Even though Vandy finds themselves without much advantage facing the Tide in week two due to the vanilla play calling on both offense and defense and the lackluster opponent, we're pretty much in the same boat. The Commies opened their season with a 41-17 win over the 1AA Richmond Spiders, a much better team than our own foes the Western Carolina Catamounts, having gone 6-5 last season and 9-4 with an Atlantic 10 Conference title the season before that. Still, they weren't Appy State, obviously, so their opener doesn't give us a lot to study in preparing for what we'll see during the game. Compounding that is the fact the game wasn't on TV, and I'm sitting here going over numbers instead of actual game footage. Anyway, here's a quick breakdown of what Vandy did on offense:
The Vandy Passing Attack
The big story, of course, was Earl Bennett's three touchdowns and 223 yards through the air. Those numbers were good enough to earn Bennett SEC Offenseive Player of the Week honors, and don't include his two punt returns for 36 and 25 yards, respectively.
What this means for Alabama
Well, outside of the fact that we can't sell out to stop Bennett and let Nickson and the other recievers pick us apart, something even the most incompetent DC would realize, not a whole lot. Whether Bennett's gross yardage was a result of Nickson playing favorites or because he was the only reliable receiver getting open/catching anything thrown his way, I don't know. I didn't get to watch the game, so I just don't know. I can imagine, though, that blanketing Bennett and taking away Nickson's favorite target would likely wreak havoc on the Vandy air assault.
The Vandy Rushing Attack
Again, not much we can go on here considering their opponent. Vandy gained 162 yards on the ground, a less than lackluster number against such a weak opponent (I mean, Grant had 134 alone in one half for us, so, you know...), though they did spread the ball around to three different backs. Jennings was the workhorse of the bunch, rushing 11 times for 67 yards (6.1 ypc) and 1 TD, but behind him there was a significant drop off. Cassen Jackson-Garrison rushed 7 times for 18 yards (2.6 ypc) and Jared Hawkins also got 7 carries, gaining only 16 yards for a 2.3 ypc average. Disturbingly, backup QB Mackenzi Adams was the second leading rusher of the day with a single rush for 44 yards. Whether that was a design run or a scramble, I don't know.
What this means for Alabama
I'm still concerned with our containment issues up front, but if this was all the Commies could gain on the ground against Richmond, then maybe our fears of a Vandy shootout weren't all that justified after all. What does frighten me, though, is the mobility of the QBs. We're in a damned if we do, damned if we don't situation with Bennett, in that, if we keep the secondary downfield to contain the pass, both Nickson and Adams could gain big yardage with their feet. Our team speed looked impressive on Saturday, though, so hopefully that will be enough to contain them with just the front seven(ish).
Tomorrow, a cursory glance at the Vandy defense and special teams.