Vanderbilt to lean heavily on Kyle Shurmur in final season
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Just how good a season Vanderbilt has will depend heavily on Kyle Shurmur, and coach Derek Mason believes the senior quarterback already has made the Commodores better before the first game of his final season.
“He’s made this thing go,” Mason said Tuesday. “It’s been fun to watch him compete, and as he’s competed, everybody else has competed and he’s made everybody else good.”
Already a three-year starter, Shurmur heads into his senior year within reach of a handful of school records currently held by Jay Cutler, who was the 11th pick overall in 2006 by the Denver Broncos. Shurmur trails Cutler by 2,962 yards passing for most in school history, and Shurmur threw for 2,823 yards last season to go along with a school record 26 touchdowns.
The son of Pat Shurmur, coach of the NFL’s New York Giants, is one of 12 Southeastern Conference quarterbacks who started every game last season. He ranked third in the SEC in passing yards, and only Missouri’s Drew Lock had more TD passes.
Shurmur also could accomplish a rarity of playing in his second bowl game in three seasons if he helps Vanderbilt improve on last year’s 5-7 record. The Commodores will be relying heavily on Shurmur since they have to replace all-time leading rusher Ralph Webb, though running back Khari Blasingame believes his quarterback has enough experience to lead the Commodores well this season.
“He’s like having Coach Lud (offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig), on the field almost,” Blasingame said. “He knows what we want to do in situations, and that’s a big source of confidence for everybody on the offense.”
Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill remembers only too well what happened last year when Vanderbilt beat his Blue Raiders 28-6 on their own field. Shurmur helped the Commodores jump out to a 28-0 lead with three touchdown passes and finished with 296 yards passing.
“He can make all of the throws,” Stockstill said. “He’s a senior now, and he’s seen a ton of snaps. He’s an excellent quarterback and I’m sure he’s a great leader for them and confident going into his senior year.”
When the Commodores open the season Saturday night against Middle Tennessee, this game will feature a rare matchup of senior quarterbacks with Shurmur against the Blue Raiders’ Brent Stockstill. The Blue Raiders coach’s son has thrown a TD pass in 23 straight games, the second-longest streak in the nation.
Stockstill’s school records include most passing attempts, completions, yards, TDs, passing efficiency and total offense. He has 8,951 yards passing and 77 TD passes in his career.
“If you love college football, you need to come out and watch this game,” Mason said. “Anytime you get a chance to watch two veteran quarterbacks of this caliber, guys that I truly believe will have a chance to play on Sunday, you really need to come see the contest because it’s about good players playing good football.”