Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt Offense Top Five: C.J. Duncan

Over the next few days, we'll discuss VandyMania's top five Vanderbilt offensive and defensive players. Today we'll take a look at Montgomery, Alabama native C.J. Duncan.

Out of the numerous possibilities for receiving targets in the Vanderbilt passing game, C.J. Duncan may have the best odds of likely contributing.  

In 2014 Duncan was one of the best on the team averaging 15.8 yards per catch.  The redshirt junior may prove to be the downfield threat that was missing a year ago as he was forced to sit out with an injury.  Coaches have also indicated that Duncan is back to being 100 percent healthy.  That is great news for a receiving group that finished 13th in the SEC averaging 171.83 yards per game last season.

Duncan has the speed to extend the field and give Kyle Shurmur more potential targets. Trent Sherfield took on most of the receiving load a season ago, nearly doubling the next closest Commodore with 51 receptions.  Having a second long range receiving threat will force opposing defenses to stay honest and not load the box to try to stop the run.  

In the following clip we get a glimpse of how easily it is for Duncan to get lost in the opposing secondary.  No one even comes close to stopping him as he found himself wide open for a 65-yard touchdown reception. 

Providing more targets on a team who completed 51.1% of passes and threw five more interceptions than touchdowns should also pay multiple dividends.  Any amount of increased production in the passing game will only help to take pressure off Ralph Webb and a running game that was relied on heavily a season ago.  

Andy Ludwig took control of the Vanderbilt offense last year and managed to finish ahead of only Missouri in total offensive yardage per game.   With Duncan returning, Ludwig may have just what he needs to stop having to rely on the run first approach that often left the 'Dores in second or third and long situations.

The following play required ridiculous concentration and upper body strength.  Duncan doesn't just come back to knock away the would-be interception, he strips the defender to extend what would be the game-winning drive. 

Hopefully, Duncan has more crazy playmaking in store for Commodore fans when he takes the field wearing the black and gold in 2016.  Between Duncan and tight end DeAndre Woods there are a few potential targets who have already shown they can contribute.  Whether they'll be able to pick up where they left off prior to injuries could have a big impact on how much improvement the offense sees from a year ago.


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