Jackson-Garrison rushed for over 500 yards last season while sharing playing time with Jeff Jennings. After an emergency appendectomy the Knoxville tailback only managed only a net 2 yards in 8 carries at Michigan. That total improved to 42 yards in 9 carries at Alabama. Vanderbilt will need a good running game against Arkansas to have a chance.
2. Will Chris Nickson reduce his turnovers?
Nickson had two costly fumbles at Michigan. Against Alabama he eliminated the fumbles but unfortunately had three interceptions, 2 of them on the Tides side of the field. Vanderbilt must have fewer turnovers if they hope to upset Arkansas. Goal for Nickson: get the turnovers down to 1 or none.
3. Will Broderick Stewart continue his streak of games with sacks?
Broderick Stewart has seen action in two college football games. The red shirt freshman defensive end has 1 sack in each of those games. Stewart, who was the first player ever to get a division 1-A football scholarship from his high school, is one of the leaders in the SEC in the sack department. Let's hope Broderick can keep the sacks coming!
4. Will Vanderbilt be able to slow the Arkansas running game?
After giving up 246 yards rushing to the Wolverines of Michigan, Vanderbilt showed improvement at Alabama by reducing that total to 134. The Hog's Darren McFadden has 226 yards rushing in 2 games, including a game with Southern Cal. If Vanderbilt is to have a chance at tasting victory on Saturday they must slow down McFadden.
5. Will Earl Bennett complete another pass?
Earl Bennett might be the most efficient passer in America, college or pro. Through two games Bennett has 2 completions in 2 attempts for 45 yards and a touchdown. Bennett's current quarterback rating is 454.00! Chris Nickson's rating is 90. Bennett's passing gives Vanderbilt opponents an additional threat they must prepare for and consider.
6. Can Vanderbilt get pressure on Arkansas's freshman quarterback?
Arkansas will be starting a true freshman quarterback on Saturday. As a high school senior Mitch Mustain was rated the #1 quarterback prospect in the nation by Scout.com. Mustain had an incredible senior year, completing 190 of 270 passes for a state-record 3,817 yards. He threw 47 touchdowns passes and just six interceptions, an amazing 8-to-1 TD/interception ratio. Despite the super high school accomplishments he's still a true freshman. If Vanderbilt can put some pressure on him they might be able to force some costly errors.
7. Will the Vanderbilt special teams continue their improvement?
News Alert: Vanderbilt has not had a kick blocked yet in 2006! After missing a bowl game in 2005 because of a blocked field goal, Vanderbilt appears to have finally gotten their special teams in order. Special teams coach Warren Belin has the special teams units playing to win. Having guys like Brett Upson and Bryant Hahnfeldt doesn't hurt. Only one opponent punt return has been for positive yardage.
8. Will the "Same Old Vandy" syndrome be vanquished?
The Commodores have a history of playing the powerhouse teams close and then blowing games against teams they should be competitive. The truth is that this is not just a Vanderbilt thing. Many teams play poorly the week after a big game. This seems to be more prevalent with Vanderbilt because of the big talent gap Vanderbilt has endured over the years. That gap is now narrowing.
9. Will Vanderbilt fans pack the house?
Bobby Johnson stated in his weekly press conference that he wanted a loud crowd Saturday. After playing before 200,000 mostly opposing fans in the first two games the road weary Commodores will be happy to be at home. Meanwhile, this will be Hog freshman quarterback Mustain's first college road trip. Haven't ordered your tickets yet? Call (615) 322-GOLD or visit VUCommodores.com for ticket information.