HEAD TO HEAD: VANDERBILT VS. MASSACHUSETTS

Vanderbilt meets Massachusetts on Saturday morning at Vanderbilt Stadium. VandyMania.com's Don Yates compares the two teams in several critical areas. We also make a prediction on the game's final score.

Vanderbilt PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
Massachusetts PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: MASSACHUSETTS
REMARKS: Vanderbilt is ranked 111th nationally in passing offense averaging 142 yards a game through the air. Quarterback Stephen Rivers has struggled for the first two games. He completed 12-of-25 passes for 186 yards against Temple but that number fell to 6-of-25 completions for 60 yards against Ole Miss. He has no touchdowns and two interceptions, one a pick six. Tight end Steven Scheu is the Commodore's top receiver. He's caught six passes for 79 yards in two games. Latevius Rayford and Jordan Cunningham each have four catches. Vandy's offensive line has given up four sacks in the first two games.

UMass is ranked 96th in pass efficiency defense. Defensive back Randall Jette has two interceptions on the season to lead the Minutemen. Linebackers Kassan Messiah and Jovan Santos-Knox each have sacks for UMass.
VANDERBILT RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
MASSACHUSETTS RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: VANDERBILT
REMARKS: Vanderbilt is ranked 115th nationally in rushing averaging 80.5 yards per game on the ground. Redshirt freshman Ralph Webb has gained 165 yards on 32 carries this season (5.2 YPC). He gained 95 yards last week against nationally ranked Ole Miss. True freshman Dallas Rivers has 10 carries for 39 yards. Vanderbilt has a veteran offensive line. However, sophomore tackle Will Holden made the first start of his career against the Rebels.

The Minutemen are ranked 112th in rushing defense allowing an average of 247 yards per game. Last week against Colorado the Minutemen allowed 105 rushing yards. Linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox leads the Minutemen in tackles with 27 including 2 1/2 for losses.

MASSACHUSETTS PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
VANDERBILT PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: UMass is ranked 83rd nationally in passing offense gaining an average of 207 yards a game. UMass QB Blake Frohnapfel, who is a 6-foot-6, completed 20-of-38 passes for 267 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in last week's 41-38 loss at Colorado. Junior wide receiver Tajae Sharpe is Frohnapfel's top target catching seven passes for 173 yards and a touchdown in two games.

Vanderbilt ranks 99th in the nation in passing yards allowed, allowing an average of 287 yards per game. Outside linebacker Caleb Azubike leads Vanderbilt in sacks with two. Vanderbilt has yet to intercept a pass while opponents have picked off four Commodore passes.

MASSACHUSETTS RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
VANDERBILT RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: VANDERBILT
REMARKS: Massachusetts is ranked 117th in a nation in rushing yards gaining just under 80 yards per game. The Minutemen ran for 105 yards on 30 carries in their most recent contest at Colorado. Junior Jamal Wilson, who gained 47 yards on 10 carries last week, is the top running back for UMass. J.T. Blyden gained 29 yards on 11 carries last week.

Vanderbilt is ranked 81st nationally in rushing defense allowing 162 yards per game. Safety Jahmel McIntosh and linebackers Kyle Woestmann and Darreon Herring were the top tacklers for the Commodores against Ole Miss, each with eight. For the season, Stephen Weatherly has been the top tackling man, with 14 including one for a loss.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Vanderbilt is 52nd nationally in net punting averaging 38.86 yards for each punt. The 'Dores are ranked 83rd in punt returns (5.20 YPR). Last week Colby Cooke punted seven times for an average of 47.6 yards. He had a long of 55 yards and put one inside the 20. Tommy Openshaw connected on his collegiate debut in the fourth quarter, kicking a 26-yard field goal.

Brian McDonald averages 40.7 yards on 12 punts with a long of 49. Blake Lucas is 1 for 2 on field goal attempts for UMass with a long of 34 yards. Trey Dudley-Giles has one punt return on the season for 34 yards. Trey Dudley-Giles averages 30.8 yards on five kick returns. UMass kick coverage teams have been solid.

COACHING
EDGE: MASSACHUSETTS
REMARKS: Vanderbilt's Derek Mason is in his first season as a head coach and has led the 'Dores to an 0-2 record. In 2012 Mason was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant coach, after directing a defense that ranks among the best in the nation and finest in Stanford history. Mason has some NFL coaching experience serving stints with the Vikings, Raiders, Giants and Rams.

UMass's Mark Whipple was named head coach in January. It's his second stint with the Minutemen. From 1998-2003 Whipple also coached Massachusetts, leading them to a division 1-AA National Championship. He has a 121-59 record as a college coach and a 49-26 record at UMass. Whipple also served as an offensive coordinator at Miami (Fla.) and the Hurricane gained over 5,000 yards in a season while he was there. From 2004-2006 he served as quarterback's coach for Pittsburgh Steelers, mentoring Ben Roethlisberger.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Both teams are desperate for a win to avoid an 0-3 start. It's really the first Vanderbilt home game. The first game was a Thursday torrential downpour delayed game. The second game was at a neutral site, LP Field. Vandy ranks 118th nationally in turnover margin (-2.5), 124th in red zone offense and 84th in red zone defense. UMass ranks 55th in turnover margin (0.00), 64th in red zone offense, and 88th in red zone defense.

PREDICTION: VANDERBILT 20, MASSACHUSETTS 19.

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