The Massachusetts Minutemen return the home and home favor to the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Commodores have a new coach, a new quarterback and a new sense of confidence after back-to-back seasons with 9 wins in the toughest little conference in college football. Will the Commodore's put up a video game score on the Minutemen, or will UMass ship them out to pasture.
Vanderbilt Commodores 2013 Season Rewind:
The 2013 started off tumultuously for the Commodores. Before a down was even played, Vanderbilt made waves by cancelling games against Northwestern and Ohio State. Then, 5 players were dismissed from the team, 4 for aggrevated rape and one for criminal attempt to commit accessory. Yet, somehow, the 2013 season was a great year for Vanderbilt on the field. Ending at #23 in the Coaches Poll and #24 in the AP poll, Vanderbilt put their offseason issues behind them. Now, with a quieter offseason, the Commodores are looking for a repeat performance of ending the season with a number in front of their name.
Mr. Commodore is the mascot for Vanderbilt University. He is based on Cornelius Vanderbilt, shipping magnate. No word on if he ever conducted business with Art Vandelay, importer/exporter.
The Commodores play in the SEC, and have since 1932. The SEC is one of the most competitive divisions in football. As a founding member of the SEC, the Vanderbilt Commodores receive 15% off all items from the SEC web store.
The Commodores play at the self-referentially named Vanderbilt Stadium, located in beautiful Nashville, Tennessee. Vanderbilt Stadium is the smallest stadium in the SEC, but is still fierce, holding 40,350 rabid fans. It also has a long history since they broke ground on the stadium in 1922, once being home to the Tennessee Oilers and the first Music City Bowl.
Last Bowl Appearance:
In the triumph that was the 2013 season, Vanderbilt defeated the Houston Cougars 42-21 in the BBVA Compass Bowl. The BBVA Compass Bowl is sponsored by BBVA Compass bank. Now 7 months later, thanks to interest, Vanderbilt defeated Houston 42.7-21.3.
After ending the season with a bowl win, Head Coach James Franklin bolted for future Massachusetts Minutemen opponent Penn State. In his place, Derek Mason takes over for the Commodores. Derek Mason was a defensive whiz at Stanford previously, and a finalist for the Broyles award in 2012. He is not to be confused with Derrick Mason, that guy you took in the 8th round of your fantasy draft every year from 2006 to 2010.
Five Key Players:
Jerron Seymore - RB
Kyle Woestmann - LB
Caleb Azubike - LB
Joe Townsend - C
Spencer Pulley - RG
The Minutemen seem to keep catching breaks with their opponents on offense. Like Colorado, the Commodores find themselves trying to replace key personnel both under center and on the wings. Both of Vanderbilt's top receiving threats from 2013, as well as their quarterback, moved on to the big leagues at the end of last year. In their place, it looks like a redshirt freshman in Johnny McCray will be taking over at quarterback, and Jordan Cunningham and Kris Kentera will be taking over at wide receiver. McCray comes in at 6'4", 224 pounds. Jordan Cunningham is a 6'1", 183 speedster and Kris Kentera is a huge target at 6'4", 224.
With the lack of experience under center and at wide receiver, the Commodores will rely on Jerron Seymore heavily. In 2013, Seymore rushed for 716 yards and 14 touch downs. He hopes to improve upon that campaign his junior year. He'll be aided by one of the top lines in the SEC. The Commores have experience on the offensive line, with three seniors, a junior, and a sophomore. This is especially true up the middle, with senior Joe Townsend at center, and senior Spencer Pulley and junior Jake Bernstein at guard.
Derek Mason brings a 3-4 look to the Commodores. Senior Kyle Woestman and junior Caleb Azubike will be what makes this look click as they hold down the linebacker position. Joining them will be juniors Jake Sealand and Daerreon Herring. One of the big weaknesses of the defense is the lack of experience from the cornerback position; Vanderbilt is looking to start two sophomores at the spot. We'll see if this becomes an issue for what was the 40th ranked pass defense in 2013.
The player the Minutemen want to see is junior Taylor Hudson, who returns to handle punting duties for the Commodores. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Tommy Openshaw will handle kicking duties to start the season. As far as returning goes, Darrius Sims looks to continue returns after compiling 571 yards on 25 returns last year.
The Minutemen might want to be thankful that this is a road game, because this one could be brutal to watch. Despite the losses for Vanderbilt, they are still far and away the better team. Coming off back to back season with 9 wins in the hardest conference in college football is no small feat, and the Commodores should not be taken lightly. Expect this one to be a bloodbath UMass faithful.