H istorically one of the worst teams in the SEC, Vanderbilt always appears perpetually stuck at the bottom. The worst part seems to be that the school isn’t doing very much to get better. The fact is, Vanderbilt is full of young players that are athletic, but lack the physical skills to match their I.Q.’s, making them a doormat in the SEC. Is this our 2013 Vanderbilt Football Preview?
Wait, this isn’t your father’s Vanderbilt Commodores. Vanderbilt is coming off back-to-back bowl games and a 5-3 SEC record and 9-4 overall record in 2012. It’s a sad reality when Auburn fans see those numbers and turn green with envy. The ‘Dores return 15 starters from last year’s squad, and there’s a sense of momentum in Nasvhille. But, can head coach James Franklin do what’s never been done at Vanderbilt…build on success?
2013 Vanderbilt Football Preview
Let’s be honest, Vandy still has a talent gap compared to most in the SEC. The offense offers some important examples at both running back and quarterback. Running backs Wes Tate, Brian Kimbrow, and Jerron Seymour will take on the running back needs by committee, at least until Vanderbilt and Coach Franklin sees which direction the three runners are taking his team this seas. This could be the redeeming feature for the Commodores because a diverse group of runners could help the understaffed offensive roster manage the clock and help the quarterback play.
At quarterback, the Commodores are looking to Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels. Part of what Commodore fans call “the brand new Vanderbilt”, Austyn transferred to the Commodores with two years of experience as a Cowboy.
The Vandy defense will again be salty this season, relying on teamwork and communication, and will be a unit charged with carrying the weight as the offense settles in. Vandy will see several starters returning this season and they will have to step up and make plays to help their offense to stay in games. The team returns six starters from last year, including CB Andre Hal. Hal was on the AP’s second team ALL-SEC Team in 2012 and registered 48 tackles and 14 passes defended with two interceptions.
Vanderbilt’s schedule will also be an asset in 2013, with no Alabama or LSU from the West this season. In fact, the toughest team Vandy will see this season is Georgia. The Bulldogs will likely be a substantial favorite, but don’t count the ‘Dores out in the possible upset.
Because of their nine-win season last year, Commodore fans see their team and program as getting better. But Vanderbilt lost every offensive stat leader they had last season including both the quarterback and running back. At almost any other SEC school, those expectations are the kiss of death for a coach. But James Franklin’s rebuilding effort will gain some patience in Nashville as he continues to build around what Vandy has already done. Going to bowls in back-to-back years is unheard of. If they do it again this season, expect a statue.
Vandy could experience some setbacks this year due to player inexperience at some key positions, showing up most noticeably in their opener against Ole Miss. How the team responds in this game will go a long way to telling us about the season. But don’t be surprised if the Commodores make it to .500 and go bowling a third straight year.
Thanks for reading our 2013 Vanderbilt Football Preview. Tomorrow we examine Kentucky.
—Special to the Capstone Report By Alex DeRemer.