The Vanderbilt Commodores (3-3, 0-3) took some time to rest and heal during the bye, but head coach James Franklin also made some key defensive changes in hopes of helping the team notch its first SEC win of the season. After studying tape during the week off, Franklin realized the Commodores’ offense is miles ahead of where it was at this time last season, but the defense is struggling.
Vanderbilt posted some stingy defensive numbers last season, but this unit is struggling this year. The Commodores currently rank 58th giving up 390 yards a game, 64th in scoring defense and 84th in defensive pass efficiency. In SEC play, they have given up at least 35 points in losing each of their first three games.
Vandy is coming off the worst loss of Franklin’s tenure, a 51-28 pounding by No. 14 Missouri. Things don’t get any easier with No. 15 Georgia up next, and Franklin is hoping that some defensive tweaks will help the Commodores slow down Aaron Murray and Co.
But he’s not trying to completely overhaul the unit.
“That’s where you have to be careful,” Franklin said. “You don’t want to reinvent the wheel over the bye week and you just want to tweak some things that are simple adjustments for you, but give a different appearance to the defense, and that’s all we are trying to do.”
What to look for in Week 8: Can the Commodores’ defense rise up to their coach’s challenge? Franklin said this week the responsibility always is on the coaches, but he wants to see more sacks, pressures and tackles for loss from his defensive linemen. He wants his four seniors in the secondary to be more aggressive and create more turnovers to help erase mistakes by the offense.