Can Dores score?

Can Dores score?

Vanderbilt desperately needed its offensive coordinator to generate a spark in 2009 but Cain wasn't able.

That's why Ted Cain has been demoted from offensive coordinator to special teams coordinator and tight ends coach for 2010. The new OC is Jimmy Kiser, who was promoted from quarterbacks coach.

Kiser shouldn't have much trouble fashioning a more potent offense this fall than Cain fielded last fall. Check out how the '09 Commodores ranked among the 12 SEC teams:

12th in scoring at 16.3 points per game

12th in passing efficiency at 90.1 (Kentucky was 11th at 108.6)

12th in first downs at 16.2 per game

12th in touchdowns with 21 (South Carolina was 11th with 31)

12th in red-zone scoring at 75.0 percent

12th in time of possession at 26:11 per game

11th in total offense at 306.3 yards per game

10th in passing at 146.3 yards per game

10th in third-down efficiency at 35.4 percent

8th in rushing at 160.0 yards per game

Vandy's best chance for success this fall is to get the ball to Warren Norman, the 2009 SEC Freshman of the Year. Last season the 5-10, 188-pounder ranked seventh among all SEC rushers at 65.2 yards per game, averaging an impressive 5.4 yards per carry en route to 783 total yards.

Vanderbilt's top two receivers last fall also were freshmen. John Cole, who redshirted in 2008, caught a team-high 36 passes. Brandon Barden caught 28 passes to lead all NCAA freshman tight ends.

All of this young talent will be wasted in 2010, however, unless the Commodores can locate a capable quarterback. Junior Larry Smith returns after starting most of 2009 but he completed just 46.7 percent of his attempts last fall for 1,126 yards with 4 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Blessed with some mobility, he averaged 2.5 yards per carry en route to 213 rushing yards.

Vanderbilt came out of spring practice with the quarterback derby being a four-man race among Smith, senior Jared Funk, junior college transfer Jordan Rodgers and redshirt freshman Charlie Goro. Rodgers completed 58.0 percent of his passes for 2,219 yards and 18 touchdowns last fall for Butte (Cal.) Community College.

With no help from the offense, Vandy's defense struggled mightily in 2009. The Dores finished dead last among SEC teams against the run, allowing 197.8 rushing yards per game. They were third against the pass (164.9 yards per game) but that's because opponents were too busy running the ball. Still, Vanderbilt ranked a respectable eighth in scoring defense at 23.3 points per game.

Vandy returns much of its '09 stop unit but will sorely miss cornerback Myron Lewis, who was taken by Tampa Bay in Round 3 of the recent NFL Draft.

On a positive note, the Commodores should be pretty good on special teams. Brett Upson is gone after averaging 43.1 yards per punt last fall but kicker Ryan Fowler is back after connecting on 16 of 21 field-goal tries, including a 47-yarder. Moreover, the afore-mentioned Warren Norman is back after averaging 26.2 yards on kickoff returns, with touchdown runbacks of 99 yards vs. South Carolina, 80 yards vs. Georgia Tech and 76 yards vs. Army.

Bottom line: Unless Vandy gets improved play at quarterback, a repeat of last season's 2-10 overall record and 0-8 league mark appears likely.

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