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1915 Vanderbilt Commodores football team

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1915 Vanderbilt Commodores football
1915Vandy.jpg
SIAA champion
Conference Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association
1915 record 9–1 (4–0 SIAA)
Head coach Dan McGugin (12th season)
Offensive scheme Short punt
Captain Russ Cohen
Home stadium Dudley Field
Seasons
← 1914
1916 →
1915 SIAA football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Vanderbilt $ 4 0 0     9 1 0
Alabama 5 0 0     6 2 0
LSU 4 0 0     6 2 0
Transylvania 3 0 1     7 1 1
Georgia 3 1 2     5 2 2
Chattanooga 3 1 2     5 2 2
Auburn 4 2 0     6 2 0
Mississippi A&M 4 2 1     5 2 1
Kentucky 2 1 1     6 1 1
Florida 3 3 0     4 3 0
Tulane 3 3 0     5 3 0
Clemson 2 2 0     2 4 2
Furman 1 1 0     5 3 0
Mercer 1 1 0     5 4 0
Mississippi College 2 3 0     4 4 1
Sewanee 1 2 2     4 3 2
Tennessee 1 4 0     4 4 0
Centre 0 2 1     3 5 1
Louisville 0 3 1     1 5 1
The Citadel 0 1 0     5 3 0
Wofford 0 1 0     0 1 0
Howard 0 2 0     0 2 0
Ole Miss 0 5 0     2 6 0
  • $ – Conference champion

The 1915 Vanderbilt Commodores football team represented Vanderbilt University during the 1915 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association football season. Dan McGugin served his 12th season as the Commodores' head coach. Vanderbilt was a member of the SIAA. They faced a 10-game schedule. Vanderbilt scored 459 points in its first seven shutout games, and 514 points in 510 minutes of actual playing time by season's end, making it a legitimate "point-a-minute team" leading the nation in scoring with a school record still unequaled today.

Several notable players featured on the team. McGugin built his 1915 squad around a 130-pound junior quarterback Irby "Rabbit" Curry.[1] In the line was sophomore tackle Josh Cody, "a fierce tackler and dominating blocker,"[1] who was also the team's kicker. Cody was selected third-team All-America by Walter Camp. The team's captain was end Russ Cohen.

Before the season[edit]

The outlook for the upcoming 1915 Vanderbilt football season was not promising.[2] The Commodores were coming off a losing record of 2–8, the first under head coach Dan McGugin, and the second in the school's 25 years of playing football.[1] Additionally, only 10 experienced players from the previous year were returning to the team. Despite the one-platoon system with players featuring on offense, defense, and special teams used in 1915, this meant inexperienced freshmen would be a key to the team's success.[1]

Coach McGugin was assisted by doctor and former Vanderbilt athlete Owsley Manier.[3]

Schedule[edit]

Date Time Opponent Site Result
September 25 Middle Tennessee State Dudley FieldNashville, TN W 51–0  
October 2 Southwestern Presbyterian Dudley Field • Nashville, TN W 47–0  
October 9 3:15 p.m. Georgetown Dudley Field • Nashville, TN W 75–0  
October 13 4:00 p.m. Cumberland Dudley Field • Nashville, TN W 60–0  
October 16 Henderson State Dudley Field • Nashville, TN W 100–0  
October 23 vs. Ole Miss Memphis, TN (Rivalry) W 91–0  
October 30 2:45 p.m. Tennessee Dudley Field • Nashville, TN (Rivalry) W 35–0  
November 5 at Virginia Lambeth FieldCharlottesville, Virginia L 10–35  
November 13 at Auburn Rickwood Field • Birmingham, AL W 20–3  
November 25 2:00 p.m. Sewanee Dudley Field • Nashville, TN (Rivalry) W 27–3  
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. All times are in Central.

[4]

Season summary[edit]

Middle Tennessee State Normal[edit]

Middle Tennessee Normal at Vanderbilt
1 2 3 4 Total
Normal 0 0 0 0 0
Vanderbilt 7 6 32 6 51

Using conventional football, Vanderbilt opened the season with an easy win over Middle Tennessee Normal (MTSU) 51–0.[6] Coach McGugin sent in his substitutes at the beginning of the fourth quarter.[5] The starting lineup was Richardson (left end), Cody (left tackle), Reyer (left guard), Williams (center), Putnam (right guard), Lipscomb (right tackle), Cohen (right end), Curry (quarterback), Zerfoss (left halfback), Wiggs (right halfback), and King (fullback).[5]

Southwestern[edit]

In the second week of play, Vanderbilt defeated Southwestern 47–0 on a slippery field. All points were scored in the first half.[7]

Georgetown[edit]

Georgetown at Vanderbilt
1 2 3 4 Total
Georgetown 0 0 0 0 0
Vanderbilt 14 0 50 11 75

Vanderbilt beat the Georgetown Tigers 75–0. The Commodores racked up 11 touchdowns and 8 field goals, its largest score in three years.[8] "Dough" Ray scored four times and Hubert Wiggs three times.[9] The starting lineup was Williams (left end), Cody (left tackle), Hamilton (left guard), Reyer (center), Lipscomb (right guard), Putnam (right tackle), Hayes (right end), Curry (quarterback), Friel (left halfback), Zerfoss (right halfback), and Wiggs (fullback).[8]

Cumberland[edit]

Cumberland at Vanderbilt
1 2 3 4 Total
Cumberland 0 0 0 0 0
Vanderbilt 28 20 12 0 60

With four players out due to injury,[11] the Commodores still managed to defeat the Cumberland Bulldogs 60–0 in a drizzling rain.[10] Ray again scored four touchdowns.[10] Alf Adams stood out on defense.[10] The starting lineup was Chester (left end), Cody (left tackle), Williams (left guard), Reyer (center), Hamilton (right guard), Lipscomb (right tackle), Richardson (right end), Roach (quarterback), Floyd (left halfback), Ray (right halfback), and Wiggs (fullback).[10]

Rabbit Curry piloted the "point-a-minute" Commodores.

Henderson-Brown[edit]

Henderson-Brown at Vanderbilt
1 2 3 4 Total
Henderson-Br. 0 0 0 0 0
Vanderbilt 26 27 28 19 100

The Commodores beat Henderson-Brown 100–0. The "Rabbit" Curry ran for a 40-yard touchdown with the game barely a minute old, and later had a 40-yard punt return for a touchdown.[12] "Sarah" Turner had an 80-yard run, and a 60-yard end run for a score in the third quarter. Tommy Ridley ran 60 yards on a fake punt.[12] Catching Henderson-Brown exhausted, John Jarrett returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.[12] The starting lineup was Y. Chester (left end), Cody (left tackle), Hamilton (left guard), Reyer (center), Williams (right guard), Lipscomb (right tackle), Cohen (right end), Curry (quarterback), Floyd (left halfback), Ray (right halfback), and Wiggs (fullback).[12]

Ole Miss[edit]

Against Mississippi, the team traveled by train from Nashville to Memphis, Tennessee, where the game was to be played. The train was halted near Dickson by a wreck ahead of it, and the players complained about the lack of food on the train. The team's manager James Stahlman foraged through neighboring orchards near the tracks and picked three or four hatfuls of green apples.[13] Curry ate several of them,[14] and proceeded to score six touchdowns and kick eight extra points against Ole Miss.[15] The final score was 91–0.[16] The starting lineup was Hayes (left end), Cody (left tackle), Williams (left guard), Reyer (center), Putnam (right guard), Lipscomb (right tackle), Cohen (right end), Curry (quarterback), Floyd (left halfback), Zerfoss (right halfback), and Wiggs (fullback).[15]

Tennessee[edit]

Tennessee at Vanderbilt
1 2 3 4 Total
Tennessee 0 0 0 0 0
Vanderbilt 7 0 7 21 35
  • Date: October 30
  • Location: Dudley Field
    Nashville, TN
  • Game start: 2:45 p. m.

The Tennessee Volunteers were the first real test for the Commodores, coming to Nashville as the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) defending champions and loaded with confidence.[18] They were swamped, 35–0 as Curry and Turner ran for several yards.[18] Curry once got away for 50 yards, the only touchdown of the first half.[18] In the third quarter, Johnny Floyd ripped off 47 yards and Hubert Wiggs took it over.[19]

Then Turner entered the game and his first run was 35 yards to the 6-yard line, where Wiggs again scored.[18] The next time he ran 60 yards himself for the touchdown, and the last score came on a 20-yard dash by Cutter Northcutt, Curry's substitute.[19] The victory was overshadowed by a most unfortunate spine injury to Bennett Jared, who died a few months later.[17] The starting lineup was Adams (left end), Cody (left tackle), Williams (left guard), Reyer (center), Putnam (right guard), Lipscomb (right tackle), Cohen (right end), Curry (quarterback), Floyd (left halfback), Zerfoss (right halfback), and Wiggs (fullback).[17]

Virginia's Buck Mayer (pictured) was the South's first consensus All-American.

Virginia[edit]

Vanderbilt at Virginia
1 2 3 4 Total
Vanderbilt 3 0 7 0 10
Virginia 0 28 7 0 35

The Commodores ended the Tennessee game with a 7–0 record, having racked up 459 points with no points scored against them.[1] A road game at Charlottesville, Virginia to face the University of Virginia was next on the schedule. The high-flying Commodores were overwhelmed, 10–35 by the Cavaliers. Virginia gained 495 yards to Vanderbilt's 198.[20] Buck Mayer, the South's first consensus All-American, starred for Virginia.[20]

Zerfoss entered the game with an injury.[3] Curry ran for 80 yards to score a touchdown on a fumbled punt.[20] Cody booted a 20-yard field goal for the only other Commodores' score. Vanderbilt could only manage five first downs in the contest.[20] The starting lineup was Adams (left end), Lipscomb (left tackle), Putnam (left guard), Reyer (center), Williams (right guard), Cody (right tackle), Cohen (right end), Curry (quarterback), Floyd (left halfback), Zerfoss (right halfback), and Wiggs (fullback).[20]

Auburn[edit]

Vanderbilt at Auburn
1 2 3 4 Total
Vanderbilt 0 7 7 3 17
Auburn 0 0 0 0 0

Next was the Auburn game, which McGugin had been pointing to since before the season began,[18] as Auburn had dominated Southern football for the past two seasons, without a single team crossing its line.[22] The game was played in Birmingham at Rickwood Field.[n 1]

Vanderbilt jumped out to a 17–0 lead on a rain-soaked field. A Curry pass to captain Cohen opened the scoring.[23] Josh Cody took over himself from that point. In one of the greatest exhibitions of punt covering, Cody smothered the receiver every time, recovering two fumbles, one across the goal line for a touchdown.[23] Then, in the last ten seconds of play, Cody drop kicked a three-pointer from the 33-yard line.[23] Tom Zerfoss and Friel punted well. Curry's leadership was superb, and late in the game the Vanderbilt line rose as one to throw back three Auburn charges on the five-yard line.[21] The starting lineup was Hayes (left end), Cody (left tackle), Williams (left guard), Reyer (center), Hamilton (right guard), Lipscomb (right tackle), Cohen (right end), Curry (quarterback), Floyd (left halfback), Zerfoss (right halfback), and Wiggs (fullback).[21]

Sewanee[edit]

The final game of the season for the 8–1 Commodores was on Thanksgiving Day in Nashville against their rival Sewanee.[24] The SIAA championship was at stake. A shutout over the "Men From the Mountain" would complete the SIAA schedule of being unscored upon.[24] Thoroughly outplayed the first two quarters as Captain Bob Dobbins and Hek Clark led the Tiger attack, intermission found the Commodores behind 3–0, the result of "Red" Herring's field goal from the 20-yard line.[24]

Josh Cody was selected third-team All-American.

Dan McGugin took the team over by Engineering Hall for a little talk. The Commodores came back playing hard, but at the start of the fourth quarter the score was still 3–0.[24] Finally a sustained drive got underway that ended with "Dough" Ray plunging in for a touchdown from the four-yard line. Then Tom Lipscomb and Cody blocked a punt and Pud Reyer recovered on the five-yard line.[24] Again Ray scored. Later Zerfoss skirted end for 26 yards, and Curry followed with a 34-yard dash and a third touchdown.[24]

Curry was hurt from the terrible pounding by Sewanee, but he still managed the top run of the day, 80 yards for a touchdown with Cody clearing his path.[25] The final count was 28–3, and another SIAA championship.[24] Sewanee coach Harris Cope said: "I think Curry is one of the greatest players I have ever seen."[25] The starting lineup was Hayes (left end), Cody (left tackle), Williams (left guard), Reyer (center), Hamilton (right guard), Lipscomb (right tackle), Cohen (right end), Curry (quarterback), Floyd (left halfback), Zerfoss (right halfback), and Wiggs (fullback).[25]

Post season[edit]

The 1915 Vanderbilt football team scored a grand total of 514 points in 510 minutes of actual playing time, thus ranking them as a legitimate "point-a-minute" team. Vanderbilt averaged 51.4 points a game. Vanderbilt led the nation in scoring, then one of few stats kept.[2]

During the season Curry accounted for 118 of Vanderbilt's season total of 514 points.[13] Seven out of eight newspapers voted the SIAA championship to the Commodores. The Atlanta Constitution declared it a tie between Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech.[13] Curry (unanimously), Cohen and Cody were named All-Southern.[13]

In 1975, the team's manager, James G. Stahlman, organized a sixtieth reunion the weekend of the Georgia game. Seven lettermen were present: Cohen, Dough Ray, Hubert Wiggs, Kent Morrison, Alf Adams, and Tom Zerfoss.[13]

Players[edit]

Depth chart[edit]

The following chart provides a visual depiction of Vanderbilt's lineup during the 1915 season with games started at the position reflected in parenthesis. The chart mimics a short punt formation while on offense, with the quarterback under center.

LE
Frank Hayes (3)
Yunk Chester (2)
Alf Adams (2)
Richardson (1)
Williams (1)
LT LG C RG RT
Josh Cody (8) Pryor Williams (5) Pud Reyer (8) C. M. Hamilton (3) Tom Lipscomb (7)
Tom Lipscomb (1) C. M. Hamilton (2) Pryor Williams (1) Putnam (3) Josh Cody (1)
Putnam (1) Pryor Williams (2) Putnam (1)
Pud Reyer (1) Tom Lipscomb (1)
C. Brown (0)
RE
Russ Cohen (7)
Frank Hayes (1)
Richardson (1)
 
 
QB
Irby Curry (8)
Roach (1)
Cutter Northcutt (0)
LHB RHB
Johnny Floyd (7) Tom Zerfoss (6)
Tom Zerfoss (1) Dough Ray (2)
Friel (1) Hubert Wiggs (1)
Sarah Turner (0) K. Morrison (0)
FB
Hubert Wiggs (8)
King (1)
Bennett Jared (0)

-

Varsity letterwinners[edit]

Line[edit]

Player Position Games
started
Hometown Prep school Height Weight Age
Yunk Chester end 2
Josh Cody tackle 9 Franklin, Tennessee Battle Ground Academy 6'4" 212 23
Russ Cohen end 7 Augusta, Georgia 168 22
C. M. Hamilton guard 5
Frank Hayes end 4
Tom Lipscomb tackle 8 6'0" 205
George "Pud" Reyer center 8
Pryor Williams guard 7 Athens, Alabama 6'1" 210 21

Backfield[edit]

Player Position Games
started
Hometown Prep school Height Weight Age
Irby Curry quarterback 8 Marlin, Texas Marlin High 128 21
Johnny Floyd halfback 7 Murfreesboro, Tennessee Middle Tennessee State Normal 24
Henry "Dough" Ray halfback 2
Bob "Sarah" Turner halfback 0
Hubert Wiggs fullback 9 Tullahoma, Tennessee 22
Tom Zerfoss halfback 7 Ashland, Kentucky University of Kentucky 155 20

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Birmingham's Rickwood Field (built in 1910) still exists today and has been certified as the oldest ballpark in America. It was home to the Birmingham Red Barons of the old Southern Association for decades until 1987.[23]

Endnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Traughber 2011, p. 58
  2. ^ a b Bill Traughber (September 16, 2009). "Vanderbilt's 1915 point-a-minute team". 
  3. ^ a b Blinkey Horn (November 4, 1915). "Twenty Commodores To Leave For Virginia This Morning". The Tennessean. p. 14. Retrieved September 10, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  4. ^ "Coaching Records Game by Game: Dan McGugin 1915". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2010-09-14. 
  5. ^ a b c Blinkey Horn (September 26, 1915). "Commodores Have Easy Sailing Over Middle Tennessee Normal". The Tennessean. p. 46. Retrieved June 17, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  6. ^ "Is Easy For Vanderbilt". Daily Arkansas Gazette. September 26, 1915. p. 16. Retrieved May 6, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  7. ^ "Vanderbilt 57, S. W. P. U. 0". The Atlanta Constitution. October 3, 1915. p. 8. Retrieved May 6, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  8. ^ a b c Blinkey Horn (October 10, 1915). "Commodores Roll Up Largest Score Made In Past Years". The Tennessean. p. 42. Retrieved June 17, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  9. ^ "Is Soft For Vanderbilt". Daily Arkansas Gazette. October 10, 1915. p. 19. Retrieved April 6, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  10. ^ a b c d e Blinkey Horn (October 14, 1915). "Commodores, In Drizzling Rain, Romp Over Cumberland". p. 12. Retrieved June 17, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  11. ^ "Vandy Vs. Cumberland". The Charlotte News. October 13, 1915. p. 19. Retrieved April 6, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  12. ^ a b c d e Blinkey Horn (October 17, 1915). "Commodores Make Hundred Points On Henderson - Brown". The Tennessean. p. 19. Retrieved September 21, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  13. ^ a b c d e Traughber 2011, p. 61
  14. ^ "Today's Choice Footbal lYarn". Reading Eagle. November 16, 1934. 
  15. ^ a b "Vanderbilt Wallops "Ole Miss," 91 to 0". The Atlanta Constitution. October 24, 1915. p. 3. Retrieved May 4, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  16. ^ "Today's Grid Story". Kingsport Times. 1934-11-16. 
  17. ^ a b c Blinkey Horn (October 31, 1915). "Commodores Wipe Out 1914 Defeat". Atlanta Constitution. p. 3. Retrieved April 6, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  18. ^ a b c d e Traughber 2011, p. 59
  19. ^ a b "Play for Play In Vandy-Tennessee Grid Battle". The Tennessean. October 31, 1915. p. 23. Retrieved April 6, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  20. ^ a b c d e f "Buck Mayer Sounds Commodores' Doom". The Tennessean. November 7, 1915. p. 38. Retrieved May 4, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  21. ^ a b c "Auburn's Goal Line Crossed; Defeat Is Administed by Rejuvenated Commodores". Atlanta Constitution. November 14, 1915. p. 3. Retrieved September 21, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  22. ^ "Vanderbilt Captures Contest From Auburn". The Wilmington Morning Star. November 14, 1915. p. 3. Retrieved April 6, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  23. ^ a b c d Traughber 2011, pp. 59-60
  24. ^ a b c d e f g Traughber 2011, p. 60
  25. ^ a b c "Rabbit Curry Lifts Black and Gold Above The Purple Banner". The Tennessean. November 26, 1915. p. 8. Retrieved May 4, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read

Bibliography[edit]

  • Traughber, Bill (2011). Vanderbilt Football: Tales of Commodore Gridiron History. The History Press. ISBN 978-1-60949-423-0.