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Vandy Preview

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While last season, many attributed their poor record to
Chris Nickson's inability to get the ball to Earl Bennett,
Vanderbilt has been successful because Bobby Johnson isn't
asking Nickson to do anything of the sort this season.
Through three games, Nickson has passed for 252 yards.
That's 84 yards/game. It's not like there's someone else on
their team who is getting all the passing yards. No one else
has even attempted a pass. They just don't throw the ball.
Nickson does, however, run a lot. He has already carried the
ball 49 times (4 more times than he has passed) for 268
yards (18 more yards than he has passed for) which sits him
comfortably at 5.5 ypc. It should be tough for us to stop
Vanderbilt on the ground, but it's nice to know that they
will be unable to play into our weakness (defending the
pass).

At halfback, Vandy boasts Jared Hawkins, a junior who is on
pace for 1,000 yards this season. Coupled with the fact that
Nickson is on pace for the same mark shows just how
formidable a rushing attack Vandy presents. It should be
good to see whether Hawkins, a hard runner, can
effectively get away from Palmer, Cornell, and Walker. I
look for Walker to have a relative breakout performance
somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 tackles, 2 TFLs, and a
PBU in his first career start. I think that Vanderbilt will
give us fits with Nickson running the football, but I do
believe we will be able to contain Jared Hawkins. Let's not
forget that the rebels are only allowing 3 ypc so far this
season, and have only allowed 2.1 ypc in their last two
games.

Vandy's receiving corps isn't used very often, but the ball
goes to Sean Walker more often than anyone else. Walker is a
senior with a whopping SIX catches on the season.
Vanderbilt's receivers aren't really worth talking about.

Vandy's offensive line obviously is pushing opponents off
the line so far, but Nickson's runs are often a good job
running between tacklers by Nickson and waiting for plays to
develop. I think that with Peria back healthy and Greg Hardy
in for a good number of snaps, we'll be able to knock them
off the line and get in the backfield to disrupt the
misdirections we will likely see on Saturday.

On defense, Vanderbilt is really under appreciated. Most of
my observations will come from their game against South
Carolina since that's the only time I've watched them.

The defensive line did a good job causing problems for South
Carolina's O, but I wonder how much of that is South
Carolina's porous offensive line. SC can't seem to get
anything going on offense right now, and that's all because
of their o-line play. We will probably have an average day
against their d-line.

At linebacker, Vanderbilt isn't spectacular, but they aren't
bad either. All their opponents have found difficulty
running the ball, averaging 3.5 ypc. I think they'll give us
some trouble, but I expect us to be able to run a good bit
against them. They haven't played a team that can run the
ball like we can.

Their secondary is what will present the most problems for
us. I don't even have to talk about DJ Moore. He's a legit
corner who has a future in the NFL. But he's not their end
all be-all. The rest of the secondary plays quite well and
is rarely out of position. To beat Vandy through the air,
we're going to have to rely on our wide receivers to be at
the top of their game with crisp cuts and athletic plays. We
also cannot afford to throw interceptions to them. As I said
in my Wake preview, if we throw picks, we lose. Vanderbilt
takes advantage of mistakes.

My prediction: Rebs by 4

What's your prediction?