Matchups show UT with offensive edge; Vanderbilt stronger in most other areas

Tennessee running back Marlin Lane, left, is congratulated by teammate Tyler Bray after scoring the winning touchdown against Troy at Neyland Stadium, on Saturday. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee running back Marlin Lane, left, is congratulated by teammate Tyler Bray after scoring the winning touchdown against Troy at Neyland Stadium, on Saturday. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Quarterbacks

After a bumpy start, Vanderbilt's Jordan Rodgers has settled into a solid senior season. But Tyler Bray is in the midst of what might be the best three-game stretch of any quarterback in the country this year. The Commodores have a respectable pass defense, but Bray should still be able to put up big numbers. Edge: Tennessee.

Running backs

Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane have emerged as a nice running back tandem for the Vols. That's one positive in an otherwise bleak season: The Vols had no proven backs at the start of the season. Now they have two that they feel good about. Vandy starter Zac Stacy is likely to play despite a leg injury, but the Commodores have won without him in the past and could do so again if necessary. Edge: Tennessee.

Wide receivers/tight ends

Jordan Matthews, a 6-foot-3 junior, already has more than 1,000 receiving yards this year and could be in for more against the Vols' struggling pass defense. Tennessee's Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson have been the beneficiaries of Bray's three-game hot streak. As always, the Vols would like to get Patterson more involved. Edge: Tennessee

Offensive line

The gap between Vandy and the rest of its SEC brethren is usually most noticeable along the lines, where the Commodores are sometimes at a size disadvantage. Vandy has narrowed that gap, but Tennessee's offensive line is still much better. Penalties plagued the group against Missouri, something that's been a point of emphasis this week. Edge: Tennessee.

Defensive line

Vanderbilt's Walker May is a lanky defensive end who is undersized but very fast, helping the Commodores to track down backs on the edge. Tennessee got more push from nose guard Daniel McCullers last week and could have the freedom to chase the quarterback once again. Edge: Even

Linebackers

Vandy's Chase Garnham has a team-high six sacks and is one of five Commodores with at least eight tackles for loss. The Vols will be playing without Curt Maggitt, who's out for the season after tearing an ACL last week. Edge: Vanderbilt.

Secondary

Vandy's pass defense had perhaps its worst game of the season a week ago, allowing Ole Miss to amass 403 yards through the air. The Vols appeared to turn a corner in the first half, but the familiar secondary breakdowns returned after halftime. Edge:Vanderbilt.

Special teams

Vanderbilt kicker Carey Spear has made 15 of 18 field goals and all 18 of his extra-point attempts. Tennessee had its first major breakdown in kickoff coverage last week for Missouri's only touchdown of the first half. Edge: Vanderbilt

Coaching

Vandy coach James Franklin held his team together after an 0-2 start. Now the Commodores are bowl eligible and have a chance for an eight-win regular season. Tennessee's coaching staff is likely nearing the end of the line in Knoxville. Edge: Vanderbilt.

Intangibles

They're not saying so publicly, but it's hard to believe that Vandy players aren't motivated by last year's overtime loss and subsequent postgame celebration by Tennessee. Edge: Vanderbilt.

Pick

Tennessee 31, Vanderbilt 30

Does that score look familiar? I had an identical prediction last week for the Missouri game. Picking Tennessee seems foolhardy after so many near-misses, but if nothing else, the Vols are due.

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Comments » 8

GloryDays writes:

The biggest disadvantage is at the head coach position. Dooley is completly overmatched by big mouth cheap shot artist coach Franklin. Derek Dooley is probably the worst head coach in college football. It is difficult for the Vols to overcome this loser.

whatthe84 writes:

What kind of moran would say Vandy has any edge on the mighty vol nation? Are you serious? We are TENNESSEE Hoss we are the Big Orange and we have Ole Smokey and the checkerboard endzone dude! Has he not witnessed the vol walk? Vandy...vandy! This will be a butt whippin for sure we will stomp a mud hole in vandy fo show. The highway will be packed with big orange fans headed to Nashville on Saturday morning with their Big Orange nation flags flying and shakers in the back windows with magnetic signs displaying the loyalty only the Big Orange Nation can display. What is vandys record anyway? They are never any good they beat Austin Peay and UT Martin and they think they are bowl elgible. Really...seriously...vandy...come on guys. Smoky will howl and growl shake his tail and the vandy fans will wilt. Its not even going to be close. Tyler Bray...really...vandy. Its on to the Kentucky game and then we will come to an agreement with the Weedeater bowl to play Louisana Monroe and we will blow them out. GBO

cltvol writes:

in response to whatthe84:

What kind of moran would say Vandy has any edge on the mighty vol nation? Are you serious? We are TENNESSEE Hoss we are the Big Orange and we have Ole Smokey and the checkerboard endzone dude! Has he not witnessed the vol walk? Vandy...vandy! This will be a butt whippin for sure we will stomp a mud hole in vandy fo show. The highway will be packed with big orange fans headed to Nashville on Saturday morning with their Big Orange nation flags flying and shakers in the back windows with magnetic signs displaying the loyalty only the Big Orange Nation can display. What is vandys record anyway? They are never any good they beat Austin Peay and UT Martin and they think they are bowl elgible. Really...seriously...vandy...come on guys. Smoky will howl and growl shake his tail and the vandy fans will wilt. Its not even going to be close. Tyler Bray...really...vandy. Its on to the Kentucky game and then we will come to an agreement with the Weedeater bowl to play Louisana Monroe and we will blow them out. GBO

Yes the dung and bile will go down. They are the Mr. French to our Uncle Bill, the shack in the woods to our Beverly Hills Mansion, the Charles Nelson Reilly to Charles Barkely, the Cessna to the F16, the tandy 1000 to the Mac, The Sara the phone operator to Google, They have a rancid, putrid odor of losing for decaades. It is worse than Skunk stench. There is no amount of tomato juice in the world to cleanse that odor. Even turtle man can't get the stink out. They will realize sometime tomorrow who tney really are, just like last year. And the immovable force of losing will combine with the irresitable object of despair and the Vols will come out once again on top. No repeat of 1982 or anything like it. Another 1982 Worlds Fair will come to Knoxville before these aristocratic jon boat paddlers will beat the Big O.

bbfn writes:

Sorry, Vandy takes this one.
30 - 27

movol53 writes:

Hmmmm..... Haven't we had an offensive advantage in MOST of our games this season??? Problem is we think we have a defense that can stop the other team from scoring. I love my VOLS for over 50 years but I'm afraid that Vandy takes this one; I hope I'm wrong. VFL !!!

Sir_Spanky writes:

The Turtle and The Hare... We all know how that turned out.

10Vol85 writes:

Caution - Stat geek analysis follows.

Tennessee & Vandy are both at the bottom of the league in defense. I use SEC only stats that adjust for turnovers and opponent strengths.

Yards per play on rush defense:
#11 Tennessee - 4.58 (raw 4.51)
#14 Vandy - 6.29 (raw 4.63)

Pass defense:
#11 Vandy - 8.68 (6.40)
#14 Tennessee - 9.50 (raw 8.83)

The difference is on offense. Yards per play on rush offense:
#1 Tennessee - 7.29 (raw 5.17)
#14 Vandy - 0.16 (raw 3.15)

Pass offense:
#2 Vandy - 9.06 (raw 8.10)
#8* Tennessee - 4.50 (raw 7.84)

*It is misleading that Tennessee is 3rd in the league at 265 passing yds/game behind A&M and Arkansas. Tennessee is only 6th in yards/attempt. Also, Tennessee is averaging 2 turnovers in passing per game when you include fumbles by receivers and sacks which brings the overall rank down to 8.

While they are potent in the pass game against overmatched opponents (and Vandy will be) they have a way of shooting themselves in the foot. The good news for Tennessee is that Vandy has gotten only one turnover in the pass game all year so Tennessee will likely be able to both run and pass at will. Vandy should struggle in the rush game more than an average Tennessee opponent. Good news for Vandy is that Tennessee has little defense against the pass.

Tennessee's high rank in rushing is probably due to teams loading up to stop the pass. Surprisingly, Tennessee's run/pass mix has been 1:1 on average. Vanderbilt's has been 3:2 even though they don't rush well.

My guess is that Tennessee's offense would out race Vandy's in the track meet which this should be. If Chaney chooses to run more, and Vandy sticks to their usual mix it could move the clock along faster. All of this analysis doesn't account for focus, though. We know Vandy should be focused. With the state of the program at Tennessee - who knows?

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

Evan Woodberry picks UT because "the Vols are due."

Reality, of course, could not care less what the Vols are "due," nor does it care what Evan Woodberry thinks about anything.

Final score: Vandy 41, Vols 18

Evan, stick with brown-nosing Dooley and his staff and stay away from predicting anything.

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