Vanderbilt should be able to move the ball pretty easily on offense. The Redhawks' defense is giving up 168.8 yards per game on the ground. Vanderbilt's big offensive line has the ability to blow the Redhawks' front four off the ball giving tailbacks Cassen Jackson-Garrison, Jeff Jennings and Jared Hawkins some easy running lanes. The Commodores will likely also find success in the option game led by quarterback Mackenzie Adams.
The Redhawks' defense has struggled against the pass this season as well. They are giving up 241.5 yards per game through the air. It will likely be a historic day at Vanderbilt with Earl Bennett only needing two receptions to break Craig Yeast's all time SEC receptions record of 208. Bennett also only needs two touchdown catches to break Dan Stricker's record of 21. The passing game really started to click with Adams at the helm last week, and that trend should continue on Saturday.
The biggest challenge for Vanderbilt on defense will be shutting down a potent Redhawks' passing attack. Daniel Raudabaugh is coming off of a 33 for 57 with 314 yards and 2 touchdowns performance against Temple. Raudabaugh has seven receivers that are averaging more than ten yards per catch. The key for slowing the passing attack will be getting pressure on Raudabaugh. If the front four of the Commodores can put pressure on Raudabaugh, he will throw some passes up for grabs.
The Redhawks also feature a pretty good rushing attack. They are averaging 142.8 yards per game on the ground and 4.1 yards per carry. Their leading rusher is Austin Sykes who has 385 yards on 84 carries for the season. If the Commodores' front seven can shut down the run on first and second downs, it will keep the Redhawks in obvious passing situations. This will give the Commodores some good blitzing opportunities to pressure Raudabaugh.
The Commodores cannot afford to look past the Redhawks and their potent offense. If they come out flat they could find themselves in an early hole. The Commodores will be the better team on the field Saturday. If they can come out focused and execute their game plan, it will make for an easy win.
Photo by Stan Jones.