2003 SEC Football Preview- Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt enters 2003 on a 17-game SEC losing streak. But hope springs eternal-- Commodore fans yearn for a winning season and a bowl game. Can Bobby Johnson's tireless efforts turn around the program in Year Two? Today's edition of VandyMania's 2003 SEC Football preview takes a look at Vanderbilt, and makes a fearless prediction on the outcome of all 12 games.

COACHING

Head Coach: Bobby Johnson (Career Rec: 62-46)
Offensive Coordinator: Ted Cain
Defensive Coordinator: Bruce Fowler

2002 Record: 2-10 overall (0-8 SEC)

2002 NCAA STATS RANKINGS

Total Offense: 110th (312.58)
Rushing Offense: 43rd (173.50)
Passing Offense: 107th (139.08)
Scoring Offense: 109th (18.42)
Total Defense:92nd (405.75)
Rushing Defense: 95th (186.58)
Pass Efficiency Defense: 95th (136.87)
Scoring Defense: 85th (30.67)

Vanderbilt fullback Matthew Tant is one of four Vanderbilt rushers who return with significant experience. Tant rushed for 326 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2002.. (AP Photo/John Russell)

STARTERS RETURNING

Offense (6):

LT Justin Geisinger (6-4, 320, Jr.)
RG Mac Pyle (6-5, 310, So.)
RT Kenan Arkan (6-7, 285, Jr.)
QB Jay Cutler (6-4, 208, So.)
*TB Kwane Doster (5-11, 175, So.)
FB Matthew Tant (5-11, 218, So.)

Defense (6):

DE Jovan Haye (6-5, 265, So.)
DT Aaron Carter (6-3, 276, Jr.)
DT Ralph McKenzie (6-4, 297, So.)
*WLB Moses Osemwegie (6-0, 220, So.)
SLB Herdley Harrison (6-3, 215, So.)
CB Lorenzo Parker (5-11, 182, Jr.)

* All-Star Candidates

Roster

TEAM STRENGTHS

Running back, offensive line.

TEAM QUESTION MARKS

Wide receivers, defensive secondary.

KEY GAME

August 30: Ole Miss at Vanderbilt. A win and it may be a special season for Vandy.

HEAD COACHES COMMENTS

"We're anxious to get started. Try to improve our football team a little bit at a time. Great challenge for us, start off the bat with Ole Miss in Nashville."

"It has some positives and negatives, important game for conference standings, have a quality opponent, best QB in country coming in there, has certainly motivated our players over summer to get in great shape, work hard, make progress in summer, once start preseason practice will certainly have their attention, know very good football team coming in and we will have to play our very best to have a chance to win."

"It helps to have gone through the cycle one time. I feel better because I've seen our guys progress a little bit. We were playing so many young guys last year, tough to ask them to do some things we were asking them to do. Went through spring, saw them get better, saw them grasp what we were trying to do offensively and defensively."

"One senior on defense, only two seniors starting on offense. Extremely young team but a lot of these guys played last year. Took their lumps. Hopefully it paid off for them. We have to build on those guys. They're good players but it's tough to compete in this league with red-shirt freshmen starting for you. As we throw a little more talent in there hope we building way we want to build. We have a good quarterback and tough to compete in this league if you don't. Cutler last year showed he has talent to do what we want him to do in this offense. Better in spring practice, learn what we want out of him in our offense."

"We lost our top two (wide receivers), Dan Stricker most accomplished receiver in history of Vanderbilt. Think we can be better overall at the receiver position. Brandon Smith proved last year that he's very athletic. Eric Davis played as true freshman. Chris Young is coming back, athletic person who can play that position. We may even have some freshmen who we signed who can help us."I think Benji will be in certain situations. More of an inside receiver. Not split him out wide and try to beat a great cover corner. Obviously it's a great advantage if you have a quarterback who is a talented enough athlete, and Benji is. He can help us without putting a whole year of coaching as a wide-out."

"Will take a lot of hard work in every phase from fund raising to ticket selling, to recruiting, getting better athletes, coaching, no one magic thing to say Vanderbilt has arrived. Will take some time. Feel we have great platform to do that, have great university in great city in a great league. We ought to be able to attract players. Then up to our coaching staff to get them ready to compete. In five games last year where within a touchdown or ahead in the fourth quarter that we did not win feel like we're close."

VandyMania Projection

The Commodores still aren't ready to challenge for the SEC title but they'll be much improved over the 2002 season. Continuty on the coaching staff and system along with improved talent will make its mark. 5-7 overall. 2-6 SEC.

2003 SCHEDULE AND PREDICTIONS


Aug. 30 Ole Miss, L 31-28
Sept. 6 Chattanooga, W 35-7
Sept. 13 Auburn, L 28-21
Sept. 20 at Texas Christian, L 16-14
Sept. 27 Georgia Tech, W 23-21
Oct. 4 at Mississippi State, W 24-20
Oct. 11 Navy, W 31-21
Oct. 18 Georgia, L 24-13
Oct. 25 at South Carolina, L 27-17
Nov. 8 at Florida, L 31-17
Nov. 15 Kentucky, W 21-20
Nov. 22 at Tennessee, L 28-24


Commodores Daily Top Stories