#63 Vanderbilt Football Preview

Vanderbilt Commodores

Overall Rank #63
#12 SEC

Vanderbilt Logo
Vanderbilt Team Page

2010 Record: (2-10, 1-7)
Coach: James Franklin
Offensive Coordinator: John Donovan
Defensive Coordinator: Bob Shoop

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Warren Norman, RB, 459 yards
Passing: Larry Smith, QB, 1,262 yards
Receiving: John Cole, WR, 425 yards
Tackles: Sean Richardson, SS, 98
Sacks: Rob Lohr, DT, 4
Interceptions: Casey Hayward, CB, 6

First year coach James Franklin has inherited a team that needs a lot of work.  At quarterback last season, Larry Smith completed only 47.4 percent of his passes and an average of 5.1 yards per pass.  In league play, Smith failed to reach 150 yards in any game.  Some of those numbers were due to the horrendous play of the offensive line, but they don’t get all of the blame. But some strengths do exist and they are a young team that could have a bright future.  

After looking at the Vanderbilt Commodores dismal record you might wonder what strengths really exist.  The quarterback is not the strongest point for the Commodores, but Larry Smith is a returning senior with knowledge of the college game.  The backup at the moment is Jordan Rodgers a junior college transfer and brother of Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers. Only time will tell how either pans out, but waiting in the wings is true freshman Lafonte Thourogood.  Thourogood was a Virginia Tech recruit, and also recruited by Florida, Tennessee, and North Carolina among others.  He is 6’2” , 225 and  can really run.  If Vanderbilt starts slow look for Coach James Franklin to go with Thourgood to turn the tide.  The running backs are a reason for hope for the Commodores.  Warren Norman and Zac Stacey are the staples of the backfield.  Both backs have been standouts even with a poor offensive line.  Norman was held out of spring practice opening the door for Wesley Tate to get those carries.  Tate is 225 pounds and was a Tennessee state champ in the 100 meters. On the defensive side of the ball, its Chris Marve and Casey Hayward leading the attack.  Marve is the middle linebacker and and really the only sure thing they have at that position.  Hayward lead the team in interceptions and was a second-team All-SEC player last season.  Vanderbilt’s secondary is the strong suit of the team.  Besides Hayward they boast Trey Wilson, Andre Hal, and Eddie Foster fighting for major minutes in the secondary, and at Strong Safety, Sean Richardson lead the team in tackles with 98.  

For this offensive to be competitive they must show progress in every facet of their game.  They do return all five starters on the offensive line but most were thrown into battle a bit to early blinding us with the term returning the whole line.  On the flip side, the defensive line wasn’t much better.  They were 84th in the country in sacks and don’t have a player over 285 pounds.  T.J. Greenstone is returning and is a fifth-year senior being able to show the young line guidance, but that’s basically the only positive.  Word on the campus of Vanderbilt, is that Barron Davis a true freshman will get minutes on the defensive line with how young and thin they are up front.  As far as the receiving corps goes, the best returning receiver is John Cole and he only had 25 receptions last season.  Coach Franklin really needs someone to step up and find some big play ability or defenses will have eight and nine in the box all season long.

The Bottom Line:
First year Coach James Franklin has a world of work to do at Vanderbilt.  There are pro’s and con’s to his team, but most of his issues are con’s.  Their offense was the worst in the SEC last season and does not look to improve unless the quarterback, offensive line, and receivers improve immensely.  The prositives are running back, Marve, and the secondary.  Their opening three games are very winnable with Elon, Connecticut, and Ole Miss, but after that it is a free fall going to South Carolina and Alabama.  Vanderbilt is very young and next season should provide a much better outlook than this season.

Projected Bowl: None

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 138.8 (80th nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense: 159.4 (105, 11)
Total Offense: 298.3 (110, 12)
Scoring Offense: 16.9 (112, 12)
Rushing Defense: 193.0 (100, 12)
Pass Defense: 226.3 (75, 7)
Total Defense: 419.3 (93, 12)
Scoring Defense: 31.2 (94, 11)
Turnover Margin: -0.33 (79, 11)

Read another article about Vanderbilt Football