Nevada Non-Conference Preview: Vanderbilt

Nevada Non-Conference Preview: Vanderbilt

Mountain West Football

Nevada Non-Conference Preview: Vanderbilt

Nevada Non-Conference Preview: Vanderbilt

The Wolf Pack travel to Music City in the second game of the 2018 season as they face the Vanderbilt Commodores.

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Nevada Non-Conference Preview: Vanderbilt

In the second week of the regular season, the Nevada Wolf Pack travel to SEC country as they take on the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville, Tennessee. Kickoff time is set for 9am and will be televised on the SEC Network.

About the Vanderbilt Program

Once a doormat in the Southeastern Conference, the Vanderbilt Commodores are not a conference heavyweight like Alabama or Georgia, but they are no longer a doormat to be stepped on either.  Under James Franklin and currently Derek Mason, the Commodores have not been an easy out for opponents and under the Mason, the calling card for Vanderbilt has been defense.

However, the Vandy defense dropped from fifth to 11th in points allowed in 2017 but the offense picked up some of the slack last year.  In 2018, the offense is going to have to do a little bit more of the heavy lifting while the defense rebuilds.

Head Coach: Derek Mason, Career Record: 18-31

2017 Record: 5-7

2017 Season in Review: Vandy kicked off the 2017 season with an impressive 3-0 start that included a 14-7 victory over then #18 Kansas State. But the wheels fell off after that start as the Commodores dropped five straight and went 2-7 the rest of the way as they failed to become bowl eligible. One of the reasons for the collapse for Vandy was their scoring defense. The Commodores went from fifth in the SEC in scoring defense in 2016 (35th in the nation in 2016) to 11th in 2017 (88th in the nation). While the defense fell off, the offense did step especially in the passing game as Vandy finished fourth in the SEC in passing offense.

They will need to continue to trend up in the offensive game and shore up their defense if the Commodores look to become bowl eligible in 2018.

Key Players Returning in 2018: QB Kyle Shurmur, WR, Kalja Lipscomb, TE Jared Pinkney, RB Khari Blasingame, DB LaDarius Wiley, LB Jordan Griffin

Strengths: Vanderbilt had a good passing game last year as they averaged almost 244 yards passing a game last season which was good for fourth in the SEC. Their passing game is anchored by quarterback Kyle Shurmur who threw for 2,823 yards and 26 touchdowns last year. For the Commodores to defeat Nevada and possibly become bowl eligible, the Commodores will have to rely on the arm of Shurmur to make that happen.

Weakness: As talented as Shurmur is, he is going to have to carry this Commodore offense without their top receiver and top running back. Last year’s lead receiver, Trent Sherfield and leading rusher, Ralph Webb is gone so players with limited playing time from last year will have to step up and contribute right away. Also, the defense, a calling card for Vanderbilt under Mason, slipped last season as they went from sixth to 12th in the SEC in rushing defense and went from fifth to 11th in the SEC in scoring defense.

With the Wolf Pack’s offense looking to be even more explosive in 2018 and the Vandy defense in an apparent rebuild. Nevada has more than a very good chance to go into SEC country and defeat the Commodores in week two on the 2018 season.

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