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Vanderbilt found itself bowling last season after a six-win campaign and that’s about all the fans are hoping for this year. The Commodores have progressed since Derek Mason took over in 2014 and if they are to get better for a fourth-straight year, it would require seven wins. If they can get a little more out of their offense, it could be possible.

The hope for the offense is that it builds on how it closed last season scoring 38 against Ole Miss and 45 against Tennessee. Without a spring game, it’s unknown what quarterback Kyle Shurmur has done early on, but Mason has faith in his guy. Of course, Shurmur still closed the season tossing three picks and going 19-of-46 in their bowl game. But even if Shurmur is only a little bit better than his 9 TDs and 10 INTs, this offense should be improved with all of his top targets also back. While Shurmur is all the talk, none of that could be possible if it wasn’t for running back Ralph Webb (1,283 yards, 13 TDs), who was one of the only consistent pieces in the offense last season. Khari Blasingame (10 TDs) is also there, but the offense will go as the line does and they lose a couple starters. With redshirt freshmen expected to be thrown into the trenches, it’s a bit of an unknown how this group will look.

Defense has been the one constant on this team through Mason’s years, but replacing All-American linebacker Zach Cunningham is going to be extremely difficult, as is the loss of less-heralded tackle Adam Butler. Mason believes he’ll actually have more athleticism starting with Oren Burks, but the loss of Cunningham is huge. If that doesn't impact the group too much, there is a path for them to reach seven wins after they held a number of top teams below their season averages a year ago.

Once again, the ‘Dores will have a tough non-conference contest early in the season, this time hosting Kansas State. A win there could have them feeling good about themselves before hosting Alabama and things may spiral down from there. But given how this team closed last season, winning at South Carolina isn’t a long shot and home games against Georgia, Kentucky and Missouri could lead to more wins.

Sure, the Commodores have the worst odds (+16000 at 5Dimes Sportsbook) to win the SEC and are expected to finish last along with Missouri in the East, but reaching seven wins is possible for this team. It would help to win all of their non-conference games, but even if they take three like a year ago, could steal a road game at Ole Miss or South Carolina to help reach seven.

2017 Vanderbilt Commodores Football Schedule

Sept. 2 at Middle Tennessee
Sept. 9 vs. Alabama A&M
Sept. 16 vs. Kansas State
Sept. 23 vs. Alabama

Sept. 30 at Florida
Oct. 7 vs. Georgia
Oct. 14 at Ole Miss
Oct. 28 at South Carolina
Nov. 4 vs. Western Kentucky
Nov. 11 vs. Kentucky
Nov. 18 vs. Missouri
Nov. 25 at Tennessee

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