2008 CFN Vanderbilt Preview |
2007 CFN Vanderbilt Preview |
2006 CFN Vanderbilt
Commodores keep pushing the boulder up the mountain only to be
crushed under the weight of a possible winning season.
Head coach Bobby Johnson has done a good job of upgrading the talent
level and making the program far more competitive in SEC play than
it used to be, but the Commodores haven’t gone to a bowl game since
1982 and have been heartbreakingly close to getting in over the last
Head coach: Bobby Johnson
7th year: 20-50
15th year overall: 80-86
Off. 22, Def. 23, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 17
Best Vandy Players
1. CB D.J. Moore, Jr.
2. DE Steven Stone, Jr.
3. SS Reshard Langford, Sr.
4. QB Mackenzi Adams, Jr.
5. QB Chris Nickson, Sr.
6. RB Jeff Jennings, Sr.
7. OT Thomas Welch, Jr.
8. DE Broderick Stewart, Jr.
9. CB Myron Lewis, Jr.
10. FS Ryan Hamilton, Jr.
CFN Prediction: 3-9
2008 Record: 0-0
at Miami Univ.
Sept. 4 South Carolina
Sept. 13 Rice
Sept. 20 at Ole Miss
Sept. 27 OPEN DATE
Oct. 4 Auburn
Oct. 11 at Mississippi State
Oct. 18 at Georgia
Oct. 25 Duke
Nov. 1 OPEN DATE
Nov. 8 Florida
Nov. 15 at Kentucky
Nov. 22 Tennessee
Nov. 29 at Wake Forest
2007 Record: 5-7
Alabama L 24-13
Auburn L 35-7
Georgia L 20-17
South Carolina W 17-6
Florida L 49-22
Tennessee L 25-24
In 2005 the
Commodores started out 4-0 only to lose six in a row. 4-5 in 2006, they
lost their final three games, and worst of all, they were 5-3 last
season before losing their final four games.
Now the window might have slammed shut. Vandy was good enough to get to
a bowl game, didn't, and now it's rebuilding time. The rest of the SEC
East, outside of Kentucky, appears to be better, while Vandy might be a
That's not to say the Commodores will roll up the tents and go away, but
in a year when there are a few superpower, major rebuilding/changing
jobs going on, the SEC has enough gray areas for a plucky team to be
able to rise up and come up with a few upsets. The problem is that Vandy
has more building to do than anyone else.
Talents like WR Earl Bennett and OT Chris Williams don't hang around
Nashville every year, but there are some bright spots to work around,
like the secondary and the offensive line. By far, on overall talent
level, this is the SEC's 12th team, but that also works to Vandy's
advantage from time to time.
Every SEC team assumes the Vanderbilt game is a win. As much as everyone
likes to throw out the one-game-at-a-time cliché, it's impossible to
focus on the Commodores when Florida or LSU is coming up the week after.
Vandy has to continue to take advantage of every team's B performance,
and it has to pull off a few upsets, but just when nothing is expected,
that might be when the bowl game finally comes.
What to watch for on offense: Will the quarterback situation ever
be completely settled? Vandy has two nice talents in Mackenzi Adams and
Chris Nickson who can lead the offense, but neither one seems able to
give the coaching staff exactly what it's looking for. Adams is a decent
veteran, but he's not consistent enough to overcome Nickson's upside.
Either way, the offense will have to live through the mistakes, and the
starter will have to keep looking over his shoulder.
What to watch for on defense: One of the best secondaries in
America. This isn't just a "good by Vanderbilt standards" secondary;
it's the real deal. D.J. Moore is a pick-off artist at corner, taking
away six last year, while SS Reshard Langford is a tough veteran who has
seen it all, lived through his early mistakes, and has come through as a
star. Corner Myron Lewis and FS Ryan Hamilton are solid, while Darlron
Spread, who's back after a knee injury, is good enough to fill in
The team will be far better if … it can score. And here's
your problem. The offense has a ton of holes to patch from an attack
that didn't do much last year. Take out the 41 hung on Richmond of the
FCS, and Vandy averaged fewer than 20 points per game. Worse yet, the
offense didn't score more than 24 points on anyone over the final eight
games. There has to be more explosion and more scoring, or even more
pressure will be put on the D.
The schedule would be a dream for a Florida or LSU, but Vandy can't take
anything for granted. At Miami University, Rice, Duke and at Wake Forest
makes for one of the best academic tours in college football, but
outside of the trip to Winston-Salem there's nothing to break a sweat
over. Even though both games are on the road, getting Ole Miss and
Mississippi State from the West is a nice break. The problem comes in
the back half of the year with no gimme November home games playing
Florida and Tennessee. Getting one home win against the Gators, the Vols,
South Carolina and Auburn is a must.
Best Offensive Player:
Junior QB Mackenzi Adams and/or Senior QB Chris Nickson. The
quarterbacks are the veterans and the playmakers who'll have to stand
out more than ever. They can't just be efficient and productive game
managers; they have to do special things to make a young, potentially
punchless attack shine. Even if they're in a rotation, it might not be
the worst thing in the world considering they might provide different
Best Defensive Player:
Junior CB D.J. Moore. Even at 5-10 and 182 pounds, he's a big hitter
for his size and a tremendous ball-hawk. If he's not the SEC's premier
all-around corner, he's close with 83 tackles, six interceptions and ten
broken up passes last season. If he gets a little bigger, he could be a
solid NFL free safety, but his future will likely be as a No. 2 corner.
Key player to a
The entire offensive line. All five starters are gone including all-star
tackles Chris Williams and Brian Stamper. Fortunately, Vandy is good at
getting decent line prospects and molding them into excellent starters,
and while there's good potential, there isn't a sure-thing to work
behind. Forget about the backups for now; it's all about developing the
chemistry and the cohesion.
The season will be a
wins six games. That would be a mega-achievement for a team that's not
nearly as good as the last few that couldn't get over the hump, but the
schedule is just decent enough to pull it off if everything breaks the
right way. Beating Miami University, Rice, and Duke will be a must;
there's no shot at a bowl without winning all three. Then it'll come
down to pulling off some key road victories against Ole Miss and
Kentucky, and hoping for a big upset somewhere along the line.
Sept. 4 vs. South Carolina. While Vanderbilt will need more time to jell
than anyone else in the SEC, if it's going to come up with a big SEC
upset, it might have to do it early before a team like South Carolina is
in mid-season mode. Considering the other three SEC home games are
against Auburn, Florida and Tennessee, the conference opener could be
the one real shot to come up with a big upset.
2007 Fun Stats:
- Penalties: Opponents 83 for 631 yards – Vanderbilt 59 for 479 yards
- Punt return average: Opponents 14.7 – Vanderbilt 7.3
- Third quarter scoring: Opponents 69 – Vanderbilt 41