Vandy's best receiver, Jordan Matthews #87, has a 43 yard gain after catching the ball and stumbling off-balance about 3 steps. All he has to do is keep both hands on the ball as he falls down. But he's concerned that his body might hit the ground too hard. So he takes one hand off the ball to put it on the ground to cushion his fall. And with only one hand left holding the ball, the ball comes loose when he hits the ground. Incomplete.
I don't care how talented a player is, he simply can't be afraid of falling on the ground.
On the same drive, QB Jordan Rodgers fumbles at the 11 in the final minute. He costs Vandy at least a FG. No excuse not to have the ball covered up. James Franklin may need to explain to his kids that the ball is pretty important in the game of football. They might want to focus on holding it with both hands. The casual attitude can get you beat. Vandy up only 10-3 at the half in Evanston.
Earlier, a Vandy defender rushes the NW QB and bats the ball up in the air. All he has to do is stop running, gather himself under the ball and catch it. Instead, he keeps running forward while trying to reach behind and bat the ball forward to himself. Yes, if he had pulled it off, he would have scored easily. But really... dude, catch the ball. First, secure possession. That's an awesome play all by itself. If you run for more yardage, great. A score? Fantastic. But first -- just catch the damn ball.
Vandy blew the game and went down 23-13. Gen. Neyland's first game maxim -- the team that makes the fewest mistakes will win. Vandy had more talent and more mental mistakes. This is the general rule when SEC teams play non-conference games. It always comes down to the question of which plays the bigger role -- the talent advantage or the mental mistakes. Vandy's never had that much talent. Dumb mistakes proved to be the difference.