Vanderbilt Regular Season Recap

With the regular season behind Vanderbilt and a bowl game appearance ahead, insider Don Yates recaps the Commodores in 2012.

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What were the expectations heading into Vanderbilt's season? Were those expectations met?

Expectations were exceeded. Many naysayers were predicting that Vanderbilt would be back to its losing ways after the 2011 Liberty Bowl season.

Vanderbilt not only qualified for a bowl for the second consecutive season but it also has a chance to win 9 games for the first time since before World War I.

What one player stands out as the Commodores' key factor to success this season?

There's a ton of players that made significant contributions to the team's success, but wide receiver Jordan Matthews made the biggest contribution. The junior finished the season with 87 catches for 1,262 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Matthews has more than doubled his number of receptions each season as a Commodore, going from 15 catches as a freshman to 41 as a sophomore to his current 87 as a junior. If he continues at this pace, he could have well over 150 catches as a senior.

When did the momentum shift for Vandy this season?

The 19-15 win at Missouri was the season changer. Before the season, most analysts - including this one - had Missouri and Georgia circled as two very probable Vanderbilt losses.

Prior to the win at Missouri, Vanderbilt had lost 17-13 to South Carolina in a game laced with a horrendous late no-call by the SEC officiating crew. The next week, Vanderbilt fell by 10 at Northwestern in a game which many believe the Commodores could win.

A win over FCS Presbyterian followed by an ugly loss at Georgia had the Commodores sitting at very uncomfortable 1-3 before the win over the Tigers. The victory over Missouri started a 7-1 streak for the Commodores. Their only loss was a 31-17 defeat at home to the Florida Gators in a game in which Vandy repeatedly shot itself in the foot with dumb penalties and missed assignments.

How has this season affected recruiting in the class of 2013?

It's helped a lot. Vanderbilt's on track to have a top 20 recruiting class. The recent announcement that head coach James Franklin has signed a new contract doesn't hurt things either.

The winning season, along with the retention of Franklin and recent announcements of more facilities improvements, should be insurance that Vandy won't be returning to the gutter anytime soon.

What is your team's biggest Christmastime headline?

"Vanderbilt: They Aren't Messing Around Anymore!"


Thanks to Vandy Mania's Don Yates for his in-depth contribution to this report.

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