The James Franklin years feel like they are much further than a decade in the rearview mirror. Clark Lea led Vanderbilt to a 2-10 season in 2021, and the ‘Dores continue to fall off of the pace in the SEC. Lea has a massive job on his hands, but getting to just three or four wins would be a step in the right direction.
By Steve Wright
Here are three keys for Vanderbilt in 2022:
Score more (much more)
You cannot win games in the SEC – or any football conference anywhere – by scoring less than two touchdowns a game. That was the problem for Vandy last year as they were out athleted in the SEC to the tune of just 13.6 points per game. Ken Seals and Mike Wright combined to throw 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last fall. AJ Swann is a name to watch out of the 2022 class – more on them in a moment – but someone needs to step up as a legitimate starter. The ‘Dores did score better over the last four games of 2021 which was one positive to take from a miserable campaign.
True freshmen emerge
Vanderbilt is a team in need of a talent infusion. In this incoming class of freshmen, there are a few players that will immediately be a factor. Offensively look for wide receiver Jayden McGowan to provide an instant spark. McGowan runs a mid-4.3 40-yard-dash and will be impossible to keep off the field. Also, keep tabs on playmakers Ja’dais Richard and Trudell Berry in the secondary.
Week 1 is massive
Clark Lea and the Vanderbilt fans need to see improvement in the win column. Given the ‘Dores schedule, the difference between a repeat of a 2-10 season or a 3-9 season could well be the game in Week 1 at Hawaii.
The ‘Dores pull Alabama and Ole Miss from the SEC West and it is hard to see any East team they will be better than. Non-con tilts against Elon and Northern Illinois are winnable, but Wake Forest was 11-3 last season and should be good again. That leaves the tilt with Hawaii as the tipping point between improvement and stagnation.
Vanderbilt opens its 2022 season on August 27 when it faces Hawai’i in Honolulu.