Nik's Commodore Keys: Miami (0hio)

After upsetting No. 6 ranked South Carolina in Columbia last week, the Vanderbilt Commodores (4-3 2-3 SEC) will look to avoid the upset and defeat the Miami (OH) RedHawks (4-4 3-1 MAC). Vanderbilt must play well against a tough MAC team that upset Syracuse earlier this year. Vanderbilt needs two more wins to become bowl eligible for the first time in 25 years, and losing to Miami is not an option.

What will the Commodores have to do this week to handle Miami, and get to 5-3?

Bend But Don't Break

      Although Vanderbilt's defense has been more than solid, seeing as they rank 19th in the nation, Vandy will have to be sure to keep Miami out of the red zone. The primary reason for this is that Miami's kicking game has been inconsistent, to say the least. Kicker Trevor Cook has connected on only 5/10 field goals, and is 0-3 in field goals 40 yards or longer, with a long of 36 yards. Recently, Miami switched kickers to go with Nathan Parseghian, who is 4/6, but also has not made a field goal longer than 40 yards. He is also only 2/4 on field goals ranging from 30-39 yards. If Vanderbilt's defense has trouble keeping Miami from getting down field, the Commodores must be sure to keep the RedHawks outside the redzone.

Running Game

      Vanderbilt must get better on all offense, and must start running the ball effectively. Jeff Jennings and Cassen Jackson-Garrison have been largely unsuccessful at converting 3rd and short situations. Although both have had their highlights this year, the must get more consistent and pound the ball against Miami. Mackenzie Adams has been a good runner for the Commodores this year, but he should concentrate on completing passes more than running the ball. If Vanderbilt can not get more production from the tailbacks and the offensive line, Vandy may be in trouble down this final stretch. 

2nd Half Scoring

      Vanderbilt has not scored any second half points in the last two games. After scoring 17 points in the first quarter against South Carolina, Vanderbilt must put together a complete game on offense against Miami. Not only is Miami a tough team for Vandy to play, but Vanderbilt will have to put up plenty of points in all of their remaining games to win. Mackenzie Adams has been a pretty solid passer, but needs to become more consistent, which should come as he gets more experience. Vanderbilt moved the ball in the second half against the Gamecocks, but they were unable to come up with points. Vanderbilt has been terrible in the redzone and needs to change that to beat Miami this week. An improved running game will help the Commodores accomplish this, but Vandy must find a way to put some points on the board in the final 30 minutes of play.

Earl

      His name is Earl and the SEC knows it. Earl Bennett has been completely covered lately, and George Smith and Sean Walker have stepped up. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the teams chose to play Earl as other receivers have stepped up to become big play guys. As other teams respect Smith and Walker, Earl will get more chances to make catches, and Vandy needs him to start racking up yardage and points to win.

Last Meeting: Miami (OH) 33 Vanderbilt 30 (2000 in Nashville)


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