Vanderbilt hopes to spark offense

BIRMINGHAM-- Despite a 7-6 record in 2008 that concluded with a New Year's Eve Music City Bowl victory over Boston College, it was a season-long struggle on offense for Vanderbilt.

The Commodores were 117th out of 119 teams in total offense, averaging 256.2 yards per game, so offensive coordinator Ted Cain and the offensive staff used the spring to install the no huddle. Captain and senior center Bradley Vierling and the rest of the offense have used the summer to get ready for the fast pace they'll experience this fall.

"It's completely different from last year," Vierling said at SEC Media Days in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday. "We were kind of a slower tempo team getting in the huddle, going back, setting the ball, letting the defense get set. We're not doing that this year. We're dictating to the defense, which is different.

"We didn't play very well the entire year, and the statistics show it," Vierling adds. "We were one of the worst in the nation, and we know that. We have a big chip on our shoulder about that. We've got some new wrinkles in our offense this year to throw some defenses off and put some points on the board.

"Last year we weren't very good at what we were doing," he continues. "I don't think it'll difficult to be better than we were last year. I think we were 112th or something like that in total offense. We can only go up."

In some systems, offensive linemen are asked to drop weight when switching to the no huddle attack. That hasn't been the case for the Vanderbilt line, which returns all five starters from a season ago.

"We didn't drop weight," Vierling notes. "Actually a lot of guys got bigger. We conditioned more. This is the best shape we've ever been in, especially as an offensive line. We had every single one of our offensive linemen pass the conditioning test the first time."

Whether it's Larry Smith, MacKenzi Adams or Jared Funk behind center, Vierling expects the offense will be more explosive in 2009.

"Different guys bring different things, but to us as a team it doesn't matter if it's one, if it's two or it's three," he says of the quarterbacks. "Whatever the coaches decide is obviously best for the team and that's what we're going to go with.

"I think we can be great," Vierling adds. "There's no doubt it my mind. We at Vanderbilt are going to accept the change in offense and the coaches are going to put us in the best position to win."


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