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2007 Vanderbilt Preview
Posted Jul 30, 2007

Preview 2007 Vanderbilt Commodores

Vanderbilt Commodores

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Vandy Offense Preview | 2007 Vandy Defense Preview
2007 Vandy Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Vanderbilt Preview 

In any other conference.

In any other conference, Vanderbilt would’ve gone to a bowl game in each of the last two years and would’ve had a chance to be a sneaky-sleeper, Wake Forest-like player for a league title. In any other conference but the SEC. 

Vandy hasn’t gone to a bowl game and hasn’t had a winning season since 1982, 24 years, serving as the punching bag for the rest of the SEC. While the program might not ever be a yearly contender for the conference title, it’s starting to become more of a thorn in the side of teams looking ahead to bigger and better battles. 

Head coach: Bobby Johnson
6th year: 15-43
14th year overall: 75-79
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 26, Def. 23, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 12
Ten Best Vandy Players
1. WR Earl Bennett, Jr.
2. LB Jonathan Goff, Sr.
3. SS Reshard Langford, Jr.
4. OT Brian Stamper, Sr.
5. OT Chris Williams, Sr.
6. DT Theo Horrocks, Sr.
7. DE Curtis Gatewood, Sr.
8. QB Chris Nickson, Jr.
9. LB Marcus Buggs, Sr.
10. FS Ryan Hamilton, Soph.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6

Sept. 1


Sept. 8


Sept. 15

Ole Miss

Sept. 29

Eastern Michigan

Oct. 6

at Auburn

Oct. 13


Oct. 20

at South Carolina

Oct. 27

Miami Univ.

Nov. 3

at Florida

Nov. 10


Nov. 17

at Tennessee

Nov. 24

Wake Forest

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2006 Results: 4
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 at Michigan L 27-7
9/9 at Alabama L 13-10
9/16 Arkansas L 21-19
9/23 Tennessee St W 38-9
9/30 Temple W 43-14
10/7 at Ole Miss L 17-10
10/14 at Georgia W 24-22
10/21 South Carolina L 24-13
10/28 at Duke W 45-28
11/4 Florida L 25-19
11/11 at Kentucky L 38-26
11/18 Tennessee L 39-10

Few teams pushed Florida harder over the last two years than Vandy, who lost by a touchdown in a 2005 shootout and by six last year. It beat Georgia between the hedges, and lost to Alabama and Arkansas by a total of five points. The young team hit the wall at the end of the season, but there were several signs to point to a big 2007.
Chris Nickson grew up as the year went on turning into a dangerous quarterback who began to get a good command of the team and the offense. Earl Bennett proved once again to be one of the SEC’s best receivers, the running game turned out to be better than expected, the offensive line was above-average, and the defense, while mediocre over the second half of the season, got a nice year from linebacker Jonathan Goff and showed good promise in the secondary.
And everyone comes back.
After Goff decided to put off the NFL for another year, that meant the Commodores get all the main players back on defense, while everyone but No. 2 receiver Marlon White and solid guard Mac Pyle return. In other words, the pieces are there to do what Kentucky did last season and go to a bowl, and maybe ruin a few SEC title dreams along the way.

What to watch for on offense:
Will Nickson go from good to tremendous? The team’s leading rusher last year, his mobility is always going to make defensive coordinators nervous, and his passing started to come on late highlighted by a 446-yard day against Kentucky and a 298-yard performance against Florida. He has to be far more consistent against the better defenses, or at least keep the chains moving on third down throws, and he has get the completion percentage to around 60% while keeping the interceptions around ten.

What to watch for on defense: Better production against the run. This isn’t the type of defense that’ll take many chances and bring pressure from all sides, it doesn’t want to leave the corners exposed, and it’ll give up yards, but it should be solid thanks to all the experience. Goff and strongside linebacker Marcus Buggs will make plenty of plays, while the line is big and decent.

The team will be far better if … it does all the little things well. Wake Forest overcame a talent deficiency, compared to the rest of the ACC, by doing everything right. Vandy has to follow the blueprint meaning it has to be far better at returning kicks after averaging just 4.73 yards on punts and 17.85 on kickoffs, has to improve the third down conversion percentage, time of possession, and turnovers. 

The Schedule: Four home games to start the season and five in the first six have the potential to lead to a huge start if there could be a upset or two over Georgia and/or Alabama. There are only four road games (Auburn, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee), and if VU can win at least one of them, it’ll likely go bowling. The non-conference slate is a joke facing Richmond, Eastern Michigan, Miami University, and a home game against Wake Forest.

Best Offensive Player: Junior WR Earl Bennett. With size, quickness, and tremendous route-running ability, Bennett’s the real deal. For anyone who thought his 79-catch, 876-yard, nine touchdown freshman season was due to having Jay Cutler throwing to him, he went out and cranked out an 82-catch, 1,146-yard, six touchdown sophomore campaign becoming even more dangerous.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Jonathan Goff. After flirting with the idea of turning pro early, Goff returned for his senior year to be a top All-SEC candidate and one of the league’s leading tacklers. He went from good to tremendous last season doing a little of everything well, and now he should hit the 100-stop mark in the middle.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Chris Nickson. No one’s expecting him to be Jay Cutler, but if Nickson can be even more accurate, spreads the ball around a little more, and most importantly, stays healthy, Vanderbilt has a chance to have its best season in a long, long time. If he doesn’t have to be the team’s leading rusher, even better.

The season will be a success if ... Vandy goes to its first bowl game since 1982. It’ll take a few tough home wins over teams like Wake Forest and Kentucky, and there must be an upset or two over someone like Georgia, Alabama or Auburn, but the team is the best it’s been in several years and is way due to finally turn a corner.

Key game: Sept. 8 vs. Alabama. To get to a bowl, Vandy can’t afford to lose many, if any, home games. Beating Alabama in the SEC opener will likely mean a 4-0 start before facing Auburn, and should bring back the buzz about Vandy football like there was two years ago after another hot start..

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Fourth quarter scoring: Opponents 84 – Vanderbilt 58
- Penalties: Opponents 69 for 598 yards – Opponents 48 for 399 yards
- Kickoff return average: Opponents 19.8 – Vanderbilt 17.9

- 2007 Vandy Offense Preview | 2007 Vandy Defense Preview
2007 Vandy Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Vanderbilt Preview 


Related Stories
2007 Vanderbilt Preview - Offense
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2007 Vanderbilt Preview - Defense
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2007 Vanderbilt Preview - Depth Chart
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