Athlon Sports Has Vandy at 79

The major football preseason preview magazines all hit shelves this week and in a surprise to no one they don’t really like Vanderbilt all that much heading into 2015.

We are going to take a look at each magazine and see what it is about the ‘Dores which they think gives hope, and what it is that Vanderbilt fans should be worried about this fall. We will start with Athlon Sports, a magazine which has been doing this for decades and which has the Commodores at No. 79 out of 128 FBS teams.

Offensive reasons for hope

Athlon points out that while Vandy are pretty thin at running back, the top of the depth chart is in good hands with emerging superstar Ralph Webb. The article notes how Webb impressed new coordinator Andy Ludwig during the spring and hints that his role will only increase this fall. Athlon has a much more positive view of the Vandy wide receivers than most, calling them a “talented young corps”. The names it mentions to watch out for a sophomore Trent Sherfield and redshirt freshman Ronald Monroe. Offensive reasons to fear

Vandy’s problems on offense last fall were obvious to all who watched, but the article points out a number of relevant stats which show just how awful the Commodores were under Karl Dorrell. Vanderbilt was last in the SEC, by a long shot, in both total offense and scoring offense, actually ranking in the bottom 10 in the nation in both. The ‘Dores also only scored nine offensive touchdowns in their eight SEC games.

The article points out that Ludwig needs to find a quarterback, but that neither Johnny McCrary or Wade Freebeck look close to being ready at this point. Another reason for concern is that tight end Steven Scheu, the Commodores one reliable target last fall, broke his leg this spring and may not be ready for week one.

Defensive reasons for hope

The biggest reason for hope on the defensive side of the ball is Derek Mason naming himself as the team’s defensive coordinator. The magazine points out the zest with which Mason is taking to his new (old) role, “I don’t know why I ever gave it up. Probably best decision I have made is to come back and run the defense.”

Athlon sees three of the ‘Dores defensive linemen as among the most talented players on the roster, but even with Adam Butler, Caleb Azubike and Nifae Lealao the group is still a work in progress.

Defensive reasons to fear

Athlon sees the main defensive problems for the Commodores to be in the secondary. With Vandy giving up 7.6 yards per attempt last fall, and only intercepting six passes all season, it is little wonder that this area would be one to focus on. Torren McGaster is certainly going to be one starting corner, but the magazine, like any other Vandy fan, is wondering where the second starter is going to come from.

Overall impression

Athlon thinks that with more experience on both sides of the ball, and with a better quality coaching staff, Vandy will be improved on the field from a year ago. The problem is that every SEC East school (except South Carolina) is also trending positively. This may mean that Vandy improves as a team, but does not see the increase in wins to go along with the increase in play. Top Stories