Vanderbilt spring wrap-up

May, 5, 2009
5/05/09
9:35
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Vanderbilt Commodores
2008 overall record: 7-6

2008 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: 8; Defense: 9; Kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

QB Mackenzi Adams, QB Larry Smith, RB Jared Hawkins, C Bradley Vierling, DE Broderick Stewart, LB Patrick Benoist, LB Chris Marve, CB Myron Lewis, S Ryan Hamilton

Key losses

QB Chris Nickson, WR George Smith, WR Sean Walker, CB D.J. Moore, S Reshard Langford

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Jared Hawkins* (593 yards)
Passing: Mackenzi Adams* (882 yards)
Receiving: Sean Walker (520 yards)
Tackles: Patrick Benoist* (109)
Sacks: Broderick Stewart* and Myron Lewis* (5)
Interceptions: D.J. Moore (6)

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 Western Carolina
Sept. 12 at LSU
Sept. 19 Mississippi State
Sept. 26 at Rice
Oct. 3 Ole Miss
Oct. 10 at Army
Oct. 17 Georgia
Oct. 24 at South Carolina
Oct. 31 Georgia Tech
Nov. 7 at Florida
Nov. 14 Kentucky
Nov. 21 at Tennessee
Spring answers

No contentment: As historic as last season was for the Commodores, nobody on West End is satisfied. In fact, senior center and team captain Bradley Vierling said this spring that Vanderbilt underachieved last year in his mind. Obviously, winning seven games (including a bowl game) was just a start for this bunch.

Attacking defense: Don't look for Vanderbilt to change its style on defense. The Commodores were one of only two teams in the SEC last season (Florida was the other) to have 30 sacks and 20 interceptions. Speed is the name of their game on defense, and Vanderbilt will continue to pressure every chance it gets.

Jeffers makes splash: Having led Connecticut in receiving two years ago, Terence Jeffers was exactly what Vanderbilt needed at wideout. Packing 225 pounds, he has the strength to break tackles and turn short passes into big gains and also has the speed to get deep. He was the Commodores' most consistent playmaker this spring.

Fall questions

Smith or Adams? For the second year in a row, Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson wasn't ready to make a call on his starting quarterback situation coming out of the spring. Sophomore Larry Smith and senior Mackenzi Adams will continue their duel in the preseason. Smith is probably the better pure passer, but Adams led the Commodores to some key wins last season.

Passing game: Regardless of who wins the quarterback job, the Commodores have to find a way to generate more of a passing game than they did a year ago. Much of that falls on the shoulders of the receivers. Alex Washington had a nice spring, but Justin Wheeler tore his ACL and will miss the 2009 season. The biggest key is making sure Jeffers passes enough credit hours to be eligible.

New faces in secondary: D.J. Moore made so many plays for the Commodores the last few years, and Reshard Langford's leadership at safety was equally invaluable. Sophomores Casey Hayward and Sean Richardson are next in line to step in for those two and got plenty of work this spring. Jamie Graham is also making the move from receiver to defensive back.

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SEC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
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