2020 Preview: Vanderbilt Commodores

In the modern era of football, Vanderbilt has posted just three winning records and three bowl victories. Neither of those numbers will be getting a bump in 2020. The Commodores lost Ke’Shawn Vaughn, their 1,000-yard rusher, and quarterback Riley Neal to the NFL, leaving Vanderbilt’s roster lacking in experience and talent, relative to the rest of the SEC. The offense has the looks of one of the worst in the country, barring some unexpected breakout seasons, and the defense appears mediocre at best. As usually, Vandy should close their eyes, hold their breath, and hope baseball season arrives quickly. 

Top Returners: WR Cam Johnson, S Tae Daley

Cam Johnson is Vandy’s best returning offensive player, after posting a 316-yard season, finishing as the Commodore’s 2nd-best receiver by yards. He’ll need to step up as a sophomore and lead the inexperienced Vanderbilt offense.
Daley led the Commodores with three interceptions, the only player more than a single pick. With leading tackler Dimitri Moore also returning, the Commodores will need huge defensive performances to even stay competitive in some SEC games. 

Biggest Concern: The Offense
Everything is also an acceptable answer here, but we’ll focus on the offense. I expect this unit to easily be the worst in the SEC, as they return less production than any other team in the conference, and that’s coming off a 3-9 season as it is. Vandy is going to hope Tae Daley gets a pick-six and the defense can hang on from there. This offense doesn’t look capable of stepping up and winning a game. 

X-Factors: RB Keyon Brooks, the secondary

On offense, there’s one clear answer as to who could vastly improve or completely wreck Vanderbilt’s season. Running Back Keyon Brooks put up decent numbers as Vaughn’s back-up in 2019, and he will be the lead back in Nashville this season. He’ll need to step up in the short passing game and be a workhorse out of the backfield to keep the Commodores’ offense on the field. On the defense, Vanderbilt has their leading tackler in Moore, their leader in sacks – Andre Mintze – and Daley all returning. However, with the evolution of college offenses in recent years, Daley is going to need someone else to step up in the secondary with him, as most offenses can boast two tough receivers to cover. If that happens, Vanderbilt may at least put forth serviceable defensive efforts that give their maligned offense a glimmer of hope. 

SEC Record Prediction: 0-8
Looking up and down the conference, I don’t spot a team that I think Vanderbilt will beat. The offense is simply too bad, and the raw talent – Vanderbilt has the worst average recruiting rankings in the SEC over the past five seasons – is simply not there. Another tough season in Nashville. 

February 19, 2020: College Baseball Power Rankings

Although pitchers and catchers may just be reporting for MLB, college baseball jumped right into the regular season this past weekend, and already there was some shakeup in expectations, with a few surprising results. Among these were Ole Miss and their series victory over Louisville, Vanderbilt’s 1-2 weekend. Here are our power rankings, based off of three ballots, which take into account both preseason expectations and rankings, as well as results from the opening weekend. 

Honorable Mention

  • UCLA
  • Ole Miss
  • Michigan

#10 – Mississippi State Bulldogs

  • The Bulldogs got a great start out of the gate with a series sweep of Wright State, with their pitching staff accumulating an ERA of under 3 over three games. The preseason #10, the Bulldogs didn’t exactly make a statement in beating an inferior opponent, but it was good, clean start to the season. 

#9 – LSU Tigers

  • LSU, a month removed from their football national championship, started their season with two dominating victores versus Indiana before a slip-up in the finale. Ranked #11 in the preseason, two of our ballots put the Tigers in the top-10, good for them to snag the #9 slot in this initial edition of the power rankings. 

#8 – Auburn Tigers 

  • Auburn had absolutely zero difficulty with Illinois-Chicago this past weekend, winning all four games at home. After a 5-3 victory in the opener, the Tigers took the final three games by a combined margin of 39-4. Much like Mississippi State, the series sweep over a low-caliber opponent does not justify much of a leap, so Auburn slots in at #8, where they were in the preseason rankings. 

#7 – Louisville Cardinals

  • Possibly the biggest disappointment out of any ranked team, Louisville won their opener with ease, 7-2, but gave up 15 runs over the next two games, as they dropped the series to the Ole Miss Rebels, starting their season off on the wrong note. The preseason #1, Louisville plummets to #7 in our initial power rankings. 

#6 – Arkansas Razorbacks 

  • The Razorbacks had a cupcake of an opening weekend, and they glided through their first three contests with very little difficulty, outscoring Eastern Illinois 27-5 en route to three victories. The preseason #7, Arkansas hops up to #6 thanks to Louisville’s slide. 

#5 – Texas Tech Red Raiders

  • It didn’t take Texas Tech long to get their bats warmed up, as they poured on 65 runs in four games versus two different opponents to crush their opening contests. Their pitching also only gave up 11 runs in their victories, allowing them to run away with each game by a decisive margin. They also jump up one spot from their preseason ranking of #6. 

#4 – Vanderbilt Commodores – 1 First Place Vote

  • Our ballots showed a little more mercy to Vanderbilt, who slides just two spots from their preseason perch at #2, despite a 1-2 weekend. The Commodores even nabbed a first place vote, after dropping a tight game to defending national runners up Michigan and a one-run defeat to Cal Poly, sandwiched around a dominating victory over UConn. The defending national champs have some easy games as they look to rebuild confidence after a tough first weekend. 

#3 – Georgia Bulldogs

  • The SEC doesn’t just run the football world, as they have several teams up near the top of the rankings in our baseball power rankings as well. #5 in the preseason, the Bulldogs jumped to #3 after a clean series sweep of Richmond. It certainly wasn’t a stiff challenge for Georgia, but their clean performance and the struggles of Louisville and Vanderbilit lifts the Bulldogs two spots. 

#2 – Florida Gators

  • Hosting Marshall, the Gators allowed the visitors no closer than seven runs in any game, scoring 34 times in three contests to throttle the Thundering Herd in a series sweep. They also jump two spots from their preseason spot at #4, and they figure to be a title contender in 2020. 

#1 – Miami Hurricanes – 2 First Place Votes

  • Sitting at #3 entering the year, the Hurricanes were the most direct benefactor of Louisville and Vanderbilt’s lackluster efforts in the first weekend, as they rocket up to the #1 spot in our initial power rankings. They handled Rutgers with ease in their opening series, and they’ll be looking ahead to a showdown with Florida next weekend.