Top 5 Questions as Preseason Practice Looms

Vanderbilt football gets preseason drills going in about 10 days and the the Commodores open their 2007 season on September 1st against Richmond. Here are the 5 top questions that will need to be answered during preseason drills.

5) Who will win the weak side linebacker starting position? Brandon Bryant got rave reviews in spring practice but sophomore Patrick Benoist looked solid during the 2006 season. Regardless of who wins the spot Commodore coaches and fans can sleep well knowing the position will have a solid backup.

4) Who will start the Richmond game at tailback? Jeff Jennings started most of the 2005 season but was listed as a co-starter with Cassen Jackson-Garrison. Jackson-Garrison started the entire 2006 season while Jennings was rehabilitating a knee injury. Jennings looked better than ever in spring practice but another player to consider is red-shirt sophomore Jared Hawkins. Hawkins possesses blazing speed and impressive strength for a player he size. He rushed for a team best 6.9 yard per carry in 2006 and the Commodore coaches are anxious to get the ball in his hands more.

3) Will Brian Stamper be 100 percent for the 2007 season? Stamper was recently selected to the All-SEC team but suffered from a back injury during spring practice, which caused him to miss almost all the sessions. Many sources close to the Vanderbilt program feel that this year's offensive line could be the best ever at Vanderbilt but if Stamper isn't ready to go he'll be sorely missed.

2) Will Chris Nickson continue to improve? By the end of the 2006 season Nickson had shown significant improvement after the season opener at Michigan where he tossed a couple of costly interceptions. In fact, Nickson caught the eye of SEC coaches who recently voted him to the 3rd team All-SEC team. If Nickson continues to drop his interception to touchdown ratio it could mean great things for the Black and Gold in 2007.

1) Will Vandy special teams be improved? A sore spot for the Commodores the past few seasons has been the special teams. Vanderbilt missed a bowl in 2005 because of special teams and has lost several key games since head coach Bobby Johnson's arrival in Nashville. It all isn't on the kicker and punter either as lack of special teams execution has been the culprit for many of the special unit blunders (see MTSU '05). Vanderbilt needs to figure this one out or they might miss out on a golden opportunity again in 2007.

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