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Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Depth always an issue for Vanderbilt

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

First-year Vanderbilt coach James Franklin knew he would be fighting depth issues when he took the job.

It's been a recurring problem for the Commodores, who perennially wear down toward the end of the season and simply can't match other SEC teams' depth.

Through four games this season, Vanderbilt has already lost two starters, including junior outside linebacker Tristan Strong last week against South Carolina. Strong tore his ACL and is out for the season.

Franklin said Wednesday that junior Archibald Barnes would replace Strong and that the Commodores would also look to play more of their nickel package with five defensive backs. Vanderbilt's secondary has been the strength of the team this season.

The Commodores, coming off a 21-3 loss to South Carolina, are off this week before taking on Alabama on Oct. 8, and recruiting will be one of Franklin's top priorities. It all goes back to building more depth, especially in the lines of scrimmage.

"It's not something we're going to be able to solve in a year and is going to take two or three years," Franklin said. "Even then, we're not going to have the depth other SEC teams have because we don't have the walk-on program other SEC schools have."

Franklin pointed out that the Commodores also don't take junior college transfers as a rule.

"We have to solve those (depth) issues over the long haul and make sure we have a plan," Franklin said.