VU Football: Looking back and ahead

After an ugly end to an otherwise sweet season, the 2011 football season is now behind us. In August the Commodores will face South Carolina in a nationally televised Thursday night game. Here are some thoughts on the recently completed bowl season and the upcoming 2012 campaign.

The entire east side of the stadium was thick in Vanderbilt fans. There were Vandy fans sprinkled in the west side too. It was a good showing by both of these two up-and-coming programs. The good showing by VU fans proves that Vanderbilt fans will travel and this bodes well for future potential Commodore bowl bids.

Other than the hometown Music City Bowl in 2008, which was attended by 54,250 mostly Vanderbilt fans, the only other bowl that would compare in terms of a Vanderbilt fan presence was the 1982 Hall of Fame Bowl in Birmingham. That bowl was also about half-filled of with Vandy fans but with a VU bowl best total attendance of about 70,000 fans. The Liberty's 57,103 spectators was the second best attended Vanderbilt bowl game in history. The 1955 Gator Bowl (36,000) trails the Music City. The 1974 Peach Bowl was plagued by bad weather and had only about 25,000 mostly Vanderbilt spectators.

Scores just before halftime need to stop

It's going to happen sometimes; teams will score on you right before the half. However, with the solid defense that Vanderbilt fielded in 2011 it happened way too much. We saw it again the Liberty Bowl when Cincinnati scored just before the half to take a 14-7 lead. Interestingly, the final difference in the game was seven points. You can bet Bob Shoop and his boss, James Franklin, will be reviewing this trend during the offseason and doing what they can to avoid a repeat in 2012.

Wanted: A stud quarterback

Vanderbilt may have lost out on top quarterback prospect Gunner Kiel but I'm hearing that Vandy might just snag 3-star Maryville quarterback Patton Robinette (photo at right) from North Carolina. If this is true then I'd gladly take an in-state 3-star prospect over Kiel any day. I think Robinette's great mobility will fit Vandy better. Robinette was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year after completing 114-of-160 (71%) for 1,522 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also rushed for 886 yards and 16 touchdowns on 97 carries. An outstanding student, he's got a 4.5 GPA and scored a perfect 36 on the ACT. Here's hoping that the Vandy staff can bring him in for spring practice (he will graduate early). Word is that Robinette will get an in-home visit from the VU staff this week. He will then take an official to Vanderbilt later this month. He's already visited Vandy unofficially several times. Also, Vanderbilt could land 4-start running back Wes Brown at the Army game on Thursday. Picking up the No. 8 ranked running back nationally would be a huge for Vandy which appears to want to go to a 2-back set more.

Black & Gold butts in seats needed

James Franklin's exciting brand of football should improve season ticket sales in 2012. That said, Vanderbilt marketing needs to give an extra effort in promoting Vanderbilt football for the upcoming season. More is needed than just a few billboards and commercials. How about several teams of marketing interns equipped with Commodore mascot outfits and accompanied by 3 or 4 Commodore players who visit youth baseball, soccer practices and malls during the summer giving out Vandy trinkets? All Vanderbilt supporters can help with this cause. Don't forget to show your appreciation to the administration by upping your contribution to the National Commodore Club. Buy additional season tickets and bring your friends, family and neighbors to the games in 2012. Help build a big Commodore home field advantage in Vanderbilt Stadium.

Vanderbilt in stats

The Commodore offense finished 99th nationally in total offense after the 2011 season. That may not seem like a big deal but it's been over five years since the Commodores weren't ranked in triple digits in total offense. Bob Shoop's defense also sparkled in the national rankings. The VU defenders, who limited Cincinnati's spread offense to just 80 yards passing, finished the season ranked No. 19 in both total defense and passing defense. Of course, those rankings might change some with a few bowl games left to be played.

2012 VU signee list will grow

Vanderbilt's 2012 signing class is getting closer and closer to reaching the maximum size of 25. The Tennessean recently reported that Logan Stewart and Mitchell Hester have been dismissed from the team by head coach James Franklin. It was also reported that DeAndre Jones and Micah Powell and certain unnamed other Commodores would not be returning for their redshirt senior seasons. Stewart will probably be the most missed of the group. The offense played better when he was in the game even though he had several costly personal fouls called on him. wishes all these players well in their future endeavors. Top Stories