessee.
Shurmur, who had already led Vanderbilt to wins over the Vols in each of previous two years, completed his first 15 passes Saturday setting in motion the Commodores’ 38-13 rout.
The senior from Philadelphia finished with one of the most outstanding performances ever by a Vanderbilt quarterback. He set the school’s single-game percentage (88.6) record by completing 31 of 35 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns.
“He got the ball out of his hand; made a couple of good throws and they made some good catches, too,” Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt said. “He threw the ball in the flat and we didn’t tackle them, four times. He basically took what we gave him and allowed their guys to make plays.”
Tennessee came into the game ranked eighth in the SEC in pass defense (209.8 yards).
Vanderbilt was sixth in the conference in average passing yards per game (225.2) and 10th in pass efficiency (139.8).
Vols defensive lineman Shy Tuttle didn’t shed much light on why Shurmur was able to have such profound success.
“Really, they just came out more prepared and they executed and we didn’t,” Tuttle said.
The Vols actually sacked Shurmur three times, but failed to keep pressure on him thought the game.
“We weren’t consistent at all,” Tuttle said.
Shurmur’s performance did not surprise Vandy coach Derek Mason. He full expected Shurmur to give the Vols fits again this year.
“Kyle Shurmur had the game of his life, the game we knew he was capable of,” Mason said. “We were able to take advantage because they kept loading the box. Late in the ballgame they wouldn’t allow us to run so we said keep throwing it. If that’s what they’re going to do, if they’re going to give us the pass, then we got the right guy to light you up.”
Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twtter @MikeOrganWriter.