Nik's Commodore Keys- Rice

After a disappointing loss to Mississippi State last week, the Vanderbilt Commodores (1-2, 0-2 SEC) go on the road to take on the Owls of Rice University (0-3, 0-1 C-USA). This is a must win for the Dores, if they want to make it back to another bowl game, and the keys are simple.

A Little Help for the Defense

Vanderbilt's defense limited Mississippi State to just 15 points last week, but it was a costly showing.  The defense was on the field for eighteen minutes more than the offense, which caused the defense to get worn down, and allowed Mississippi State to score a last minute touchdown to seal the victory.  This is not a new trend; the defense was similarly punished for lack of offense against LSU, allowing a late touchdown that sealed the victory for the Tigers.  Vanderbilt's offense must pick up against Rice, who has given up 140 points in its first three games.  Vanderbilt's offense must hold onto the ball longer, and actually score some points, if nothing else to give the defense a chance to rest.  The Vanderbilt receivers must catch the ball.  Alex Washington and John Cole will be key, and quarterback's coach Jimmy Kiser must call a better game than he did against State. 

Defensive Line

Rice is a passing offense, and Vandy must defend the pass well, which has not been a problem for this team.  However, Rice seems to have a problem on the offensive line, as they do not run the ball well, and their pass protection is not particularly good.  They have allowed nine sacks in three games, an average of three per game.  The defensive line must continue to get good pressure on – and sack – the quarterback for the Commodores to win this game. 

No Big Returns

Rice is a dangerous return team.  They are averaging 11 yards per punt return and 23 yards per kick return, compared to 2 yards per punt return and 20 yards per kick return for the Dores.  Considering that the defense and special teams will have to win this game, the Commodores can not allow any big returns, and must stuff the returner, without giving up too much yardage. 

History

Last Meeting: Vanderbilt 38 Rice 21 (2008 in Nashville)

First Meeting: Vanderbilt 13 Rice 12 (1939)

Last game in Houston: Vanderbilt 9 Rice 6

Vanderbilt leads the series 3-1, including 2-1 at Rice.  Head Coach Bobby Johnson is 1-0 against the Owls and is 88-94 overall.  Rice Coach Dave Bailiff is 0-1 against the Commodores and is 13-15 overall.


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