Vanderbilt College Football Preview

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After a winless SEC campaign for Vanderbilt, the only way to go for them is up. Their non-Conference wins weren’t all that great either, beating UMass by three points and Charleston Southern by only one. In his second season as head coach, Derek Mason is mixing things up as he’ll take over as the defensive coordinator in 2015. The Commodores also brought in experienced offensive coordinator Andy LUdwig, who comes over from Wisconsin.

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And as expected, the quarterback spot will be the most talked about position entering the season for Vandy. They started Four different guys last year, and that could be the case again. Patton Robinette won’t be one of them though, after leaving the team in early spring. The competitors include sophomore Wade Freebeck, redshirt sophomore Johnny McCrary, redshirt freshman Shawn Stankavage and incoming freshman Kyle Shurmur. It’s usually not a good sign when Four different players are competing for one position, especially at quarterback.

One thing Vandy does have is returning talent with 18 expected starters back. Even though Mason said he’s reworking the entire team, at least the experience is there.

LUdwig will likely build the offense around running back Ralph Webb, after he piled up 907 yards and Four touchdowns last season. If Webb can improve on those numbers, then all the better for whoever is at quarterback. The Commodores didn’t get much help from receiver last year, but a couple leaders like C.J. Duncan, LAtevius Rayford and tight end Steven SCheu are back with a fairly deep group. As long as the QB can be somewhat consistent, the receivers have the ability to be better this season.

On both lines, a lot of young talent was used last year and they were kind of thrown into the fire without any experience. Those guys are back and that should help move things along.

Mason is looking to takeover and build up a defense that didn’t do a whole lot last season. After the defense crushed the offense in the spring Game (five interceptions, seven sacks), it looks like they are getting closer to where Mason wants them. Leading sacker Caleb Azubike is back along with the core of starting linebackers. Mason loves to blitz, so those guys should see even better numbers this season.

The Schedule opens nicely for Vandy with their first three Games coming at home, although one of them is against Georgia. The bad part for the Commodores is that they have six road Games, travelling to Middle Tennessee and Houston in the middle of their SEC season. Their best chances at SEC wins will be against Missouri and Kentucky in the second half of the season, but other than that, wins will be hard to come by again as they get (at) Ole Miss and Texas A&M out of the West.

Without consistent quarterback play, there’s no telling if this team will get a Conference win or not, but if the defense continues to improve, there will be opportunities for them to win behind Ralph Webb and the running Game.

2015 Vanderbilt Football Schedule

Sept. 5 vs. Western Kentucky
Sept 12 vs. Georgia
Sept. 19 vs. Austin Peay
Sept. 26 at Ole Miss
Oct. 3 at Mid Tennessee
Oct. 17 at South Carolina
Oct. 24 vs. Missouri
Oct. 31 at Houston
Nov. 7 at Florida
Nov. 14 vs. Kentucky
Nov. 21 vs. Texas A&M
Nov. 28 at Louisville