With fall football practices beginning in the SEC, expectations and previews are being set. Mitch Light, a former sideline reporter for the Vanderbilt Commodores and now college football editor for The Athletic stopped by the Sports Scene with Steve Russell showto talk Vanderbilt football.
Vanderbilt is coming off a 3-9 season. The Commodores went 1-7 in conference play, only defeating Missouri. This is something to note because this year’s schedule is only conference play. The expectations are low for Vanderbilt, but the schemes are changing.
Light began with bad news for Vanderbilt; four out of five likely starters on the team’s offensive line opted-out of the season. Even the Michigan transfer, Stephen Spanellis, opted out. Spanellis is a 6-foot-5, 300-pounder, who played in 37 games in three seasons in his Michigan career. He mostly played on special teams but served as a reserve offensive lineman in 14 games. Regardless of his starting experience, the Commodores are lacking depth on the offensive line. In an all-SEC schedule, this conference has some of the best athletes on the line and are among the best at pressuring the quarterback. Mason is left with little help to protect his quarterback.
Last season, Vanderbilt’s offense ranked 125th out of 130th on offense, averaging only 16.5 PPG. With last season’s underwhelming performance on offense, Vanderbilt looks to changes things up despite the lack of protection.
A Promising New Look on Offense
Leading their refreshing offensive look, Vanderbilt hired Todd Fitch as their new offensive coordinator. Fitch is coming from Louisiana Tech where he helped the Bulldogs win four consecutive postseason games. In 2019, his offensive unit ranked 36th nationally in scoring offense (32.5 points/game), 37th in total offense (436.8 yards/game) and 32nd in pass offense (268.5 yards/game).
Fitch runs a spread offense and plans to get rid of the ball quickly. This will aid with the lack of protection for the quarterback and disguise issues on the offensive line. And the way it is looking, Ken Seals, a three-star true freshman out of Texas, will be starting this fall. A confident kid who is making headlines in just his first practice for Vanderbilt. With three other quarterbacks fighting for the starting spot, Light still says “he would be surprised” if Seals is not the starter.
Head coach Derek Mason is making the best out of what he has for this year’s Commodore team. A usually overlooked team, Vanderbilt is still planning to compete and apply pressure to the rest of the conference.
Coach Mason said, “You are going to be surprised by what you are going to see. I can’t give it away right now. There are going to be a few surprises for you, so stay tuned.” And stay tuned we will.
Sound Courtesy of the Sports Scene