Vanderbilt Commodores


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After seven seasons at the helm, Vanderbilt fired Derek Mason, who led them to a pair of bowl games because he had the misfortune of following James Franklin, who was the first coach in 38 years to produce back-to-back winning seasons in Nashville. From 1976 through Franklin’s first season in 2011, the Commodores had just two winning campaigns and at one point posted 25 consecutive losing records, posing quite a challenge for new head coach and alumnus Clark Lea.

Vanderbilt Commodores Standings

The Vanderbilt Commodores are a competitive force in NCAA football, known for their strong play on both offense and defense. With a balanced attack and a tough defense, the Commodores are always a threat to their opponents. With their impressive stats and standings, they’ve earned a reputation as one of the top teams in the conference.

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Although Mason had been reasonably effective at Vanderbilt in his first six seasons, the winless 2020 and scramble for the transfer portal by a large number of players finally prompted action by the Commodores. After a close 17-12 loss to Texas A&M to open the season, Vanderbilt was competitive in just a pair of their remaining games, a 24-17 loss to Mississippi State and another close defeat to Kentucky by the score of 38-35.

Statistically, the Commodores were last in the SEC in scoring at 14.8 points a game and 121st in the nation in total defense, allowing 487.4 yards a game. The only bright spot was a passing game that was 72nd in the nation as part of a total offense that ranked 110th in the FBS.

Key Players

As a freshman, quarterback Ken Seals was one of the few bright spots on a winless team, completing 64.6% of his passes for 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Lea is fortunate to inherit a player of his caliber with a proven record at that position.

Seals will have most of his primary targets back from 2020, including Cam Johnson, who led the team in receptions with 56 and receiving yards with 545. Amir Abdur-Rahman, who averaged 15 yards a catch on 27 receptions, is also back with the team.

New Additions

Temple transfer Ra’Mahn Davis should help to give Lea a shot at putting together a running game after the Commodores averaged just 110.1 yards a game in 2020, 113th out of 127 FBS teams. Davis brings experience to the position after running for 936 as a freshman in 2019.

It’s not a great sign when a kicker is one of the big additions to the team, but Alabama transfer Joseph Bulovas gives Vanderbilt an upgrade at the position and could help them pull out a close game.

Key Subtractions

Although this could be a pretty long list, it’s headed by defensive end Dayo Oldeyingbo, the second-round draft pick by the Indianapolis Colts who was the team leader in sacks with 5.5 and tackles for loss with eight.

His counterpart on the other end of the line, Andre Mintz, was second in both categories, with three sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Denver Broncos and will also be difficult to replace.

Even though the running game was anemic in 2020, the departure of leading rusher Keyon Henry-Brooks was still a big loss for the Commodores and will just make it that much more difficult for the Vanderbilt offense to have an immediate impact.

Divisional Outlook

Although Florida is the defending division champion, Georgia has the edge heading into the season, with the schedule a large part of the advantage. While Florida faces Alabama and LSU from the SEC West, Georgia gets the much more favorable duo of Arkansas and Auburn.

Still, the margin of error is slim, and the winner of the annual Georgia-Florida showdown in Jacksonville will most likely hold the tiebreaker in the race for the SEC Championship game. It doesn’t appear that any of the other five SEC East teams have what it takes to compete for the division title.

Kentucky should be better, as will Missouri, but the rest of the division has a lot of work to do if they’re going to be competitive in the division. Georgia is the only team in the SEC East that has a legitimate shot at advancing beyond the conference championship game and into the College Playoffs.

Vanderbilt Offense

There’s really nowhere to go but up for the Vanderbilt offense, but the prospects are decent considering the return of a capable quarterback and four of their top five receivers from a dismal 2020. They’ll need help on the offensive line as they return just two starters from that unit, but they are both seasoned veterans.

The Commodores scored more than 17 points just twice in nine outings in 2020, and that just isn’t a recipe for success in modern college football. Overall, they may be able to have more success than last year, especially if the players are all on the same page.

Vanderbilt Defense

This is where it could get scary for Vanderbilt, as they lost the best players off a bad 2020 unit. New head coach Clark Lea is the former defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, so coaching alone may be able to improve the Commodores on that side of the ball.

They return four players in starting positions, but none at defensive end and linebacker, making it difficult for the Commodores to generate much of a pass rush after recording 13 sacks and 33 tackles for a loss during the 2020 season. That will put a lot of pressure on their secondary to make plays, so it could be a long season in Nashville until Lea can find some players to upgrade Vanderbilt’s talent level to keep Vanderbilt competitive in 2021.


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Vanderbilt Commodores FAQs

How many football national championships has Vanderbilt won?


How many times has Vanderbilt won the SEC title in football?


What is Vanderbilt’s record in bowl games?

4-4-1, with the last victory coming in the 2013 BBVA Compass Bowl.

What is Vanderbilt’s all-time record in football?


Who is the winningest coach in Vanderbilt football history?

Dan McGinn won 198 games from 1904 to 1934. Since McGinn, the coach with the most wins is Art Guepe, with 39 victories from 1952 to 1962.

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