Monday, February 27, 2017

Farewell to 2016: Vanderbilt Commodores

The SEC had a down year compared to other years, as Alabama was the lone team to win 10 games or more in 2016. That is an unusual turn of events for the self proclaimed best conference in college football. The East was still down, as Florida and Tennessee continued to struggle despite having high expectations. Georgia is still trying to find themselves under Kirby Smart. LSU made a mess of the Les Miles situation. Ole Miss was clouded over by off-field issues. Here is a look back at the 2016 SEC season, on a team by team basis.

Vanderbilt Commodores
6-7 (3-5)

2016 Schedule
Lost to South Carolina 13-10
Beat Middle Tennessee 47-24
Lost to Georgia Tech 38-7
Beat Western Kentucky 31-30
Lost to Florida 13-6
Lost to Kentucky 20-13
Beat Georgia 17-16
Beat Tennessee State 35-17
Lost to Auburn 23-16
Lost to Missouri 26-17
Beat Ole Miss 38-17
Beat Tennessee 45-34
Lost to North Carolina State 41-17 (Independence Bowl)

MVP Offense: RB Ralph Webb, RB Khari Blasingame
Like many SEC teams, the Commodores had to rely on a solid ground game to get things done on offense. As it also turns out, they had one of the best backs in the nation in Ralph Webb, who is vastly underrated. Webb ran for 1283 yards, and scored 13 times. He averaged 19.23 carries per game, and averaged 98.63 yards per game. Had he been on one of the better teams in the league, he would have far outpaced those numbers. He also managed to average 5.13 yards per carry.
Khari Blasingame eas also rock solid in 2016. He managed to rush for 10 scores, or every 9.7 times he touched the ball on a run play, and provided a huge scoring boost on short yardage scenarios.
MVP Defense: LB Zach Cunningham
Zach Cunningham was one of the best defenders in the nation at LB, and should be a late 1st round draft pick. He colledtced 125 tackles (9.62 per game), and added 16.5 TFLs, 3 PBUs, and 2 forced fumbles. He finished in double figures in tackles seven times, including 19 tackles in a one point win over Georgia. He finished with 2 or more TFLs five times as well, including picking up three ainst South Carolina in a game where the Commodore offense failed to show up.
Others of Note
Kyle Shurmer never got on track at QB as a sophomore, finishing with just 9 TDs and 10 INTs.
Despite Shurmer's struggles, six receivers finished with 20 or more catches.
Cunningham, LaDarius Wiley, and Ryan White all finished with 6.25 tackles per game or more.
The Commodore O line gave up 78 TFLs in 13 games. The line also allowed 32 sacks.
Senior DB Torren McGaster broke up 10 passes. Tre Herndon broke up 8.
Vanderbilt allowed 41 QB hurries.
Vanderbilt only recorded 7 team fumbles that were forced.
Vanderbilt was penalized a very respectable 5.2 times per game, and were only nailed 4.8 times per game at home.
Vanderbilt only converted 35% of their 3rd down conversions.
The Commodores offense score just 23 points per game, while their defense gave up just 24 points per game.
Best Win: Tennessee 45-34, Georgia 17-16
Anytime you can beat Tennessee and Georgia in the same season at Vanderbilt, that is a good deal. The Commodores also only lost to Florida by seven, but scored only six points in that loss. Tennesse and Georgia were both wins against bowl teams.
Worst Loss: Missouri 26-17
Missouri was beyond awful in 2016, and while the defense mostly did their job, the offense completely let them down in this loss, which was by far the worst defeat on the schedule.
2017 Non Conference Schedule: 9/2 at Middle Tennessee, 9/9 Alabama A&M, 9/16 Kansas State, 11/4 Western Kentucky
The only game that is a sure thing here is the date with Alabama A&M. Middle Tennessee, if consistent, is a huge threat, as is Western Kentucky. Kansas State is an up and down club that can kill you when on their A game. This is not an easy non con schedule by any means.

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