Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.
1. Time to move
Missouri, South Carolina, and Georgia are breaking in new head coaches. Kentucky has suddenly stagnated three years into Mark Stoops' tenure. Florida might not have a quarterback. Tennessee still has to prove it can close tight games.
I'm not going to say now is Vanderbilt's time to win the SEC East or anything. That's not going to happen. But now would be a really good time for Vanderbilt to turn experience into competence on offense and field a strong team. The division is in flux, and the Commodores, who showed genuine improvement (on one side of the ball) in 2015, would be incredibly well served by another step forward.
Of course, Derek Mason would be well-served by any improvement. The third-year head coach is 7-17, even after fielding a strong defense in 2015. His offense remains a question mark (to put it as politely as possible), and while he showed enough second-year progress to fend off any hot-seat demons, Vandy was just getting used to winning when he arrived, and the wins have mostly stopped since then.
Indeed, Mason engineered improvement last year. I predicted as much ... in the most lukewarm possible manner.
Between youth and the "it almost literally can't get worse" factor, expect improvement. The defense has promise, and the run game might be semi-efficient. But it's hard to give too much refutation to those writing the Commodores off. It's going to take a lot to come back.
Vanderbilt was a house stripped to its foundation. The Commodores were destined to be bad, and they were young enough that they should expect to improve.
Indeed, a defense that had shown promise in 2014 became legitimately strong, and that paved the way to low-scoring wins over MTSU (17-13), Missouri (10-3), and Kentucky (21-17). But the offense only "improved" from 118th to 117th in Off. S&P+ and now must replace last year's leading passer and two three-year starting linemen. The passing game featured occasional efficiency and almost no big plays; the run game featured neither, even with the well-regarded Ralph Webb taking on nearly 25 carries per game. There's no clear weapon to build a good offense around, and the new starting quarterback completed 43 percent of his passes last year.
Division rival Missouri bottomed out offensively last season but has at least fielded a competent attack in recent memory; Vanderbilt's defense might be as good as or better than Mizzou's in 2016, but depending on your definition of "solid," the next solid Vanderbilt offense will be VU's first since either 2013 (30 points per game), 2011 (the only time in the last decade that VU has ranked better than 60th in Off. S&P+), or ... about 1948.
This is a hard job. It always has been. Since the end of World War I, Vandy has won eight games in a season just nine times and has won more than eight just twice. However, those two times came in James Franklin's last two years in Nashville, the two before Mason arrived. That makes it incredibly difficult to set expectations in Nashville.
But whatever expectations are or should be, the spoils are there in 2016 in a vulnerable East if the Commodores can put points on the board. It's hard to trust that they will.
|Record: 4-8 | Adj. Record: 4-8 | Final F/+ Rk: 83 | Final S&P+ Rk: 83|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|26-Sep||at Ole Miss||5||16-27||L||46%||9%||+19.4||+14.0|
|3-Oct||at Middle Tennessee||82||17-13||W||77%||84%||+4.8||+5.0|
|17-Oct||at South Carolina||88||10-19||L||22%||7%||-9.0||-6.0|
|Points Per Game||15.2||124||21.0||22|
2. Up, down, up, down, down, down
Vandy showed quite a bit of promise over the first half or so of the season. The offense wasn't good, but the defense was fantastic, allowing just 4.6 yards per play to WKU, 4.3 to MTSU, and 3.6 to Missouri. Georgia's offense found a rhythm, but Ole Miss' never really did. There was little to no overall consistency thanks to the offense -- up and down every single week -- but the product wasn't too bad.
Unfortunately, close losses to WKU and South Carolina would eventually finish off any hopes of a return to bowl eligibility because after beating Missouri, VU alternated between one-dimensional and just bad. Houston, Texas A&M, and Tennessee beat the 'Dores by a combined 112-28, and a Florida team dying offensively still pulled off a 9-7 win.
- First 7 games:
Record: 3-4 | Average percentile performance: 60% (~top 50) | Yards per play: VU 4.9, Opp 4.8 (+0.1)
- Last 5 games:
Record: 1-4 | Average percentile performance: 28% (~top 95) | Yards per play: Opp 5.6, VU 3.8 (-1.8)
The offense went from bad to awful, and the defense became increasingly mortal. There was probably a correlation there, as from a personnel standpoint, the defense was mostly the same throughout the year.
The offense, however, replaced Johnny McCrary with Kyle Shurmur at QB and tanked miserably. Mason was effusive in his praise of Shurmur after the loss to Tennessee -- a game in which he went 15-for-34 and produced a 119.0 passer rating -- and McCrary saw the writing on the wall and transferred. The Commodores couldn't control the ball as well, and certainly couldn't run as well, without McCrary, and a stressed defense began suffering lapses.
Vandy was clearly a lesser team with Shurmur in charge down the stretch, but Mason and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig clearly saw something in him. We'll see if their intuition pays off.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||35.8%||114||Succ. Rt. +||90.7||107|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||31.9||109||Def. FP+||30.9||94|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||3.0||125||Redzone S&P+||82.6||123|
|Q1 Rk||112||1st Down Rk||101|
|Q2 Rk||107||2nd Down Rk||96|
|Q3 Rk||101||3rd Down Rk||116|
3. A run-first offense that couldn't run
Vanderbilt leaned as hard as it could on the run in 2015 but couldn't actually do it very well. McCrary and slot receiver Darrius Sims were the only runners to produce even a modicum of efficiency running the ball, and they weren't running backs.
Ralph Webb proved himself a durable option, but his 23 carries per game didn't really go anywhere. He would basically run for five yards in two carries, then Vandy would attempt a short throw or another Webb run on third-and-5. This was neither imaginative nor successful.
Every running back on the roster is back, which is fine, I guess. Webb garnered decent praise for his yardage totals, but a lot of guys could have gained 1,152 yards if given 277 carries. He is an efficient weapon as a third-down receiver, but Ludwig could probably stand to vary things a bit on first down.
Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Kyle Shurmur||6'4, 223||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8974||44||103||503||5||3||42.7%||9||8.0%||4.0|
|Wade Freebeck||6'5, 225||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8324||2||6||26||0||1||33.3%||0||0.0%||4.3|
|Shawn Stankavage||6'2, 201||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8406|
|Deuce Wallace||6'2, 205||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8640|
4. Stuck in a new QB loop
Five different quarterbacks have started at least one game for Vanderbilt in Mason's two seasons. That is staggering. McCrary, Patton Robinette, Wade Freebeck, and Stephen Rivers all had their turn in 2014, and McCrary and Shurmur split time last fall. It appears the job is Shurmur's moving forward, but I guess that is far from certain. But of the five, Shurmur and Freebeck are the only two still in uniform for Vandy.
McCrary was more productive with both his arm and his feet, but Shurmur likely gained an advantage on him by simply not making mistakes: His interception rate was 2.9 percent (still a smidge higher than you'd like) to McCrary's 4.5 percent.
If Shurmur can simply offer promise and hold onto the job, that will offer a level of stability the offense hasn't seen in a while. That would be a nice place to start. He's got a pedigree; he was a four-star prospect, and his dad is the former head coach of the Cleveland Browns and a five-year NFL offensive coordinator. He has a receiving corps loaded with juniors and seniors. The bar is low for VU quarterbacks, and Shurmur did nothing to raise it last November, but he could surprise, I guess.
|Ralph Webb||RB||5'10, 202||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8256||277||1152||5||4.2||4.8||30.7%||2||2|
|Dallas Rivers||RB||6'1, 225||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8672||60||183||1||3.1||2.4||26.7%||0||0|
|Darrius Sims||SLOT||5'9, 191||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8609||43||250||1||5.8||6.2||44.2%||2||1|
|Josh Crawford||RB||5'10, 202||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8407||18||54||0||3.0||2.1||22.2%||1||1|
|Kyle Shurmur||QB||6'4, 223||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8974||5||24||0||4.8||4.0||40.0%||2||1|
|Trent Sherfield||WR||6'1, 200||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8649||4||55||0||13.8||18.0||50.0%||0||0|
|Khari Blasingame||FB||6'1, 235||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8173|
|Jaire George||RB||6'1, 210||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7826|
|Jamauri Wakefield||RB||6'1, 215||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8326|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|Trent Sherfield||WR||6'1, 200||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8649||89||51||659||57.3%||25.4%||7.4||71.9%||51.7%||1.35|
|WR||5'11, 203||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8300||55||28||441||50.9%||16.5%||8.0||58.2%||N/A||N/A|
|Ralph Webb||RB||5'10, 202||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8256||42||24||188||57.1%||12.0%||4.5||59.5%||47.6%||0.86|
|Caleb Scott||WR||6'2, 202||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8422||40||24||339||60.0%||11.4%||8.5||62.5%||50.0%||1.48|
|Latevius Rayford||WR||6'1, 201||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8418||38||19||151||50.0%||10.9%||4.0||63.2%||39.5%||0.84|
|Darrius Sims||SLOT||5'9, 191||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8609||17||10||110||58.8%||4.9%||6.5||47.1%||41.2%||1.36|
|Dallas Rivers||RB||6'1, 225||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8672||14||7||47||50.0%||4.0%||3.4||35.7%||28.6%||1.31|
|DeAndre Woods||TE||6'3, 238||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8786||9||7||129||77.8%||2.6%||14.3||66.7%||77.8%||1.75|
|Nathan Marcus||TE||6'5, 244||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8464||7||4||34||57.1%||2.0%||4.9||42.9%||42.9%||0.92|
|Sam Dobbs||TE||6'4, 220||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8538||3||2||30||66.7%||0.9%||10.0||33.3%||33.3%||2.17|
|Chandler Dorrell||SLOT||5'11, 188||Jr.||NR||NR||3||3||20||100.0%||0.9%||6.7||33.3%||66.7%||1.09|
|Sean Dowling||TE||6'5, 265||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8625|
|Trey Ellis||WR||5'9, 170||Jr.||NR||NR|
|Jared Pinkney||TE||6'4, 250||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8287|
|Jackson Winrow||WR||6'1, 182||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8466|
|Kalija Lipscomb||WR||6'1, 190||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8432|
|Donaven Tennyson||WR||5'10, 164||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8403|
5. Potential in the receiving corps
There will still be an emphasis on the running game, and that might or might not be a mistake -- the running backs are certainly experienced, and with Andrew Jelks returning from injury, the line features six players with starting experience. [Update: Jelks suffered a season-ending injury in camp for the second straight season.] But experience alone doesn't make you successful; talent and scheme take you there, and we don't know that VU has much of either.
The Commodores do have an intriguing receiving corps, though. Trent Sherfield came out of nowhere to lead Vanderbilt in receiving last year, and while that was due mostly to a ridiculous performance against Austin Peay -- 16 catches, 240 yards (which means he had just 35 catches for 419 yards in the other 11 games) -- he still provided decent efficiency. Meanwhile, C.J. Duncan, who missed 2015 with injury, averaged a robust 15.8 yards per catch in 2014. Webb is a lovely third-down weapon, and Caleb Scott averaged 8.5 yards per target in limited opportunities.
If Shurmur breaks through and begins to live up to his recruiting ranking and bloodlines this fall, he'll have the receivers to do some damage. But that's a pretty significant if, and we don't know how many passing opportunities Shurmur will get before second-and-8 or third-and-6. The run-first approach eats clock for the defense, but actually moving the ball would help the defense, too.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||2015 Starts||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Will Holden||RT||6'7, 312||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8465||12||23|
|Andrew Jelks||LT||6'6, 305||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8849||0||21|
|Barrett Gouger||RG||6'4, 305||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8586||11||11|
|Bailey Granier||LT||6'6, 320||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8445||4||4|
|Justin Skule||RT||6'6, 305||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8457||2||2|
|Bruno Reagan||LG||6'3, 310||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8275||1||1|
|Delando Crooks||LG||6'5, 305||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8661||0||0|
|Cole Hardin||C||6'4, 305||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8585||0||0|
|Egidio DellaRipa||LG||6'4, 295||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7900||0||0|
|Ean Pfeifer||C||6'4, 290||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8392|
|Jared Southers||RG||6'4, 308||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8290|
|Sean Auwae-McMoore||OL||6'4, 308||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8675|
|Devin Cochran||OL||6'7, 305||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8590|
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||37.1%||22||Succ. Rt. +||109.6||36|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||28.8||94||Off. FP+||29.8||68|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||3.3||6||Redzone S&P+||123.7||11|
|Q1 Rk||27||1st Down Rk||43|
|Q2 Rk||20||2nd Down Rk||64|
|Q3 Rk||61||3rd Down Rk||13|
6. A bend-don't-break with attitude
Vanderbilt lost a key interior piece in linebacker Nigel Bowden early in the season, and it didn't even matter. The Commodores, loaded mostly with sophomores and juniors, improved from 76th to 20th in Def. S&P+ in 2015. They combined bend-don't-break peripherals and tremendous redzone defense with sticky, aggressive coverage on the perimeter. The result was an impressive mish-mash of big-play prevention and high havoc rates,, at least until the offense went from bad to hopeless.
The thing about sophomores and juniors is that most of them return the next year. Vandy returns five of its top six linemen, seven of nine linebackers, and six of eight defensive backs. Aside from Bowden, they were relatively lucky in terms of injuries (almost no regular missed more than a game or two), but they played a pretty big rotation regardless.
The key pieces are probably linebacker Zach Cunningham, safety/nickel Oren Burks, and corner Torren McGaster. Cunningham is both your requisite ILB tackling machine and a play-maker. He led the team in both tackles and sacks, which is rare (even if leading a team with 4.5 sacks says something iffy about your pass rush). Burks, meanwhile, offers extreme flexibility in where and how Vanderbilt chooses to attack, and McGaster is one of the SEC's best cornerbacks. The line could stand to make a few more plays, but with this trio on the field, VU has almost no choice but to play pretty well defensively.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Jay Woods||DT||6'3, 285||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8996||12||18.0||2.8%||2.0||1.0||0||1||2||0|
|Adam Butler||DT||6'5, 295||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8685||12||15.0||2.3%||7.0||3.0||0||0||0||0|
|Jonathan Wynn||DE||6'4, 255||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8609||12||14.5||2.3%||3.0||1.0||0||1||0||0|
|Torey Agee||DT||6'4, 285||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8339||12||14.5||2.3%||3.0||2.0||0||0||0||0|
|Nifae Lealao||NT||6'5, 312||Jr.||4 stars (5.9)||0.9501||12||13.5||2.1%||1.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Dare Odeyingbo||DE||6'2, 262||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8544|
|Riley Tindol||DE||6'5, 267||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7844|
|Darion DeBrossard||NT||6'4, 290||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8376|
|Josiah Sa'o||DL||6'2, 288||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8299|
|Drew Birchmeier||DL||6'4, 280||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8249|
|Cameron Tidd||DL||6'3, 275||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8137|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Zach Cunningham||ILB||6'4, 230||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9015||12||86.0||13.4%||16.5||4.5||0||3||4||0|
|ILB||6'1, 240||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8755||11||57.5||8.3%||2.0||1.0||0||1||1||0|
|Landon Stokes||OLB||6'4, 240||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8524||12||18.0||2.8%||3.0||1.0||0||3||1||0|
|Nehemiah Mitchell||OLB||6'4, 260||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8565||12||16.5||2.6%||1.5||0.5||0||1||0||0|
|Khari Blasingame||ILB||6'1, 235||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8173||11||10.5||1.6%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Ja'karri Thomas||ILB||6'1, 225||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8302||10||10.5||1.6%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Jordan Griffin||ILB||6'0, 224||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8538||11||7.5||1.2%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Josh Smith||OLB||6'4, 236||So.||4 stars (5.9)||0.9343||12||4.0||0.6%||0.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Charles Wright||OLB||6'3, 237||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7819||11||2.0||0.3%||1.5||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Jay Hockaday||ILB||6'4, 220||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8093|
|Caleb Peart||OLB||6'1, 234||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8625|
7. Depth and one star
What Vandy's line lacked in play-making, it made up for in blocker occupation. Only one lineman finished with more than six tackles for loss, but Vanderbilt had the best short-yardage defense in the country and ranked in the top 10 in stuff rate. Cunningham and since-departed Stephen Weatherly combined for 18 non-sack tackles for loss, and tackle Adam Butler added another four.
This line does its job, in other words. It keeps blockers off of Cunningham, and Cunningham's unique ability to invade the line of scrimmage from an inside position means the OLBs don't have to take too many risks. This all works because of Cunningham, and not only is he himself experienced, the front seven around him is both deep and experienced. There's really no reason to assume last year's stellar numbers change much. The pass rush wasn't amazing and probably won't be again, but that only matters if the secondary starts suffering injuries.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Oren Burks||FS||6'3, 222||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8600||12||47.0||7.3%||2||0||3||6||1||0|
|Torren McGaster||CB||6'0, 198||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8463||12||46.0||7.2%||4.5||0||0||13||0||0|
|Tre Herndon||CB||6'1, 188||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8386||12||41.0||6.4%||1||1||0||4||0||0|
|Arnold Tarpley||NB||6'1, 200||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8306||12||30.0||4.7%||5||2||0||3||0||0|
|Ryan White||SS||5'9, 190||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8918||12||22.0||3.4%||3||0||1||1||1||0|
|Taurean Ferguson||CB||5'9, 180||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8497||11||12.0||1.9%||0.5||0||0||4||0||0|
|LaDarius Wiley||CB||6'1, 205||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8320||12||6.5||1.0%||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Emmanuel Smith||NB||6'2, 219||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8922||11||5.5||0.9%||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Donovan Sheffield||NB||5'11, 190||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8982||6||4.5||0.7%||2||0||0||2||0||0|
|Jalen Banks||SS||5'11, 204||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8625||6||3.0||0.5%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Bryce Lewis||CB||6'0, 185||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8535|
|Joejuan Williams||CB||6'3, 203||Fr.||4 stars (5.9)||0.9163|
|Zaire Jones||DB||5'11, 193||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8671|
|Austin Quillen||DB||5'11, 190||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8281|
|Frank Coppet||DB||5'11, 185||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8334|
8. Active in the back
Returning Vandy defensive backs combined for 19 tackles for loss, four interceptions, and 34 breakups last year, and while a lot of that came from McGaster, Burks, and nickel back Arnold Tarpley, the love was spready around among nine different players.
This is one of the best secondaries in the SEC. The front seven can play things conservatively in pass-rush situations because the secondary doesn't need too much help.
Vandy lost its edge late in the season against Texas A&M and Tennessee, but in the first six games of SEC play, the Commodores allowed just a 50.5 percent completion rate and a 99.6 passer rating, and that includes a game against the dynamic Ole Miss passing attack.
With four of the top five corners and six of the top eight safeties back, it's hard to think any of this will change. The offense could be just as staid and frustrating as it was last year, and the defense could be just as good or, conceivably, quite a bit better.
|Tommy Openshaw||6'2, 195||Jr.||79||40.9||3||30||24||68.4%|
|Hayden Lekacz||6'0, 193||Jr.||45||58.0||10||2||22.2%|
|Tommy Openshaw||6'2, 195||Jr.||14-14||5-8||62.5%||7-11||63.6%|
|Hayden Lekacz||6'0, 193||Jr.||4-4||0-0||N/A||0-0||N/A|
|Darrius Sims||KR||5'9, 191||Sr.||25||19.9||0|
|Dallas Rivers||KR||6'1, 225||Jr.||11||20.7||0|
|Ryan White||PR||5'9, 190||Jr.||20||7.5||0|
|Torren McGaster||PR||6'0, 198||Sr.||4||7.3||0|
|Special Teams S&P+||110|
|Field Goal Efficiency||95|
|Punt Return Success Rate||101|
|Kick Return Success Rate||104|
|Punt Success Rate||53|
|Kickoff Success Rate||107|
9. Openshaw is a weapon (for better and worse)
Vandy's special teams unit wasn't much help in 2015: Tommy Openshaw was scattershot on shorter field goals, only 22 percent of Hayden Lekacz's kickoffs resulted in touchbacks, and neither punt nor kick returns had much to offer in the way of consistency. That all of these guys return isn't automatically a good thing.
But Openshaw was at least pretty good at booting high punts. Granted, if an opposing return man got a return opportunity, bad things were probably about to happen (Vandy allowed 15.1 yards per return, fifth-worst in FBS), but that was rare. And if you're going to be efficient in one single category with this offense, punting's a pretty good choice.
|Date||Opponent||Proj. S&P+ Rk||Proj. Margin||Win Probability|
|17-Sep||at Georgia Tech||54||-6.1||36%|
|24-Sep||at Western Kentucky||45||-7.3||34%|
|Projected wins: 4.9|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||-3.6% (69)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||51 / 40|
|2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin*||-8 / -1.0|
|2015 TO Luck/Game||-2.9|
|Returning Production (Off. / Def.)||71% (59%, 83%)|
|2015 Second-order wins (difference)||4.2 (-0.2)|
10. This probably isn't going to go much differently
Vanderbilt is likely going to boast a conservative, frustrating offense and a dynamic, dominant defense. Again. The dynamics don't seem to have changed much here, and the only hope for a big breakthrough is if Shurmur explodes in his sophomore year. I don't see it happening.
The Commodores are projected 69th in S&P+, better than only Kentucky in the SEC. With that projection, they are looking at two likely wins, four likely losses, two tossups (South Carolina, at Kentucky), and four longshots.
If Vandy follows the S&P+ projection, in other words, any sense of opportunity that 2016 presents will have fallen by the wayside, and we'll be left wondering where the Mason administration is headed. He kept the vultures away with 2015 improvement, and maybe he'll generate more this fall. But it's still pretty hard to see this working out well for Mason.