#42 Vanderbilt Football 2012 Preview

Vanderbilt Commodores

2012 Overall Rank: #42
#11 SEC
Vanderbilt College Football 2012 Team Preview
Vanderbilt Team Page


James Franklin came to Vanderbilt with a reputation as an offensive genius.  He cut his teeth at Kansas State, the NFL, and finally at Maryland before becoming head coach for the Commodores.  Franklin is known for his relentless recruiting and selling players on a program.  In one year, he guided his .500 Commodores to a bowl game.  He is the only coach at Vanderbilt to ever do that.  Once he finally establishes and entrenches himself in the Nashville community, he will be able turn this team into a consistent winner.  This could be difficult for him to do in the SEC and with the strict academic standards at Vanderbilt, but Franklin is unmoving in his quest for perfection.

2011 Record: (6-7)
2011 Bowl: AutoZone Liberty Bowl vs Cincinnati (L 24-31)
Coach: James Franklin (6-7 at Vanderbilt, 6-7 Overall)
Offensive Coordinator: John Donovan
Defensive Coordinator:  Bob Shoop

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Zac Stacy RB, 1,193 yards
Passing: Jordan Rodgers, QB, 1,524 yards
Receiving: Jordan Matthews, WR, 778 yards
Tackles: Archibald Barnes, LB, 59
Sacks: Rob Lohr, DT, 4.5
Interceptions: Trey Wilson, DB, 3

Other Key Returnees: WR Chris Boyd, DE Johnell Thomas, LB Chase Garnham

Key Losses: QB Larry Smith, DB Casey Hayward, DE Tim Fugger, LB Chris Marve, S Sean Richardson

Following suit with the rest of the SEC, Vanderbilt has a stronger defense than it does an offense.  In total defense they only allowed 322.77 yards per game, which put them at 18th in the country.  The problem is that ranked them sixth in their own conference.  That shows how tough it is to succeed in the SEC.  They gave up less than 200 yards per game through the air and only 130 yards on the ground.  The Commodores also possessed one of the better special teams units in the league.  They were in the top half of the conference in punting (which helped their defense in terms of field position) and their kickoff return production put them above half of the conference.  

Offensively, the Commodores have a lot of work to do.  They were decent running the ball, but they could not get anything going through the air in 2011.  They were in the bottom quarter of the league at 197 yards per game.  Their ineptitude at throwing caused them to be held back from the end zone.  They scored nearly 27 points per game.  That is not a bad number except that it is difficult to retain any sort of lead or momentum in the SEC.  The line also had a tough time holding off opposing pass rushers.  Vanderbilt quarterbacks were on their backs more than twice per game.  Quarterback Jordan Rodgers needs to improve big time.  He threw 10 interceptions to just nine touchdowns last year.  

The Bottom Line:
Vanderbilt should feel pretty good about the direction it is heading.  The Commodores never have it easy since they take on Alabama, Florida and LSU year in and year out.  But in 2011 they held their own and returned to a bowl game.  Franklin will get players that fit his system and will try hard to make Vanderbilt a feared team to play.  His first step is winning more in-conference games.  They went 2-6 in 2011.  To achieve the eight or nine win plateau, they will have to do better against familiar foes.  The 2012 season should provide a good gauge about the coming seasons for the Commodores.  If they eclipse six wins, the Commodores will be mighty happy.

Projected Bowl:  None

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 164.46 (47th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense:  174.62 (97, 8)
Total Offense: 339.08 (98, 7)
Scoring Offense: 26.69 (61, 6)
Rushing Defense: 130.54 (36, 4)
Pass Defense: 192.23 (18, 7)
Total Defense: 322.77 (18, 6)
Scoring Defense: 21.62 (29, 7)
Turnover Margin: .08 (T49, 6)
Sacks: 2.08 (T47, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 2.15 (T73, 6)

Madness 2012 Football Recruit Rankings:
#199 Brian Kimbrow
#250 Caleb Azubike