It's Football Time in Tennessee: Vols vs. Vanderbilt Commodores Preview (11/25/23)

Recently: Tennessee (#21, 7-4, 3-4) lost to Georgia last Saturday. The result was not surprising if you've been watching both teams this season, but still disappointing considering the excitement of Jaylen Wright's 75-yard touchdown on the game's first play and the fact that Tennessee had opportunities to compete but faltered and sputtered on their following possessions. 

Vanderbilt (NR, 2-9, 0-7) was off last week. Yes, they took week 12 of a 13 week season off. Vandy lost the week prior to South Carolina, 47-6.

Previously on Vols vs. 'Dores: Tennessee ran for 375 yards and 6 TDs en route to beating Vandy 56-0 on a rainy night in Nashville last November. 

Tennessee holds a 79-32-5 lead in the all time series, which includes my favorite Vol football statistic: since 1928, Tennessee has shut out Vandy 21 times. Vandy has beaten Tennessee 14 times. Historically, Vanderbilt is 150% more likely to just not score any points than they are to beat the Vols. 

Five Factor Preview: 

Tennessee Offense vs. Vanderbilt Defense

Vanderbilt's defense is bad. Remember how bad Connecticut was a couple of weeks ago? Vandy is statistically worse in many categories than UConn. In a technical sense, Vanderbilt does have SEC scholarship athletes. I would likely pick Vandy if they were playing UConn, but it would be close. 

One area that VU has had success in defensively is takeaways. The 'Dores have forced a turnover in all 11 games this season, with 10 different players picking off a pass, and Vanderbilt leads the SEC with 12 interceptions (14th nationally). 

Tennessee Defense vs. Vanderbilt Offense

Vandy has maintained an above-average points per opportunity number all season, but have also struggled to create scoring opportunities in 2023. WRs Will Sheppard and London Humphries have played well when they get the ball in their hands, with Sheppard having three multiple-TD games and Humphries going over 100 yards in a couple of games this season.  

Vanderbilt Offensive Concepts:

It's comforting to see the success rates on all of Vandy's favorite plays are so low. Like the rest of the SEC, Vandy uses flood concepts most often in the passing game. After that, it's pretty much "chunk it," with all verts and shots being prevalent. Vandy's favorite shot play is to run a solo concept, isolating a WR to one side and sending him on a post or go route:

In the run game, Vandy adds a wrinkle many SEC teams aren't using. Even with the prevalence of zone runs in the league, you don't see many teams running mainline veer like this play from the 'Dores: 

Motion the slot in to become the outside runner. QB is the dive back. It's a really interesting play. I don't know if it's good, but it's really interesting. 

Prediction: Tennessee is a 27-point favorite. The Vols will win this game easily. Even with the injuries that have piled up for the Vols this season, even with the inefficiency of Tennessee's offense, there is no reason for Vanderbilt, whose biggest win is against 4-8 Hawaii, to come out of this game with a win. 

So the question becomes, does Tennessee cover the 27 points? Vandy has lost every SEC game this season by an average of 19 points. Their closest conference game was a 16-point loss to Auburn, and they lost by 35 against South Carolina two weeks ago. Tennessee should be able to cover, but 27 points is a lot of points, and Vandy has been a little more competitive than that. Top that off with the emotions of Senior Day muddying the waters as well, and you should probably proceed with caution. 


Extraneous: There's a lot of reasons to believe Vanderbilt doesn't take their football program seriously: the construction site they've forced visiting teams to play in all season; the lack of support from students, alumni, and the surrounding community; and the overall dismal historical record of the program, to name a few. But who schedules a bye in week 12 of the season? Even though it's true that VU gained an extra week off due to playing Hawaii in week 0, the timing of that extra week off is bizarre. Vandy will close the season playing just four games in the last six weeks. It's like the schedule was made by some admin who's never seen a college football game--and knowing Vanderbilt, that's likely the case. It's an unserious move made by an unserious program. 

In other words, same old Vandy


Popular Posts