2008 Vanderbilt Commodores Football Preview
2007 Record: (5-7, 2-6)
2007 Bowl: none
Coach: Bobby Johnson (20-50 at Vanderbilt, 80-86 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ted Cain
Defensive Coordinator: Bruce Fowler
Other Key Returnees: LB Brandon Bryant, S Ryan Hamilton, S Reshard Langford, CB Myron Lewis, QB Chris Nickson, DE Steve Stone, WR Sean Walker
Key Losses: TE Brad Allen, WR Earl Bennett, LB Marcus Buggs, DE Curtis Gatewood, LB Jonathan Goff, DT Gabe Hall, DT Theo Horrocks, RB Cassen Jackson-Garrison, OT Chris Williams
Two years ago Chris Nickson looked like he would become one of the great Vanderbilt quarterbacks. By the end of last season he was replaced by Mackenzi Adams. Both quarterbacks have some upside, but it is Nickson who has more talent and should secure the starting job. But it should have happened last year too. Adams is the more mobile of the two, but lacks in the throwing accuracy department.
The Commodores defense kept the team in games, but only the secondary is not decimated by graduation. Cornerback D.J. Moore had a superb sophomore year and a better spring. His pass coverage abilities have noticeably improved and now he should be able to handle the best receivers the SEC has to offer. Myron Lewis was the starter on the other corner and should improve now that he is an upperclassman. Strong safety Reshard Langford is a big hitter and free safety Ryan Hamilton has been starting since he was a freshman. The defensive line has some holes to fill, but end Broderick Stewart and linebacker Patrick Bonoist are back after creating some havoc in the opponent’s backfield. With the pressure they should get on the quarterback, the secondary will be dominating.
The ends of the defensive line are in decent shape, but the same cannot be said for the middle. Adam Smotherman and Greg Billinger are the only defensive tackles with any experience whatsoever and Smotherman has a history of knee problems that could turn the position into even more of a concern. The line on the other side of the ball is in worse shape. All five starters are gone, including left tackle Chris Williams who was a first round draft pick. The offensive line will likely be full of juniors this year, but players like Eric Hensley and Thomas Welch need to come together quickly if the line is not going to cause big problems for the Commodores.
The Bottom Line for the Commodores:
Last year should have been the season Vanderbilt made a bowl game. With the need to replace a large portion of the defense and the entire o-line, not to mention running back Cassen Jackson-Garrison and receiver Earl Bennett, the Commodores are expected to take a step back this year. However, with a manageable schedule, reaching the six win plateau is not totally out of the realm of possibility.
2007 Vanderbilt Commodores Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 150.17 (59th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 176.42 (107, 10)
Total Offense: 326.58 (103, 11)
Scoring Offense: 21.67 (93, 10)
Rushing Defense: 128.17 (32, 6)
Pass Defense: 197.08 (18, 5)
Total Defense: 325.25 (16, 4)
Scoring Defense: 22.58 (32, 5)
Turnover Margin: -.17 (73, 10)
Sacks: 2.50 (30, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.42 (24, 5)
By Joel Welser
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