Secondary Play Will be Key Against the Owls

The Vanderbilt Commodores face another tough test this Saturday when the Rice Owls come to Nashville. This game probably looked like a pretty easy win when the schedule first came out, but the Owls are 2-0 with a powerful offense. Vandy's depleted secondary will have to play well for the Commodores to win this one.

Rice comes into this contest averaging 49 points per game. They have done most of their damage through the air. Chase Clement, Rice's quarterback, has thrown for 576 yards and 7 touchdowns in his first two games. He is completing 61.7 percent of his passes and has thrown only 2 interceptions. The Commodores are a bit thin in the secondary because of injuries, so it will be crucial for the front four to put pressure on Clement. They cannot allow him to sit in the pocket all day and throw, or he will pick them apart.

Clement's favorite target is receiver James Casey who has 17 catches for 264 yards and 1 touchdown on the season. While Casey leads the team in receptions, Jarett Dillard has already found the end zone 4 times in their first two games.

Clement is also the team's leading rusher on the season with 28 carries for 203 yards. It will be important for the Vandy front seven to stay in their lanes when rushing the passer so they do not allow him to break contain and pick up some big gains with his legs.

Rice scores a lot of points, but they also give up a lot of points, 31 points per game this season. This game could very easily turn into a shootout, so the offense in Black and Gold better come ready to play.

The teams the Owls have faced so far this season have gained most of their yards through the air. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown for an average of almost 350 yards per game and 7 total touchdowns. Chris Nickson will need to continue his early season success and continue to make good decisions when he drops back to pass.

As is always the case when facing a team with a high powered offense, the Commodores will need to establish the run game to keep the Owl offense off the field. Jared Hawkins played really well against South Carolina and should see the bulk of the load again on Saturday night. The Commodore offensive line was able to push around South Carolina's huge defensive front around, even in situations where it was obvious they were running the ball. The Rice defensive front is not nearly as talented as South Carolina's, so the offensive line should be able to have their way with them.

If Vandy continues to play like they have so far this season, they will be 3-0 when heading to Oxford next weekend to take on the Rebels. They cannot take the Owls lightly because they are no cupcake. Bobby Johnson will need to have his team as fired up to play as they were last Thursday night.

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