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Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Coaching 'em up: Vanderbilt

By Edward Aschoff

We finish our assistant coaching tour at Vanderbilt.

Coach: Ricky Rahne

Position: Quarterbacks

Experience: Rahne came to Vanderbilt after spending five years at Kansas State. He actually coached with new Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin and helped develop star Wildcats quarterback and future first-round draft pick Josh Freeman. From 2009-10, Rahne was the tight ends coach at Kansas State and was the running backs coach from 2007-08. In his first year with the Wildcats, Rahne was an offensive graduate assistant and also worked very closely with Franklin and the quarterbacks -- specifically Freeman. He arrived in Manhattan, Kan., after returning to his alma mater at Cornell to be the running backs coach, where he mentored first team All-Ivy League selection Luke Siwula, who ended the season with 1,086 rushing yards and six 100-yard games. Rahne began his coaching career as a member of the coaching staff at Holy Cross in 2004, where he served as an assistant defensive line coach, working extensively with the defensive ends. He was also responsible for all video breakdowns of opposing defenses and special teams, and assisted in developing the defensive game plans while coordinating scout teams.

Of note: The former Cornell quarterback finished his college career as the all-time leader in nearly every passing category and earned the team's MVP honors three times. ... A three-year starter, he is the program's career leader in completions (678), yards (7,710), touchdown passes (54) and 200-yard passing games (25). He set the total offense record for a career with 7,994 yards during his senior season and finished his career third in the Ivy League in career passing yards with 7,710 yards. ... Rahne earned a bachelor's degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell is 2002. ... As the Wildcats' running back coach in 2007, Rahne helped tutor All-Big 12 selection and current Pittsburgh Steeler James Johnson, who became the fastest Wildcat to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. ... In 2008, he coached first team All-Big 12 tight end Jeron Mastrud, who ranks second in school history in receptions among tight ends.

His challenge: Vanderbilt enters the fall with a handful of issues -- and a new coaching staff -- but the quarterback position is one that must greatly improve. The Commodores ranked 11th in the league in passing offense (159.4 yards per game) and had just 11 touchdowns through the air in 2010. Vanderbilt might have edged out LSU (155.6) in passing yards a game, but Vandy was the only school in the SEC to fail to eclipse the 2,000-yard passing mark. Starter Larry Smith passed for 1,262 yards and had just six touchdowns to five interceptions. Behind him, Jared Funk passed for 651 yards, five touchdowns and tossed six interceptions. Vanderbilt's team passing efficiency of 95.55 was second-to-last in the country. Smith returns for his final season and made some improvements this spring with Rahne around. He feels better about his technique and his ability to read defenses, and threw for more than 200 yards in the spring game, but he will have to improve his 47 percent completion percentage from last season. He's also thrown 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in the past two seasons. Aside from Smith, it didn't help Rahne that Jordan Rodgers was limited this spring while he recovered from shoulder surgery and during Vandy's spring game, Charlie Goro and John Townsley -- who both have no game experience -- combined to go 8-of-15 for 50 yards and an interception. Incoming freshman Josh Grady is extremely athletic and could have an impact on the quarterback position this fall.