Vanderbilt Commodores spring wrap

Vanderbilt Commodores

2012 record: 9-4

2012 conference record: 5-3 (fourth, Eastern Division)

Returning starters: Offense: 7; Defense: 7; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

WR Chris Boyd, WR Jordan Matthews, RB Wesley Tate, OT Wesley Johnson, DE Walker May, LB Chase Garnham, CB Andre Hal, S Kenny Ladler

Key losses

QB Jordan Rodgers, RB Zac Stacy, OT Ryan Seymour, DT Rob Lohr, LB Archibald Barnes, CB Trey Wilson

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Zac Stacy (1,141 yards)

Passing: Jordan Rodgers (2,539 yards)

Receiving: Jordan Matthews* (1,323 yards)

Tackles: Kenny Ladler* (90)

Sacks: Chase Garnham* (7)

Interceptions: Trey Wilson (3)

Spring answers

1. Stronger offensive line: There is far more depth and talent up front for line coach Herb Hand to work with. Three-year starter Wesley Johnson is back at tackle, along with junior Joe Townsend at center and sophomore Jake Bernstein at guard. The unit is deeper and more talented than in past years. It’s now deep enough that talented redshirt freshman Adam Butler was able to move to defensive tackle.

2. Depth at linebacker: The Commodores might have lost just one starter at linebacker this past year, but the staff was looking for dependable depth coming out of spring and really found it with the improvements made by sophomores Jake Sealand and Darreon Herring. They didn’t just add quality depth but they could be potential starters this fall.

3. Edge power: Vandy will have solid options at defensive end this fall. Redshirt junior Kyle Woestmann and sophomore Caleb Azubike really stepped up this spring, but they’ll get some help from redshirt freshman Stephen Weatherly, who might have been the team's most improved player this spring. Weatherly gained 30 pounds and has the speed to be a potential edge rusher this fall. The Commodores should excel more in the pass rush this fall.

Fall questions

1. Quarterback battle: While Austyn Carta-Samuels ended the spring ahead of Patton Robinette on the depth chart, coach James Franklin says the two still have a ways to go when it comes to being the guy. Both are athletic and can make extra plays with their feet, but now they have to take over as leaders and learn to consistently move the offense. Carta-Samuels has the edge going into summer and fall, but he can’t afford to slip because Robinette will take advantage of every rep he gets this fall.

2. Tight end troubles: There are just three tight ends currently on Vandy’s roster, and Franklin is still looking for someone to step up and take control at the position. Kris Kentera led tight ends with 10 catches last year, but it sounds like redshirt sophomore Steven Scheu, who caught eight passes last year, has what it takes to be the guy there. Vandy will also get help from junior college transfer Brandon Vandenburg when he arrives this summer.

3. Lack of depth at WR/CB: The Dores might have a solid foundation in Jordan Matthews, Chris Boyd and Jonathan Krause at receiver, and Andre Hal and Steven Clarke at corner, but there is limited depth behind them at both spots. Redshirt freshmen Paris Head and Torren McGaster have a chance to play this fall, but have no experience. Vandy is hoping to get some help from its five receivers it signed in its 2013 class. Still, there isn’t much proven talent behind the main guys.