Vanderbilt looking for Bright Spots

ATHENS -- At Vanderbilt, where the Commodores have lost five in a row, Bobby Johnson is looking for bright spots.

"We had some success (against Georgia) with the option last year," Johnson said Monday. "I think they will be better schooled in defending it this time around, but we'll still try it."

The Commodores rushed for 247 yards last year in Athens. Vanderbilt actually did well all the way around last year, gaining 392 total yards, the most Georgia gave up in any game.

Still, the Commodores managed to lose 48-17. They are 1-11 in the last 12 years against the Bulldogs but will try again Saturday at 2 p.m. in Vanderbilt Stadium. Georgia hasn't lost in Nashville since 1991.

"They certainly have our attention," Johnson said. "They demand it, but I think our guys are going to enjoy playing against them. I always like to play against good teams. It's a challenge, and Georgia is one of the teams we are going to be competing against when we get this program turned around."

The Commodores were led last year by tailback Kwane Doster, who had 118 yards against Georgia last year as a freshman. Doster had a season-best 72 yards last week, but this year he has been pushed to the backburner by tailback Norval McKenzie, who leads Vandy with 424 rushing yards.

"We'll try to make them aware of the run and hope that sets us up to pass," Johnson said. "Jay (Cutler) is getting better and better each week, and our passing game is certainly improved from last year."

Cutler is 109 of 195 from 1,512 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions this season. He is averaging 216 yards per game.

The 'Dores' only win this year came against UTC. Most recently, they lost 37-27 to Navy at their own homecoming. The Midshipmen had 502 yards of total offense. Johnson is in his second year in Nashville and still has only three wins.

"We just got whipped," he said of the Navy game. "It seems like it's one thing after another. We drop the ball on a kickoff, or we have trouble with fumbles a weeks ago. But, I think we do have things to look forward to, because we have so many young players and they are the ones performing well for us."

Still, it's tough on the Commodores, who still must play Georgia and then has away games against South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee.

"You come into a season not knowing what to expect," defensive end Chris Booker said. "When you just keep dropping games, it is pretty difficult."

Johnson said the coaching staff tries to be aware of the toll so much losing can take on their players.

"Losing has a bad effect on everything," he said. "We need to make sure that these tough losses aren't affecting our players off the field -- in classes and socially. Our guys are winners. They are all exceptional young men."

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