Vanderbilt Preview |
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
Off. 19, Def. 17, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 22
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.
at Ole Miss
2005 Results: 5-6
at Wake Forest W 24-20
at Arkansas W 28-24
Ole Miss W 31-23
LSU L 34-6
Georgia L 34-17
at So Carolina L 35-28
at Florida L 49-42 2OT
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
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 ...
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.
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.
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.
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.
will be a success if ... Vandy wins five games.
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.
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.
Fourth down conversions: Vanderbilt 11 of 18 (61%) -
Opponents 7 of 15 (47%)
- Penalties: Opponents 84 for 769 yards - Vanderbilt 46 for 340 yards
- Vanderbilt first quarter scoring: 36 - Vanderbilt fourth quarter
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)
…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)