With the quarterback position still up for grabs, the Vanderbilt Commodores are coming into Saturday’s contest against the third ranked Georgia Bulldogs looking to lean on its talented backfield.
The Commodores return redshirt senior Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who was third in the SEC in rushing yards last season with 1,244 yards; his 7.9 rushing yards per attempt topped the conference. Vaughn was voted onto the Preseason All-SEC Second Team offense.
They also return redshirt junior Jamauri Wakefield, who rushed for 353 yards and two touchdowns last season. True freshman Keyon Brooks is the third back listed on the depth chart.
During the offseason, the Commodores hired new running backs coach Tim Horton, who had coached at Auburn since 2013. He also previously coached Arkansas’ running backs from 2007 to 2012. Horton has coached multiple SEC Offensive Players of the Year, including Kerryon Johnson, Tre Mason and Darren McFadden.
As a result, head coach Derek Mason feels that Horton has done a great job in his brief time at Vanderbilt. Mason was impressed with the work his running backs put in during the offseason.
Quarterback trial by fire
The Commodores will likely look to establish the run early in the game as they try to ease in a new quarterback against one of the nation’s top defenses. The Bulldogs were 13th in the country in passing yards allowed last season.
Kyle Shurmur graduated last season after leaving the school with multiple school passing records. Shurmur started for four years, and now Vanderbilt has to regain stability at the position.
Mason hasn’t announced who will start on Saturday. Redshirt Deuce Williams and Ball State transfer Riley Neal have been competing for the spot.
Vanderbilt depth chart pic.twitter.com/EKAFB312yN
— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) August 27, 2019
Williams has more experience at the school, but he has only thrown 22 passes at the collegiate level. Neal played in 34 games during his time at Ball State. Neal threw for 36 touchdowns and 25 interceptions while with the Cardinals.
Vanderbilt’s game against the Georgia Bulldogs will kick off on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network.