Vanderbilt Commodores Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Vanderbilt season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
Vanderbilt Commodores Preview
Head Coach: Clark Lea, 2-10, 2nd year at Vanderbilt
2021 Preview: Overall: 2-10, Conference: 0-8
Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Vanderbilt Top 10 Players | Vanderbilt Schedule & Analysis
Vanderbilt Commodores Preview 2022
So the first year under head coach Clark Lea was … rough.
It was a 2-10 run that started with a blowout loss to East Tennessee State, came way too close to being 0-12 – no SEC team should’ve beaten 2021 UConn by anything less than 30; it was a 30-28 victory – and it was a tough watch from beginning to end.
However, Lea can coach defense – that’s how he made his reputation – and he can recruit.
The 2022 recruiting class might not seem like much to most SEC teams, but it was a top 40ish overall haul full of a slew of very promising players who should see time right away. That’s where the improvement is about to come – the talent level is better.
This isn’t a totally impossible situation, but the SEC has become unfairly awesome, and now it’s up to Vanderbilt to find a niche.
It might be on defense, and with a tough running game, and with a team that will be physical on both sides of the ball.
Nothing massive will happen overnight, but the 2022 team will be better. That’s a start.
Vanderbilt Commodores Preview 2022: Offense
The offense needs something it can rely on.
It was a struggle to move the ball, score, everything – it scored 17 points or fewer six times and only came up with more than 24 twice. The offense averaged just 313 yards and 16 points per game, with nothing happening down the field.
There’s experience, and it starts with an offensive front that has to generate a better push. It wasn’t bad in pass protection, and there were moments for the ground attack.
The best blocker of the bunch – left tackle Tyler Steen – is gone to Alabama, but Jacob Brammer from North Texas will help, and three starters are back starting with veteran center Julian Hernandez.
The backs are fine. Re’Mahn Davis was great as a freshman at Temple, but he missed time in 2020 and only played three games last year. When he’s right, he’s a potential difference maker to go along with 2021’s leading rusher Rocko Griffin.
Can the offense settle on a steady quarterback? Mike Wright led the team with eight touchdown passes, Ken Seals led the way with 1,181 yards and now both are back. Seals isn’t much on the move and Wright can run, but the former will likely get the start.
The receiving corps gets back second-leading receiver Will Sheppard – he was one of the better downfield threats – but Cam Johnson is gone to Arizona State and leading target Chris Pierce is done. The recruiting class will play a huge role – at least that’s the hope.
Vanderbilt Commodores Preview 2022: Defense
The defense fought the good fight.
It was the worst D in the SEC in both scoring and total yards allowed, but it wasn’t awful on third downs, it didn’t break quite enough to to be totally destroyed in every game, and it had a decent pass rush.
Georgia rolled at will, Florida did whatever it wanted, and Mississippi State threw for a bazillion yards, but the stats don’t quite tell the whole story – the offense didn’t give the other side a lick of help.
It’s an experienced group returning – helped with a few transfers – but the depth is very, very, very young. There will be growing pains, but this D should be stronger.
The Commodores have a playmaker in Anfernee Orji, who led the team in tackles and tackles for loss, and coming to help in the middle is Kane Patterson from Clemson to go along with second-leading tackler Ethan Barr.
Barr tied for the team lead with three picks, and now the secondary has to do a whole lot more. Maxwell Worship is a strong-tackling safety, and Jeremy Lucien is coming in from UConn to take over one of the starting corner jobs. This group can hit, but it has to break up more passes.
Even with DT Raashaan Wilkins going to Illinois, the line should be a strength if the starting group can stay healthy. Nate Clifton and Malik Langham are big bodies, but they have to get into the backfield more.