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FutureSEC: A Cursory Glance at the Vandy D and Special Teams

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As I mentioned yesterday, the quality of opponent and not being able to watch the game makes anything I say in this post purely guess work based on the numbers from the game and media recaps, so take this all with a grain of salt.

After getting an interception on the very first play of the game, Vandy looked like they had this one covered from the get go, only to squander the opportunity with a missed FG and then letting the Spiders move the ball 79 yards in 14 plays to go up 3-0 in the first. The rest of the day pretty well went like that for the Vandy D, as the Spiders gained 310 yards of total offense against the Commies but were ultimately held in check by poorly timed interceptions and a general talent differential.

Defending the Run

Richmond averaged 4.3 ypc against the Commies on Saturday, rushing 35 times for 149 yards and 1 TD. The longest run Vandy gave up was a 19 yard scamper from leading rusher Tim Hightower, who accounted for almost half of their total rushing yardage. His 14 carries for 73 yards (5.2 ypc) should have Terry Grant licking his chops. Confounding the Vandy rushing defense is a noticeable lack of depth at DT (we feel your pain) made only worse by a nagging injury to starter Theo Horrocks. The linebacking corp, anchored by Jonathan Goff, will be key to keeping the ground attack of the Crimson Tide in check, but will it be enough?

What this means for Alabama:

That we can pretty much run the ball straight down their throat with four different backs all day and pile up silly yardage. Goff may be one of the better LBs in the league (he explored his NFL options last season before deciding to stay for his senior year, and recorded 7 stops last weekend), but, if the Western Carolina game is any indication, once our backs are through the line they are gone. I expect some more big yardage plays out of Grant, plus some good power running from Johns to wear down an already thin front seven.

Defending the Pass

The Spiders managed 18 of 30 passes against Vandy for 161 yards but no TDs. The highlight for the defense against Richmond had to be it's three picks, though only one was by a DB. DT Gabe Hall got the first pick of the day off of what I assume came from a batted ball (though he could have been in coverage during a zone blitz or something. Again, I didn't see the game, so I don't know.). The second INT came from cornerback DJ Moore, the star of the secondary against Richmond. His 11 tackles (1 for a loss) led the team, while he returned his INT for 22 yards to set up a Vandy field goal. The final pick came courtesy of linebacker Jonathan Goff to end a Richmond drive deep into Commie territory. Looking at the drive log, it seemed like Vandy was either using a bend but don't break philosophy against Richmond, or they just couldn't keep them contained. Either way, it looks good for us.

What this means for Alabama:

We didn't show much of our passing attack against Western Carolina since, a) we didn't need to and b) no need helping your opponents with their scouting reports so soon. The vanilla plays we saw could pretty well be all we see again this week if the staff wants to stay committed to the run and keep the passing game under wraps until Arkansas comes to town. Should we keep things simple, I'd bet we'd still have a fairly productive day through the air after seeing what the Spiders managed.

The Vandy Special Teams

DJ Moore was again the star, returning 3 kickoffs for an even 100 (33.3 avg, long of 63), while Earl Bennett handled punt return duties, returning three for 62 yards. He also lined up deep for kickoff returns, but didn't get a chance to return any.

Kick coverage, however, was not the Commie's strong suit against Richmond, as Justin Rogers returned five kickoffs for 201 yards (40.2 average) and brought one back 93 yards for a score in the third quarter. Vandy never punted, so we don't know how well they'll cover those until Saturday.

What this means for Alabama:

If Arenas and Lowe don't have banner days, something is horribly wrong...