Nik's Commodore Keys – Army

Just one week following an ugly 23-7 meltdown against the Rebels of Ole Miss, the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-3, 0-3 SEC) look to bounce back as they go on the road to face the Black Knights of Army (2-3). Many questions envelop the 2009 Commodores, and they will have to start finding some quick answers if they want to get back to another bowl game.

Offensive Line

One might think that with the Commodores returning all five starters on the offensive line, the Dores pass and run blocking would be one of the better groups in the SEC, right?  Wrong.  The Commodores have given up 13 sacks this year, which is tied for the worst number in the SEC.  Though the run blocking has been very good, much of the yardage can be attributed to the quickness of running backs Warren Norman, Zac Stacy, and Jared Hawkins, not necessarily to the offensive line.  In the passing front, quarterback Larry Smith has not been helping himself by holding onto the ball far too long, as head coach Bobby Johnson acknowledged earlier this week.  Though Smith has had plenty of bright moments, he lacks consistency, which is what separates the good quarterbacks from the great.  Army's defense is not too shabby; they are ranked 30th in the nation, giving up only 299 yards per game to the likes of Eastern Michigan, Duke, Ball State, Iowa State, and Tulane.  The Commodores need to step up the offense.  It is impossible to point out one weakness, as all the offensive components seem to be contributing equally to the continued demise of the Vanderbilt offense. 

Stop the Run

Army is an option-run team.  They run the ball over 80% of the time, for an average of 231 yards per game.  This type of team is often hard to deal with, due to the relatively unusual style of play, however Vanderbilt has been giving up about 160 yards per game on the ground, and they will have to make sure that they limit Army, or else Army will not only score, but they will eat up the time of possession, an area that Vanderbilt can not afford to lose in this game. 

Time of Posession

The Commodores have been only holding onto the ball for 26 minutes per game, which means that, on average, their defense is on the field for far longer than their offense.  If the games against Rice and Western Carolina are thrown out, that time of possession goes down significantly.  Ultimately, the offense must do its part, and not ask the defense and a young special teams unit to try to dig this team out of a hole.  Vanderbilt's defense must some rest, and the offense needs to grind out some more first downs, and run the ball effectively.  Vanderbilt has gone into a no-huddle system, which will only hurt their time of possession and defense unless they start to actually make some first downs and run the system effectively. 


Vanderbilt leads the series with Army 4-3, including a 3-1 mark in West Point.  Vanderbilt head Coach Bobby Johnson (89-95 overall, 29-59 at Vanderbilt) has never coached against Army or Army head coach Rich Ellerson (62-44 overall, 2-3 at Army).

Last Meeting: Vanderbilt 41 Army 10 (1991 in West Point)

First Meeting: Vanderbilt 17 Army 13 (1968)

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