The Vanderbilt Commodores finished the spring feeling pretty good about where they are as they head into the 2013 season. Even with the losses of quarterback Jordan Rodgers and running back Zac Stacy, the ‘Dores figure to have enough returning talent to make a run at their third consecutive bowl game.
If James Franklin and his team want that to happen, they are going to need some players to step in and take on bigger roles this season.
Now a senior, quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels figures to be the man behind center when Vanderbilt opens its 2013 campaign. In the spring game, Carta-Samuels was 14-of-20 passing for 196 yards and a touchdown. The former starter for the Wyoming Cowboys, Carta-Samuels hopes to bring experience to the Commodores’ offense.
Wide receiver Jordan Matthews returns this season, one year after he was Rodgers’ main target, catching a team-high 94 passes for a team-high 1,323 yards and eight touchdowns, which also led the Commodores. If Matthews can continue that kind of production, it would take pressure away from Carta-Samuels and the running game.
Running back Wesley Tate is one half of the tandem that is expected to carry the load this season. Tate had 376 yards rushing last season, with eight touchdowns. In the spring game, Tate had a team-high nine carries for a team-high 59 yards and a touchdown.
After spending last season as the backup to Stacy, running back Brian Kimbrow figures to be one of the featured backs for Vandy this season. He rushed for 37 yards on just five carries in the Black/Gold game.
Despite playing in only nine games last season, defensive end Darien Bryant had a big spring, including a special spring game. In the Black/Gold game, Bryant had five tackles, including 2.5 sacks. If he can produce those kinds of numbers, it would bode well for the Vandy defense.
Vanderbilt will need these players and more to continue what has been an unprecedented run of success in Music City.