By PST Contributor: Des Boodram
August 18th, 2016
As kick off quickly approaches, there’s a good chance the Commodores may be in for a longer season than originally expected. Depending on what side of the fence you are on the glass could be half empty or half full relative to the player personnel cycling in.
The Commodores return eight starters on each side of the ball but did lose some big time playmakers including OLB Stephen Weatherly.
Tough Schedule for Vandy out of the Gate
The issue for Vandy this season may not be as much about personnel as it is about schedule. The Commodores are staring a 1-2 record in the eyes by September 17th as they start with an unusual conference game at home against South Carolina.
The Gamecocks will be playing their first game under new head coach Will Muschamp, but they will be fired up. This not a definite loss by any means, but does pose as an early trap game for Vanderbilt, who will be playing their first game with some new starters as well.
On the offensive side of the ball the Commodores will return Sophomore QB, Kyle Shurmur who made a tremendous amount of progress last season with each game. Shurmur will have two returning WRs in Trent Sherfield and Caleb Scott both Juniors, while also being able to hand off the rock to Junior RB Ralph Webb.
There’s enough experience from the playmaking positions to move the ball, but the offensive line is in shambles. This is going to be an issue for Vanderbilt all season, as they currently don’t even have a Center on the depth chart. They are returning three starters, including two seniors but the loss of Spencer Pulley at the center position may be too much to overcome.
Defensively Vandy will be led by 2015 All Conference ILB Zach Cunningham who will likely lead the team in tackles. The rest of the defensive starters are all Juniors and Seniors allowing the Commodores field an exceptional amount of senior and junior leadership this season.
As mentioned earlier the loss of Stephen Weatherly will hurt, but Cunningham should be able to fill the void. The Safety position will continue be an issue throughout the season with the departure of Andrew Williamson, that’s what coaching is for.
Will the Commodores Struggle
Vanderbilt, is still going to struggle in the SEC as they have recently but still should be able to put forth a product on the field that will be worth rallying behind. Starting with a conference game really stinks, and their third game of the season at Georgia Tech should make Commodore Nation very nervous.
Aside from the GT game, the rest of the non-conference schedule like most SEC teams is weak, and won’t help their case, should the make a run.
It will be a miracle if Vanderbilt can finish 6-6 on the season, including 3-5 in conference. Ole Miss, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee are winnable games and the commodores lucked out be getting only Ole Miss and Auburn from the West.
The Vanderbilt Commodores are a -3.5 point Home Favorite vs. South Carolina in Week 1, get all of your College Football Odds in our PST odds section.