Vanderbilt visits Tennessee on Saturday. VandyMania.com's D.T. Yates compares the two teams in several critical areas. We also make a prediction on the game's final score.
VANDERBILT PASSING OFFENSE
TENNESSEE PASSING DEFENSE
REMARKS: Vanderbilt's passing attack averages 234 yards per game which is good for No. 65 nationally. Austyn Carta-Samuels will start for the second straight game after missing several games due to injury. Carta-Samuels started last week's win over Kentucky Carta-Samuels appeared rusty while completing 19-of-25 passes for 184 yards and no touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Patton Robinette entered the game on the Commodores final series and had a 13-yard pass to Kris Kentera for a touchdown. On the season Carta-Samuels has averaged 232 yard passing a game (5th best in SEC) for 10 touchdowns. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews needs just four catches to become the SEC's all-time career leading receiver. He had 12 catches last week against the Cats. Jonathan Krause has 32 catches for the season for 608 yards and three touchdowns. Krause has missed two games due to injury but is expected to play against the Vols.
Tennessee's passing defense has allowed opponents to complete 53 percent of their passes for 208 yards and a total 16 touchdowns. The Vols have intercepted 13 passes so far this season led by strong safety Brian Randolph (3), cornerback Cameron Sutton (2) and linebacker Brent Brewer (2). In Tennessee's recent 55-23 loss to Auburn the Vols gave up only 35 passing yards as the Tigers mostly ran. UT's defense has sacked opposing quarterbacks 12 times. Senior defensive end Corey Miller has sacked opposing QBs 2 1/2 times for 15 yards in losses.
VANDERBILT RUSHING OFFENSE
TENNESSEE RUSHING DEFENSE
REMARKS: Vanderbilt is gaining an average of 137 yards per game (3.7 YPC) for 28 touchdowns.
Jerron Seymour leads the Vanderbilt rushing attack. Seymour has 139 carries for 618 yards and 12 touchdowns. Seymour ran for 77 yards on 21 carries last week against Kentucky. He gained 107 yards in just 12 carries in Vandy's win over UAB. Wesley Tate, the biggest of the three primary Vandy running backs, has 284 yards rushing for four touchdowns but hasn't had a carry in either of the past two games. Brian Kimbrow has seen his role increase over the past few weeks. Last week against Kentucky he had 10 carries for 27 yards and a touchdown.
Tennessee is allowing an average of 226 yards per game (5.5 YPC) for 23 touchdowns. Last week in a lopsided loss to Auburn the Vols gave up an incredible 444 yards rushing. Middle linebacker A.J. Johnson is a preseason first team All-SEC selection. He has a team leading 84 tackles including 5 1/2 for losses in 2013. Fellow 'backer Dontavious Sapp has 54 tackles including four for losses.
TENNESSEE PASSING OFFENSE
VANDERBILT PASSING DEFENSE
REMARKS: Tennessee's passing offense averages 173 yards per game. The Vols have 10 touchdown passes on the season. Freshman QB Joshua Dobbs has played in three games and started two. Dobbs is a solid passer going 47 for 79 (59.5%) for no touchdowns and three interceptions. Dobbs was forced into action after Justin Worley was injured. He completed 26-of-42 passes at Missouri in his first start. Wide receiver Pig Howard is the top Vol receiver with 40 catches for three touchdowns. Six-foot-4 freshman Marquez North has 37 catches for 494 yards and a score. Three Nashville natives including 6-foot-4, 327 pound Antonio Richardson highlight what is likely the team's strongest unit. The Vols have allowed only 12 sacks all season compared to Vandy's 31.
Vanderbilt's passing defense has allowed opponents an average of 148 yards per game for a total of 16 touchdowns. In their recent game against Kentucky Vandy's passing defense allowed just 120 yards on 14-of-28 completions and piled up four interceptions. Against Florida two weeks ago the Commodores had three interceptions. Previous to those two games the 'Dores had only five total picks. Kenny Ladler is the leader in this category with four picks this season including one in each of the last three games. Andre Hal and Andrew Williamson each have two. Defensive end Kyle Woestmann leads Vandy in sacks with 5 1/2. The Commodores managed only one sack in last week's win over UK. Vandy lost its second leading sacker in Caleb Azubike to injury on the final play of the game with Kentucky. His status for UTs uncertain.
TENNESSEE RUSHING OFFENSE
VANDERBILT RUSHING DEFENSE
REMARKS: The Vol rushing attack is gaining an average of 186 yards per game (5.0 YPC). Rajion Neal leads the UT ground game. Neal has 173 carries for 895 (5.2 YPC, 89.5 YPG) and 10 TDs. Neal, a senior, has 1,934 career rushing yards for 17 touchdowns. Marlin Lane is the Vol's second leading rusher with 81 carries for 450 yards and four TDs. These two will run behind a big, strong, veteran offensive line.
Vandy's defense has allowed opponents an average of 148.1 yards per game (4.1 YPC) for 15 touchdowns. In their last game against Kentucky the Commodore defense allowed the 'Cats 142 yards on 40 carries for one score. Safety Kenny Ladler leads Vandy with 81 tackles including 57 solos. Linebacker Darreon Herring (70) and defensive back Javon Marshall are the 'Dores second and third lead tacklers, respectively.
REMARKS: Tennessee kicker Michael Palardy has connected on 13 of 15 field goals with a long of 51 yards. He kicked the winning field goal that lifted the Vols over South Carolina. Palardy also punts with 52 punts for a 44.6 average. He has a long punt of 65 yards. Devrin Young has returned 15 kickoffs for a 25.4 yard average. Vincent Dallas has 13 returns for a 22.2 yard average. Young has a long return of 58 yards. Jacob Carter (9.3 YPR) and Devrin Young (10.0 YPR) return punts for the Vols.
Vandy kicker Carey Spear has made 10-of-13 field goals with a long of 54 yards. He scored a TD on a fake field goal against Georgia. Punter Taylor Hudson has 41 punts for a 43.7 yard average. He longest punt spanned 75 yards. Nine of his punts were downed inside opponents 20. Hudson can boom punts but he can also be erratic at times. Jonathan Krause has 46 punt returns for a 46 yards (3.3 YPR) with a long return of 18 yards. Trent Pruitt (3 returns, 6 yards) has filled in for the injured Krause over the past two game. Darrius Sims has average 21.9 yards on 16 returns this season with a long return of 42 yards. Brian Kimbrow has 12 returns for a 16 yard average and a long of 31 yards. Last week against Kentucky Adam Butler blocked a Wildcat PAT kick which was returned 97 yards for two Commodore points by Steven Clarke.
REMARKS: Vanderbilt won last year 41-18 but Tennessee has won all the but 10 of the contests between the two teams since 1926. The Vols will be motivated to avenge last year's lopsided loss to their rivals from Middle Tennessee. Neyland Stadium holds over 100,000 fans and all but a few will be rooting against the 'Dores. The Vols have won 17 of the last 18 in Knoxville with VU's most recent victory at Neyland coming in 2005.
REMARKS: Vanderbilt's James Franklin has the Commodores eligible for their third straight bowl appearance. Franklin is 21-15 as Vandy's head coach and has previous experience as an assistant at Maryland, Kansas State and in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers. Tennessee's Butch Jones is 54-33 as a head coach. Jones previously led the University of Cincinnati to its first ever BCS bowl appearance.