Published October 31, 2011 - 9:48am
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I have been very impressed all year with what Vanderbilt is doing in the SEC this season. Even though the Commodores have only one win in conference play, they could be considered the third best team in the SEC East right now, with both Florida and Tennessee in worse positions.
James Franklin has brought a new energy and passion to this program. Vanderbilt is not usually accustomed to competing regularly in every SEC matchup, but they have been in competition, for the most part, the entire season. Franklin could be in contention to win SEC Coach of the Year.
The Commodores started off 3-0 on the year, beating Elon, UConn and Ole Miss. However, the schedule got much tougher, and losses ensued to South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Arkansas. Vanderbilt did play Georgia and Arkansas very tough, though. They certainly earned respect.
Right now, the Commodores are sitting 4-4 with four games left in the regular season, and they have a chance to finish 4-0 in these last four games.
This past week, the Commodores jumped out to a 21-7 lead over the Razorbacks, but a costly turnover and a missed field goal in the second half helped Arkansas pull out the victory.
However, the remaining schedule is quite attractive for the Dores to actually finish with eight wins…yes, eight wins.
November 5th – @ Florida
Florida is a very winnable game right now because the Gators are struggling to find anyone at wide receiver to catch the football, and they have no running game. Any game is tough on the road in The Swamp, but I think Vanderbilt can get this victory.
November 12th – Kentucky
Let’s face it, Kentucky is probably the worst team in the SEC this season, and the offense has shown little to no improvement this season. I like Vanderbilt here, especially at home.
November 19 – @ Tennessee
Vanderbilt beating Tennessee…who would have thought that was even possible? It certainly is. Tyler Bray is the X-factor here if he can return from his broken hand for this game. If he cannot, I think you’re looking at a Commodore victory. Call me crazy!
November 25th – @ Wake Forest
Anytime an ACC member takes on an SEC member, the SEC member usually pulls it out; however, Wake does have a good team this year and they are playing at home in this one. I still like the Dores on the road.
James Franklin’s passion and energy is hard not to like and be impressed with. He’s doing more with less than Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi State.
The emergence of quarterback Jordan Rodgers has really given this team stability at quarterback and on offense, and running back Zac Stacy has been lights out the last two weeks.
Rodgers will remind you of his brother a little bit the way he uses his arm and feet to make plays on the field.
I love the direction this program is headed right now, but the question remains – will James Franklin be at Vanderbilt long enough to get Vanderbilt competing regularly in the SEC?