One of the Commodores’ main concerns is the defense, in particular the
run defense. Alabama ran for 331
yards against Western Carolina in the opener. Redshirt freshman Terry Grant ran for
134 yards and 3 touchdowns (2 over 20 yards) against the I-AA Catamounts. Alabama had three backs run for over 50
yards with Glen Coffee rushing for 76 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Roy Upchurch ran for 55 yards
and a touchdown. Vanderbilt, at
times, had trouble stopping Richmond’s running attack. The defensive line will have to make
more big plays. Steven Stone, after
stepping up against Richmond, will have to step up once again. Expect Jonathan Goff to be a major
factor in stopping Alabama’s rushing game as well. If the Dores can stop the rushing game,
they will likely win this game. The
Commodores allowed Richmond TB Timothy Hightower to run for 73 yards, but they
clamped down in the second half.
Expect Vanderbilt to come after Alabama with pressure on JP Wilson. With Bama running the ball far more
times than passing it, if the Commodores can stop the run with blitzes they will
force punts. If they can disrupt
the timing of Wilson’s air attack, Vanderbilt will have a good chance at beating
the Crimson Tide. Wilson only threw
for 189 yards on 17 completions.
However, Wilson spread the ball around (12 receivers caught passes for
the Tide). It will be difficult for
Vanderbilt to cover all of the different receivers, so the best way to defend
the Alabama passing offense is to get pressure on Wilson. This will be a key for Vanderbilt. Also, expect Alabama to blitz
Vanderbilt. They blitzed twelve
times against the Catamounts.
Western Carolina completed their biggest plays of the game when Alabama
blitzed. If Chris Nickson can
handle Alabama’s pressure, he can have another huge game, and an even bigger
For all of the hype about Vanderbilt’s offensive line and running game,
the expectations were not met. Many
times Vanderbilt running backs could not gain yardage because of Richmond’s
D-line shooting into the backfield.
The line performed well in passing downs and gave Nickson time to
throw. However, they will need to
increase the running game this week.
The line got gradually better as the game went on, but they will have to
start strong against the Tide.
It’ll be interesting to see…
Steven Stone on the defensive line.
With Alabama running the ball so often, Stone proved that he could step
up if needed. He was often in the
backfield pressuring Richmond QB Eric Ward, and was rewarded with a sack. He also played a major part in stopping
Richmond’s ground game in the second half.
He will need to play well in order to stop Alabama’s rushing
Meeting: UA: 13 VU: 10 (2006