Vanderbilt: What we've learned in 2 games

The Commodores fell to 0-2 on the 2015 season on Saturday with a 31-14 defeat to the Georgia Bulldogs. It was a closer game than the final score may show but it was another questionable performance by the Vanderbilt offense while the Commodores defense did what they could to keep themselves in the game.

Vanderbilt had their opportunities yet again to score points but failed to succeed inside the Red Zone. The Commodores dominated the time of possession but could never consistently stem together drives that would result in points.

The progression of the Commodores defense is evident when watching but they too have some growing pains to get through, especially when it comes to creating turnovers. At least two times during the game Vanderbilt had the opportunity to come away with a turnover that could've changed the momentum of the game but couldn’t cash in.

After two games, this Vanderbilt team still has some growing pains to go through but have also showed hope in some areas. Here is what we learned after two weeks of Commodores football.

The Good

- The Vanderbilt defense in general has played well and played with better intensity and communication. Their tackling is much better as well. The linebackers have shined thus far, including junior Stephen Weatherly. The Georgia native is leads the team in tackles as well as tackles for loss through two games. He has been very active and disruptive as well as playing solid in defending the pass. His teammates at linebacker including Zach Cunningham, Darreon Herring and even Josh Smith have had good moments early on this season.

- Believe it or not, I think the wide receivers have looked good through two games and may not be getting the respect they deserve thus far. Now I do believe some of the receivers could do better at creating separation as well as blocking down field but overall, they haven't played too bad. Latevius Rayford and Trent Sherfield have established themselves as the top two receivers on the team. Sherfield shined in game one but Rayford against Georgia, showed grit, toughness and the ability to become a go to guy. Caleb Scott looks like he could be given more opportunities in the passing game too. I think he struggles sometimes getting off the press but when he is open, he shows sure hands and the ability to create after the catch.

- The team as a whole seems to be in good game condition and have the strength to stay active throughout the entire game. I haven’t seen any quit out of this team yet, which is a good thing. Everything seems to be positive with the team but that could change in time, if the team continues to lose football games.

The Bad

- Have the running backs played terrible so far, no they haven't, but they haven't played great either. Now a lot of this could be put on the shoulders of the offensive line but neither Ralph Webb nor Dallas Rivers have really broken out and had themselves a stellar performance thus far. Webb is lacking in overall size but he runs very hard and never gives up. Webb is an outstanding complimentary back but he needs someone else to help him with the load. Rivers has looked slow through two games and for someone his size, he should be running over a defender or two. He has yet to show much power or speed and could be on the verge of seeing some of his carries drop. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to give true freshman Josh Crawford a few carries to see what he can do.

- Through two games, the Vanderbilt defense has collected three overall sacks and has yet to put consistent pressure on the quarterback. They did better at this against Western Kentucky but against Georgia, they allowed Greyson Lambert to sit in the pocket way too long and give him chances to make open throws. The defensive line in general is not getting a great push up field. Jay Woods did notch his first career sack against Georgia but the line as a whole, has not generated enough of a push to make the quarterbacks uncomfortable.

- What was seen as one of the deepest positions on the team headed into the season, the Commodores tight ends have somewhat disappointed through two games and that’s a bit surprising. Senior All-Conference selection Steven Scheu has particularly struggled and had a hard time hanging onto the ball. Scheu, I believe, will get it together but it is alarming when your top dependable receiver on offense is having a hard time catching the ball. DeAndre Woods, on the other hand, has started to establish himself as a sure handed mismatch in the open field. He made an outstanding catch and showed his athleticism and willingness to play in the middle of the field. This group as a whole has to be better if the Commodore offense wants to generate positive yards.

The Ugly

- Johnny McCrary is the unquestioned guy at quarterback but the Vanderbilt coaches may need to start reconsidering their top choice. McCrary has the arm, athleticism and possible “it” factor to be a solid quarterback but he has struggled badly through two games and the question is if he will ever be able to straighten things out before the end of the season. He has thrown five interceptions with three of them coming in the red zone. He is also having a very hard time reading coverages. McCrary too many times has tried to force the ball into double or triple coverage and when watching the film, you begin to ask the question, “What are you seeing out there?”

McCrary is keeping a smile on his face and remaining positive, which is a good thing but he needs to play much, much better if he wants to not only keep his job but also help the Commodores offense score points with consistency.

- The offensive line has been bad! There is no way around it. When Andrew Jelks went down with a season ending injury, it was already going to be a struggle for the line without their top guy but no one expected it to be this bad. Even the veterans on the line like Jake Bernstein and Spencer Pulley have struggled. The tackles have been the worst. Will Holden is doing everything he can to handle the left side but he is naturally a better fit at right tackle and maybe even at guard. The entire right side against Georgia was replaced late in the first half. Starters Blake Fromang and Barrett Gouger were replaced with Delando Crooks and true freshman Justin Skule and the backups seemed to grasp things better than the starters. Gouger eventually came back into the game but that right side is still a major work in progress. Skule did show yesterday that he may just have the talents to become a full time starter somewhere down the line. Top Stories