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Vanderbilt Preview 2006
Posted Aug 8, 2006

Vanderbilt Commodores Preview 2006

- Vanderbilt Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

1982 was Vanderbilt's last winning season, and the last time it went to a bowl game.
If that wasn't bad enough, the program has cranked out one winning season since 1975 and just three winning campaigns since 1968. That's why last year hurts so much.

If you're Vanderbilt, you have to take advantage of every opportunity. It's not every year there's a Jay Cutler at quarterback. It's not every year Vandy can hang around with Florida in a wild shootout and beat Tennessee at Tennessee. It's not every year Vandy can beat the Vols, Arkansas, and Ole Miss, yet blow a chance at a winning season with a loss to Middle Tennessee State.

As close as the Commodores came to a historic season, the positive is that 2005 provided hope that the woeful program might finally be more than just a speed bump for the rest of the SEC. No, there's no Cutler anymore, but the overall talent level has risen up a bit showing that head coach Bobby Johnson might be making the impossible situation a little bit better.

Head coach: Bobby Johnson
5th year: 11-35
13th year overall: 71-71
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 19, Def. 17, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 22
Ten Best Vandy Players
1. WR Earl Bennett, Soph.
2. OT Brian Stamper, Sr.
3. SS Reshard Langford, Soph.
4. LB Jonathan Goff, Jr.
5. DT Theo Horrocks, Jr.
6. OT Chris Williams, Jr.
7. RB C. Jackson-Garrison, Jr.
8. CB Josh Allen, Soph.
9. WR Marlon White, Sr.
10. FB Steven Bright, Sr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

9/2 at Michigan
9/9 at Alabama
9/16 Arkansas
9/23 Tennessee State
9/30 Temple
10/7 at Ole Miss
10/14 at Georgia
10/21 South Carolina
10/28 at Duke
11/4 Florida
11/11 at Kentucky
11/18 Tennessee

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Results: 5-6

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/1 at Wake Forest W 24-20
9/10 at Arkansas W 28-24
9/17 Ole Miss W 31-23
9/24 Richmond W 37-13
10/1 MTSU L 17-15
10/8 LSU L 34-6
10/15 Georgia L 34-17
10/22 at So Carolina L 35-28
11/5 at Florida L 49-42 2OT
11/12 Kentucky L 48-43
11/19 at Tennessee W 28-24

Of course, Vanderbilt plays in the SEC East meaning year in and year out it's, at best, the fifth best team in the division. It has to be the program everyone overlooks before playing a big-time SEC foe, and it has to be nearly flawless. It can't be 70th in the nation in turnover margin, and it has to be just as tight on penalties again to be in the hunt for six wins.

Everything has to be working well in all phases, or else the team has to do one thing really, really well. Last year it was the passing game that everyone had to deal with. This season, the team will have to find its strength.

There are several major positives to build around. The starting offensive line, especially tackles Brian Stamper and Chris Williams, should be excellent. Earl Bennett and the receiving corps will be strong, Cassen Jackson-Garrison is a veteran runner who'll have his moments, and the defense should be good up the middle with good tackles and safeties and an All-SEC talent in linebacker Jonathan Goff.

Unfortunately, there are questions at starting quarterback, the running game won't be that great, and there's a big-time lack of playmakers on defense. In other words, there are too many holes to fill to have even the most remote of prayers to contend in the improved East. However, five wins is very possible again because of ...

The Schedule: This isn't last year's team. It's not going to win any of the road games at Michigan, Alabama or Georgia, and it's not going to beat Florida or Tennessee, but the rest of the slate isn't that bad getting winnable games against Temple and Tennessee State at home and more possible victories on the road against teams like Ole Miss, Duke, and Kentucky. Florida and Tennessee have to come to Dudley Field, but they'll likely take this year's game very, very seriously.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore WR Earl Bennett. Jay Cutler used Bennett over and over and over again abusing South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Richmond for 54 catches in those four games along. Now the talented sophomore has to prove that last season wasn't a fluke and be effective no matter who's at quarterback.

Best Defensive Player: Sophomore SS Reshard Langford. One of the few Commodores who'd start for anyone in the SEC, Langford is a big-hitting 6-2, 218 pounds with excellent range. He'll be playing at the next level in a few years.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Chris Nickson and/or redshirt freshman QB Mackenzi Adams. Neither one will be close the passer or leader that Jay Cutler was, but they're both far better overall athletes and each will add a different dimension to the attack. They're out to prove that the offense won't crash and burn without the SEC Offensive Player of the Year.

The season will be a success if ... Vandy wins five games. Forget about beating the big boys, but this is a good enough team to win home dates against Tennessee State and Kent State and hope victories on the road against teams their own size like Duke and Kentucky. If there can be an upset over Arkansas or South Carolina, or a road win over Ole Miss, five wins is a possibility.

Key game: Sept. 16 vs. Arkansas. Arkansas is better than the team Vandy beat 28-24 last year, but a win in the SEC home opener is a must to have any hope of a bowl game. This is the only SEC home game until late October.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Penalties: Opponents 84 for 769 yards - Vanderbilt 46 for 340 yards
- Vanderbilt first quarter scoring: 36 - Vanderbilt fourth quarter scoring: 102
Fourth down conversions: Vanderbilt 11 of 18 (61%) - Opponents 7 of 15 (47%)

The Last Time Vanderbilt…
…played in a bowl game…1982 (Hall of Fame Classic vs. Air Force)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…1999 (Citadel)
…was shutout…2003 (Tennessee)
…scored 50 points…2003 (UT-Chattanooga)
…went undefeated…1944
…won a conference title…never
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2005 (Jay Cutler)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…1995 (Jermaine Johnson)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2001 (Dan Stricker)
…had a first-round draft choice…2006 (RB Jay Cutler)

Related Stories
Vanderbilt Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 8, 2006
Vanderbilt Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 8, 2006
Vanderbilt Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 8, 2006

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