Vanderbilt shows it can score, wants to do so sooner

Through this season’s first two games Vanderbilt’s offense has looked as if it is stuck in second gear … until the second quarter, that is.

“Our second quarters have been phenomenal, but our first quarters have been slow,” quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels said following Saturday’s 38-3 victory over Austin Peay. “So [that’s] definitely going to be a focal point moving forward.”

The Commodores (1-1) have nine drives that either started or finished in the second quarter. Eight ended with touchdowns. The ninth was a missed field goal against the Governors.

They trailed Ole Miss 10-0 after 15 minutes but led 21-10 at halftime. Against Austin Peay, they turned a troubling 3-0 edge after one quarter to a 38-0 halftime advantage that allowed them to keep many of their top players on the bench for all of the final two quarters.

Of the starting offense’s 318 total yards in the first half against Austin Peay, 231 came in the second quarter.

“I think it was really just execution,” coach James Franklin said. “… We really didn’t do anything a whole lot different. We just started executing a little bit more.”

The dynamic actually is nothing new. However, the degree to which it has played out thus far is.

The second quarter was Vanderbilt’s best last season. Its 132 points were nearly twice as many as it scored in the first quarter (67) but barely more than what it got in the third (124). All told, the second quarter accounted for 33.8 percent of last season’s 390 points.

Currently, the Commodores’ 56 second-quarter points easily are the most in the SEC and account for more than three-quarters of their season total.

The rundown:

Team, Total Points, Second Quarter, Percentage
Alabama-x    35    14    40.0
Arkansas    65    16    24.6
Auburn    69    24    34.8
Florida     40    20    25.0
Georgia    76    21    27.6
Kentucky    67    21    31.3
LSU         93    24    25.8
Ole Miss    70    14    20.0
Miss. State    54    23    42.6
Missouri    96    24    25.0
S. Carolina    57    24    42.1
Tennessee    97    28    28.9
Texas A&M    117    37    31.6
Vanderbilt    73    56    76.7

(x-one game played)