Previewing the Vanderbilt Commodores

The Vanderbilt Commodores will travel to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers in search of their first SEC win of the season. Here is everything you need to know about the Commodores.

Vanderbilt football pregame tunnel. Photo courtesy of Flickr, obtained using creativecommons.org. No changes made.

The Tennessee Volunteers (4-7, 0-7 SEC) will host the Vanderbilt Commodores (4-7, 0-7 SEC) in Neyland Stadium on Saturday evening. Both teams are searching for their first SEC win of the 2017 season. Head coach Derek Mason and the Commodores look to reach their fourth win over the Vols in the last six meetings and to snap a 2-game losing streak against Tennessee.

Here is everything you need to know about Vanderbilt.

Quarterback

The quarterback situation in Nashville is going great, unlike usual. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur and the Commodores offense has averaged over 300 yards-per-game in the past four games and ranks third in the SEC in passing. Shurmur has logged just 14 passing touchdowns in his past two seasons at Vanderbilt, but has tallied over 2,500 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2017.

Running Back

The Commodore running game is as dominant as ever this season and could create serious problems for the injury-ridden Vols defense. Senior Ralph Webb already has over 600 yards rushing and eight touchdowns this season, moving him to ninth in SEC history in total rushing yards. Webb’s backup, Khari Blasingame, had 10 touchdowns on the ground last year, but hasn’t had the same success in 2017. Still, he’s a dynamic playmaker that Tennessee will have to worry about.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

The receiver duo of Trent Sherfield and Kalija Lipscomb have led Vanderbilt in receiving yards this season. Sherfield and Lipscomb have combined for 1,100 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Fifth-year senior C.J. Duncan has seen plenty of action this season with a career-high 46 receptions for over 400 yards and four touchdowns. Sophomore tight end Jared Pinkney leads the tight ends with nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns.

Offensive Line

The Commodores offensive line has struggled in the past two weeks against Kentucky and Missouri. The line gave up a combined seven sacks and 14 tackles for a loss in the two games. Webb and the Vanderbilt rushing attack has also combined for just 110 rushing yards in the past two games. The offensive line will likely perform better this Saturday against a struggling Tennessee front seven.

Front Seven

Inside linebackers Jordan Griffin and Emmanuel Smith lead the Commodores front seven with a combined 112 tackles, 12.5 tackles-for-loss and 2.5 sacks this season. Middle linebacker Oren Burks also has 80 tackles himself in 2017. Still, Vanderbilt has struggled getting pressure on the opposition, as they have tallied just two sacks in the past two games. Look for the Commodores to have much more success on Saturday against a struggling Vols offensive line.

Secondary

Free safety LaDarius White leads Vanderbilt in the tackles column with 84 on the year, including five defended passes and an interception. The Commodores rank 29th in the nation in passing defense with just 195 passing yards allowed per game. The cornerback tandem of Joejuan Williams and Tre Herndon are the reason for this, as they have combined for 20 defended passes and 57 tackles this season.

Special Teams

Vandy kicker Trey Openshaw has been iffy this season and has missed nearly 50-percent of his field goal attempts. However, Punter Sam Loy has boomed 63 punts for an average of 40 yards this season. Running back Jamauri Wakefield is the kick returner for the Commodores and averages 24 yards-per-return. Lipscomb returns punts for Vanderbilt with an average of just six yards-per-return.

Edited by Ben McKee 

Featured image courtesy of UT Sports