When Kyle Shurmur decided to enroll at Vanderbilt, he had to know the final game of the regular season against rival Tennessee was a big deal. He’s going to get his first experience with the rivalry Saturday, and he’ll do so as the Commodores’ starting quarterback.
Coach Derek Mason is abandoning the dual-quarterback system that featured Shurmur and sophomore Johnny McCrary to focus on the freshman alone. Shurmur has to perform well against the Vols in order for the Commodores to have a chance in Knoxville.
“For us, Kyle Shurmur needs to step on the football field,” Mason said. “He needs to get a feel for what this Tennessee rivalry is, and what it means, and how this game needs to be played.”
Mason is “not throwing any towels in” after Texas A&M shut out Vanderbilt. He believes Shurmur, and the rest of the Commodores, will play well in this game, especially after looking at how hard they worked in Tuesday’s practice.
Vanderbilt running back Ralph Webb also has faith in the young quarterback.
“This is the 12th game of the season,” Webb said. “Expect him to do big things. He has been a leader on offense, and I think he is ready.”
Mason knows they have a shot at sticking with the Vols for four quarters, and he’s pushing Shurmur to do whatever it takes to keep his offense on the field Saturday.
“He’s not a freshman playing his first game anymore,” Mason said. “He’s been in the SEC. I don’t see him flinching; I don’t see anybody else around him flinching.”