Team Capsule: Vanderbilt Commodores

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Derek Mason, head football coach at Vanderbilt

It’s refreshing to hear optimism wrapped around the Vanderbilt football program, and Derek Mason has been a cheerleader of the highest order, following James Franklin, who took Vandy to three bowl games in three years. Mason’s club went 6-7 a year ago, including a win over Tennessee that helped finish the year 4-2. It return 16 starters, including the gifted running back Ralph Webb (1,283 yards and 13 TDs last year) and quarterback Kyle Shurmur. The Commodores scored 117 more points last year than in 2015; alas, they were still 13th in the SEC in scoring offense. Linebacker Oren Burks leads a defense that was better than usual. Maybe the most impressive thing is that Vandy didn’t lose the games it typically found a way to lose. “Vanderbilt football is on the rise,” Mason declares. Trouble is, the SEC East is on the rise again.

Head Coach: Derek Mason (fourth year at Vanderbilt, 13-24)

Coordinators: Andy Ludwig (offense), Derek Mason (defense)

Social Media: http://www.vucommodores.com, @VandyFootball, @CoachDerekMason

2016 Record: 6-7 overall, 3-5 in the SEC, lost to N.C. State in the Camping World Independence Bowl

2017 Schedule:

  • Sept. 2 at Middle Tennessee
  • Sept. 9 Alabama A&M
  • Sept. 16 Kansas State
  • Sept. 23 Alabama
  • Sept. 30 at Florida
  • Oct. 7 Georgia
  • Oct. 14 at Ole Miss
  • Oct. 21 Off
  • Oct. 28 at South Carolina
  • Nov. 4 Western Kentucky
  • Nov. 11 Kentucky
  • Nov. 18 Missouri
  • Nov. 25 at Tennessee

Circle The Date: Alabama visits Nashville on Sept. 23 for the first time since 2007.

Top Returnees: RB Ralph Webb, LB Oren Burks, DT Nifae Lealaoo, WR Trent Sherfield, QB Kyle Shurmur

Will Win SEC East If…: the other six teams find themselves on probation. Vandy is improving the level of athletes, but it’ll never have the volume of depth and talent to contend.

What They Said: “I’m not a soothsayer. I am not talking about how many games we are going to win, but I do know we have a junior-senior team. The culture, continuity, all of those things lead to special things. I’ve been there before, and I am truly excited what the season holds for us.” – Derek Mason

What We Say: Sixth in SEC East