#79 Vanderbilt 2018 Football Preview

Vanderbilt Commodores
Overall Rank: #79
#14 SEC
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Following a disappointing 2017 season, Vanderbilt and Coach Derek Mason have some work to do in order to regain some respectability in the SEC. The Commodores did win five games last year, which is not bad, but their only conference victory came in the last week of the season at Tennessee. With the loss of some key players due to graduation, another five win season would not be a surprise.
2017 Record: 5-7, 1-7
2017 Bowl: None
Coach: Derek Mason (18-31 at Vanderbilt, 18-31 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Andy Ludwig
Defensive Coordinator: Jason Tarver
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Khari Blasingame, RB, 147 yards
Passing: Kyle Shurmur, QB, 2,823 yards
Receiving: Kalija Lipscomb, WR, 610 yards
Tackles: LaDarius Wiley, S, 88
Sacks: Charles Wright, LB, 9.0
Interceptions: LaDarius Wiley, S, 1; Dayo Odeyingbo, DE, 1
Other Key Returnees: CB Joejuan Williams
Key Losses: RB Ralph Webb, WR C.J. Duncan, WR Trent Sherfield, S Ryan White, LB Oren Burks, CB Tre Herndon
One thing this team does have is a veteran quarterback. Senior Kyle Shurmur has plenty of experience and really developed into a consistent threat last season. On the year he threw for 2,823 yards and 26 touchdowns, with ten interceptions. Those numbers may be difficult to duplicate with so many questions at wide receiver. Kalija Lipscomb is the clear top receiver after catching 37 passes for 610 yards and eight touchdowns. Chris Pierce is a big target and will be asked to step up quickly. At running back there is talent too. The ground game ranked last in the SEC last season and now will have to replace Ralph Webb, who rushed for 831 yards and ten touchdowns. There is potential though with Illinois transfer Ke’Shawn Vaughn. He is an explosive back who had some very good showings with the Illini back in 2015.
Vanderbilt allowed 43.3 points per game against SEC opponents. That is an SEC record the Commodores will not be proud to own. Coach Derek Mason brought in Jason Tarver to take over the unit, but he returns just four starters. The defensive line will be extremely important with the new more aggressive style of play. End Dare Odeyingbo is one of the returning starters and there is young talent like Dayo Odeyingo and Rutger Reitmaier. Outside linebacker Charles Wright will likely be the most potent pass rusher again after tallying 9.0 sacks last season. In the secondary, Vanderbilt will rebuild around star cornerback Joejuan Williams and safety LaDarius Wiley.
The Bottom Line:
The offense should be decent enough to win a few games. There could be more balance this year as well, although Vanderbilt will find themselves behind often and feel the need to keep the ball in the air. The defense is a huge concern and in the SEC they will be picked apart on a regular basis just like they were last season. Vanderbilt can win three non-conference games at most, so that leaves three SEC victories to get to a bowl game and that seems extremely unlikely.
Projected Bowl: None
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 107.2 (120th in nation, 14th in conference)
Passing Offense: 243.6 (53, 4)
Total Offense: 350.8 (102, 10)
Scoring Offense: 24.6 (95, 11)
Rushing Defense: 198.5 (101, 12)
Pass Defense: 194.6 (26, 7)
Total Defense: 393.1 (65, 8)
Scoring Defense: 31.3 (89, 11)
Turnover Margin: -0.42 (97, 12)
Sacks: 2.25 (49, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 1.58 (38, 4)

Madness 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#175 Alston Orji