Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee
By STEVE EUBANKS  |  Last updated 8/16/13
The facts are well known but Vanderbilt fans love to repeatthem anyway. Yes, last January the Commodores played in their second-consecutive bowl game for the first time in school history. And, indeed, coach JamesFranklins team won that bowl to give Vanderbilt its first nine-win seasonsince 1915, a time when the Ottomans still had an empire and the worldsbiggest movie star was Charlie Chaplin. The Dores set other milestones in 2012, too: they beat Tennessee in Nashville for the first time in 30 years, theywon five SEC games for the first time since 1935 and they were nationally ranked atseasons end for the first since Harry Truman was president. These are heady times for the once-perennialdoormats of the SEC. Not too many schools are scheduling Vanderbilt as theirhomecoming game anymore. But just how good can the Commodores become? And what doesCoach Franklin have to do to elevate his team beyond second-tier bowl games andalso-ran status in college footballs toughest conference? The short-term needs are obvious. Vandyhas to find a quarterback who can step into Jordan Rodgers large shoes.With 4,063 passing yards and 24 touchdowns in two seasons -- the majority ofthose coming in 2012 -- Rodgers was Vanderbilts most productive quarterbacksince Jay Cutler. Austyn Carta-Samuels, a transfer from Wyoming, is the likelystarter and actually has a stronger arm than Rodgers. But arm strength doesntkeep you cool when you have Jadeveon Clowney rushing your blind side or you faceone of Will Muschamps well-disguised blitzes. Carta-Samuels will also have adisadvantage beyond his lack of experience. He wont be lining up the backfieldwith Zac Stacy, Vanderbilts all-time greatest running back who graduated with3,143 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns. Vandy supporters are quick to point out thepositives, though. Carta-Samuels will have plenty of targets, including returningreceivers Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd and tight ends Kris Kentera and StevenScheu. A good chunk of the defense is also returning, and the offensive line isexpected to be better this year than at any time in schoolhistory. But Vandy isnt improving in a vacuum.The Commodores opponents are getting better as well. A quick glance throughthe schedule leaves even the most ardent Vanderbilt fan wondering where on Earth nine wins might be found this season. They open with Ole Miss, a team that hasexperienced the same sort of meteoric rise under Hugh Freeze that Vandy has with Franklin; then, after hosting Austin Peay, the Commodores play SouthCarolina in Columbia, S.C. Franklins squad could easily be 1-2 by mid-September. Things dont get much easier after that.In a four-game stretch from Oct. 5 through Nov. 9, Vandy hosts Missouri andGeorgia and then travels to Texas A&M and Florida. Getting out of thatstretch 2-2 would require at least one upset, and the Dores could play very welland still lose all four. Reasonable speculators predict Vandyfinishing the regulars season 6-6, a step down from their nine-win high, butstill respectable. Seven regular-season wins and a bowl victory would be a substantial achievement, one that would continue to elevate the program. Vanderbilt can certainly continue towin, and with the recruiting classes Coach Franklin has signed, three-, four-or five consecutive bowl appearances is a reasonable goal. But winning the SECEast is another level entirely, one that Commodores, for all theiraccomplishments, are still many years away from reaching.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Slam dunks and startups: How all-star technology took over the NBA in The Big Easy

Report: Tyrod Taylor might not be released by Bills after all

Juventus and Manchester City begin their Champions League Round of 16 campaigns

Cardinals reportedly have ‘zero interest’ in Jay Cutler

DeSean Jackson talks up return to Eagles

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

DeMarcus Cousins links to Lakers won’t just go away

Pats willing to trade Garoppolo for 'at least' first-rounder?

NFL executive: Davis Webb will be top QB of draft

Report: Knicks making Derrick Rose ‘completely available’ at trade deadline

NBA exec: Paul George to Celtics could be 'sleeper' trade

Report: Cousins will not sign contract before franchise deadline

Box Score 2/21: It's trade heartbreak season

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

The guard tandems you'd want in a 2-on-2 tournament

We got our hands on the new Nintendo Switch, here are our first impressions

Top 10 second basemen in baseball for 2017

Teams and players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Baseball movies you can stream now to hold you over until Opening Day

Movies you can stream now to get your football fix

Too much to Process: Can Simmons match the Embiid hype?

There will never be another Dirk Nowitzki

Is the NBA All-Star Game worth saving?

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher to win 100 games with two different teams

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

The guard tandems you'd want in a 2-on-2 tournament

We got our hands on the new Nintendo Switch, here are our first impressions

Top 10 second basemen in baseball for 2017

Teams, players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Baseball movies you can stream now to hold you over until Opening Day

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher with 200 or more wins since 1961

There will never be another Dirk Nowitzki

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker