One would assume, when trying to evaluate Vanderbilt's offense, the Rebel defense will have to stop the run first.
Even though 'stopping the run' is where a lot of defensive gameplans start, the run game is the strength of the Commodores' offense, so the significance of being tough against the ground game today when Vandy invades Vaught-Hemingway Stadium increases.
Having identified the value of being effective in run defense, however, does not alter what the Rebel cornerbacks have to be cognizant of, according to CB Coach Chris Vaughn.
"You look at Vandy's stats and you think run first, but they also throw the ball deep and have a nice vertical passing game that they use when they think they have lulled you to sleep," said Vaughn.
"The key for us is discipline, discipline, discipline. My guys have to play with their eyes and be aware of everything going on around them, but when we play coverage, we have to stay with coverage. We can't be swayed by their reputation of just running the ball - we have to think pass first at the corner positions."
Vaughn's explanation does not exclude the Rebel CBs from run support responsibilities.
"When we are in zone coverage, we have to do our part to help stop the run. But when we are in man coverage, we cover and basically let the other guys on the defense worry with the bulk of the run game," he noted. "If we don't do that - coverage first - they'll pull up and hit us with a long one."
For their part in defensing the run game, Vaughn said little changes for the corners.
"We work on their fits and leveraging the football every day - so that does not change," Chris stated. "How you attack the football when it's coming at you doesn't change from week to week. We polish up those fundamentals on a daily basis and they remain the same no matter who you are playing."
Junior CB Cassius Vaughn has played lately with a sprained ankle, but now he's healthy, Vaughn said.
"We gave him a little time off last week and that helped him. He's ready to go now," Chris assessed.
Last week, against Samford, junior Marshay Green got his first start of the season, and first of his career at corner.
"He played with his eyes and played with discipline in the Samford game so he retained the top spot," Vaughn stated. "I expect the same things out of him this week against Vandy. Play with your eyes, take care of your responsibilities and go compete."
Vaughn's troops should be the beneficiaries of the return of some main players on the defensive front - namely DTs Ted Laurent and Peria Jerry and - it looks like - DE Greg Hardy.
"To have them back should help the whole defense, but any time you can generate more pressure up front, which is what we anticipate, it makes the job of the corners easier," he closed. "We are all pleased to have them back. They will help everything we are trying to do."
Chris Vaughn -
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