HEAD TO HEAD: VANDERBILT VS. TENNESSEE

Vanderbilt meets rival Tennessee on Saturday night at Vanderbilt Stadium. VandyMania.com's Don Yates compares the two teams in several critical areas. He also makes a prediction on the game's final score.

VANDERBILT PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
TENNESSEE PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: TENNESSEE
REMARKS: Vanderbilt is 106th nationally and 13th in the SEC in passing offense (182 YPG). Johnny McCrary leads the Commodore passing attack. McCrary has completed 76-of-145 passes for 967 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. Last week against No. 4 Mississippi State McCrary completed 15-of-31 passes for 161 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. Tight end Steven Scheu is Vandy's top receiver with 36 receptions for 463 yards and three touchdowns. Memphis native Latevius Rayford has 33 catches. Commodore blockers have allowed 18 sacks this season.

The Vol's have a solid pass defense which ranks seventh in the SEC and 35th nationally (202 YPG). The Vol defense has 12 interceptions this season led by Justin Coleman and Cameron Sutton who each have three. Tennessee's defense allowed 230 passing yards to the Missouri Tigers last week. UT has sacked opponents 32 times this season. Derek Barnett and Curt Maggitt each have nine sacks for the Vols.

VANDERBILT RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
TENNESSEE RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Vanderbilt is last in the SEC and 114th nationally in rushing offense (108.5 YPG). Ralph Webb has carried the load for Vanderbilt rushing wise this season with 857 yards on 196 carries (4.4 YPC). Webb, however, struggled last week at MSU gaining just 14 yards on 11 carries. Big Dallas Rivers is the backup with 205 yards on 56 carries.

Tennessee is allows an average of 166 yards per game on the ground, 71st best in the nation and 10th in the SEC. Middle linebacker A.J. Johnson, the Vol's leading tackler, has been suspended from the team due to a police investigation. UT will start freshman Jakob Johnson in his place. The freshman, who has seen action in 10 games has one start, has nine tackles and a QB hurry. Backup cornerback Mike Williams was also suspended for the investigation. Outside linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin is the team's second leading tackler with 83. Last week against Missouri UT gave up 180 yards on the ground.

TENNESSEE PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
VANDERBILT PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: TENNESSEE
REMARKS: The Vols are 52nd nationally and sixth in the SEC in passing offense (240 YPG). Quarterback Joshua Dobbs leads the UT offense. He's connected on 85-of-136 passes for 985 yards, eight TDs and three interceptions. Alton Howard is the top Tennessee receiver with 47 catches. Running back Jalen Hurd, a Nashville native, has 33 catches. UT blockers have given up 39 sacks this season. The Vols had 226 yards passing in their loss Missouri last week.

Vanderbilt's pass defense ranks 66th in the nation and 11th in the SEC allowing 230 yards per game. Last week at MSU the Commodores held the Bulldogs to a respectable 219 yards but gave up four touchdown passes. Taurean Ferguson leads Vanderbilt in interceptions with two. Caleb Azubike has four sacks and Stephen Weatherly has 3 1/2. Azubike, however, was injured last week at Mississippi State and his status is uncertain.

TENNESSEE RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
VANDERBILT RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Tennessee is 13th in the SEC and 100th nationally in rushing offense (131 YPG). Jalen Hurd is the top Tennessee running back. He's rushed for 756 yards for a 4.5 yard per carry average and three touchdowns. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs, however, has averaged over 75 yards rushing per game in his three starts. Tennessee gained just 53 yards in 29 (1.8 YPC) carries in their loss to Missouri on Saturday.

Vanderbilt is 86th nationally and 10th in the SEC in rushing defense (185 YPG). The 'Dores gave up 283 yards on the ground to the Bulldogs last week. Nigel Bowden leads Vanderbilt in tackles with 74 but he did not play last week at MSU. Zach Cunningham started in place of Bowden and had 13 tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Vandy's Tommy Openshaw has connected on 7-of-10 field goals this season with a long of 48 yards. He missed a 41-yard attempt at Mississippi State last week. Colby Cooke averages 42 yards per punt with a long of 68 yards. Eighteen of Cooke's kickoffs have been for touchbacks. Cooke averaged under 35 yards per punt against the Bulldogs on Saturday. Darrius Sims has averaged 25.5 yards on 28 kickoff returns this season. He returned two for scores against South Carolina earlier in the season. Sims (5.5 YPR) and Trey Ellis (6.1 YPR) return punts. Ellis has the longest punt return of the season for the 'Dores (16 yards). Vanderbilt's kickoff/punt return coverage teams are sound but the Commodores did give up a 74-yard kickoff return earlier in the season. Vanderbilt has blocked a punt and kick but opponents have also block one Commodore punt and kick.

Tennessee's Aaron Medley has made 18-of-24 field goals this season. He connected on 2-of-2 field goals (38, 39 yards) in the loss to Missouri. His longest kick was a 46 yarder against Georgia. Matt Darr averages 41.9 yards per punt with a long of 61 yards. Evan Berry has averaged 31 yards per kickoff return with a long of 68 yards. Cameron Sutton averages 6.5 yards per punt return. UT has not had a punt or kick blocked this season. The Vols kick/punt coverage units have had been sound.

COACHING
EDGE: TENNESSEE
REMARKS: Vanderbilt's Derek Mason is in his first season as a head coach and has led the 'Dores to a 3-8 record. He won his first college victory against UMass earlier in the season. 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.

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones is a seasoned, experienced head coach who has fielded winning teams at two FBS schools, Central Michigan and Cincinnati. The Vols have steadily improved under Jones, who has a 60-40 record as a collegiate head coach.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Vanderbilt has won two straight in the series. It'll be Senior Day for Vanderbilt; if the Commodores can steal a win from the Vols to move the VU streak to three it'll provide a happy finish to an otherwise horrendous season. Vanderbilt trails the all-time series with the Vols, 30-73-5. Tennessee can get bowl eligible with a win over the Commodores.

PREDICTION: Tennessee 28, Vanderbilt 13.

Discuss this story with other Vandy fans in the VandyMania forums:
FOOTBALL | MEN'S HOOPS | WOMEN'S HOOPS | BASEBALL

VandyMania.com Top Stories