published Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Vanderbilt seeking defensive boost after 0-3 SEC start

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin talks with reporters during the Southeastern Conference football Media Days in Hoover, Ala., in this July 18, 2013.
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin talks with reporters during the Southeastern Conference football Media Days in Hoover, Ala., in this July 18, 2013.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Considering his Vanderbilt Commodores lost their first three Southeastern Conference football games by scores of 39-35, 35-25 and 51-28, coach James Franklin was not overly surprised with some discoveries during last week's open-date evaluations.

"I've gone back and done some self scout and some statistical study on where we are at this point of the year compared to the last two years," Franklin said. "Defensively, we've got some things that we've got to get cleaned up. Offensively, we're probably ahead in almost every single category. Special teams is a wash compared to where we've been in the past.

"We're looking at doing some things from a scheme standpoint as well as changes in personnel on defense that we're going to need to do."

The Commodores (3-3) host No. 15 Georgia (4-2) this Saturday at noon on CBS, the first time CBS has broadcast a football game on Vandy's campus since 1982.

Vanderbilt's defense started impressively, shutting down Ole Miss in the second quarter of the opener as the Commodores grabbed a 21-10 halftime lead. The Commodores wound up allowing 489 yards to the Rebels, however, and they surrendered 579 yards at South Carolina and 523 their last time out against Missouri.

The only occasion in which Vanderbilt surrendered those kinds of totals last season came in the 48-3 pummelling at Georgia.

"After watching the film of the Missouri game, the defensive ends did not win their one-on-ones to get pressure on [Missouri quarterback James] Franklin," Vandy defensive end Kyle Woestmann said at Monday's news conference in Nashville. "Our defensive tackles were getting pushed around and getting hung on blocks. We have a good opportunity this week against a good SEC offensive line to pick up where we left off against Ole Miss."

Coach Franklin had no desire to "re-create the wheel" defensively during the off week, adding that more disruption from the defensive line and improved play from a veteran secondary could aid an inexperienced linebacker corps.

"We've been very successful the last three years doing the things that we've done," Franklin said. "Our defensive coaches have not become bad defensive coaches, and our players have not become bad defensive players. We just have to make a few adjustments and play with the aggressiveness and confidence that we've had in the past.

"We have to create some erasers. We haven't had the sack fumbles or the interception returns for touchdowns and those types of things."

Georgia is having similar problems defensively and also lost to Missouri -- 41-26 this past Saturday while the Commodores were resting.

"They played Ole Miss really close, and Ole Miss played Texas A&M really close, and Texas A&M played Alabama really close," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said. "I don't know what to think of it, but the only game that got away from them was the Missouri game."

Odds and ends

Georgia inside linebacker Ramik Wilson missed Monday's one-hour practice in full pads with a knee bruise, as did tailback Todd Gurley (ankle) and safety Tray Matthews (hamstring). ... Since last year's Georgia-Vanderbilt matchup, the Bulldogs are 12-4 and the Commodores are 11-4. ... Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray leads the SEC with 46 consecutive starts, and Vandy senior tackle Wesley Johnson is next with 44. ... Missouri coach Gary Pinkel when asked at his news conference Monday about defeating the injury-depleted Bulldogs: "They didn't have many injuries on defense." ... Former Baylor School lineman Barrett Gouger got his first career start for the Commodores against Missouri.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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