Vanderbilt Football Three Keys: Wake Forest

Vanderbilt football Three keys

The Vanderbilt Commodores have thrived on offense in their first two games of the 2022 college football season. Now they face an opponent with an elite offense. Vanderbilt learned along with everyone else this week that Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartmann.

By Matt Zemek

Sam Hartman, who had an illness that prevented him from playing in the Demon Deacons’ Sept. 1 season opener, has been medically cleared to play in this game. For perspective on how that one news story has affected perceptions of this contest, Wake Forest – once an eight-point favorite before Hartman was cleared to play – has become a 13.5-point favorite, and that number might continue to rise before kickoff on Saturday. The participation of Hartman in this game does change the dynamic, and it makes the task a lot more difficult for Vanderbilt. Some people might lament that development, but competitors want to prove themselves against the best and beat the best. This is a major growth point for Vanderbilt. Let’s see what the Commodores have to do in order to win this game.

1 – Bring the heat to Hartman
So, Sam Hartman will play. Let’s realize that he hasn’t been practicing and hasn’t been able to play a live game in 2022. He could be rusty. He could require at least one game in which to regain rhythm. Vanderbilt can make sure that Hartman doesn’t find a rhythm until later in the season. The pass rush is the number one ingredient in a Vanderbilt upset win. The Dores have to hit, harass, and hound Hartman all day long. If they can’t bother him with consistent pressure, they’re going to get carved up. Disguising looks and coverages to confuse Hartman matters, but a strong pass rush matters more than anything else.

2 – Keep doing the Wright things
Mike Wright leads a Vanderbilt offense which is averaging over 50 points per game. Knowing that Wake Forest has had a spectacularly productive offense under Sam Hartman, it’s genuinely true that Vanderbilt will probably need 40 points to be competitive in this game. Scoring anything under 30 is almost certain to lead to a loss. Mike Wright has to be on top of his game on Saturday.

3 – Third and fourth downs
Keeping the ball from Hartman is the best way to limit Wake Forest’s offense. Vanderbilt needs to convert a lot of third downs and go for it on fourth and short. Being able to control the ball is an absolutely essential part of a winning formula for VU.

Saturday‘s game kicks off at 11:00 AM CT (12:00 PM ET). You can watch this SEC football game on the SEC Network.

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