The Commodores will face their in-state rival Tennessee in the season finale on Saturday. Here are your three keys to a Vandy victory over the Vols.
Key No. 1 - Stop Tennessee rushing attack
The Vols rank second in the conference averaging 213.7 yards rushing per game and stopping sophomore running back Jalen Hurd from getting the run game going will have to be a priority. Vanderbilt needs to key on more than just Hurd as quarterback Joshua Dobbs leads all SEC quarterbacks averaging 4.3 yards per rush. The Commodores have been better at containing opposing quarterbacks under Coach Mason and not allowing Dobbs to extend plays with his feet will have huge benefits for Vanderbilt.
Key No. 2 - Play a mistake free game
Vanderbilt has shot themselves in the foot with turnovers and special teams blunders in multiple games this year. With the 'Dores tied for 109th in the country in turnover margin, they cannot afford to gift their opponent such great field position. Special teams need to help and not hurt the Commodore chances as punts both short, and blocked have helped lead to Vanderbilt losses.
Key No. 3 - Punish Vols for stacking the box
We've seen the Vanderbilt coaches try to take the pressure off the young quarterbacks by getting running back Ralph Webb and the rushing game rolling. We've also seen opposing teams realize this and load up against the run to try to force the 'Dores to throw. Vanderbilt needs to recognize them stacking the box early and punish the Vols with play action and maybe even some trickery. Trying to remain one dimensional on offense will only hurt the Commodore chances at a victory.
A win over the Vols for their third SEC victory would be a great way to end the season. It would also mean that Vanderbilt's very slim bowl hopes would stay alive at 5-7 as nine teams still need their sixth win to gain bowl eligibility.