The 2-5 Vanderbilt Commodores will feel like they let a potential SEC win slip through their fingers last time out against South Carolina. Up next for the ‘Dores is a matchup with a 3-3 – and wildly inconsistent – Mississippi State squad. Here are the three keys to a Vandy win.
By Steve Wright
1 – Keep the Bulldog passing game in front
Vanderbilt has had issues with giving up explosive plays this season due to a combination of misreads and missed tackles. The Bulldogs have a different style of passing attack to most in the SEC, relying not on chuck yardage, but on dink and dunk passes that sit firmly in the mid to short-range category. The idea of this attack – which has gone over 300 yards in all but one game this season – is one of attrition, moving the chains at a constant rate until a tackle is missed and a big play occurs. Vanderbilt has to keep the Mississippi State passing attack in front of it, be sure with tackles, and make some key stops on third down.
2 – Control the tempo
The Bulldogs are last in the nation in yards per completion at 8.65 yards per pass caught. They are also last in the nation in rushing – an appalling 47 yards per game – so Vandy knows exactly what it has to do on defense to get the offense back on the field. The Bulldogs need to play at their tempo to win. Vandy is not a team that is going to blow the doors off offensively, but the passing attack has way more pop and the running game is more effective. If Vandy can sustain a couple of drives and start to dictate tempo and field position then this could get interesting.
3 – A score from somewhere else
Regardless of who plays quarterback, the Vanderbilt offense is struggling. It is going to be a chore to push this out to 100 yards on the ground. While both Mike Wright can Ken Seals will make some throws count, they need help. The defense has eight takeaways over the last three games and it needs to have at least another couple here. What would really help is the defense – or the special teams unit – running in a score from somewhere to upset the flow of the game. Vandy is good enough to stay in this one, but you just get the feeling a score from a unit outside of the offense will be needed for a win.