Head to head: Vanderbilt vs. Western Carolina

Vanderbilt hosts Western Carolina of the Southern Conference on Saturday night to open the 2009 season. VandyMania.com compares different critical team areas of Vanderbilt and Western Carolina and indicates which team has the edge.

Western Carolina
Vanderbilt rushing offense
Western Carolina rushing defense
Jared Hawkins, Zac Stacy and a veteran Commodore offensive line will give WCU a rude welcome to Nashville. Senior linebacker Adrian McLeod led WCU in tackles last season. Senior defensive tackle Gene Singletary is also a great player for the Catamounts.  
Vanderbilt passing offense
Western Carolina passing defense
Larry Smith and the Vandy offense unveil their no-huddle offense. Look for Brandon Barden and Austin Monahan to each catch a pass or two. Alex Washington, Udom Umoh and John Cole should also get some catches as the VU's offense quick strike offense confuses the Catamounts. One WCU player Vandy should steer clear of is All-Southern Conference performer, Mitchell Bell, who had five interceptions last year.  
Western Carolina rushing offense
Vanderbilt rushing defense
Vanderbilt defensive line with Adam Smotherman and Greg Billinger along with linebackers Chris Marve and Patrick Benoist should make for a miserable day for 150-pound WCU halfbacks Nate Harris and true freshman Mike Johnson.  
Western Carolina passing offense
Vanderbilt passing defense
Sophomore quarterback Zach Haynes is decent passer for WCU. He completed 127 of 229 passes for 10 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions last year. Wide receiver Marquel Pittman caught 40 passes for 4 scores last year. Vanderbilt's Myron Lewis is one of the top NFL cornerback prospects in the nation. Safety Ryan Hamilton had is also solid in the Vandy secondary. Defensive end Broderick Stewart could make life very difficult for Haynes.  
Special Teams
Blake Bostic made 10 of 15 field goals last year for WCU. He had a long kick of 43 yards. Blake Cain averaged 39 yards a punt a year ago. Vanderbilt kicker Ryan Fowler replaces now graduated Bryant Hahnfeldt. Upson, who also punts, averaged 40.1 yards per punt last season.  
Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson is 27-56 at Vanderbilt and led the Commodores to their first bowl win in over 50 years. Dennis Wagner is in his second season at WCU, he was 3-9 last year. Wagner, who came to Western Carolina from Nebraska where he coached the offensive line, previously coached at Wayne State College where he achieved a 44-37-1 record.  
It's the opener for both teams but Vanderbilt has the home field advantage. Each team will be fired up for that their 2009 football season is on!  

PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 51 Western Carolina 9

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