Vanderbilt QB Shurmur making strides in freshman season
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Kyle Shurmur hasn't been labeled the quarterback of the future for Vanderbilt.
Not yet, anyway.
But the 6-foot-4, 225-pound freshman took a step in that direction with a good showing in last week's 21-17 win over Kentucky.
His next test will be against Texas A&M in the Commodores' home finale on Saturday.
Shurmur completed 13 of 26 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns against Kentucky, leading Vanderbilt (4-6, 2-4 SEC East) to its highest-scoring output since a 47-7 win over Austin Peay on Sept. 19.
''I thought Kyle took some steps,'' Commodores coach Derek Mason said. ''He's still got a long way to go. We're young at that position, still trying to get better.''
Shurmur missed the previous game at Florida with a concussion as sophomore Johnny McCrary led the Vanderbilt offense.
McCrary and Shurmur both played in a loss at Houston on Halloween and a win over Missouri on Oct. 24.
Shurmur played the entire game against Kentucky and is listed first on Vanderbilt's depth chart this week.
''I was proud of the offensive line, for the most part, keeping him upright,'' Mason said. ''And I think that's important when you have a young quarterback you've got to keep him upright. He's able to focus on the reads and not worry about the pass rush as much.''
Kentucky never sacked Shurmur, who posted career highs in completions, attempts and touchdowns in his third start.
''I thought Kyle delivered some balls,'' Mason said. ''We had some opportunities to make some more plays. We left some production out there.''
Shurmur has thrown only one interception in 57 pass attempts. McCrary has been picked off 12 times, tied for the second most in the SEC.
Shurmur digested the playbook pretty quickly in preseason camp.
''I think Kyle is intelligent in terms of how he approaches the game,'' Mason said. ''He's a student of the game. He's been around the game a long time and he's just going to continue to do the things that (offensive coordinator) Andy (Ludwig) asks him to do.''
Football is in Shurmur's blood. His father, Pat, is the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator and a former Cleveland coach. Pat's uncle, Fritz, coached in the NFL for 24 years, including a stop in Green Bay as the Packers' defensive coordinator from 1994-98.
Shurmur, the starter in both of Vanderbilt's SEC wins, has come a long way since being the No. 3 quarterback in midseason.
''I think (Kyle) is a great player,'' Commodores center Spencer Pulley said. ''That's the reason he steps on the field. He's a very confident player, has a lot of skill, has a lot of leadership ability and that's what you see out on the field every week.''
AP College Football: www.collegefootball.ap.org