I say dear Barnaby, bring the chariot around to the parlor door. Pip Pip!
I hate the Vandy game every single year. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad that we don't have to play Florida every year or something like that. It's just that Vanderbilt, for whatever reason, is generally a tricky opponent for us to beat. We've lost a few games to them recently, and that has to stop now. If we can't pull this one out, we're probably staring down a 4 win season. I don't think any of us want that.
Hopefully that won't be an issue. This Vanderbilt team is quite bad. They break in eleven new starters on a team that went 0-8 in the SEC last year. They have a head coach who only got his job due to being in the right place at the right time, and their athletes just aren't very good.
We still can't overlook them. We lost to Jacksonville State. After the jump, I'll do some analysis for you.
Junior quarterback Larry Smith threw the ball 227 times last year and produced 1,126 yards. That's good for 4.96 yards per attempt. While billed as a runner, Smith was only able to churn out 213 yards on 85 carries (both numbers include sacks) for a total of 2.5 yards per carry. To say that he wasn't good is an understatement. Smith has trouble running Vanderbilt's simplistic offense and often looks lost. Against Northwestern, Smith managed to throw for 240 yards. He followed that effort with a 70 yard outing against LSU, a game in which the commodores produced just 135 total yards (51 of which came on a long option run by Warren Norman). I didn't watch the game, but I'm sure Vanderbilt fans weren't very happy with their offensive production. Vanderbilt's primary backup at halfback got the ball nine times and only summed up 19 yards. That's absolutely horrid. In terms of the receiving game, Vandy's primary target is Brandon Barden, their reliable tight end. If anyone's going to really hurt us in the passing game, it's Barden. I hope we plan to shadow him with our best coverage lineabcker all game. I'm looking at you Allen Walker. Don't screw this up.
Our defense, of course, hasn't been doing so hot either. The Rebels are last in the league in scoring defense despite playing two awful teams. Sure, a lot of that comes from the double overtime game against Jacksonville State, but that doesn't matter. The defense has failed thusfar. They're tenth in the league in pass defense and have to do something to get back on track. I attended several practices this offseason, and all I saw was the defense blowing up play after play that the offense tried to run. Let's hope we can get back to playing at that level this week. If we can, we could be a really fun team to watch. Jeremiah Masoli already makes the offense interesting.
That's a good thing, because Vanderbilt's defense has been somewhat effective at stopping the pass so far this year. LSU passed for only 5.3 yards per attempt. Dan Persa, Northwestern's QB, made them look silly, completing 19 of his 21 passes, but I think that's a testament to Persa's ability more than to Vandy's defensive problems. Luckily for us, we have our own Dan Persa in Jeremiah Masoli. Masoli looked excellent last week and should have another good game against the Commodores. I would guess that the coaches will finally call some designed runs for Masoli, since Vanderbilt is giving up a league-worst (by a million), 211 rushing yards per game.
Of course, it won't make a difference if we go to the same runs we used last week against Tulane. Hey Houston, remember how we had a bad interior offensive line going into the season? I just wanted to point out that Rishaw Johnson was kicked off the team and his backup, Josh Tatum, is out with an injury. Maybe we shouldn't try to pound the ball behind right guard Michael Brown. He's a little new to this whole "playing meaningful football" thing, and I doubt he'll be able to take on MLB Chris Marve very well. Maybe we could run in the gap between the center and left guard, or, hell I don't know, run to the outside.
Here's what will happen:
Jeremiah Masoli will pass for just over 200 yards. He will run for around 80.
Brandon Bolden will once again vastly outperform Enrique Davis but probably only get 60% of the carries to Davis' 40.
The defense will hold Vanderbilt relatively in check, allowing 13 points.
Rebels by 14. What's your prediction?