Five Areas Vandy Football Must Improve

There is a spirited discussion ongoing on the message boards here at VandyMania which centers on if Vanderbilt is more likely to win one game, three games, or six games this fall. To say we are entering this season with question marks surrounding the team may be the biggest understatement of all time, but if some of those question marks turn into positive results..

..then the ‘Dores should find themselves nearer the top end of that scale than the bottom.

In order to do that the team has to improve on last season and their performance in spring ball. Here are five areas of improvement to watch for which will lead to a better season.

Quarterback Play

This is the obvious question mark which will define the Commodores season. Last year the quarterback play was putrid no matter who was in the game. With absolutely nothing settled in the spring, especially with the departure of Patton Robinette from the program, Vandy fans are understandably nervous about the status of the quarterback position as we look forward to the fall.

You simply cannot win in the SEC without quarterback play that is at the very least consistently average. Can one of the young Vandy passers step up and be the man?

Wide Receivers must step up

Though the quarterback play has (rightly) receiver plenty of the blame for Vanderbilt’s recent offensive struggles, it is worth noting that the production at wide receiver has been equally awful. We cannot realistically expect Vanderbilt to have a player as talented, and otherworldly at times, as Jordan Matthews every few years, but a couple of these young receivers must step up to give their quarterbacks some help.

In the spring game the Vandy offense was unable to put together a touchdown drive which covered more than two yards. Latevius Rayford flashed some ability at times last year and seems as likely as anyone to break out, but until someone is able to beat one-on-one coverage on a consistent basis the Vandy offense is going to be stuck in neutral.

Offensive line play

The offensive line was supposed to be a strength in 2014, but the group seemed to regress as the season went on. Vandy returns eight of 10 on the offensive line two deep however, so that level of experience should work in the ‘Dores favor. A huge problem last fall was the play calling of Karl Dorrell which put his offensive line in a bind play after play. With Dorrell gone, and the play calling now making more sense on a down and distance basis, the line play should increase automatically. Throwing in some quick passes and bubble screens again to help give the big guys a rest as the game progresses wouldn’t hurt here either.

Making the 3-4 work

The 3-4 hybrid defense which Mason wants to run is in for a tough test when it comes up against the best offenses in the SEC. As a defensive mind Mason has given Vandy fans no reason at all not to trust him, but there is something about that three man line which is terrifying given the explosiveness of some of the teams on the Commodores’ schedule. If Mason can fit the right personnel into his scheme, and if he can constantly find a way to bring pressure on the quarterback from the linebacker positions, then Vandy has a shot. If not it will be a long, long season.

Coordinator aptitude

Coaching changes make this a change for the positive before the season starts. If Mason can improve the level of his players like he was able to when at Stanford then there is no reason to believe that Vanderbilt cannot have a defense which ranks close to the top 25. If the offense can find a way to keep up then the win total will explode.

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