Offense Analysis Wrap Up

This is the next installment of a multi-part series analyzing every facet of the 2001 Vanderbilt Commodores. The series analyzes the personnel, coaching, and intangibles from each functional unit of the team, and will culminate in an overall analysis and season prediction. Today I will tie together each of the offensive position analysis's with an overall at the offense. The next installments will begin my look at the defense.

Look Back to 2000

Rankings indicate position in SEC

  • 12th ranked scoring offense (17.5 ppg
  • 12th in number of touchdowns (22)
  • 4th in number of field goals (14 of 18, 78%)
  • 12th in extra point conversions (86%, 19 of 22)
  • 4th ranked passing offense (225 ypg)
  • 8th in yards per pass (6.6)
  • 4th in passing first downs
  • 10th in passing efficiency (111.2)
  • 12th ranked rushing offense (96 ypg)
  • 12th ranked in yards per carry (3.1)
  • 12th in rushing first downs (64)
  • 11th ranked total offense (321 ypg)
  • 5th in turnovers lost (21)
  • 15 interceptions
  • 6 fumbles
  • 4th in sacks allowed (15)
  • 12th in third down conversions (30%)
  • 10th in fourth down conversions (42%)
Despite some improvements over past years, the offense in 2000 still finished last in the SEC where it counts - scoring. The passing offense moved the ball effectively between the 20 and 30 yard lines, but bogged down in short yardage and in the "gold" zone. This was primarily due to the lack of competent running game, which made third and short conversions difficult. The combination of a last ranking in third down conversions, the fourth most field goals, and a lack of big plays virtually assured the offense of poor point production. While the passing yardage piled up, the other aspects of the offense laid down. It was neither consistent, nor opportunistic. With these shortcomings in mind, is there reason VU fans be hopeful for an improved offense with most of its skill position players returning?

2001 OFFENSIVE ROSTER

No.NamePositionHeightWeightClassHometown
3 Benji WalkerQB6-4212R-So.Brentwood, TN
9 Howdy MacPherson*QB6-1190So.Arvada, CO
10Tim OlmsteadQB6-2195R-Sr.Binghamton, NY
12Greg ZolmanQB6-4208R-Sr.Dayton, OH
15David KoralQB6-3215Fr.Malibu, CA
17Jay CutlerQB6-4200Fr.Santa Claus, IN
2Rodney WilliamsRB5-11208R-Sr.Birmingham, AL
4Lew ThomasRB6-0212Sr.Atlanta, GA
8Ray PerkinsRB5-10191So.Ft. Lauderdale, FL
9Norval McKenzieRB5-11200R-Fr.Powder Springs, GA
29Chris MitacekFB/RB5-11208Jr.Cudahy, WI
33Matt TantFB/RB5-11208Fr.Pegram, TN
34Mike AdamLB/FB6-3235Jr.Hales Corner, WI
48Juan Rojas*FB6-0215Jr.Econonistas, Mexico
1Anthony JonesWR6-2172R-Jr.Chattanooga, TN
6Ryan CuffeeWR5-11193Jr.Arlington, TX
16Chris YoungWR6-2178So.Batesville, MS
19Markessus HouseWR6-4204R-So.Birmingham, AL
21Ronald HatcherWR 5-10170So.Birmingham, AL
22Everett RobinsonWR5-10184Sr.Hueytown, AL
24M.J. GarrettWR6-3206Jr.Old Hickory, TN
31Jason MatheniaWR 6-1180FrCopperas Cove, TX
35Jerrin HoltWR6-3210Fr.Grand Prairie, TX
36Jason Shields*WR6-2223Sr.Slidell, LA
80Brandon SmithWR6-1178Fr.New Orleans, LA
82Nezih HasanogluWR6-3220Sr.Waukesha, WI
85Dan StrickerWR6-3201Jr.Cincinnati, OH
86Jason CaldwellWR6-1185Fr.Hoover, AL
89Tyson Radtke*WR6-2206Sr.Louisville, KY
45Dustin DunningTE6-5210Fr.Hoover, AL
81Nick GetterTE6-4243R-So.Round Rock, TX
83Zeke BrandonTE6-2230So.Copperas Cove, TX
84Tom SimoneTE6-5236R-Jr.Pittsburgh, PA
87Curtis BrancheauTE6-4234R-Fr.Greenville, TX
94Dan Murphy*TE6-3212So.Shaker Heights, OH
55Jamie ByrumC6-4277R-Jr.Grove City, OH
58Jason TantC6-3270R-So.Pegram, TN
61Duncan CaveG6-1284R-Sr.Greeneville, TN
67Greg RobsonG6-4286R-Fr.Schaumburg, IL
72Jim MayG 6-4303R-Jr.Lilburn, GA
79Brent PeacherG6-5312R-Jr.Lexington, KY
60Pat GreenOT6-7335 R-Sr.Emmaus, PA
62Ryan KingOT6-7290Fr.Cincinnati, OH
63Nigel SeamanOT6-5305Fr.Ft. Lauderdale, FL
65Jordan HillOT6-7289R-Jr.Odessa, TX
70Kenan ArkanOT6-7278R-Fr.McMurray, PA
71Justin GeisingerOT6-4304R-Fr.Pittsburg, PA
74Jordan PettitOT6-4284R-So.Olive Branch, MS

* walk-on

Golden Hammer's Projected Two Deep

Season ending projection, barring injuries

QBRBWRWRSlot
ZolmanPerkinsStricker JonesHatcher
WalkerWilliamsHoltGarrettYoung

TELTLGCRGRT
SimoneGeisingerCave ByrumMay Green
Brandon*/ Getter*PettitRobsonTantPeacherSeaman

* Brandon in single TE sets, Getter in jumbo sets

Roster Breakdown

Includes scholarship players only

  • 44 scholarship players (includes Mike Adam at FB/LB)
  • 19 upperclassmen (43%)
  • 8 seniors (5 redshirt)
  • 11 juniors (6 redshirt)
  • 25 underclassmen (57%)
  • 9 sophomores (5 redshirt)
  • 16 freshmen (5 redshirt)
  • 7 returning starters (losses RB-McGrath, TE-Carson, OT-Gruber, G-Saltsman)
  • 42% of offensive scoring from 2000 returns (78 of 187 points)
  • Excluding kicking, 62% of 2000's offensive scoring returns (78 of 126)
  • Returning passing production
  • 100% of passing yards
  • 13 of 13 passing touchdowns
  • Returning receiving production
  • 79% of receiving yards (1,953 of 2,466 yards)
  • 10 of 13 receiving touchdowns
  • Returning rushing production
  • 50% of rushing yards (535 of 1,062)
  • 3 of 8 rushing touchdowns

Offensive Keys for Success

  1. The emergence of another reliable receiving target for Greg Zolman to relieve the pressure on Dan Stricker and replace the
  2. production of Elliot Carson.
  3. Having a running back step up to be both consistent in short yardage and a big play threat.
  4. Evening out the disparity of pass protection prowess and run blocking deficiencies.
  5. Raising our third down conversions to at least 40%.
  6. Reversing the negative touchdown to interception ratio.
Predictions

  • Scoring improves from 17.5 to 23 points per game, placing the offense around the middle of the SEC. This improvement will come
  • primarily due more long touchdown plays, additional drives sustained with a more efficient third down conversion rate, and a more offensive-minded approach (spreading out the offense).
  • The yards per game increase by 40 to 50 yards per game, improving to between 360 and 370 yards per game.
  • Zolman breaks Vanderbilt's all time passing yardage record.
  • The turnover margin is even or slightly to the positive side.
  • Ray Perkins' yards per carry drops to 4.5, but his yardage almost doubles to 850.
  • The goal line offense remains overly reliant on the pass, due to the inability to generate enough push from the offensive line.
  • Jerrin Holt and Jason Mathenia will both see time at WR.
  • Injuries force Nigel Seaman into action as a freshman.
  • Stricker and Byrum garner First Team All-SEC honors, and Zolman lands on the second team.

Comments on this column? Contact me at goldenhammer@vandynation.com


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