Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Midseason review: Vanderbilt
By Edward Aschoff
Record: 3-2 (1-2 SEC)
Vanderbilt was a great early-season story in the SEC. The Commodores were unbeaten, had blasted an Ole Miss team by 23 points, had a ferocious secondary and were taking the ball away with ease on defense. Was new coach James Franklin really a genius? Were things really going to change for the Commodores under the new regime? Well, the energy and passion certainly are different and that defense is much improved, but the offense just can’t get things together. The Commodores rank 11th in the SEC in total offense (244.4 yards per game) and are scoring just 20.4 points a game. Embattled senior quarterback Larry Smith isn’t doing much to quiet the naysayers, who have been at him for most of his career, and Vanderbilt’s offense is suffering because of it. Vanderbilt’s defense can make plays, but it’s not ready to carry the entire team. The good thing is that this team is halfway from reaching six wins, which should get the Commodores back to postseason for the first time since 2008. The key to the second half is jump starting this offense. Turning to backup quarterback Jordan Rodgers might be a start, but the Commodores need more help from all components of the offense.
Offensive MVP: RB Zac Stacy. He might be Vanderbilt’s most exciting player left with Warren Norman possibly headed for a redshirt year. Stacy leads the team with 284 yards rushing and is averaging 7.1 yards per carry. His only touchdown came on a 77-yard run against Ole Miss.
Defensive MVP: CB Casey Hayward. We knew coming into the season that Hayward would be a key part of Vanderbilt’s secondary and he hasn’t disappointed us. The senior, who will no doubt hear his name called early in next year’s NFL draft, is tied for the league lead with four interceptions and has defended six passes through the first part of the season. He’s a cornerback, but he has the ability to find the ball all over the field.