It will be a "Dyna-Mite" season if: First year coach James Franklin's energy and enthusiasm can translate into execution on the field. The Commodores return every starter on offense from last year, and eight on defense. If QB Larry Smith, who looked like the second coming of Whit Taylor and Jay Cutler all rolled into one in the 2008 Music City Bowl, can regain that magic, Vandy will put some points on the board. The secondary is talented and experienced so teams will have to think twice about throwing downfield.
It will be abandon ship if: All those players returning play like they did last year. It was once said that returning starters don't mean much if your team was awful the year before, so when you go 2-10 and you see the same guys on the field, that has to do wonders for your confidence. After a great Freshman season, kicker Ryan Fowler did not hit a kick over 35 yards last year, and since Vandy will play hard despite being outmanned in almost every game they will play, their chances at pulling off an upset or two could depend on a kick.
Schedule: Looking at Elon, Army, and Wake Forest has to give them confidence they can possibly sweep, and with a huge effort against UConn in Nashville in Week 2, having four wins gets them almost to bowl eligible status. However, road games at Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee will bring a swift kick in the pants to Franklin's honeymoon in the SEC. Throw in the fact they also have Georgia and Arkansas on the docket, and trying to squeeze two more wins out of the program will be like getting blood from a rock.
Intangibles: Vanderbilt can take heart in knowing they are not completely hopeless, and this is why we play the games. In 1995 Northwestern, the Vanderbilt of the Big 10, shocked the world and won the conference. Stanford lost one game last year in what was known as the PAC 10, then went out and crushed Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Duke won the ACC in 1989. (Yes, in football) The problem, and this is another reason why the SEC is regarded as the top conference in America, is the fact those kinds of Cinderella stories don't happen in the SEC where the best teams live. However, what I would give to see Vanderbilt in the SEC Championship game because that would be the all time miracle of miracles in college football history.
Coach Scooter's Prediction: 6th in the SEC East
Why I am all for seeing the joy of a perennial loser finally win a championship, I just don't see much hope for the Doores this year. Sure, they return everyone, including the water boys and the guy wearing the Commodore Schmidlapp suit (bonus points if you can tell me what movie that came from), but the talent to complete in the SEC week after week is just not there. If they can get improved play from their talented backfield of Smith and RB's Warren Norman, Zac Stacy and Wesley Tate, they will be competitive. As an underdog in probably every SEC game this year, they could catch some teams looking past them. If so, there might be an upset or two waiting, and if that's the case, they could be bowling again once December comes.
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