Vanderbilt Falls to NC State in the Independence Bowl
Bowl Game Woes
The Vanderbilt Commodores fell to NC State on Monday night in the 2016 Camping World Independence Bowl. It was the Commodores’ eighth bowl in the history of the program. Vanderbilt’s defense struggled to contain the NC State offense, and the Vanderbilt offense struggled to put points on the board. This was not the same offense that took down Ole Miss and spanked Tennessee to finish the season.
Coach Derek Mason praised NC State for their play, putting the loss squarely on his shoulders. In the post game presser and in true Mason-fashion he spread the love to his seniors, “I have got to give credit to our seniors. Our seniors got us here…They held this team together. They held this team accountable.” These Vanderbilt seniors were freshman when Vandy beat the Wolfpack in the 2012 Music City Bowl.
Mason and his seniors’ season did not end the way they hoped it would, but they left a solid foundation for Mason to build on. Mason shared a few of his postgame words, “I said to our guys, we planted a seed for this group and we understand what our expectations are. These seniors’ legacy will move us forward. We will water that seed. We will plow the ground and make sure we have an opportunity to grow this program.”
There were plenty of bright spots in the game. Ralph Webb broke Vanderbilt’s single-season rushing record, passing Zac Stacy. Webb’s 111 yards rushing gave him his seventh 100-yard game this season and 13th of his career. Furthermore, Webb now holds the class rushing record for Vanderbilt freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, in addition to the career and single-season records. Webb also announced after the game he would be returning for his senior season. “I’ve been able to do some great things and accomplish some great goals, to help the team out and wins some games,” said Webb. “But all in all, the goal is the win the SEC Championship. It’s just believing in my teammates, my coaches and the process.”
The Independence Bowl capped off Vanderbilt’s 6-6 regular season. Derek Mason and the ‘Dores are riding a wave of momentum. In 245 days Vanderbilt travels to Middle Tennessee State University to kick off the 2017 season. The Vandy fans will be holding their breath until January 16th, the last day to declare for the NFL Draft. As they anxiously await red-shirt junior Zach Cunningham‘s decision. Vanderbilt has 245 days to get get back on track. Mason has 245 days to find the heartbeat of Vanderbilt football.