HEAD TO HEAD: VANDERBILT VS. AUSTIN PEAY

Vanderbilt meets Austin Peay on Saturday in Nashville. VandyMania.com's Don Yates compares the two teams in several critical areas. He also makes a prediction on the game's final score.

VANDEBILT PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
AUSTIN PEAY PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: VANDERBILT
REMARKS: Vanderbilt is ranked 51st nationally and sixth in the SEC in passing offense (256 ypg). In the 31-14 loss to Georgia last week Vanderbilt gained 295 yards through the air on 24 of 50 completions for one touchdown and three costly interceptions by Johnny McCrary. He had ten completions that went for over 10 yards. One went for 44 yards to Trent Sherfield in the fourth quarter. Ralph Webb and Latevius Rayford were McCrary's top targets, each with seven catches. McNary was sacked three times in the first half by the Bulldogs.

In the loss to USM the Governors allowed 275 passing yards and 22-of-40 completions for three touchdowns and an interception. Cornerback Roderick Owens had an interception and two pass breakups against USM. He has four picks in his career. The Austin Peay defense hasn't recorded a sack this season.

VANDERBILT RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
AUSTIN PEAY RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: VANDERBILT
REMARKS: The Commodores are 93rd in the nation and 12th in the SEC in rushing offense, averaging 136.5 yards per game. In the loss the Georgia the Commodores ran 39 times for 105 yards. Ralph Webb averaged just 2.7 yards per carry, on 25 carries for a total of 68 yards. Webb averages just 69 yards rushing a game, 11th best in the SEC.

Austin Peay allows an average of 250 yards rushing per game. Last week against Southern Miss Austin Peay allowed 239 rushing yards on 30 attempts (8 ypc) for three touchdowns. Southern Miss tailback Ito Smith had 184 yards total offense versus the Governors. Defensive backs Malik Boynton and Roderick Owens co-lead the Governors in tackles with 11 each.

AUSTIN PEAY PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
VANDERBILT PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: VANDERBILT
REMARKS: Austin Peay averages 140 passing a game. Quarterback Trey Taylor (6-3, 215) has completed 31-of-60 passes for 281 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Wide receiver Rashaan Coleman was the Gov's leading receiver in 2014. Last week he caught a 44-yard touchdown pass at Southern Miss. Murfreesboro native Jared Beard has seven catches for 85 yards and a TD. APSU's starting offensive line averages about 300 pounds.

Vandy's passing defense is ranked 48th in the nation and fourth in the SEC (175 ypg). Last week the Commodores limited Georgia to just 141 yards passing on 25 attempts. Oren Burks broke up two passes to lead the Commodores defense. Three other Commodores, Torren McGaster, Taureen Ferguson, and Jonathan Wynn, each had a pass breakup. Burks leads the Commodores with four pass total breakups, one was a dropped interception against the Bulldogs. Vanderbilt players have three sacks of opposing QBs this season. Commodore lineman Jay Woods had the most recent sack, in the second half against Georgia.

AUSTIN PEAY RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
VANDERBILT RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: VANDERBILT
REMARKS: The Governors average 76 yards rushing per game. Running back Kendall Morris is the leading rusher for APSU with 57 yards on 19 carries (3.0 ypc). Morris was offered by FBS Southern Miss and Tulsa in addition to the Governors out of high school. He rushed for 54 yards on 17 carries at USM last week. Otis Gerron has 41 yards on 16 carries (2.6 ypc). Against USM the Govs gained 96 yards on 48 attempts (2.0 ypc).

Vanderbilt's rushing defense is ranked ninth in the SEC and 74th nationally. In the the loss to UGA, Vanderbilt gave up 281 yards on 41 carries (6.9 ypc). Nick Chubb gained 189 yards while averaging nearly 10 yards a carry. Darreon Herring, Stephen Weatherly, Oren Burks are the Commodores' top run stoppers with 11 tackles each.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: VANDERBILT
REMARKS: Vanderbilt's Tommy Openshaw has punted 11 times for 44.5 yards this season. His longest punt was for 64 yards. Openshaw also kicks for Vandy and has connected on 4-of-6 field goals this season. One was missed because of a poor snap/hold and the other bounced off the left upright. In 2014 Vanderbilt return man Darrius Sims returned two kickoffs for touchdowns against USC. He has averaged 21.7 yards on six returns this season. Trey Ellis has four punt returns for a 5.5 yard average and a long of 10 yards. The Vanderbilt kickoff return unit has been sound allowing opponents 18 yards per return on average but the punt coverage team allowed a 77-yard scoring return last week against Georgia.

After missing the season opener due to an appendectomy, Gov senior Evan Toby punted eight times for a 42.9 average, including a 60-yarder to pin Southern Miss inside their own 20-yard line. Against USM, Austin Peay suffered a blocked punt for the second consecutive game. Austin Peay kicker Logan Birchfield has attempted one field goal this season, a 25-yarder which was missed. Rashaan Coleman has two punt returns for five yards. APSU averages 17.2 yards per kickoff return. Justin Roberson has a long return of 33 yards. Governor return coverage teams have been sound.

COACHING
EDGE: VANDERBILT
REMARKS: Derek Mason is in his second season at Vanderbilt with a 3-11 overall record. Prior to Vanderbilt Mason was a successful defensive coordinator at Stanford. In 2012 Mason was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant coach. Mason has some NFL coaching experience serving stints with the Vikings, Raiders, Giants and Rams.

Kirby Cannon is in his third season at Austin Peay and has a 1-25 record. Previous to APSU, he coached at Missouri S&T where his compiled a 35-86 record. Cannon went 0-12 in his first season in Clarksville and had three 0-11 seasons during his time at Missouri S&T but built S&T into a solid program.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: VANDERBILT
REMARKS: APSU hasn't defeated an FBS opponents since 1987 (@Kansas St. 26-22). APSU converted on just 2-of-16 third downs against USM. Vanderbilt has converted on just 33 percent of its red zone attempts. APSU hasn't converted in the red zone in two games. The Govs have a plus one turnover margin while the Commodores turnover margin is a terrible minus six. Both teams are starving for a win and will be ready to play on Saturday.

PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 43, Austin Peay 3. As long as the Commodores take this game seriously the team should win handily.

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