When SEC play opens, chances to introduce the readers to threatening opposing players dwindle. Oh, sure, we could profile Zeke McGillicutty, the five-star fourth-string linebacker for FloraBama, but our readers are smart enough that they likely know the players who are seriously contributing on opposing conference squads. So, this is a tough feature.
Except this week, where we think we've found a man playing for the Black and Gold with whom you might all be unfamiliar, but has a chance to turn in a good performance against Johnny Landshark. This guy was second on the team in receptions for the Commies in 2009. He is the leading active receiver for Vanderbilt, caught for his career-high in yards against rival Tennessee and for his career-high in receptions (including a touchdown) against Georgia. And in 2008, he was Freshman All-SEC after red-shirting in 2007 (which was after transferring in from Virginia Tech WHO LOST TO JAMES MADISON LOST TO JAMES MADISON LOST TO JAMES MADISON /only starting to feel better).
Who is this guy?
He is TE Brandon Barden.
With nine receptions on the season (four and a touchdown against Northwestern; five last week for a disappointing 38 yards), Barden seems like just the type of player to frustratingly maintain some drives against a Rebel defense that we've seen is suspect when attacked over the mid-range middle. His 357 yards in 2009 was good enough for second on a Vanderbilt offense that was slightly less reliable than their foghorn.
Homeboy did roll his ankle against LSU, but he should be 100% against the Rebels. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt's leading receiver from last year John Cole is complaining because Robbie Caldwell is ignoring the recievers. With Caldwell planning to "scale back" the playbook against Ole Miss, I think that means that we might see a lot of "hand off to Norman, hand off to Norman, shit that didn't work, dump it to Barden."
Who is this guy? He's Brandon Barden. And you'll probably hear his name shortly after he converts a third and nine that makes you throw your drink in Tyrone Nix's general direction.