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Week of October 13

Sunday, Oct. 19
Daily news articles about the Vanderbilt Football Program and its opponents.

POSTGAME LINKS: Box Score  |  Notes  |  Quotes  RELATED LINKS: Photo Galleries  |  2008 Stats  |  Polls/Rankings


Knowshon Moreno had his best game of the season. A.J. Green came up huge. Still, Georgia struggled to put another opponent away. The Bulldogs better step it up: LSU and Florida are next. Moreno rushed for a season-high 172 yards and the freshman Green had 132 yards receiving, but 10th-ranked Georgia struggled for a 24-14 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday.
"No. 10 Dogs slip past No. 22 VU 24-14" by the AP,


Vanderbilt has passed the point of claiming moral victories, but the No. 22 Commodores still found reason for optimism after Saturday's 24-14 Southeastern Conference loss to 10th-ranked Georgia. "We're not happy, but we think we can build on it," Coach Bobby Johnson said after his team's second straight loss. "If we'd come down here and not met the challenge of playing this team, I would have worried. But our guys were ready to play and played hard. That's what I wanted them to do, play hard."
"Vanderbilt finds positives despite second loss" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

A couple of changes in the Vanderbilt offensive line may have keyed the resurgence of the running attack Saturday against Georgia. Redshirt freshman Kyle Fischer made his first start at left tackle, while junior Eric Hensley became the third starter at right guard in as many weeks. "Revamped VU line opens up run lanes" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Considering the weapons Georgia has in the huddle, Vanderbilt's defense held up well Saturday. But some of the Commodores said they let the Bulldogs off the hook on a fourth-quarter drive that took more than 5½ minutes off the clock. That drive did not result in points because Bulldogs kicker Blair Walsh hit the right upright on a 37-yard field-goal attempt, but it cost the Commodores both field position and valuable time. "Georgia controls ball, Vanderbilt" by David Climer, "The Tennessean"

In baseball, a statistic for pitchers called "quality start" speaks to effectiveness, regardless of the outcome. There's no such category for quarterbacks in football. Thus, Vanderbilt's Mackenzi Adams got credited for the loss in the 22nd-ranked Commodores' 24-14 defeat Saturday at No. 10 Georgia, despite having a reasonably good game.
"New starter makes strides in loss" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

It's just a number, right? Six. That's it. Six. What's the big deal? Here's the big deal: The longer Vanderbilt's Commodores are stuck on five victories, the longer that magic number hangs out there in front of them, just out of reach.
"Sixth win seems like it's miles away" by David Climer, "The Tennessean"

OFFENSE: C Vanderbilt was pretty balanced with 114 rushing yards against a solid run defense, and 131 passing yards, the second-best total of the season. The Commodores did commit a pair of turnovers. DEFENSE: C The unit allowed 425 yards, a single-game high, but some of that came in large chunks. Vanderbilt officially allowed just one of eight third-down conversions, and had two interceptions, including one to set up a score. "Vanderbilt report card" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"


The Georgia Bulldogs had a big day offensively and defensively Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium but couldn't put their opponent away until late in the fourth quarter. Was this a rerun? Georgia's 24-14 homecoming victory over Vanderbilt was similar in many ways to the previous week's 26-14 win over Tennessee.
"Georgia wins over scrappy Vanderbilt, 24-14" by David Paschall, "Chattanooga Times Free Press"


Old notions die hard in college football. But clearly it's time to discard the antiquated notion that Georgia can vanquish Vanderbilt at will. "Most definitely," Georgia cornerback Asher Allen said. "Those days are over." After losing to the Commodores by two points in 2006 and beating them by three last year, Georgia again struggled with Vanderbilt on Saturday before winning 24-14 on homecoming in Sanford Stadium. "Vanderbilt bites Bulldogs to the end" by Tim Tucker, "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"

Friday, Oct. 17
Daily news articles about the Vanderbilt Football Program and its opponents.


The No. 22 Commodores will take the gridiron this weekend as a nationally ranked team looking for their sixth win in an almost perfect season. The `Dores (5-1, 3-1 SEC) will challenge No. 10 Georgia on the road in the Bulldogs' Homecoming game. For Vanderbilt tight end Brandon Barden, the game signifies a personal homecoming as well.
"Saturday's game a homecoming for Barden" by

Sign-up for All Access (free) to watch this week's episode of Commodore Connection featuring football head coach Bobby Johnson. Footage includes last week's highlights from Mississippi State plus a preview of Saturday's game at No. 10 Georgia.
"Commodore Connection show MSU highlights, UGA preview" Courtesy of Comcast Spotlight,

Hoping that losing to Mississippi State last week will be enough motivation to win this Saturday against Georgia certainly is not enough for the No. 22 Vanderbilt Commodores (5-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) to bank on when they face the No. 10 Bulldogs. That loss, however, did provide Vanderbilt with a wake-up call to spark its anemic offense before going into their toughest challenge of the season. "Commodores look to bounce back in a big way" by Nick Gallo, "The Vanderbilt Hustler"


For Vanderbilt's defense, slowing down Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno is one of the top tasks against the Bulldogs this weekend. And two players from Georgia are expected to take the lead on that task. Junior defensive tackle Greg Billinger, from Lilburn, Ga., and redshirt freshman T.J. Greenstone, from Lawrenceville, Ga., will anchor the Commodore defensive line in its attempt to slow down the Bulldog rushing attack. "Vanderbilt duo hopes to slow down Moreno" by Matt Wilson, "The City Paper"

T.J. Greenstone will have plenty of friends watching him when Vanderbilt plays at Georgia on Saturday. However, Greenstone is thinking about the one who won't be there. Greenstone, a redshirt freshman defensive tackle, starred at Collins Hill High in Lawrenceville, Ga. His best friend in high school was Jarrett Boston. "Greenstone playing for friend's memory" by Matt Wilson, "The City Paper"

It's little surprise that Mackenzi Adams is getting the start at quarterback for Vanderbilt this weekend as the No. 22 Commodores visit 10th-ranked Georgia. The surprise, for many, is that it's taken so long. Adams, a junior, has been unable to wrest the starting position from Chris Nickson during the past three preseasons. "Vanderbilt's Adams stays patient" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Photos: "Vanderbilt vs. Georgia in 1971" by "The Tennessean"

The differences between the Tennessee and Vanderbilt football programs have been vast for decades. This year, it's for a different reason. The Commodores are ranked No. 22 and are tied with Florida atop the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division. The Vols have not received an AP Top 25 vote in more than a month and are last in the East. But the biggest difference between the programs right now is something that can't be quantified: confidence. "Vanderbilt beats Vols in confidence" by Bryan Mullen, "The Tennessean"

In a "first-time-since" season, Vanderbilt has a chance to achieve a first-time-ever accomplishment as it travels to Georgia this weekend. The No. 22 Commodores can post their fourth Southeastern Conference win for the first time since the league went to the eight-game schedule and divisional play in 1992. Vanderbilt has managed four or more conference victories on just seven occasions: 1935 (5-1), 1937 (4-2), 1938 (4-3), 1948 (4-2-1), 1949 (4-4), 1955 (4-3) and 1982 (4-2).
"Vanderbilt can achieve a first in SEC play" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"


The Commodores (5-1, 3-1 SEC) lost a game last week and are still ranked No. 22 nationally. In their best start since World War II, they sprinted out to five straight wins before falling last weekend at Mississippi State. It's a team that hasn't been particularly good offensively, but has done just about everything else well. The Commodores lead the SEC in sacks and are tied for the lead in interceptions. They've been extremely good in the red zone both offensively and defensively and have continually capitalized on other teams' mistakes. Bobby Johnson and his staff have also done a masterful job of adjusting and putting players in positions to make plays.
"Vanderbilt midseason report" by Chris Low,

Don't bury the Commodores yet: Those were Bobby Johnson's words following Vanderbilt's loss last week to Mississippi State. It was a bad loss, maybe the kind of loss that would have sent the Commodores reeling in past years. But Johnson likes the resiliency of this club and its willingness to prepare the same every week. Plus, Vanderbilt goes into the Georgia game knowing this is a team it's fared well against the last few years. The Commodores won on their last trip to Sanford Stadium in 2006 and were driving for the winning score last season before fumbling inside the 10, opening the door for the Bulldogs to drive the field in the final minutes and kick the winning field goal as time expired. With Mackenzi Adams stepping in at quarterback, the Commodores think they will be able to keep the Georgia defense from loading up as much because of his ability to throw the ball from the pocket.
"What to watch in the SEC, Week 8" by Chris Low,


Vanderbilt ranks last in the SEC in total offense and not much better --- third from the bottom --- in total defense. Sounds like a stereotypical Vanderbilt team, huh? Except, somehow, the Commodores come to Sanford Stadium on Saturday to play Georgia with a 5-1 record and a No. 22 national ranking. Oh, they are also tied with Florida for the SEC East lead. Go figure. From the fine print of the stats sheet, here are five reasons Vanderbilt is off to its best start in 58 years.
"Strength in numbers" by Tim Tucker, "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"

At first Darryl Gamble wasn't sure what happened. He thought he had felt something hit his hand but wasn't sure. Then he looked back and saw Dannell Ellerbe jumping up and down with the football and he knew what he had done. He had helped the Bulldogs pull a Houdini. This time last October, it looked like Georgia was about to lose to Vanderbilt. Then Gamble slapped the ball away from Cassen Jackson-Garrison inside the 15-yard line with 2:43 to play. The Bulldogs recovered at their 7, drove to the Commodores' 19 and won 20-17 on Brandon Coutu's field goal. "Gamble's tip pays off with playing time" by Chip Towers, "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"

After handling all the kick return duties for the first four games of the season, Ramarcus Brown took a backseat to freshman Richard Samuel late in the game against Alabama. Last week, Brown was nowhere to be seen on Tennessee's three kickoffs, with Samuel handling all three. That doesn't mean Brown is out of a job.
"Brown still involved in return game" by David Hale, "Macon Telegraph"

Darius Dewberry knows his role. He would like to be a starting linebacker, but he knows he hasn't earned that yet. He would like to be playing more, but he knows he doesn't always fit the scheme the defense needs to employ. He would like to make a bigger contribution to Georgia's wins on the field, but he knows his best asset is the role he plays in the locker room.
"Georgia's Dewberry waiting for his role to increase" by David Hale, "Macon Telegraph"

One national insurance company touts itself as the "Good Hands" people. Vanderbilt can make that claim this season. Now, Georgia coach Mark Richt would like the Bulldogs' secondary to get better in snagging interceptions.
"Dawgs prepare for `Good Hands' Vanderbilt" by "Fayette Daily News"

Thursday, Oct. 16
Daily news articles about the Vanderbilt Football Program and its opponents.


A hero one week and a goat the next. That is the life of place kickers across the country. Vanderbilt senior kicker Bryant Hahnfeldt knows the life all too well. Since starting as a true freshman in 2005, Hahnfeldt has dealt with many ups and downs in his career, but as the school's all-time leading scorer, the kicks he has made have certainly outshined the ones he has missed.
"Hahnfeldt returns to site of biggest kick" by Ryan Schulz,


Vanderbilt is located in Tennessee's capital, but there are plenty of Georgians who call VU home now. Twenty one of Vanderbilt's football players are from Georgia, which is only one less than hail from Tennessee. That makes this Saturday's battle against the University of Georgia a little more spicy. "Battle with Georgia big for many Commodores" by Matt Wilson, "The City Paper"

Bobby Johnson insists that where his Vanderbilt team falls on Georgia's schedule isn't of any concern to the Commodores. Saturday will mark the 21st time that Vanderbilt has been the visiting team for Georgia's homecoming. On the last occasion, two years ago, the Commodores ruined the festivities with a 24-22 victory.
"Being homecoming foe doesn't bother Vanderbilt" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Even during its undefeated start, Vanderbilt was playing with fire offensively and finally got burned when it managed just 107 yards against Mississippi State. A young offensive line has been sporadic in its pass protection and in its ability to create holes in the running game. Jared Hawkins, who rushed for 314 yards in his first four games, has gained just 19 in his last two.
"Vanderbilt needs to find offense vs. Georgia" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

During its rise into the Top 25 this season, Vanderbilt has played ranked opponents and has played on the road. When the No. 22 Commodores face Southeastern Conference rival Georgia, though, it will be the first time this season they'll play a ranked opponent on the road. The host Bulldogs, who slipped to 10th after entering the season ranked No. 1 in the nation, will mark the stiffest challenge yet for a 5-1 (3-1 SEC) Vanderbilt team that looks to gather itself after losing its first game of the season last week at Mississippi State.
"Georgia presents challenge to Vanderbilt" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"


Vanderbilt will try to do something it was quite familiar with in the past -- bounce back from a loss. This midseason loss just happened to be the first of this season for the Commodores, who squandered their chance to go 4-0 in the Southeastern Conference for the first time, but fell to Mississippi State 17-14. The task at hand this week is much more imposing -- trying to secure a victory over 10th-ranked Georgia Between the Hedges of Sanford Stadium. "Vanderbilt will try to bounce back from loss" by the AP,

About this time a year ago, Georgia became a different team. The group that lost at home to South Carolina, was blown out by Tennessee and barely beat Vanderbilt suddenly turned into a confident, unstoppable squad. Can the Bulldogs turn it on again? Can they make another run at No. 1, the spot they held at the beginning of the season? "Another run for Georgia?" by the AP, "Pensacola News Journal"

Honk if you've played left tackle at Georgia. Sophomore Clint Boling will become the fourth starter at that position Saturday afternoon when the No. 10 Bulldogs host No. 22 Vanderbilt. Boling began last week's 26-14 win over Tennessee at right guard but was switched when Vince Vance suffered a season-ending ACL injury midway through the second quarter.
"Dogs deal with injuries on line" by David Paschall, "Chattanooga Times Free Press"


The No. 10-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (5-1, 2-1 SEC) practiced for two hours in jerseys, shoulder pads and shorts Wednesday as they get set for a Homecoming date with No. 22 Vanderbilt (5-1, 3-1 SEC) at Sanford Stadium. Georgia head coach Mark Richt said he has been impressed with the team speed of the Commodores and how they lead the league in all the important statistical categories.
"Georgia Getting Ready For Vanderbilt Game" by

After seeing Knowshon Moreno leap over the head of an upright defender in one game and catapult himself from the 4-yard line into the end zone for a touchdown in another thing, everybody was sure this was going to be a banner season for the Bulldogs' sophomore tailback. But as the season has progressed and the competition has stiffened, Moreno has played a little closer to the ground. Moreno is still having a fine season. He's averaging 98.3 yards rushing, which is fourth-best in the SEC and 27th nationally, and he leads the league in scoring at 10 points per game. "Moreno slows down in SEC games" by Chip Towers, "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"

Asher Allen can't explain it. Georgia's defensive backs have had their share of chances, but since Reshad Jones picked off a Chris Smelley pass to seal Georgia's win against South Carolina more than a month ago, the secondary has failed to haul in a single interception. "Georgia defensive backs searching for interceptions" by David Hale, "Macon Telegraph"

Georgia safety C.J. Byrd tries whenever he can to catch receiver Justin Wheeler playing for Vanderbilt on TV. Wheeler and Byrd played rec ball together growing up and were teammates at North Augusta (S.C.) High School. "Everytime I get a chance to watch his game, I'll watch him play," Byrd said. "He's done good. He made that Pontiac Game-Changing Performance."
"Dawgs' Byrd friends with Vanderbilt's Wheeler" by Marc Weiszer, "Savannah Morning News"

Wednesday, Oct. 15
Daily news articles about the Vanderbilt Football Program and its opponents.


Vanderbilt head football coach Bobby Johnson was a guest on the 104.5 Wake Up Zone today to discuss Saturday's SEC road game at No. 10 Georgia. Download the entire interview for free on
"Audio: 104.5 FM with Bobby Johnson" Courtesy of the 104.5 FM,

Georgia head coach Mark Richt and several football players met with the media Tuesday to discuss this week's matchup with No. 22 Vanderbilt. "Richt previews the Vanderbilt game" Courtesy of,

Did you miss this week's Commodore Call-In Show with football head coach Bobby Johnson? Then sign-up for All Access (FREE) to listen to the entire program. (Note - you have to fast forward through the first part of the audio to get past the previous program)
"Audio: Football Call-In Show archived" by


On Monday some of the Vanderbilt Commodores talked about cranking up the intensity in practice this week. They weren't kidding. The Commodores practiced in full pads on Tuesday for the first time since the season started. Could the Commodores be putting in tougher work after last week's loss to Mississippi State? Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said that wasn't necessarily the case.
"Vanderbilt practices in full pads" by Matt Wilson, "The City Paper"

Success hasn't spoiled the Vanderbilt football team. The Commodores haven't cast off their perennial underdog status, despite a four-week stay in the national rankings that stands as the best in the program's history. Even after winning their first five games in a start that propelled the program to 13th in the Associated Press poll, Vanderbilt's us-against-the-world mentality remains intact.
"Vanderbilt still has a chip on its shoulder" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

A day after being named Vanderbilt's starting quarterback, junior Mackenzi Adams said he hopes to spark a stagnant offense that has averaged only 185 yards of offense in its past two games. "I'm glad I get a chance to help the team win and hopefully provide a spark," Adams said. "(We've) just got to move the ball and score points." No. 22 Vanderbilt plays at No. 10 Georgia on Saturday, the first time this year the Commodores meet a ranked opponent on the road.
"New starter Adams is eager to provide offensive 'spark'" by David Rutz, "The Tennessean"


This used to be the laugher on the schedule, the game that was assigned to the win column before the season even began. But No. 10 Georgia is hardly expecting a walkover when it hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday, and that sense of caution has nothing to do with the number in front of the Commodores' name. Vanderbilt upset the Bulldogs in 2006 with a last-second field goal -- between the hedges, no less -- and Georgia needed a crucial defensive stop and a late kick of its own to knock off the Commodores a year ago. This time, the Commodores come in with a rare national ranking (No. 22) and looking to get over last week's ugly loss at Mississippi State, which cost them a chance at matching their best start in 80 years.
"Georgia has no trouble respecting Vanderbilt this year" by the AP, "International Herald Tribune"

The last time Georgia and Vanderbilt collided at Sanford Stadium, Bryant Hahnfeldt's 33-yard field goal with two seconds remaining propelled the Commodores to a 24-22 victory. VU's upset in 2006 ended Georgia's 11-game winning streak in the series. "It was a pretty sad Saturday afternoon," Georgia fullback Brannan Southerland said Tuesday. "I remember a bunch of missed opportunities and mistakes that ended up getting us beat."
"Georgia: Vanderbilt left '06 Dogs `sad'" by David Paschall, "Chattanooga Times Free Press"

The Bulldogs are one awful (and humbling) half away from being right where everybody thought they would be when the season began. Still, that one half is hard to ignore. Georgia was manhandled so badly in the first half of that 41-30 home loss to Alabama that there's still very much a "prove it to me" factor with this team. The nucleus is in place for Georgia to put it all together and win the East. The Bulldogs (5-1, 2-1 SEC) still haven't played their best football and have had some horrible luck in the injury department. They will be playing with their fourth different left offensive tackle this Saturday against Vanderbilt now that Vince Vance is lost for the season.
"Georgia midseason report" by Chris Low,


Still America's most-penalized major-college football team, Georgia improved in that area last week, coach said Tuesday. But not enough. Of Georgia's 11 penalties, Richt said three were "a coaching decision to burn clock" and two others were acknowledged by the SEC upon film review to have been probably incorrect calls. But that still left enough penalties, Richt said, to trigger the extra conditioning drills he had promised as punishment for excessive flags.
"Richt: Penalties most disappointing part of season" by Tim Tucker, "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"

To a man, Georgia coaches and players all used the adjective "quiet" to describe Clint Boling. That might be an understatement. Boling declined to provide specific answers to specific questions for this article. For instance, when Boling was asked, "Clint, are you going to start at left tackle this Saturday?" His response was, "Vanderbilt is a great team, and we're looking forward to the challenge."
"UGA quiet offensive lineman lets play do talking" by Chip Towers, "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"

Me and a couple of my sports writer buddies have had some pretty good arguments lately regarding Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, particularly right after this past Saturday's game against Tennessee. Obviously Stafford had two pretty bad red zone interceptions against the Vols. I say "bad" in that they were extremely hurtful to the Bulldogs' cause. But really I thought only the fade pattern in the end zone was awfully executed. The other one I thought was more a product of a poorly-designed play called at a bad time.
"Stafford: Playing great or getting by?" by Chip Towers, "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"

Tuesday, Oct. 14
Daily news articles about the Vanderbilt Football Program and its opponents.


"Quotes: Players on Georgia matchup" by

Head coach Bobby Johnson announced Monday that junior quarterback Mackenzi Adams will likely make his first start of the season Saturday at No. 10 Georgia in place of senior Chris Nickson. The change comes after Vanderbilt's offense had its lowest output of Coach Johnson's tenure with only 107 yards of total offense in a 17-14 loss to Mississippi State Saturday. It marked the fewest total yards produced by the Commodores since 1996 (82, vs. South Carolina, Oct. 26, 1996).
"Quarterback change" Barca Blog,

"Coach Johnson discusses Georgia game" by

Read the official football game notes for Saturday's SEC road matchup with Georgia at 11:30 a.m. CT in Sanford Stadium. The game will be televised by Raycom Sports. "Game Notes: Vanderbilt at Georgia" by


Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson didn't let the suspense last very long -- he named Mackenzi Adams the Commodores' starting quarterback against Georgia. The last two weeks Adams entered the game and gave the team a spark.
"VU decides to go with QB Adams" by Matt Wilson, "The City Paper"

Mackenzi Adams has come off the bench and given Vanderbilt's offense a lift in each of the Commodores' past three games. The junior quarterback will have an opportunity to provide that spark from the start this weekend. Coach Bobby Johnson announced Monday during his weekly news conference that Adams will start Saturday at Georgia. "We're going to probably go ahead and make a change with Mackenzi and Chris (Nickson)," Johnson said. "Vanderbilt swaps quarterbacks" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Nick Zeppos knows that Bobby Johnson is a South Carolina native and has a history at Clemson. The Vanderbilt chancellor just doesn't care. ''We're not letting Bobby Johnson go over to Clemson,'' Zeppos said Monday, after Tommy Bowden's firing at the Atlantic Coast Conference school. ''We want Bobby to spend his entire career at Vanderbilt.''
"VU officials vow to keep Johnson" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Clemson had seen enough. The Atlantic Coast Conference school parted ways with football Coach Tommy Bowden on Monday. A $4 million buyout didn't scare Clemson officials, who saw the Tigers drop recent ACC games to Maryland and Wake Forest. The news should be of particular interest to Vanderbilt fans. Don't think Coach Bobby Johnson isn't on Clemson's radar screen.
"Clemson has its eyes on VU's coach" by Joe Biddle, "The Tennessean"


With a 5-1 record and a No. 22 national ranking, the Vanderbilt Commodores are an improved team heading into Saturday's game at No. 10 Georgia. Calling them vastly improved, however, might be a stretch. After all, Vandy did win at Tennessee in 2005, at Georgia in 2006 and at South Carolina last season. "Georgia hosts `legit' VU team" by David Paschall, "Chattanooga Times Free Press"

Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson didn't understand what all the fuss was about in August. He waited until the week of the opener before announcing who is starting quarterback would be. "We feel like we've got two guys who can win for us," Johnson said at the time. Chris Nickson started the season healthy and got the nod. But the same shoulder that plagued Nickson last season is acting up again, and Johnson is going with Mackenzi Adams as his starter in Saturday's game at Georgia.
"Switching quarterbacks easy call for Johnson" by Chris Low,


Starting middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (knee) looks like he'll be ready for the Vanderbilt game. Ellerbe ran extensively on Sunday and worked out for trainer Ron Courson on the sideline on Monday. Coach Mark Richt said flanker Kris Durham (ankle) is slightly more questionable. "Georgia defense could get big boost" by Chip Towers, "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"

Blair Walsh said it was sort of "cool," glancing at the Sanford Stadium scoreboard late Saturday and seeing his four field goals as the margin of victory. But as much as Georgia's football team appreciates the reliable freshman kicker, a downside to the 26-14 win over Tennessee was that the Bulldogs so often had to settle for field goals rather than touchdowns. "We left some points out on the field," coach Mark Richt said. "Georgia stalling in red zone" by Tim Tucker, "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"

Georgia's Clint Boling was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week today. Boling, a 6-foot-5, 286-pound sophomore from Alpharetta, started Saturday's game against Tennessee at right guard but moved to left tackle after junior Vince Vance suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter of a 26-14 victory.
"Clint Boling picks up SEC lineman honor" by Tim Tucker, "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"

Apparently it's not just in the running game that Knowshon Moreno infuriates defenders. On a Matthew Stafford pass to Demiko Goodman late in the third quarter Saturday, Moreno laid a block on Tennessee's Gerald Williams that didn't sit too well with the Volunteers' linebacker. After the play, Williams punched Moreno and drew a personal-foul flag.
"Moreno gets under Vols' skin" by David Hale, "Macon Telegraph"

Before Georgia's victory celebration spilled onto Vanderbilt's midfield "V" logo last season in Nashville, prompting Bulldogs coach Mark Richt to quickly push players off, the Commodores rolled up 179 rushing yards. Georgia hasn't come close to surrendering that many yards to an opponent on the ground in the 12 games since that 20-17 victory. The No. 10 Bulldogs enter Saturday's game against No. 22 Vanderbilt ranked fourth in the nation in stopping the run, allowing 52.2 yards per game.
"Georgia knows Vanderbilt will run" by Marc Weiszer (Morris News Service), "The Florida Times-Union"

Monday, Oct. 13
Daily news articles about the Vanderbilt Football Program and its opponents.

POSTGAME LINKS: Box Score  |  Notes  |  Quotes


A late rally fueled by turnovers and defense -- sounds like yet another win for No. 13 Vanderbilt. Not so fast. Mississippi State handed the Commodores their first loss of the season, derailing the feel-good story of the year with a pair of second-half interceptions and smothering defense in a 17-14 victory on Saturday. "Commodores lose close road game" by the AP,

Choose any word to describe Vanderbilt's 17-14 loss to Mississippi State on Saturday. Frustrating and painful come to mind. The Commodores would describe it as over. No. 22 Vanderbilt (5-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) had their perfect start snapped by Mississippi State (2-4, 1-2 SEC) due to a sputtering offense that managed just 45 rushing yards, 62 passing yards and 23:48 in possession, all season lows. But the Commodores were ready to move on as soon as they left Starkville.
"Vanderbilt ready to move on" by David Rutz, "The Vanderbilt Hustler"


Remember the good things. Fix the bad ones. That was the simple message the Vanderbilt football team focused on at Sunday's practice one day after falling 17-14 at Mississippi State. Last week the team basked in the glow of a 5-0 start and a nationally televised win over No. 13-ranked Auburn. The tone this week figures to be a little different. The Commodores have to figure out how to jump-start an offense that sputtered last week while getting ready for No. 10 Georgia.
"'Dores focused on fixing mistakes" by Matt Wilson, "The City Paper"

For Vanderbilt, getting five wins might prove to be easier than getting one -- the next one. The Commodores' 17-14 loss at Mississippi State on Saturday caused the team's national ranking to plummet from 13th to 22nd in the Associated Press poll -- the biggest drop in this week's rankings, matching LSU's fall from No. 4 to No. 13. After losing to a Bulldogs team that entered the game with just one win, the road to a sixth win that would make Vanderbilt eligible for a postseason bowl won't be easy.
"VU's road won't be easy" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

A day after Vanderbilt managed just 52 yards of offense in the first three quarters of its 17-14 loss to Mississippi State, Coach Bobby Johnson defended his decision to stick with starting quarterback Chris Nickson for so long. Nickson was ultimately pulled after throwing an interception early in the fourth quarter. "We didn't think anything that was going on was particularly Chris' fault," Johnson said. "He wasn't blocking on the line and he wasn't calling the plays."
"Vanderbilt coach defends Nickson" by David Rutz, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt's Southeastern Conference contest at Georgia will begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and air on Raycom Sports. The Commodores (5-1, 3-1 SEC), who lost their first game of the season Saturday at Mississippi State, lead Georgia (5-1, 2-1 SEC) by a half-game in the SEC Eastern Division. Vanderbilt is tied with Florida (5-1, 3-1 SEC) atop the division.
"Game time set for Vanderbilt-Georgia" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"


The East title goes through Jacksonville: Vanderbilt's loss at Mississippi State all but assured it. The winner of the Florida-Georgia showdown in Jacksonville on Nov. 1 is going to represent the Eastern Division in the SEC championship game. Big surprise, right? Vanderbilt's certainly not out of it and plays at Georgia this coming Saturday, but the Commodores probably needed to go into that game unbeaten to have a legitimate chance at winning the division and going to Atlanta. At this point, Florida appears to have the best path. The Gators also seem to be finding themselves offensively. After the Vanderbilt game this coming weekend, Georgia's next four games are all away from Sanford Stadium -- at LSU, Florida in Jacksonville, at Kentucky and at Auburn. That's a grueling stretch for anybody. "Florida's Tebow leaves his cape behind" by Chris Low,

Georgia must find a new starting left tackle. Again. Vince Vance will need reconstructive knee surgery and miss the rest of the season, coach Mark Richt said Sunday. The successor to Vance will be the team's fourth first-string left tackle since the preseason.
"Georgia suffers another OL loss; Vance out for season with knee injury" by the AP,

Well, the Vanderbilt Commodores have been here before. Now their challenge is simple: Prove they really are different from Vandy teams of the past 25 years. The Commodores blew a chance at matching the best start in 80 years Saturday in a 17-14 loss at Mississippi State, a loss that dropped Vanderbilt from No. 13 to No. 22 in The Associated Press poll Sunday. That allowed them to set a new school mark of being ranked for four consecutive weeks for the first time.
"Vanderbilt tries to rebound after 1st loss of season" by the AP,

VANDERBILT: The undefeated streak came to an end for the Commodores this past weekend, as they dropped a 17-14 decision to Mississippi State. Mackenzi Adams was just 5-of-9 for 47 yards and a costly interception late in the game. Fellow quarterback Chris Nickson also saw time under center and finished 3- of-10 for 15 yards with an interception and a rushing touchdown for the Commodores (5-1, 3-1), who came into the game with their highest ranking since 1956. Vanderbilt, which managed just 43 yards in the first half, will take on Georgia in Athens this Saturday. "Southeastern Conference News and Notes" by The


For only the third time in school history, Georgia's Homecoming game will feature a pair of nationally ranked teams as the No. 10 Bulldogs face No. 22 Vanderbilt Saturday. It marks the first time a Georgia-Vanderbilt game will be a Top 25 contest in the series that began in 1893. During his weekly Sunday media teleconference, Georgia head coach Mark Richt said the Bulldogs are focused on Vanderbilt and not the upcoming slate of nationally ranked foes. After the Commodores, Georgia (5-1, 2-1 SEC) will face No. 13 LSU in Baton Rouge on Oct. 25 and then No. 5 Florida in Jacksonville on Nov. 1. "Bulldog Homecoming Will Be A Top 25 Contest" by

The Vanderbilt game is still huge. The Eastern Division -- for now at least -- is a three-team race between Georgia, Florida and Vanderbilt, even after Commodores (5-1, 3-1) dropped a 17-14 decision at Mississippi State. At least one of those figures to be eliminated Saturday at Sanford Stadium. The Commodores have given Georgia fits the last two seasons, winning on their last trip to Athens in 2006 and losing in Nashville last season only after a miraculous defensive play by the Bulldogs in the final minutes. "Vanderbilt is on top of the East right now and it's the only game that matters," Richt said.
"Dogs stay put in AP poll" by Chip Towers, "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"

Another season-ending injury to a Georgia offensive lineman has made the young pups protecting quarterback Matthew Stafford even younger. Junior left tackle Vince Vance will undergo reconstructive surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, coach Mark Richt said Sunday, leaving No. 10 Georgia with a starting lineup that will include three freshmen and two sophomores for Saturday's home game against No. 22 Vanderbilt. The loss easily gives Georgia the youngest starting offensive line among teams in the top 25.
"Line suffers another big loss" by Marc Weiszer, "The Augusta Chronicle"

College football teams often are remembered by what they do in November, but the Georgia Bulldogs likely will define their 2008 season by what they do between now and then. To win the Southeastern Conference's East Division for a fourth time in seven years, the 10th-ranked Bulldogs (5-1 overall, 2-1 SEC) will have to pass two teams slightly ahead of them in the standings, Florida (5-1, 3-1) and Vanderbilt (5-1, 3-1). Georgia hosts the No. 22 Commodores this Saturday before traveling to No. 13 LSU on Oct. 25 and then to Jacksonville to face the No. 5 Gators on Nov. 1.
"Georgia Bulldogs face key three-week test" by David Paschall, "Chattanooga Times Free Press"

Week of October 6

Game starts at 1:30 p.m. CT at Scott Field in Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss.; PPV broadcast is available - see link below; radio broadcast on 104.5 FM; Gametracker Live Stats available

RELATED LINKS: VU's Gameday Central  |  Order MSU Game on PPV  |  Photo Galleries  |  2008 Stats  |  Polls/Rankings


Brett Upson, VU punter, worked and practiced hard all spring and summer in preparation for the fall season. His efforts are paying off, and the SEC recently recognized him as the Specialist of the Week for his performance in the Auburn game on Oct. 4. The junior from Griffin, Ga., has averaged 39.4 yards per kick, while opponents have totaled just 3.0 yards per return. He has booted four kicks 50 yards or more, with 12 punts landing inside the 20-yard line, which leads the SEC. Upson, thus far, is producing a very good season. At one point in August, however, he might not have returned to the gridiron. "Upson's hard work pays off" by

Growing up with four older brothers, junior cornerback Myron Lewis can remember the lessons he learned from his childhood football games in the backyard. "They used to rough me up a lot," Lewis recalled of his siblings, "so I used to work hard to try to be like them. As they got older and I got older they just passed the torch down to me, and they taught me everything they learned."
"Friday Photos in Starkville" Barca Blog,


Undefeated, ranked 13th in the nation and leading the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division, the Commodores need just one win to reach six on the season and become eligible to play in a postseason bowl game for the first time since 1982. A victory at Mississippi State today likely would assure the Commodores of their fourth postseason appearance in school history and make them 6-0 for the first time in 80 years. "Vanderbilt's magic number stands at one" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Playing Mississippi State is like going to the American Red Cross. Before it's over, you're going to donate some blood. Perhaps an organ or two. Watson Brown took a Vanderbilt team to Starkville to christen the 1989 season. Vanderbilt lost 42-7, but it wasn't the final score that hurt that much. "Mississippi State could give Vanderbilt pain" by Joe Biddle, "The Tennessean"


Look closely at those highlights of No. 13 Vanderbilt and you'll see former Troy High School standout Ryan Custer at left guard for the Commodores, who are 5-0 for the first time since 1943 and chasing their first winning season since 1982. "Coach (Bobby Johnson) said it was going to take some time and a lot of hard work," Custer, a fourth-year junior, said this week in a phone interview from the Nashville, Tenn., campus. "And he was right." "Custer helping Vanderbilt make a stand in SEC" by Sean McClelland, "Dayton Daily News"

Although they have vastly different records, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt have taken a similar approach to this afternoon's game. The Bulldogs, last year's surprise team in the Southeastern Conference, have started with a disappointing 1-4 mark overall, 0-2 in the Southeastern Conference. After enjoying a much-needed bye week, rather than focusing on what it will take to get back to a bowl game, the Bulldogs are centering all their attention on the 13th-ranked Commodores.
"Mississippi State narrows its focus" by Marlon W. Morgan, "The Commercial Appeal"


The "reset" button firmly pressed on Mississippi State's season, there's a new attitude for the Bulldogs heading into today's game against No. 13 Vanderbilt. It helps that there's a new quarterback and a reasonable stack of points scored in his first start. An off week, allowing a mental cleansing and a break from football, came last Saturday at a most opportune time.
"Dogs look for fresh start entering '7-game season'" by Kyle Veazey, "The Clarion-Ledger"

Few could have anticipated today's game with Vanderbilt being the defining point of Mississippi State's football season. But that's where the Bulldogs are, still looking for their first victory against a Division I opponent this season. Mississippi State (1-4, 0-2 in the SEC) plays host to 13th-ranked Vanderbilt (5-0, 3-0) at 1:30 p.m. today in Starkville. The Commodores are looking for their first 6-0 start since the Hoover administration, which predates the inception of the SEC.
"MSU keeps eyes on Vanderbilt" by Jim Mashek, "The Sun Herald"

Mississippi State football coach Sylvester Croom thought almost thought he was watching a film of his team from last year. When Croom began watching tape of the Vanderbilt Commodores, it brought back memories of how the Bulldogs accomplished success in 2007. The only difference was the cast of characters. Croom was watching Vanderbilt's Patrick Benoist, Ryan Hamilton and D.J. Moore and not Gabe O'Neal, Titus Brown, and Avery Hannibal for Mississippi State.
"MSU sees familiar look in Vanderbilt" by Danny P. Smith, "The Commercial Dispatch"

Friday, Oct. 10
Daily news articles about the Vanderbilt Football Progam and its opponents.

RELATED LINKS: Photo Galleries  |  2008 Stats  |  Polls/Rankings


Watch Monday's press interviews with Chris Marve, George Smith and Justin Wheeler as the Commodores prepare for Saturday's road game at Mississippi State. "Interviews with Marve, Smith & Wheeler" by

College football fans voted the Commodores as the Pontiac Game Changing Performance for the sixth week of the 2008 NCAA® Football Season. Voting began on Sunday morning and concluded at midnight on Wednesday. ESPN announced Vanderbilt's Pontiac Game Changing Performance win, on Thursday night, during the Pontiac G6 Halftime Report. The key moment that led Vanderbilt to a 14-13 victory over Auburn was when backup quarterback Mackenzi Adams hit Justin Wheeler with a 15-yard touchdown in the final seconds of the first half, earning them a Pontiac Game Changing Performance win.
"VU wins Game Changing Performance" by

Sign-up for All Access (free) to watch this week's episode of Commodore Connection featuring football head coach Bobby Johnson. Footage includes highlights from the victory over Auburn plus a spotlight segment with senior safety Reshard Langford.
"Video: Commodore Connection show" Courtesy of Comcast Spotlight,

Vanderbilt head football coach Bobby Johnson was a guest on the 104.5 Wake Up Zone Tuesday to discuss Saturday's SEC road game at Mississippi State. Download the entire interview for free on
"Audio: 104.5 FM with Bobby Johnson" Courtesy of the 104.5 Wake Up Zone,

DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ: DISH), the nation's third largest pay-TV provider and the official satellite TV provider of Vanderbilt University Athletics, today announced it will carry the Commodores' football game at Mississippi State throughout Tennessee on Pay-Per-View (PPV). Kickoff is Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008, at 1:30 p.m. CDT. It joins Comcast and Charter cable systems in bringing the game into the state of Tennessee. "DISH Network joins Saturday's PPV" by

A decision on kickoff time and television availability for the Vanderbilt-Georgia game on Saturday, Oct. 18 in Athens has been delayed until Sunday, Oct. 12, according to Southeastern Conference officials. The Vanderbilt-Georgia game will be televised either nationally on ESPN or regionally across the Southeast on Raycom Sports. "Decision on Georgia kickoff delayed" by

When Vanderbilt head football coach Red Sanders bolted for the sunshine of Southern California at UCLA after the 1948 season, the Commodores were in need of a new coach. Sanders led the Commodores for six seasons (1940-42, 1946-48) with a three-year stint in the military during World War II. The former Vanderbilt player compiled a 36-22-2 for the Commodores. The Vanderbilt football program was very prominent and respected in this era of college football with many applicants eager for the coaching opportunity in Nashville. One of those applicants was Bill Edwards. "Former coach Bill Edwards remembered" by Bill Traughber,

The Vanderbilt Commodores have an opportunity to do Saturday what they haven't done since 1928 - start the season 6-0. Throughout this season, the Commodores (5-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) have set milestones, but a win this weekend against Mississippi State (1-4, 0-2) would be truly meaningful. By reaching the six-win plateau, Vanderbilt would become bowl eligible for the first time since 1982 and would also start the SEC season 4-0, which they have never done before. Traveling down to Starkville, the Commodores will face a Bulldogs team that hasn't played very consistently this season, but could certainly come away victorious on Saturday.
"Vanderbilt one win shy of bowl eligibility" by Nick Gallo, "The Vanderbilt Hustler"


Justin Wheeler certainly didn't have the resumé of a big-time SEC recruit. Wheeler played just one season -- his senior year -- at North Augusta High in South Carolina. He was a captain on the team and was all-region even though he caught just 25 passes for three touchdowns. Still, college coaches knew there was plenty of football potential in the 6-1 athlete who also starred in basketball.
"Wheeler off and rolling for Commodores" by Matt Wilson, "The City Paper"

What to watch for on offense: Quarterback Chris Nickson left last week's win over Auburn with a shoulder injury, leaving reserve Mackenzi Adams to led the 'Dores to victory. Nickson has appeared healthy in practice this week, but Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson could decide to stick with Adams. The Commodores appear to be equally comfortable with both quarterbacks and they have a full complement of receivers now with the return of George Smith.
"What to Watch for: Vanderbilt vs. Miss. St." by Matt Wilson, "The City Paper"

Coach Bobby Johnson has said it several times this season: Adding better players has been key to Vanderbilt's 5-0 start. It's a comment that might chafe some former players who endured decades of losing seasons, but several recent alumni of the football program said they found it hard to argue. "Maybe on a team basis, up and down the board, I'd agree with him," said Robert Dinwiddie, a defensive lineman from 2001-04 who lettered on teams that compiled an 8-38 record.
"Why is VU 5-0? Answer is in depth" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Chris Nickson had another solid day of work Thursday as Vanderbilt continued to prepare for Saturday's visit to Mississippi State, but Coach Bobby Johnson still wasn't ready to declare the fifth-year senior as the team's starting quarterback. "I think he looked pretty good," Johnson said. "We'll still sit down and evaluate things. (Quarterbacks coach Jimmy) Kiser is with them in meetings, with them at every second of practice. He'll have a huge input on what's going to happen." Since Nickson injured a shoulder Sept. 20 at Ole Miss, Mackenzi Adams has come off the bench in each of the No. 13 Commodores' past two games and led the offense on drives that have provided the margin of victory for the 5-0 team. "VU coach remains quiet on starter at quarterback" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"


Adams on call: It sounds like Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson's right throwing shoulder is healthy enough for him to start Saturday against Mississippi State. Of course, Nickson has failed to finish the last two games after taking hits on that shoulder. The comforting thing for the Commodores is that they don't miss a beat when backup quarterback Mackenzi Adams is in the game. In fact, they really didn't start moving the ball consistently against Auburn until he entered the game in the second quarter.
"What to watch in the SEC, Week 7" by Chris Low,

National television. A big crowd. And a 13-point deficit. That was the pressure cooker facing Mackenzi Adams when he took the field as Vanderbilt's quarterback last week against 13th-ranked Auburn. "It was pretty fun," Adams said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "Adams is having 'fun'" by Mike Strain, "Tulsa World"

As shocking as it seems, Vanderbilt has a legitimate shot at the SEC East title. They're favored to beat Mississippi State this weekend. If they can upset Georgia or Florida and beat Kentucky at home, then, as crazy as it sounds, Vandy will host the hapless Volunteers (the second-best SEC team in Tennessee this year) for the school's first shot at a conference title.
"Vanderbilt not just surprising ... they're good" by Steve Eubanks,


Heading into Saturday's Mississippi State-Vanderbilt game, the most dangerous punt returner on the field isn't MSU's Derek Pegues. At least not statistically. Vanderbilt's D.J. Moore leads the Southeastern Conference in punt return average with 28.5 yards per return. He's had eight this season. Pegues is ninth in the league with a 6.5-yard average on 11 returns.
"Vanderbilt has own return threat" by Kyle Veazey, "The Clarion-Ledger"

No. 13 Vanderbilt (5-0, 3-0 SEC) takes its first stab at breaking the 26-year barrier Saturday at Mississippi State (1-4, 0-2). The Bulldogs, energized by an off week and a switch in quarterbacks, will attempt to play spoiler, delaying the culmination of one of college football's stories of the year in 2008. How big of a deal will it be if Vanderbilt becomes bowl eligible?
"Vanderbilt rising" by Kyle Veazey, "The Clarion-Ledger"

Mississippi State defensive line coach David Turner has fond memories of working with coach Bobby Johnson and his staff at Vanderbilt. Turner was the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator for the Vanderbilt Commodores from 2002-05. "There are a lot of good people there," Turner said. Johnson brought Turner in when he became coach of the Commodores.
"Turner has fond memories of working at Vanderbilt" by Danny P. Smith, "The Commercial Dispatch"

The Mississippi State Bulldogs will try to get their season back on track against the No. 13 Vanderbilt Commodores,Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. The Commodores, who haven't had a winning season since 1982, are a surprising 5-0 (3-0 SEC), with narrow wins over South Carolina, Ole Miss and Auburn. "Bulldogs square off with 'Dores" by Harry Nelson, "The Reflector"

Wednesday, Oct. 8
Daily news articles about the Vanderbilt Football Progam and its opponents.


Vanderbilt officials today announced the Commodores' football game Saturday at Mississippi State will be available throughout the state of Tennessee on a pay-per-view basis to subscribers of Comcast and Charter.
"Saturday's game available on Pay-per-View" by

Sylvester Croom's Press Conference Quotes. "Croom previews the Vanderbilt game" by


Vanderbilt Commodores' 5-0 record may have helped lift Saturday's clash with Mississippi State from a "radio-only" game to a televised pay-per-view event. VU officials on Tuesday announced that the Commodores' 1:30 p.m. game in Starkville, Miss., will be available throughout the state of Tennessee on a pay-per-view basis to subscribers of Comcast and Charter cable TV systems.
"Vanderbilt game gets pay-per-view TV spot" by "The City Paper"

Watch and learn. That's what the Vanderbilt coaching staff told the bulk of its 2007 recruiting class, redshirting 12 of those 15 incoming freshmen. The approach has paid off for -- four of those redshirts in particular. Chris Marve, Jamie Graham, Brandon Barden and T.J. Greenstone have become impact players through the Commodores' 5-0 start.
"Redshirts provide punch for VU's fast start" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Chris Nickson and Mackenzi Adams both took snaps with Vanderbilt's first-team offense Tuesday as the undefeated, 13th-ranked Commodores prepared for Saturday's road game at Southeastern Conference rival Mississippi State. Nickson aggravated an injury to his right (throwing) shoulder during Vanderbilt's 14-13 win over Auburn, after originally hurting the shoulder in the Sept. 27 win at Ole Miss. Adams, who started the Commodores' final six games of 2007 after a similar Nickson ailment, came off the bench in each of the last two contests and led game-winning drives. "Nickson, Adams both prepare" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt officials announced the Commodores' football game Saturday at Mississippi State will be available throughout the state of Tennessee on a pay-per-view basis to subscribers of Comcast and Charter. "We have worked hard to put this arrangement together as a service to our fans," says David Williams, Vice Chancellor for University Affairs and Athletics. "We realize there is tremendous interest in our team and wanted to bring this game into the living room for those unable to travel to Starkville."
"VU-Miss. State game will be on PPV" by "The Tennessean"

On this there can be no debate: Halfway through the schedule, Bobby Johnson is SEC Coach of the Year. Why stop there? Right now, Johnson should be considered for national honors. McCain and Obama -- please discuss. But if everybody takes their allegiances out of it, this really is no contest -- at least not to this point. Johnson has the Commodores undefeated and climbing up the rankings in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. "VU's Johnson has done best coaching" by David Climer, "The Tennessean"


It's not in Bobby Johnson's makeup to come out and say it, but he doesn't really need to. Turn on the tape. Look at the numbers. Talk to other coaches and check with the NFL scouts. Vanderbilt's secondary is playing as well as any in the SEC right now and rates favorably with any defensive backfield in the country. "Vanderbilt's secondary is the real deal" by Chris Low,


"Croom talks about Vanderbilt game" by

Brandon McRae is second in the SEC in receptions with 28, but Mississippi State could use a little more out of the junior receiver. McRae is averaging only 9.4 yards per catch, and he's found the end zone twice. He hasn't scored since the second week and has no touchdowns in SEC play. "We want to get him into the end zone as much as anything else, get some points to win games," MSU coach Sylvester Croom said. "He needs to run more after the catch and get that average up a little bit."
"WR McRae challenged to get more after catches" by Brad Locke, "Daily Journal"

What's old is new again for Mississippi State's secondary. But will it work as well as it did last year? Through five games, the Bulldogs' man-to-man coverage schemes have been exploited on a weekly basis. While they've given up the second-fewest passing yards in the SEC (767), the Bulldogs have allowed eight passing plays of 30 yards or more. In its two SEC games, MSU has allowed five such big gainers. "Bulldogs, burned in man-to-man, making changes" by Brad Locke, "Daily Journal"

Look for Mississippi State's secondary to largely be in zone coverage during Saturday's game against No. 13 Vanderbilt, free safety Derek Pegues said. "We've been playing a lot of man-to-man with no safety help and that's been giving us a little trouble," Pegues said. "The blitzes haven't been getting there like we've wanted them to. We've really been having to cover a lot more than we'd really like. Like I said, (defensive coordinator Charlie Harbison) is putting us in better position to make plays, (to) let me play in the middle of the field much more this week." "Zone coverage fine with Pegues" by Kyle Veazey, "The Clarion-Ledger"

Tuesday, Oct. 7
Daily news articles about the Vanderbilt Football Progam and its opponents.


Video, audio and quotes following Monday's press conference. "Coach Johnson discusses MSU game" by

Did you miss this week's Commodore Call-In Show with football head coach Bobby Johnson? Then sign-up for All Access (FREE) to listen to the entire program. (Note - you have to fast forward through the first part of the audio to get past the previous program) "Audio: Football Call-In Show archived" by

With their 14-13 win over 13th-ranked Auburn, the Vanderbilt Commodores (5-0) are the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week for games on the weekend of Oct. 4. Vanderbilt's 3-0 start in SEC play is the school's best since 1950. The win over Auburn snapped a 13-game losing streak to the Tigers that dated back to the 1955 Gator Bowl. Coming in ranked No. 19, the Commodores also produced their first win as a ranked team since 1956. "VU named nat'l team of the week" by

Two Commodore standouts in Vanderbilt's 14-13 victory over nationally ranked Auburn earned Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honors, league officials announced today. Patrick Benoist, a linebacker from Southlake (Texas) Carroll H.S., was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week. Brett Upson, a punter from Spalding H.S., in Griffin, Ga., received the SEC Specialist of the Week. "Benoist, Upson Named SEC Player of the Week Honors" by

Read the official football game notes for Saturday's SEC matchup at Mississippi State at 1:30 p.m. CT in Davis Wade Stadium.
"Game Notes: Vanderbilt at Miss. State" by


It's a fact every Vanderbilt coach, player and fan knows. One more win will give the Commodores six victories, which will make them bowl-eligible for the first time 1982. That leads to a dilemma for Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson: Does he play up the fact that the 'Dores are close to one of their goals entering the season, or does he play it down and simply focus on Saturday's game against Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss.? "Bowl game now within Commodores' reach" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Vanderbilt's quarterback situation, unsettled until just days prior to the season opener, is up in the air again as the undefeated and 13th-ranked Commodores prepare for Saturday's Southeastern Conference road game at Mississippi State. Chris Nickson, who won the starting role in each of the last three preseasons, was relieved Saturday night by Mackenzi Adams for the second straight game. Adams threw for a pair of touchdown passes and a season-high 153 yards as Vanderbilt edged then-No. 13 Auburn 14-13. Nickson re-aggravated a shoulder injury -- one that forced him out of the Ole Miss game on Sept. 20 -- during the second quarter of the Auburn game. "Vanderbilt starter's injury monitored" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt receiver George Washington Smith III has been at Vanderbilt almost as long as Coach Bobby Johnson. "George is older than dirt," Johnson cracked at his weekly press conference Monday. Smith has experienced a lot during his six years at Vanderbilt, including being shot while in a dormitory. "Like Vanderbilt, receiver Smith perseveres" by Joe Biddle, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt juniors Patrick Benoist and Brett Upson were both recognized by the Southeastern Conference for their performances in the Commodores' 14-13 win over Auburn on Saturday. Benoist, a linebacker, was named the defensive player of the week, while punter Upson was special teams player of the week. It was the second such honor of the season for Benoist, who had a team-high 13 tackles -- two for lost yardage, including a quarterback sack -- and a pass deflection as No. 13 Vanderbilt improved to 5-0 (3-0 SEC).
"SEC honors Commodores duo" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"


America was embroiled in World War II the last time Vanderbilt began a football season 5-0. Harry Truman was president the last time the Commodores opened 3-0 in the Southeastern Conference. But while No. 3 LSU and No. 4 Alabama have hogged the SEC headlines this season, Vanderbilt has climbed to 14th in this week's USA TODAY Coaches' Poll and sits atop the East Division after edging then-No. 14 Auburn 14-13 Saturday. "Strong second halves fuel 5-0 start for No. 14 Vanderbilt" by Andy Gardiner, "USA Today"

If anything, Vanderbilt backup quarterback Mackenzi Adams has always been a good solider. The last two years, he has battled Chris Nickson for the starting quarterback job. And both times, Commodores' coach Bobby Johnson picked Nickson. But Adams is resilient. The son of a coach, he always knows he's one snap away from stepping in as a starter if Nickson gets hurt. Nickson has had shoulder issues each of the last two years. Last year against Alabama, Nickson separated his right (throwing) shoulder, and Adams stepped in. "VU's second QB puts team first" by Ron Higgins, "The Commercial Appeal"


Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom made it official Monday: Tyson Lee is the Bulldogs' starting quarterback, at least until further notice. "It's his job right now," Croom said. "I reserve the right to make a change, if necessary. By now, I think you know if he fumbles the ball or throws an interception, I'm not going to pull him." Lee, an undersized quarterback who played junior college football at Itawamba last year, went the distance in State's 34-24 loss to third-ranked LSU on Sept. 27 at Tiger Stadium. The Bulldogs (1-4, 0-2 in the SEC) play host to surprising Vanderbilt on Saturday at MSU's Scott Field. "Lee takes over at QB" by Jim Mashek, "The Sun Herald"

Sylvester Croom has long called Derek Pegues his team's best player. So consider the Mississippi State coach pleased to see Pegues back at practice Monday. Pegues missed all of State's practices during last week's open week nursing a shoulder injury. The optimism stopped short of redshirt freshman tight end Marcus Green (pelvis), who is expected to miss his fourth straight game.
"Top gun Pegues back at practice" by Kyle Veazey, "The Clarion-Ledger"

Monday, Oct. 6
Daily news articles about the Vanderbilt Football Progam and its opponents.


It was a few minutes past dawn as I headed for The Commons and ESPN's College GameDay set. The street was already lined with cars. A foursome was on foot, clad in Jay Cutler and Earl Bennett jerseys. A few yards ahead was a solitary figure carrying a couple of homemade placards. My eyes surprisingly moistened and I tried to swallow the lump in my throat as I realized this was something special. It was bigger than a TV show. It was much more than another football game. Lord knows we've played hundreds of them.
"Notebook: Seizing the moment" by Rod Williamson,

All members of the Commodore Nation will remember Saturday fondly over the next few decades. The weather was great, the excitement was palpable, and the country had its attention on Nashville and little old Vanderbilt University. From 9 a.m. and the start of ESPN's "College GameDay" coverage to the waning hours of the night as Vanderbilt students celebrated amidst the legions of Auburn fans driving off in disappointment and disbelief, the way in which our campus and our community came together for a little gridiron action reflects an uncommon spirit and belief. "Vanderbilt makes a statement" by "The Vanderbilt Hustler"

For the first time in school history, Vanderbilt found itself at the epicenter of the Saturday college football realm in one of the arguably most hyped games in years. And the defense came to play. In front of a national audience on ESPN, No. 13 Vanderbilt proved to the nation once again why the program deserves to stay in the upper ranks, pitching a second-half shutout for the third straight game.
"Defense rises to the occasion yet again" by Meghan Rose, "The Vanderbilt Hustler"


Yes, big-time college football has arrived in Nashville. Yes, Vanderbilt is 5-0 and ranked No. 13 in the nation. Yes, the Commodores were called out of their locker room by fired-up fans for a post-game curtain call after upsetting Auburn 14-13 on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium. Yes, it was all captured on ESPN, leaving bewildered fans around the nation asking -- Is this really happening? "This is for real," VU wide receiver George Smith said. "This team is for real."
"'Dores hit the big-time with Auburn win" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Vanderbilt jumped six spots in The Associated Press Top 25 poll on Sunday, soaring to No. 13 in the nation following Saturday night's 14-13 win over 13th-ranked Auburn. The undefeated Commodores -- ranked 14th in both the ESPN/USA Today coaches' and the Harris polls -- improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1943 and raised their Southeastern Conference mark to 3-0 for the first time since 1950.
"5-0 Vanderbilt rates 13th in AP poll" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson's injured shoulder appears to have opened the door for backup Mackenzi Adams, who led both Commodore scoring drives against Auburn on Saturday. "It's always up for grabs," Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson said of the quarterback position. "We grade it every day; see how they do, see how they progress during the week." After helping to lead Vanderbilt to an undefeated start through four games, Nickson struggled during the minutes he played Saturday. He was just 3 of 8 passing for 4 yards and threw his first interception of the year. Nickson hurt the shoulder two weeks ago at Ole Miss. He aggravated the injury during the second quarter of the 14-13 win over visiting Auburn.
"Nickson injury revives quarterback question" by David Rutz, "The Tennessean"

Separated by one time zone and 430 miles, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest are far closer than the seven hours it takes to trek from West End to the Triad. Both are among the smaller schools in their respective conferences: Vanderbilt, the only private school in the SEC, also is the smallest with an enrollment around 11,000. Wake Forest is a private school in the ACC with an enrollment around 6,700. And if you want to attend either, prepare yourself for sticker shock: both will cost you more than $35,000 a year.
"Vanderbilt joins Wake Forest inside top 25 arena" by Jimmy Trodglen, "The Leaf Chronicle"


Brains and brawn. What a unique combination. And one that has gained headlines midway through the college football season. Vanderbilt, the mighty Southeastern Conference's smallest school and its only private university, is best known for its academia over its football. The same can be said about Northwestern in the Big Ten and Wake Forest (along with Boston College and Duke) in the Atlantic Coast Conference. "Academic powers find success on football field" by Howie Beardsley, "The Grand Rapids Press"

According to my bookie friend Guido, if I had bet $10 on August 25th that both Vanderbilt and the Tennessee Titans would stand 5-0 on the first Monday of October, I would be receiving $2,500 this morning. I didn't, but that's OK. To see Vanderbilt atop the SEC East standings today and the Titans similarly in command of the AFC South is to know that football's rainbow currently has its pot of gold residing in the Music City. "Vanderbilt's 5-0 record is a real Music City miracle" by Mark Wiedmer, "Chattanooga Times Free Press"


Back in August, the consensus expectation around Mississippi State's football team was that it could match last year's win total of eight and return to a bowl game. Some even theorized how the Bulldogs could make a run at the Western Division title. But a 1-4 start? An 0-2 SEC mark heading into an off week? Unthinkable. This is where the Bulldogs find themselves, though, and the task now is to start over. Quarterback Tyson Lee said as much last week. "Bulldogs will tackle seven-game season" by Brad Locke, "Daily Journal"

On Offense The Commodores are 5-0, yes, but it's not because of an aerial attack. Vandy's 96 yards per game in the air is dead-last in the SEC by a full 56 yards. The Commodores are also last in the league in total yards per game (288.6). But their strength is their rushing game, which is third-best in the league. On Defense The pseudo-word "opportunistic" comes up most often in connection with this unit, and there's good reason. Vandy has intercepted 11 passes and recovered four fumbles in the young season, much of the reason it's able to overcome some of its less-appealing statistics. "Mississippi State vs. Vanderbilt" by Kyle Veazey, "The Clarion-Ledger"

Week of September 29

Sunday, Oct. 5
Daily news articles about the Vanderbilt Football Progam and its opponents.

RELATED LINKS: Box Score  |  Notes  |  Quotes  |  Photo Galleries  |  2008 Stats  |  Polls/Rankings


The Vanderbilt Commodores are on a mission and tired of being considered a football joke. Well, they're big-time now. Mackenzi Adams came off the bench and threw for 153 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 19 Vanderbilt beat 13th-ranked Auburn 14-13 Saturday night to improve to 5-0 for the first time since 1943. "Victory puts Vanderbilt at 5-0" by the AP,


Maybe Vanderbilt is for real, after all. A magical season for the 19th-ranked Commodores took another impressive turn Saturday with a 14-13 victory over 13th-ranked Auburn at sold-out and rocking Vanderbilt Stadium. VU is 5-0 for the first time since 1943 and improved to 3-0 in Southeastern Conference play for only the third time in school history and the first time since 1950. "This is for real," wide receiver George Smith said. "This team is for real." "The magic continues: Vanderbilt takes down Auburn" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Vanderbilt continued to win its battles on the field and in the record books Saturday night. The 19th-ranked Commodores won their fifth straight game to open the season -- a first since 1943 -- by defeating visiting Auburn 14-13. It was Vanderbilt's first victory against the Tigers since 1955, and the first win as a ranked team since 1956. With the win, the Commodores (5-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) extended their stay atop the SEC Eastern Division standings.
"Vanderbilt's record stays golden" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

That 30-plus-year note Vanderbilt football has been carrying was paid in full Saturday. For long-suffering Vanderbilt fans, the 14-13 win over 13th-ranked Auburn before a packed house was pure joy. There were hugs all around as the final second ticked off the game clock and the outcome was known to all. "For Vanderbilt, it's a victory to savor" by Joe Biddle, "The Tennessean"

I didn't check with Nashville International Airport air traffic control to get official confirmation, but I did see a significant number of pigs flying around Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday night. Don't pinch yourself when you wake up this morning. It's for real. Vanderbilt is 5-0 and certain to improve on its No. 19 ranking this week. The most important thing is they stood jaw to jaw with No. 13 Auburn, a legitimate SEC heavyweight that thrives on punching opponents in the nose and beating them to a pulp.
"Vanderbilt shows it can now play with SEC powers" by Joe Biddle, "The Tennessean"

Members of the Vanderbilt football team returned to the field for a curtain call for the fans after initially going to the locker room after beating Auburn 14-13 on Saturday. As Auburn fans began to file out of the north end zone stands, the Commodores came out and greeted a joyous Vanderbilt crowd, celebrating the win with fans who remained in the seating areas.
"Commodores reward their fans with curtain call" by Tom Kreager, "The Tennessean"

Mackenzi Adams lost the Vanderbilt starting quarterback's job prior to the start of the season. He made his bid to get the starting position Saturday night after relieving an injured Chris Nickson and leading the No. 19 Commodores to a 14-13 win against No. 13 Auburn on Saturday night at Vanderbilt Stadium. It marked the second consecutive game Adams led Vanderbilt (5-0, 3-0) to SEC wins after Nickson left the game with a shoulder injury.
"Adams fills in well for injured starter Throws two TDs in relief" by Tom Kreager, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt's second-half defense has become one of the main storylines in their 5-0 season. The No. 19 Commodores pitched their third straight second-half shutout Saturday night, allowing the offense to rally from an early deficit for a 14-13 win over visiting Auburn. "Football's a four-quarter game, and we're a four-quarter team," redshirt freshman linebacker Chris Marve said after the 13th-ranked Tigers grabbed a 13-0 lead in the opening period but managed little else.
"VU defense remains strong in second half" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

OFFENSE: B It wasn't pretty, and there wasn't much of a conventional running game. However, Vanderbilt actually outgained Auburn decisively behind 157 passing yards. DEFENSE: B Rebounding from a rough start, the Commodores put up their third straight second-half shutout while limiting Auburn to 110 rushing yards on the night. "Vanderbilt report card" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

When the alarm sounded at 7:30 a.m., Vanderbilt freshman Alison Fetherstonhaugh weighed her options and then crawled out of bed. "I didn't know what ESPN College GameDay was," the New York native said. "But I knew it was supposedly huge, and I knew this may never happen again. I didn't want to miss it." Thousands of football fans found their way to The Commons Center on the east side of campus Saturday morning, where ESPN cameras broadcast GameDay from Nashville for the first time. Host Chris Fowler, analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard and guest Kenny Chesney were on hand.
"Vanderbilt stars on 'GameDay'" by Jeff Lockridge, "The Tennessean"

The Vanderbillt Commodores upset the Auburn Tigers on Saturday, and are off to a five-win, undefeated season for the first time since 1943. The 19th ranked 'Dores beat 13th ranked Auburn, which they haven't done since 1955. A packed Dudley Field on Vanderbilt's West End campus saw Auburn quickly jump to a 13-0 lead after scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter, but missing an extra point. "Vanderbilt upsets Auburn, record improves to 5-0" by WKRN, News Channel 2


All the Vanderbilt doubters, you better hop on the Good Ship Bobby Johnson before it's too late. The No. 19 Commodores used an ESPN telecast and ESPN "GameDay" on campus to convert more disbelievers on Saturday night, as they roared back from a 13-0 deficit for a 14-13 Southeastern Conference victory over No. 14 Auburn.
"QB rallies VU to win, 1st 5-0 start since 1943" by Ron Higgins, "The Commercial Appeal"

It doesn't take a Vanderbilt University education to recognize that the Commodores are having a football season to remember. Vanderbilt secured its first 5-0 start since 1943 on Saturday night, shocking 13th-ranked Auburn 14-13 before a packed house of 38,773 at Vanderbilt Stadium. Auburn led 13-0 after the first quarter, but 19th-ranked Vandy regrouped and whipped the Tigers down the stretch, holding them to 82 total yards in the final three quarters.
"Commodores upset Auburn" by David Paschall, "Chattanooga Times Free Press"

"Misery ends for Vanderbilt, Mizzou" by Matt Hayes, "Sporting News Today"

When pausing to take breaths between euphoric cheers Saturday night, Vanderbilt fans celebrating a 14-13 victory over Auburn might have felt a sense of confusion. They'd never seen this before. And yet, they're seeing it seemingly every week now. Mackenzi Adams came off the bench and led Vandy to another big win. Once again, the upstart Commodores made clutch plays when it mattered most and for the third consecutive week did not surrender any points in the second half. By doing so, Vanderbilt knocked down a list of dubious barriers that extend back more than half a century.
"Vanderbilt's Johnson calm among a sea of jubilation" by Olin Buchanan,

Vanderbilt's coaching staff is gold: Vanderbilt is not a great football team. The Commodores have significantly upgraded their talent under Bobby Johnson, but they still don't have the kind of talent of marquee teams in the league. What they do have is a coaching staff that's been together for a while, a coaching staff that's outstanding at making key adjustments, a coaching staff that believes in this group of players and a coaching staff that excels at putting a prepared, disciplined football team on the field every week. Redshirt freshman linebacker Chris Marve said it best Saturday night when recounting what Johnson said to the team following the 14-13 win over Auburn. "He said he was proud of us and thanked us for working hard," Marve recounted. "We thanked him for working so much harder and believing in us. Everything we've done is because we work together cohesively."
"Vanderbilt getting it done on the sidelines" by Chris Low,

The older gentleman operating the elevator Saturday night at the Vanderbilt Stadium press box offered a proud smile. Frank Hood, who's been watching Vanderbilt play (mostly bad) football for the last 45 years, offered up what the entire Commodore Nation had to be thinking. Vanderbilt had just beaten Auburn, 14-13, once again dominating the second half and making every key play, to go to 5-0 for the first time since 1943. "You remember all those games Vanderbilt would fold?" asked Hood, not really giving anybody a chance to answer. "Not this year and not this team." "Welcome to a new day of Vanderbilt football" by Chris Low,

Mackenzi Adams, quarterback, Vanderbilt: Often times, you're only as good as your backup quarterback in the SEC, and the Commodores have a good one and a proven one. For the second straight game, Adams stepped in for an injured Chris Nickson. This time, Adams came in with Vanderbilt trailing 13-0 late in the second quarter and added a spark to the Commodores' offense. He finished with 207 yards of total offense and threw a pair of touchdown passes. "Week 6 SEC helmet stickers" by Chris Low,

They're the four most popular letters on Vanderbilt's campus right now. DWIT. Vanderbilt officials in the press box are sporting white shirts with those four letters, and players, coaches and anybody else connected to the football team have been wearing bracelets all season bearing those four letters. Do Whatever It Takes. It's the brainchild of Vanderbilt junior center Bradley Vierling, one of the Commodores' captains. His father has been drilling those four words into him since Vierling started playing football as a youngster just outside Philadelphia. "DWIT: Vanderbilt's winning mentality" by Chris Low,

Here's a scene you don't see everyday at a Vanderbilt football game: Scores of people walking around looking for tickets. Vanderbilt faces Auburn in a little more than an hour in a matchup of two nationally ranked teams that's the most anticipated game around here in a long, long time. There are no tickets to be found. Auburn and Vanderbilt fans were walking around everywhere outside Vanderbilt Stadium holding up fingers and looking for tickets. Vanderbilt sports information director Larry Leathers said it's the toughest ticket for a game here since No. 6-ranked Notre Dame came to town in 1996 to open the season. The Irish won that game 14-7.
"Vanderbilt Mania in full throttle" by Chris Low,


Rod Smith didn't have an answer. Neither did Kodi Burns. Neither did other offensive players. Neither did the defenders. Neither did the head coach. Vanderbilt's 14-13 win over Auburn on Saturday night was a jaw-dropping performance - for Vandy, which improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1943; and for Auburn, the once-proud running team that mustered just 82 total yards and six first downs over a stunningly bad final three quarters. "Vanderbilt extends Auburn's misery" by Charles Goldberg, "The Birmingham News"

Saturday night, an offense running the spread rolled up 206 yards in the second half, with 10 first downs and scored 14 unanswered points when the game was on the line, against what was supposed to be one of the best defenses in the SEC. "That's what it is supposed to look like," said Auburn defensive tackle Tez Doolittle. "Fast. Inside and outside. A lot of motion to keep the defense off balance." Unfortunately for Doolittle and Auburn, the spread offense he was talking about was the one No. 19 Vanderbilt ran to the delight of a sold-out Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday night, a spread offense that overcame a 13-0 first-quarter deficit and skated away with a 14-13 victory over the 13th-ranked Tigers.
"Vanderbilt's spread is more than Auburn can handle" by Ray Melick, "The Birmingham News"

Game starts at 5 p.m. CT at Dudley Field in Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.; ESPN will broadcast the game on television; radio broadcast on 104.5 FM; Gametracker Live Stats available

RELATED LINKS: VU's Gameday Central  |  2008 Stats

Click here for ESPN's College GameDay: GameDay Video  |  GameDay Feature: Chris Nickson  |  Musburger's Preview


As soon as VU linebacker Chris Marve stepped on to the John Rich practice field last year, observers knew he was going to excel at Vanderbilt. Marve, who redshirted his first year, has compiled 26 tackles, 14 unassisted and two for loss, including one sack and a forced fumble in his first four collegiate games this season. "Chris Marve excelling in his first four games" by

Following Friday afternoon's ESPN College GameDay taping at The Commons on campus, analyst Lee Corso wasted no time pointing out how great the turn out was by Commodore fans. "I think at Georgia (last week) we may have had 15 or 20 people on Friday. I think it's the best Friday crowd we've ever had. It shows that the enthusiasm is here for football." Count colleague Kirk Herbstreit as also being impressed. "This was spectacular," remarked Herbstreit. "Corso: 'Best Friday crowd ever'" Barca Blog,

Watch Monday's press interviews with senior placekicker Bryant Hahnfeldt and senior quarterback Chris Nickson as the Commodores prepare for Saturday's home game with Auburn. "Video: Interviews with Hahnfeldt, Nickson" by


The nation will awaken to the Commodores this morning as ESPN's College GameDay broadcasts live from the West End university in anticipation of one of the biggest games in school history: 13th-ranked Auburn at 19th-ranked Vanderbilt. The college football show, which features network analysts interacting with throngs of screaming, sign-waving football fans who serve as a backdrop, has evolved into a cultural phenomenon. Many consider the sports cable network's first trip here as national validation of Vanderbilt's 4-0 start and first foray into the national rankings in nearly a quarter- century. "Vanderbilt soars into ESPN's orbit" by Gary Estwick, "The Tennessean"

A week of hype prompted by the presence of ESPN's College GameDay television show and Vanderbilt's No. 19 national ranking, culminates tonight with a nationally televised Southeastern Conference matchup against visiting 13th ranked Auburn. A victory would give the resurgent Commodore football program a 5-0 record for the first time since World War II. And while the Tigers are favored, Vanderbilt faces an Auburn team that ranks 10th in the SEC in scoring, averaging just 19.8 points per game. Their 4-1 record includes a 3-2 win over Mississippi State three weeks ago and a 14-12 win over Tennessee last week.
"Game day arrives for Vanderbilt" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

If I am reading the signs correctly, the Apocalypse is closer than you think. Vanderbilt's is judged to have the 19th-best football team in the country, if you trust the judgment of those who cast votes for the AP and coaches' football polls.The past three seasons, Vanderbilt averaged two SEC wins. But Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville has seen the progress Johnson has made. "I know they haven't won as many games in the past as he's wanted, but they have been right on the verge of getting over the hump and they understand that,'' Tuberville said. "VU gets to prove itself worthy of national stage today" by Joe Biddle, "The Tennessean"

ESPN's College GameDay spent Friday setting up on Vanderbilt's campus in preparation for Saturday's match-up against Auburn. The game is huge for the Commodores, who, with a 4-0 start to the season, moved into the Associated Press' Top 25 last week and then, with an open date this past weekend, jumped two spots to No. 19. The ranking is the best ever for Vandy, who reached as high as No. 19 in 1984, but it was only for one game. "ESPN's GameDay comes to Vanderbilt" by WKRN, News Channel 2


A sold-out stadium with two ranked teams playing a big SEC game. Can this really be Vanderbilt? Yep, these Commodores are going big-time. No. 19 Vanderbilt tries to go 5-0 for the first time since World War II when it faces No. 13 Auburn on Saturday. Coach Bobby Johnson has been out on campus talking up the Auburn game, and he has felt a buzz of excitement usually saved for Vandy's basketball or baseball teams at the SEC's smallest and only private school, even among freshmen he called "bookworm kind of guys."
"Vanderbilt eager to make some football history" by the AP,

There's some room on the Vanderbilt bandwagon. Any Volunteers? You will likely see a sign to that effect on ESPN's "College GameDay" this morning from Nashville. And lots of other witty one-liners, puns and those hilarious Roger Penrose quotes. See? Being smart -- as the Vanderbilt (4-0), Duke (3-1), Northwestern (5-0) and Stanford (3-2) football teams are proving -- is cool. The motto behind this uprising of upper-academia schools shouldn't revolve around nerds. No need to perpetuate an idiotic stereotype. Would you call D.J. Moore a nerd to his face? No. No you would not.
"Vanderbilt's bandwagon may have a full-season ride" by Darren Epps, "Chattanooga Times Free Press"


Right now, the Commodores are 4-0 and ranked No. 19 in the country. Oh, yeah, and the most popular pregame college football show in the universe will be on campus to broadcast live from 9-11 a.m. today as an appetizer to the nation's No. 1 game (as picked by ABC, Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit ) between Vanderbilt and Auburn (4-1, 2-1 SEC). Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m. on ESPN (Channel 28 in Lee County). "Tigers travel to face rejuvenated Commodores" by Mike Szvetitz, "Opelika-Auburn News"

Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson was somewhat concerned about hoopla earlier this week. His team has become a media darling. The Commodores, usually an SEC doormat, are 4-0, ranked in the top 25 and will be hosting ESPN's popular "GameDay" pregame show this weekend for the first time. It's a trifecta of hype. Johnson devised a brilliant scheme to numb the energy. "We just throw on last year's Auburn film," he said. "That's the best thing we can do. (The Tigers) were very impressive in that game and they sort of took us to the woodshed." "Vanderbilt more dandy than usual" by Jay G. Tate, "Montgomery Advertiser"

The spread offense this. The spread offense that. Chris Todd. Kodi Burns. Too many runs. Not enough runs. What's an offense to do? How about stop committing so many mistakes. Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville says his much-talked-about-and-occasionally-criticized spread offense will do just fine once the Tigers stop committing so many penalties and turnovers.
"Tuberville says mistakes are stalling Auburn's spread offense" by Charles Goldberg, "The Birmingham News"

The national ranking, the ESPN GameDay broadcast, the almost unprecedented interest in Vanderbilt football -- Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville says that's little more than a curiosity to his players. The Tigers will take Vanderbilt seriously because they always do. The Commodores, Tuberville said, are always dangerous. "We normally play them early," Tuberville said. "Last year they were 3-1, playing well and giving people problems. It's really not any different. We try to put a good game plan in and not worry about the name of the other school or how many people you're in front of."
"Tuberville, Auburn say they're taking No. 19 Vanderbilt seriously" by Evan Woodbery, "The Press-Register"

Historically speaking, it's hard to believe No. 19 Vanderbilt (4-0, 2-0) has morphed from perennial SEC doormat to a potential bowl team. Statistically speaking, it's just as difficult to fathom. Entering today's meeting with No. 13 Auburn (4-1, 2-1) at Vanderbilt Stadium, the Commodores rank last in the SEC in total offense, total defense, passing offense and passing defense. So how is Vanderbilt ranked for the first time since 1984? "Vanderbilt takes center stage" by Luke Brietzke, "Times Daily"

Friday, Oct. 3
Daily news articles about the Vanderbilt Football Progam and its opponents.

The ESPN College GameDay show has officially set up shop at The Commons on campus! I stopped by there yesterday afternoon to check it out. Here are a few pictures. Fans are encouraged to come by the set from 3:30-3:50 p.m. CT Friday and 8-11 a.m. Saturday. If you have any questions about the event (timeline, directions, parking, etc.), then Click Here for detailed instructions.
"GameDay arrives" Barca Blog,

Sign-up for All Access (free) to watch last week's episode of Commodore Connection featuring football head coach Bobby Johnson. Footage includes highlights from the victory over Ole Miss plus a spotlight segment with senior wide receiver Sean Walker.
"Video: Commodore Connection show Ole Miss highlights, Walker spotlight" by


From Vanderbilt's perspective, there are two ways to look at Saturday's showdown against Auburn. A loss would only drop the Commodores to 4-1 and would do nothing to derail a promising season. A win, however, could catapult the program into rare air. Rarely, perhaps ever, has as much hype surrounded a Vanderbilt home football game. ESPN's College GameDay will broadcast nationally from the VU campus, and the game will be played on national television.
"VU searching for rare air against Auburn" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

After averaging 14 passes through its first four games, Vanderbilt will almost certainly have to take to the air much more often Saturday against a stout Auburn defense. With that in mind, there may have been no better time for Commodore sixth-year senior receiver George Smith to make his 2008 debut. The most experienced and productive receiver on the Vanderbilt roster, Smith has been sidelined with a stress fracture in his right foot that required surgery in early August. His insertion into the Commodore attack this week should give a much-needed lift to No. 19 Vanderbilt, which ranks last in the Southeastern Conference in passing offense.
"Vanderbilt receiver times his return just right" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

For many of us, it is a Saturday morning ritual. Get out of bed, grab the remote and punch up College GameDay. "You wake up, turn on ESPN and get the rundown on all the games," says Bryant Hahnfeldt, Vanderbilt's place-kicker. "You want to know where GameDay is. You see all the fans. It's cool." And this from Commodores wide receiver Sean Walker: "We always watch GameDay. You wonder what Lee Corso is going to say." Yes, college football players have a GameDay jones just like the rest of us.
"Vanderbilt stays cool on camera" by David Climer, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson isn't concerned that his 19th-ranked Commodores may have lost some of their momentum during last weekend's open date. Heading into Saturday's game against No. 13 Auburn, the Commodores have not played since their 23-17 win Sept. 20 at Ole Miss, which kept them undefeated at 4-0 (2-0 Southeastern Conference). "Once you get finished with the off week, you get back in your routine," Johnson said following Thursday's practice. "I don't think it'll have any effect."
"Taking time off won't hurt Vanderbilt" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"


Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin sat alone in his office Sunday looking a bit bedraggled as classical music played in the background. As the woodwinds and brass soared, he diagrammed a typical play called "Ace Cross" for a reporter. It's been a base play everywhere he's been, but at Auburn it hasn't been very successful. "I probably should quit running it," he says. In college football, there's no Mozart Effect. Just because a school hires a guru doesn't mean the offense is going to be a masterpiece a month into the season. Still, three offensive touchdowns in three Southeastern Conference games isn't what was expected when Auburn switched from its West Coast offense to Franklin's up-tempo, no-huddle spread. The Tigers rank 90th out of 119 Bowl Subdivision teams in total offense, 97th in passing offense, 105th in red-zone offense and 112th in third-down conversions.
"Learning curve still applies for Auburn's new spread offense" by Kelly Whiteside, "USA Today"

Vanderbilt offensive tackle Thomas Welch has spent most of his nights this week doing what any football player in the SEC does the week of a nationally ranked showdown. Forget the film room or even the hottest party on campus. Welch has been sequestering himself in the library for hours at a time. Midterms are fast approaching at Vanderbilt. Somewhere along the way, Welch will also manage to squeeze in Saturday's football game. Don't think he's not excited. Don't think everybody on West End Avenue isn't excited.
"Johnson proving you can win at Vanderbilt" by Chris Low,

Vandy's short fields: Vanderbilt is last in the SEC in total offense and total defense, which probably causes a few people to scratch their heads. But the Commodores have been so opportunistic, which will again be critical if they're going to take down Auburn. They will need some short fields to work with thanks to big plays from their defense or special teams. In both SEC games this season, Vanderbilt has either scored on defense or set up a touchdown with a special-teams play.
"What to watch in the SEC, Week 6" by Chris Low,

Ranked teams beware: Upset alerts could be on the rise for Saturday. Does Auburn belong on the upset watch list? Tubs' Tigers are (did you notice?) only narrowly favored by the experts for their visit to rockin' Music City (ESPN, 6 p.m. ET). If Vanderbilt is ever going to get the bully from the Plains that has smacked the Dores around in 13 straight meetings (going back to 1950!), Saturday sets up as a rare chance. "Upstart Dores hope to end 13-year losing skid to Auburn" by Chris Fowler,


The 13th-ranked Auburn football team put the finishing touches on its game plan for its nationally televised game against 19th-ranked Vanderbilt with an hour-long workout on the outdoor practice fields Thursday morning. Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville noted the Tigers' progress overall during the week of preparation. "I think this has been one of our better weeks (of practice)," Tuberville said. "In terms of our level of focus, intensity and preparation, this was a really good week. The guys were really flying around this week. I think everyone is excited about heading up there." "Auburn Football Practice Report" by

Tommy Tuberville doesn't drive a Harley Davidson or wear a black leather jacket, but he's a firm believer in leading a pack of road warriors. Since the beginning of the 2004 season, Tuberville's Tigers are 14-3 in road games. Thirteenth-ranked Auburn (4-1, 2-1 SEC) visits No. 19 Vanderbilt (4-0, 2-0) Saturday at 5 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPN (Channel 28 in Lee County).
"Tigers look for more road wins" by Joe McAdory, "Opelika-Auburn News"

A quick glance at the college football polls this year reveals a surprising team among those ranked. At No. 19 of all three major polls is Vanderbilt, sporting a 4-0 record. But while the rest of the country might be surprised by seeing the Commodores ranked and undefeated, it has not come as a surprise to the players. "Being ranked No. 19 is unusual for Vanderbilt," said senior quarterback Chris Nickson, "but it's something we expected to do." "Pike County's Nickson leads Vanderbilt" by Micah Lewter, "Dothan Eagle"

Bobby Johnson is on hallowed ground. Vanderbilt's 4-0 start is the second under Johnson in four seasons, but only the program's ninth such beginning since 1936. The Top 25 ranking, currently 19th in the AP, is the first in 24 years. But when the word "great" is used to describe coaches around the SEC, Johnson rarely gets a mention.
"Bobby Johnson leads No.19 Vanderbilt to rare successes this season" by Doug Segrest, "The Birmingham News"

When Chris Nickson returned to Vanderbilt for his senior season this summer, it was almost like he was starting over again. After throwing for 2,085 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2006, Nickson suffered a shoulder injury midway through 2007. Mackenzi Adams took over, leading the Commodores to a 2-4 record over the final six games. When Vanderbilt reported for practice in August, Nickson had to earn his starting job back.
"Chris Nickson finds niche at Vanderbilt" by Mike Herndon, "The Press-Register"

Auburn hasn't stopped emphasizing ball security even after the running backs had a fumble-free game against Tennessee. Tigers coach Tommy Tuberville said running backs coach Eddie Gran hasn't forgotten the fumbles against Mississippi State and LSU. "We've had that problem in games we haven't played that well in," Tuberville said. "We've thrown it on the ground. Coach Gran has worked real hard on it." "Protecting ball still priority for Auburn" by Evan Woodbery, "The Press-Register"

Thursday, Oct. 2
Daily news articles about the Vanderbilt Football Progam and its opponents.

Is the spread dead at Auburn? That question is being pondered this week as the 13th-ranked Tigers try to repair a struggling offense that ranks in the bottom half of the Southeastern Conference in all major statistical categories. Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, whose spread offense has yet to kick into gear in his first full season at Auburn, took the blame this week.
"Auburn tries to kick offense into gear for Vanderbilt" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Auburn's Tommy Tuberville looks at Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson and sees the perfect triggerman for the Tigers' attack. But when Nickson was winning Alabama high school player of the year honors and a state championship at Pike County High School in Brundidge, just 80 miles south of the Auburn campus, the Tigers didn't give him a second look.
"Auburn wishes it had pursued VU starter" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Through 25 consecutive losing seasons, Vanderbilt Stadium has been known as the West End Bone Yard, where football coaches go to die. Bobby Johnson is in his seventh year at Vanderbilt. His team is 4-0, ranked No. 19 in the AP and coaches' polls and welcomes ESPN's College GameDay crew to campus for the first time in history. Although Johnson's record reflects moderate success, rival SEC coaches recognize and applaud the job he has done at the only private university in the league.
"Vanderbilt has lot of fans in SEC" by Joe Biddle, "The Tennessean"

When ESPN aired Vanderbilt's game on Sept. 4 against then-No. 24 South Carolina, it was the first time the flagship network had aired a Commodore football game in Nashville since 1999. Lately though, ESPN cannot seem to get enough of the Southeastern Conference's smallest school. After the announcement that ESPN would air Vanderbilt's game against Auburn and the subsequent news that the college football show College GameDay would be broadcast from campus, Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson was interviewed Tuesday afternoon on ESPN's College Football Live by Matt Winer. "Vanderbilt becomes darling of ESPN" by David Rutz, "The Tennessean"


For years, Vanderbilt's football program has been the Southeastern Conference's punch line. They've made it too easy for guys like me to call them the Comicaldores, too easy for their poor fans to expect the worst even when they managed to take a lead into the fourth quarter of games. But here's a little confession on behalf of many of my fellow sportswriters, who are secretly smiling about Vandy's 4-0 start and No.19 ranking. Deep down, we've always wanted to see Vanderbilt succeed, just have that magical season, break that 25-year bowl drought. Why do we think this way? We admire a school that still has student-athletes and not athlete-students.
"Vanderbilt finds what it takes to win" by Ron Higgins, "The Commercial Appeal"

The break last week couldn't have come at a better time for Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson. He was able to rest his sore right (throwing) shoulder, which he injured in the Commodores' 23-17 win over Ole Miss. Nickson said his separated shoulder was similar to the injury that plagued him last season, but that this one wasn't nearly as bad.
"Nickson's shoulder feeling better" by Chris Low,

If you're looking for the assistant coach of the year at this point in the SEC, has anyone done a better job than Vanderbilt offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell? The Commodores lost all five starters from a year ago up front. But here they are -- 4-0, nationally ranked for the first time in nearly 25 years and heading into a huge home game with Auburn on Saturday.
"Vanderbilt's Caldwell whips line into shape" by Chris Low,

Vanderbilt, the longtime doormat of the Southeastern Conference, is a doormat no more. The Commodores have swept past four foes, including two in the SEC, and now turn their attention to Auburn in a match of nationally ranked teams that will be televised nationally on ESPN Saturday night. The Commodores are ranked No. 19, the visiting Tigers No. 13. Auburn (4-1) is a 4-point favorite.
"Vanderbilt no pushover in SEC this season" by the AP,

Trying to take the pulse of the student body, Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson strolled into the school commons Monday, the day ESPN's College GameDay announced Nashville would be the site of its weekly preview show. He quickly found out he didn't have to do much selling. "Vanderbilt no longer an easy W" by Andy Bitter, "Columbus Ledger-Enquirer"


As a former defensive coach, Tommy Tuberville has been around some good units. While at Miami from 1986-93, where he was a graduate assistant, linebackers coach and eventually defensive coordinator, Tuberville saw the Hurricanes go 87-9, including a 55-0 home stretch, during his time in Coral Gables. Oh, Miami also won three national titles in Tuberville's time there. Defense was a hallmark of those Hurricanes teams, as Tuberville often points out. But this year's Auburn defense is also impressive, says the Tigers' head coach. "Defense 'continues to amaze' Tuberville" by Mike Szvetitz, "Opelika-Auburn News"

Injured Auburn tailbacks Brad Lester and Tristan Davis are on the mend and could play against Vanderbilt on Saturday. The duo missed last Saturday's win over Tennessee, but both are again "running really well," coach Tommy Tuberville said Wednesday. Lester has been slowed by a twisted knee. Davis was out with a concussion.
"Auburn looking for return of Lester, Davis" by Charles Goldberg, "The Birmingham News"

Tony Franklin saw Paul Rhoads enter the interview room the other day and promptly pointed reporters to the real story of Auburn's season. "Y'all need to go talk to the good football coach over there and leave me alone," Franklin said in his usual self-deprecating way. While a lot of Auburn fans and the media remain obsessed with Franklin, the offensive coordinator, the story of the football team continues to be the job done by Rhoads, the defensive coordinator. The top-10 nationally ranked defense he inherited from Will Muschamp continues to be one of the nation's best. Similarly, the statistically-impaired offense Franklin inherited from Al Borges is struggling along.
"All eyes on Paul Rhoads' defense" by Charles Goldberg, "The Birmingham News"

GAME NOTES: Auburn has won all 13 meetings since Vanderbilt defeated the Tigers in the 1955 Gator Bowl. The average score in the victories has been 36-12. ... Vanderbilt's most recent win over Auburn in Nashville came in 1950. ... Vanderbilt leads the series 10-7 in Nashville. ... Auburn is playing a ranked Vanderbilt team for the first time.
"Auburn football notes for Saturday's game against Vanderbilt" by "The Press-Register"

Middle linebacker Tray Blackmon is slowly adjusting to the large club he must wear to protect the cracked bone in his wrist. Blackmon sat out last week, leav ing Josh Bynes to play virtually every snap against Tennessee.
"Injury puts Auburn linebacker Tray Blackmon in the club" by "The Press-Register"

While the offense has failed to meet nearly every expectation set in the preseason, the defense has avoided every potential pitfall. No depth in the secondary? It hasn't been a problem. Newcomers on the defensive line? They've been fine. Tray Blackmon? He's been a non-factor, and Auburn's defense hasn't skipped a beat.
"No questions on defense for Auburn this season" by Evan Woodbery, "The Press-Register"

Never has there been more turmoil surrounding a 4-1 team that is only a couple plays away from being 5-0 and in the thick of the national-title hunt. Never has there been more angst about an Auburn team that could, very conceivably, be 9-1 entering its Amen Corner season finale against Georgia and Alabama. Yes, the offense has been bad, but also not all that much different from the offense of 2007 or 2006. So why has that unit prompted an almost absurd amount of anxiety?
"Not much difference in Auburn's offense this season" by Evan Woodbery, "The Press-Register"

Tommy Tuberville is intrigued by his team. The Auburn coach said Wednesday that the Tigers have been practicing with more energy and enthusiasm this week. The team resumed preparations Wednesday with a 90-minute workout in shorts, helmets and shoulder pads. "Coach: Auburn will look 'sharper'" by Jay G. Tate, "Montgomery Advertiser"

Jason Bosley remembers the days when Auburn ran forcefully between the tackles and used its running game as a weapon. August seems so long ago. The Tigers failed to crack the 100-yard mark in recent games against LSU and Tennessee, creating some concern that the team's spread offense isn't tough enough. Auburn's starting linemen, anxious to put those theories to rest, held a powwow earlier this week to air grievances and re-affirm their dedication to the run game. Bosley said the meeting changed things.
"Tigers' O-line gets 'nasty streak'" by Jay G. Tate, "Montgomery Advertiser"

The War Eagle Formation? Really? How about the Super Mario Formation? Doesn't it just sound better? Mario Fannin thinks so. Actually, for the sophomore wide receiver/running back and now part-time quarterback, it doesn't really matter what it's called, as long as it's his number. "Fannin fits in AU's spread" by Mike Szvetitz, "Dothan Eagle"

Wednesday, Oct. 1
Daily news articles about the Vanderbilt Football Progam and its opponents.

Watch Monday's football press interviews with senior safety Reshard Langford and senior wide receiver Sean Walker as the Commodores prepare for Saturday's home game with Auburn.
"Video: Interviews with Langford, Walker" by

ESPN's popular College GameDay Built by The Home Depot show will air this Friday and Saturday from The Commons, Vanderbilt's new home for all first-year students located on the southeastern side of campus. The public is invited to attend the show, which will air Friday from 3:30-3:50 p.m., (CT) and Saturday from 9-11:00 a.m. On Saturday, gates will open at 7 a.m., with the GameDay hosts starting production from the set as early as 8 a.m. "The Commons selected for ESPN GameDay" by

This may be the true measure of how good Vanderbilt is right now. Only three games feature a pair of ranked teams playing each other this week, and the Commodores, yes the Dores, are hosting one of those in Music City. Vanderbilt, which moved into The Associated Press' Top 25 last week for the first time since 1984 with its 4-0 start, jumped two spots to No. 19 with an open date. Now the Commodores will play No. 13 Auburn in the best Southeastern Conference game this week.
"All eyes on Vanderbilt" by the AP,

Vanderbilt football head coach Bobby Johnson was a guest on ESPN's College Football Live show Tuesday afternoon.
"Video: ESPN interviews Bobby Johnson" by

Tommy Tuberville's Press Conference Quotes.
"Tuberville previews the Vanderbilt game" Courtesy of,

Well, it's official... ESPN's College GameDay show will broadcast live from The Commons, located on the edge of the east side of Vanderbilt's campus, this Friday and Saturday. You may be thinking to yourself... The Commons? I've never heard of it. And why was that area chosen? First, The Commons is a brand new residential area on campus specifically designed to house all first-year students (approximately 1,600 overall). It's a state-of-the-art living and learning facility covering six acres that consists of ten residence halls or Houses plus dining and educational areas. "The Commons" Barca Blog,

Vanderbilt head football coach Bobby Johnson was a guest on the 104.5 Wake Up Zone and ESPN 106.7 The Fan with Thom Abraham to discuss the latest in Commodore football. Download the entire interviews for free on
"Audio: Radio interviews with Johnson" Courtesy of the 104.5 and 106.7 FM,

Did you miss this week's Commodore Call-In Show with football head coach Bobby Johnson? Then sign-up for All Access (FREE) to listen to the entire program. (Note - you have to fast forward through the first part of the audio to get past the previous program)
"Audio: Football Call-In Show archived" by


Everyone, it seems, loves a winner. Vanderbilt's surprising 4-0 start and surge to No. 19 in the latest national polls has created a rare and palpable buzz on campus as the Commodores prepare to host No. 13 Auburn on Saturday. Lofty rankings, scarce tickets, national attention and the arrival of ESPN's College GameDay show this week have many jumping on the VU bandwagon.
"All aboard the bandwagon" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

ESPN announced it will broadcast its College GameDay show at Vanderbilt from the location of The Commons, Vanderbilt's new home for all first-year students located on the southeastern side of campus. The public is invited to attend the shows, which will air Friday from noon to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 9-11 a.m. On Saturday, gates will open at 7 a.m., with the GameDay hosts starting production from the set as early as 8 a.m. "'GameDay' will broadcast from Vanderbilt's Commons" Staff Report, "The City Paper"

Bobby Johnson told anyone who would listen during the preseason how good his Vanderbilt offensive line could be. Despite losing all five starters from last year's unit, that group has lived up to the coach's expectations -- periodically. But while the Commodores boast two of the top seven rushers in the Southeastern Conference and a ground game that ranks third in the league, Johnson said his linemen will have to be even better for Vanderbilt to continue its success.
"Vanderbilt puts hopes on offensive line" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

The longer Auburn's offensive struggles, the tougher Tony Franklin's harshest critic gets. He uses words like "horrible" and "stupid" and frequently comments on what a lousy job the 13th-ranked Tigers' new offensive coordinator is doing. If Auburn fans have a gripe with Franklin at the moment, chances are it's nothing he isn't saying himself.
"Franklin trying to resolve Auburn's offensive woes" by John Zenor (AP), "The Tennessean"

In an effort to capture the beauty of the Vanderbilt campus and the excitement surrounding Commodore football, ESPN's College GameDay will be staged from the front of The Commons Center on the campus's eastern fringe. The location will be the site for various segments of SportsCenter on Friday as well as the national college football pregame show on Saturday morning prior to the 5 p.m. game with Auburn. "ESPN will air at Commons" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"


Vanderbilt junior safety Ryan Hamilton can do the math. After all, he is going to school at Vanderbilt. The Commodores have lost 21 games since he arrived on campus in 2005. They've lost 11 of those games by a touchdown or less. During the 2006 and 2007 seasons, they lost four games by three points or fewer, and three of those games were decided in the final seconds by kickers. "We just couldn't close out games," Hamilton said. Notice he used the past tense. Again, he's a Vanderbilt guy. He knows the difference between past and present tense. "Vanderbilt's formula simple: Play to win" by Chris Low,

Vanderbilt's coming: That's "coming" as in coming after the Auburn quarterbacks. The Commodores are tied for second in the SEC with 11 sacks. They also are tied for the lead nationally with 10 interceptions. They've made it a point to be aggressive all season, and with the way the Vanderbilt secondary is playing, why not? Bobby Johnson and his staff have enough faith in D.J. Moore, Reshard Langford, Ryan Hamilton and crew to take some chances up front. "Internal affairs in the SEC" by Chris Low,

Vanderbilt can beat Auburn: The Commodores weren't given much of a shot this season because they lost eight starters on the offense, including the entire offensive line. But, as always, Bobby Johnson's teams are fundamentally sound. In four games this season (Miami of Ohio, South Carolina, Rice, Ole Miss) Vanderbilt has outscored its opponents 51-10 in the second half. Vanderbilt is last in the SEC in both total offense (282.8 ypg) and total defense (364.2 ypg) but makes up for it in other areas of the game.
"Nov. 1 still huge for Dawgs, Gators" by Tony Barnhart, "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"

Auburn, struggling to score, is trying to be patient with first-year offensive coordinator Tony Franklin. Building an offense that contributes to a successful team often takes a few games, or in Vanderbilt's case, seven years. Coming off another poor game on offense, the 13th-ranked Tigers face the surprising 19th-ranked Commodores in a Southeastern Conference matchup Saturday night. Vanderbilt (4-0, 2-0), meanwhile, has had Ted Cain running its offense for the past seven years under coach Bobby Johnson, posting a few productive seasons. But now that offense has led the Commodores to their first national ranking since 1984.
"Vanderbilt vs. Auburn Preview" by the AP,

Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football... Vanderbilt (5). Record: 4-0 for the first time since 2005, including 2-0 in the SEC. Reason: The Commodores lead the nation in turnover margin at plus-9. Football ranking: 14th, according to Sagarin; 19th, according to AP and USA Today. U.S. News & World Report academic ranking: tied for 18th. Most recent football score in the NCAA Academic Progress Report: 959, placing between the 80th and 90th percentile nationally for all divisions.
"These schools put the student back in student-athlete" by Pat Forde,


Sunday, Auburn's offensive coordinator admitted the Tigers aren't running the "Tony Franklin Offense." He called it the "Auburn Offense." Tuesday, during his weekly press conference, Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville agreed. The spread offense that Franklin's been known for, which he implemented at Kentucky and Troy and at countless high schools across the country, has taken a backseat this year on the Plains. "Tuberville committed to `Auburn Offense'" by Mike Szvetitz, "Opelika-Auburn News"

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said "I love this offense" Tuesday, and said "there's no panic mode" over the less-than-productive spread. "'I'm glad we went to it," Tuberville said at his weekly press conference. Tuberville said he supports what offensive coordinator Tony Franklin is doing, though said "right now, we don't have that talent" to run all of Franklin's spread concepts. He said that's why Auburn is "tweaking" the offense, that recruiting players familiar with the spread should help the cause and gaining experience through the season will make things better.
"Tuberville throws his support to the Auburn spread" by Charles Goldberg, "The Birmingham News"

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville has always said Mario Fannin has too much talent not to have the football in his hands. It seems talent, football, hands and opportunity all met in Auburn's backfield last weekend. Fannin, a running back most of his career and a wide receiver the first four games this year, made a few cameo appearances as a pseudo quarterback against Tennessee last Saturday. He took three direct snaps and gained 12 yards, opening up the possibilities for more trickery from the former high school quarterback; and creating trademark possibilities for the redshirt sophomore.
"Auburn seeks Mario Fannin adding more to offense" by Charles Goldberg, "The Birmingham News"

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said no one in the halls of the Tigers' football complex is panicking about the team's struggling offense, but he acknowledged the spread system upon which Tony Franklin built his reputation has been packed up and put in storage for the foreseeable future. Auburn already made significant changes last Saturday against Tennessee, putting the quarterback under center occasionally, running the ball more frequently and installing a special "War Eagle Formation" for back/receiver Mario Fannin.
"Dead spread?" by Evan Woodbery, "The Press-Register"

Sophomore Wesley Byrum will remain Auburn's top field goal kicker after rapidly convincing coach Tommy Tuberville that his problems were temporary and correctable. "Wesley will be our kicker," Tuberville said. "At any position, the big thing is fundamentals. Sometimes he just loses his technique. You get in a slump. When you lose your confidence and your technique, you've got to go back to square one." "Byrum retains kicking job" by Evan Woodbery, "The Huntsville Times"

Josh Bynes had an ideal chance to grandstand earlier this week. Coaches were quick to heap praise on the sophomore Sun­day after leading the Tigers with 11 tackles during their weekend win against Tennessee. Starting middle linebacker Tray Black­mon missed the game with a fracture in his right wrist and Bynes, despite only limited ex­perience, commanded the team's defensive effort with aplomb.
"New leader commands defense" by Jay G. Tate, "Montgomery Advertiser"

Tuesday, September 30
Daily news articles about the Vanderbilt Football Progam and its opponents.

Video, audio and quotes following Monday's press conference.
"Coach Johnson discusses Auburn game" by

With eight ESPN television trucks scheduled to roll into town Thursday and the national spotlight glaring down on West End, it would be easy to get caught up in all the excitement around Saturday's game against No. 13 Auburn. Even some of the players admitted at Monday's press conference to watching college football's most popular program, ESPN GameDay, on occasion.
"Coming to your city" Barca Blog,

Read the official football game notes for Saturday's SEC matchup with Auburn at 5 p.m. CT in Vanderbilt Stadium. The game is sold out and will be televised nationally by ESPN. "Game Notes: Auburn at Vanderbilt" by

Two statistics shed considerable light on Vanderbilt's surprising 4-0 start. The Commodores currently rank No. 1 in the nation in turnover ratio while ranking No. 2 in fewest penalties. Taking advantage of those factors has helped VU climb to 19th in the latest national rankings, the first time since 1984 it has been perched in the polls. Mainly on the strength of 10 interceptions, the Vanderbilt defense is plus-2.20 in turnover ratio, tops in the nation and ahead of second-place Boston College at 2.00.
"Forced turnovers helping VU to 4-0" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

In a manner similar to the way Vanderbilt moved up in the polls this past weekend, the Commodores also took advantage of some losses by other teams to earn ESPN's College GameDay destination. Undefeated and ranked 19th in the latest Associated Press Top 25 listing, Vanderbilt faces visiting No. 13 Auburn at 5 p.m. Saturday. The game was already set to be televised by ESPN, but potential GameDay sites of Madison, Wis., Lincoln, Neb., and Boulder, Colo., all went by the boards when Wisconsin, Nebraska and Colorado lost over the weekend to take the luster off their upcoming games. "'GameDay' preparations begin" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Despite the program's first appearance in the Associated Press Top 25 poll in 24 years, Vanderbilt's players and coaches insist they're not getting ahead of themselves. The Commodores' next Southeastern Conference opponent is all the reason they need to stay humble. Vanderbilt got off to a 3-1 start last season before going on the road for the first time and giving up 35 unanswered points in a 35-7 loss at Auburn. "Commodores keep '07 loss fresh in minds" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

This may be the true measure of how good Vanderbilt is right now. Only three games feature a pair of ranked teams playing each other this week, and the Commodores, yes the Dores, are hosting one of those in Music City.
"All eyes on Vanderbilt as squad preps for Auburn" by the AP,

The Commodores were the only team in the SEC that had an open date this past week. They are off to a tremendous start, posting a 4-0 overall record with a 2-0 mark in league play. Vandy has beaten South Carolina and Ole Miss, having proven that it can win close games. The 19th-ranked Commodores will face their stiffest challenge of the season on Saturday when No. 13 Auburn comes to Nashville. "Southeastern Conference News and Notes" by "The Sports Network"

The goalposts bobbing up and down West End Avenue is the lasting image of the last year Vanderbilt had a winning record and went to a bowl game. It was late fall, 1982. The Commodores had just beaten rival Tennessee - which wouldn't happen again for a couple of decades - 28-21 on a bone-chilling, drizzly November day at Dudley Field. So, some giddy fans took the opportunity to take part of the game home with them. "Vanderbilt proud of 1982" by Evan Woodbery, "The Press-Register"


Kodi Burns waited for his chance. Saturday, the sophomore backup quarterback got it, and took full advantage. Burns added a spark when he entered the game with 5:36 to play in the second quarter, coming up with three big plays out of nine snaps in that first drive, which ended in a 35-yard missed field goal by Wes Byrum. He also made a key third-down conversion in the fourth quarter that allowed Auburn to run out the clock and escape with a 14-12 win over Tennessee at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"Burns makes most of chance for playing time" by Mike Szvetitz, "Opelika-Auburn News"

Chaz Ramsey was granted his release to transfer from Auburn on Monday, a timely reminder of the changes on Auburn's offensive line since last season. Ramsey was a regular starter as a true freshman in 2007, part of a group that helped carry Auburn's offense through early season struggles and win big games against Florida and Alabama. This year the struggles of the offensive line seem to have mirrored the problems of the offense as a whole. Of last year's freshman trio, tackle Lee Ziemba has been plagued by penalties, Ryan Pugh has been forced to move inside to center and Ramsey, a guard, has missed the entire season with a back injury.
"AU linemen say they'll have renewed commitment" by Evan Woodbery, "The Press-Register"

Tony Franklin has never held anything back. Not in coaching, where his spread offense challenges football convention. Not in writing, where seven years ago he penned a behind-the-scenes account of the demise of the Kentucky football program. And certainly not in speaking, where lately he has become his most ardent critic, bluntly addressing questions about his much-hyped spread offense, which has struggled to gain a foothold at tradition-bound Auburn.
"Auburn's Franklin doesn't hold back" by Andy Bitter, "Ledger-Enquirer"

Zac Etheridge remembered why he was held out of practice most of last week about the time he landed on his left shoulder in Saturday's game against Tennessee. Yeah, that pain thing. The Auburn safety thought about coming out after the collision with the ground, "but it was a big game, so I had to push myself to get going."
"Pain can't sideline Etheridge" by Charles Goldberg, "The Birmingham News"

Tony Franklin seems unsure about who exactly is running Auburn's offense these days. The Tigers' offensive coordinator said coach Tommy Tuberville was behind the controversial decision last weekend to move sophomore quarterback Kodi Burns into the Tigers' win against Tennessee. Franklin took things a step beyond that Sunday, alleging that Auburn's attack no longer mirrors his vision. Is Tuberville meddling in offensive affairs? "Auburn coaches talking offense" by Jay G. Tate, "Montgomery Advertiser"

Chris Todd's second-half struggles against Tennessee last weekend didn't sully his reputation among the Tigers' brass. Coach Tommy Tuberville said Todd will be his team's starter when it plays at No. 19 Vanderbilt this weekend. Many fans believed sophomore Kodi Burns, who drew thunderous roars of approval during relief work Saturday, had accom­plished enough to earn at least serious consideration for the top job. Tuberville disagreed. "Todd's still the man at QB" by Jay G. Tate, "Montgomery Advertiser"

A renewed competition for Auburn's kicking job could start when practice resumes today. Sophomore Wesley Byrum has missed three field goals in a row, all 35 yards or shorter. Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said it might be time to turn up the heat on Byrum.
"Auburn notebook" by Evan Woodbery, "The Huntsville Times"

Monday, September 29
Daily news articles about the Vanderbilt Football Progam and its opponents.

Count ESPN's College GameDay crew - yes, Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard - among the audience for Vanderbilt's nationally televised meeting with Southeastern Conference Western Division power Auburn this Saturday on campus. ESPN officials confirmed Sunday morning that its popular "College GameDay Built by the Home Depot" show will broadcast from the Vanderbilt campus on Saturday, October 4. It will mark College GameDay's first appearance in Nashville. Vanderbilt officials were pleased with news of College GameDay's announcement. "ESPN's College GameDay coming to Vanderbilt" by

The national football spotlight began to shine on Vanderbilt last week. This week, it's producing a white-hot glare. ESPN announced Sunday that its weekly College GameDay show will broadcast from the Vanderbilt campus this Saturday when the 19th-ranked Commodores play host to 13th-ranked Auburn. The GameDay crew of Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Desmond Howard has never broadcast from the VU campus. "National spotlight shines on 'Dores" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Next stop for ESPN College GameDay: Nashville. Saturday's Southeastern Conference matchup between 19th-ranked Vanderbilt and No. 13 Auburn at Vanderbilt Stadium will anchor the network's first-ever day-long appearance in the Music City. It's the latest nod to a Commodores program that has started the season 4-0 after failing to reach a bowl game in more than 25 years.
"Not so fast, my friends: 'GameDay' detours to Vanderbilt" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt football's 4-0 start and Top 25 ranking are rarities. Now add another unusual feature for a Commodores team: a deep roster. Vanderbilt's improved recruiting under seventh-year Coach Bobby Johnson has produced more athletes this fall who are ready to perform. As a result, the Commodores have been able to withstand the absence of a number of expected key contributors. Where previous Vanderbilt teams would have folded after injuries to key players, the 2008 version appears more resilient, with backups stepping in and stepping up at a variety of positions. "VU's depth offsets key injuries" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"


Chris Todd was perfect on 27 of 28 plays in the first half Saturday against Tennessee, his ratio marred only by a mishandled snap under center, according to Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin. So why did Auburn start the second half with Kodi Burns at quarterback? "Because that was what the head coach wanted to do," Franklin said. Head coach Tommy Tuberville's version: "It was a mutual (decision)." The coaches were on the same page on at least one issue: Both Tuberville and Franklin deflected criticism from Todd and promised that the embattled junior college transfer would get another chance to start Saturday at undefeated Vanderbilt.
"Todd gets the start against Vanderbilt" by Evan Woodbery, "The Press-Register"

Auburn added a new wrinkle to the offense Saturday by putting receiver/back Mario Fannin under center. So what's it called? Fannin thought for a moment, then shook his head. "I can't tell you," he said. Whatever the name, the Fannin package allowed the explosive sophomore to play a significant role in the offense for the first time this season.
"Mario Fannin returns to Tigers' offensive plan" by Evan Woodbery, "The Press-Register"

With Tray Blackmon out with a wrist fracture, sophomore Josh Bynes became the de facto defensive leader against Tennessee. He didn't disappoint. The middle linebacker finished with a team-high 11 tackles and all but eliminated the communication problems that beset the Tigers' defense against LSU a week earlier. Bynes was named the team's defensive player of the week.
"Bynes picks up the slack on defense" by Jay G. Tate, "Montgomery Advertiser"

Auburn junior Antonio Coleman has been named the Southeastern Conference's Defensive Lineman of the Week, the conference office announced Monday. Coleman was honored following Auburn's 14-12 victory over Tennessee Saturday. Coleman registered four tackles, including a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss during Auburn's victory over the Volunteers. He was instrumental in helping hold Tennessee to a season-low 191 yards of total offense, which were the fewest yards of offense by a Tennessee team against Auburn since 1988 (175). "Antonio Coleman Named SEC Defensive Lineman Of The Week" by

Auburn visits Vanderbilt for the first time since 2003 in a battle of nationally-ranked teams. Auburn has won the last 13 games in the series, but Saturday's game will mark the first time the Tigers have ever faced a nationally-ranked Vanderbilt squad. Auburn, which has a nine-game winning streak against schools from the state of Tennessee, will be playing its fourth straight nationally-televised game. "Auburn Vs. Vanderbilt Preview" by

Following a hard-fought 14-12 victory over Tennessee less than 24-hours prior, the 13th-ranked Auburn football team returned to the practice fields Sunday with a light workout. The team spent the hour-long session in shells as they began preparations for No. 21 Vanderbilt. The Tigers and Commodores will face off for the first time in Nashville since 2003. It also marks the first time that Auburn will face a ranked Vanderbilt team. "Auburn Football Practice Report" by


Week of September 22

Friday, September 26
Coach Bobby Johnson's interview with 104.5 FM; SS Ryan Hamilton named Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week; Commodore Call-In Show with Coach Johnson; Commodores proving themselves a second-half team; defense taking advantage of opponent's mistakes; VU coaches study other teams; numerous football teams in Nashville remain undefeated; success of team making national headlines; WR George Smith returns to practice; former VU QB Whit Taylor hopes this is the year for a bowl game;'s Chris Low's blog; SS Hamilton nominated for USA TODAY's Player of the Week.

Vanderbilt head football coach Bobby Johnson was a guest on the 104.5 Wake Up Zone Tuesday to discuss the latest in Commodore football. Download the entire interview for free on
"Audio: 104.5 FM with Bobby Johnson" Courtesy of the 104.5 Wake Up Zone,

Vanderbilt strong safety Ryan Hamilton has been named the Football Writers Association of America/Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week for his remarkable performance in the Commodores' 23-17 win last Saturday at Ole Miss.
"Hamilton continues to collect awards" by

Did you miss this week's Commodore Call-In Show with football head coach Bobby Johnson? Then sign-up for All Access (FREE) to listen to the entire program. (Note - you may have to fast forward through the first part of the audio to get past the previous program)
"Audio: Football Call-In Show archived" by

Shutting down teams in the second half has rarely been a staple of Vanderbilt football. This year however, it has been the key to the team's success. During the campaign to date, the Commodores have changed their tone, and have gone on to win their first four games. Standout junior safety Ryan Hamilton, who put an exclamation point on last week's win with a game-ending interception, takes pride in that new attitude. "Vanderbilt has become a second half team" by Nick Gallo, "The Vanderbilt Hustler"

No. 21 Vanderbilt has not had it this good in football since before every undergraduate student on campus was born. It's good to be gold right now, and the Commodore faithful can thank an opportunistic defense most of all for that.
"Opportunistic defense has been stellar" by David Rutz, "The Vanderbilt Hustler"

Finding a better way to do things in football doesn't always come from within. Coaching staffs routinely set up visits with other teams so they can study techniques or aspects of their systems. That's been no exception for Vanderbilt. In recent years, the staff has sat in on spring workouts at Kansas, Missouri and Oregon State, as well as practices with the Broncos, Colts and Titans of the NFL.
"Vanderbilt coaches learn a lot from visits" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Music City? So they say. Athens of the South? Guilty as charged. Undefeated Football Mecca? Uh ... Hey, if the title fits, wear it. Autumn has dawned with Nashville's pro and college football teams entering the weekend a combined 11-0. For those keeping score, the Titans are 3-0, Vanderbilt 4-0 and Tennessee State 4-0. "Nashville is a city of winners" by David Climer, "The Tennessean"

With their undefeated start, a Top 25 ranking and their third ESPN appearance of the season approaching, the Vanderbilt Commodores have worked their way into the national college football spotlight. An article in the current issue of Sports Illustrated is just the latest example that Vanderbilt may be shaking off a long-held and hard-earned reputation as one of the worst programs in the country.
"VU football wins national attention" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt wide receiver George Smith returned to practice Tuesday for the first time since undergoing surgery in August to repair a stress fracture in his right foot. The 6-foot-3 senior, VU's leading returning receiver from 2007, appears to be fully recovered and on schedule to play Oct. 4 when the 21st-ranked Commodores play host to Auburn.
"VU's Smith returns, Nickson sits out" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"


Whit Taylor is a superstitious man when it comes to Vanderbilt football. He couldn't turn on the radio to listen to his Commodores playing at Mississippi the other night. Taylor didn't need to worry about jinxing the team this time. Vanderbilt forced six turnovers and beat Ole Miss 23-17 to improve to 4-0. But this kind of start is pretty rare for a program that hasn't had a winning season or played in a bowl game since Taylor quarterbacked the 1982 Commodores to an 8-4 record and the Hall of Fame Bowl. Now 25 years and counting, Taylor is hoping that 2008 is the year that -- finally -- he and other Vandy fans can watch the Commodores end that drought.
"QB of Vanderbilt's last bowl team hoping drought ends" by the AP, "International Herald Tribune"

Ryan Hamilton hasn't received this much attention since he was kicked out of his youth soccer league when he was in the third grade. Ole Miss probably wishes it could have found a way to get Hamilton out of the way last Saturday. The Vanderbilt junior strong safety was a one-man wrecking crew with three interceptions, including one he returned 79 yards for a touchdown and another that sealed the Commodores' 23-17 win as time expired. "Banned from soccer, VU's Hamilton finds his niche" by Chris Low,

The season is only a month old but Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Northwestern -- the smallest schools by enrollment in their conferences -- are matching academic success with victories on the football field. The schools annually rank among the best in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A) in terms of graduation rate and the NCAA's academic progress rate. They are also a combined 11-0 this year. Vanderbilt (4-0) and Wake Forest (3-0) are unbeaten in conference play and have victories over ranked teams.
"Small, smart schools showing off football skills" by Andy Gardiner, "USA Today"

Each week during the season, readers can select their pick for USA TODAY's Player of the Week. Choices will be made available on Sunday night. The fan vote will comprise one-third of the award with one vote each also going to college football editor Erick Smith and Gannett columnist Mike Lopresti. Vanderbilt defensive back Ryan Hamilton had three interceptions and a fumble recovery against Mississippi to capture this week's USA TODAY's Player of the Week honor. Hamilton, who also recorded six tackles, returned one interception for a 79-yard touchdown and his pick on the final play sealed a 23-17 victory to improve Vanderbilt to 4-0. Hamilton captured the award with the unanimous support of college football editor Erick Smith, Gannett News Service columnist Mike Lopresti and fan voting. "Vanderbilt's Hamilton picks off Player of the Week award" by "USA Today"

Tuesday, September 23
ESPN to televise Auburn at VU; Commodores rising to the challenge; Pk Bryant Hahnfeldt knocking down everything for the 'Dores; VU has played SEC teams tough under Bobby Johnson; QB Chris Nickson's injury not serious;'s Chris Low's blog; AU NG Tez Doolittle earns starting job; AU WR Robert Dunn says Chris Todd's arm isn't weak; AU offensive coordinator plans to throw the ball more; AU TB Brad Lester has knee checked out.

An ESPN national television audience will watch nationally ranked Vanderbilt try to go 5-0 on the season when the Commodores host powerful Auburn on Saturday, Oct. 4, according to Southeastern Conference officials. The Auburn-Vanderbilt encounter will kickoff at 5 p.m., in Vanderbilt Stadium. The game matching two nationally ranked squads is sold out.
"ESPN to televise Auburn-VU tilt" by

For 53 seconds on Saturday, Ole Miss had the Commodores on the ropes, looking for a knock-out punch. The Rebels scored 17 points in the blink of an eye, and Vanderbilt was facing an uphilll battle in a hostile road environment. The Commodores responded to the challenge and held Mississippi scoreless for the rest of the game, earning their fourth win of the season and a No. 21 national ranking -- the first time since 1984. "Responding to the Challenge" Barca Blog,

Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson has never wavered in his support of senior kicker Bryant Hahnfeldt. That backing has been rewarded through the team's first four games as Hahnfeldt has yet to miss an attempt. The former Montgomery Bell Academy standout's perfect performance -- two extra points and three field goals -- last Saturday night at Ole Miss helped the Commodores to a 23-17 victory, keeping the team undefeated and boosting it into The Associated Press Top 25 at No. 21.
"Hahnfeldt gives VU automatic points" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt will make its Top 25 debut before a national audience, as the No. 21 Commodores' matchup against visiting Auburn on Oct. 4 will be televised by ESPN. The game has been set for a 5 p.m. kickoff. It'll make the undefeated Commodores' third appearance of the year on the ESPN platorm. Their season opener at Miami (Ohio) was broadcast by ESPNU, followed by the home opener against South Carolina that was aired on ESPN. "Commodores return to ESPN" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Readers of The City Paper might remember an article we ran in August about the recent blighted history of Vanderbilt football. The Commodores have not enjoyed a winning season since 1982, and some numbers have to be digested to fully comprehend the magnitude of the futility. In doing research for that piece, one statistic stood out to me as particularly revealing: During one stretch between 1995 and 2005, VU was only 6-67 in Southeastern Conference play. Vanderbilt football is different now, if you haven't noticed. Not only are the Commodores ranked No. 21 nationally this week, their first appearance in the Associated Press Top 25 since 1984, they are also 13-12 in their past 25 games. "Vanderbilt's success shouldn't be surprising" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Six Southeastern Conference teams appear in the latest Associated Press national Top 25 rankings. Vanderbilt is one of those six.
"VU soars into national rankings" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

The open date couldn't have come at a better time for Vanderbilt's unbeaten and nationally ranked football team. The Commodores suffered a few injuries in their 23-17 win over Ole Miss last Saturday, most notably to senior quarterback Chris Nickson, who sprained his throwing shoulder. But Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said tests on Nickson's shoulder were negative and that he should be ready to go when the Commodores resume play on Oct. 4 against Auburn. "Nickson's shoulder injury not serious" by Chris Low,

En Fuego -- Vanderbilt: Everybody ready? Let's hear you, one time in unison ... SHOW YOUR GOLD. The Commodores are 4-0, ranked nationally for the first time in nearly a quarter century and playing the kind of fundamentally sound football that epitomizes Bobby Johnson-coached teams. The next question becomes: How many games can this team win? I'm setting the over/under at eight right now. The key is finding two more heading into that final three-game stretch against Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake Forest.
"Vanderbilt hot, Tennessee's Fulmer not" by Chris Low,


Tez Doolittle felt like a walking calamity against LSU. He missed a tackle. He missed an assignment or two. He was confused a few times by the Bayou Bengals' tricks along the offensive line and figured Sunday film study would be a difficult task. Not even close. The sixth-year senior was promoted to the top spot at noseguard Sunday after what coaches deemed the best performance of Doolittle's career. "Doolittle aims to do more" by Jay G. Tate, "Montgomery Advertiser"

Not everyone believes quarterback Chris Todd's arm is weak. Wideout Robert Dunn said he didn't notice any issues relating to Todd's arm strength during Auburn's 26-21 loss to LSU last weekend. Dunn caught four passes for 60 yards, including a touchdown throw that gave the Tigers a fourth-quarter lead. "Dunn not concerned about Todd's arm" by Jay G. Tate, "Montgomery Advertiser"

After an injury- battered career spent mostly as a reserve, Tez Doolittle wasn't sure whether to believe the good news. The sixth-year senior noseguard spent Sunday afternoon working with the first team, but wasn't certain of his new role as starter until he heard it from coach Tommy Tuberville personally. "Doolittle does plenty for AU" by Evan Woodberry, "The Huntsville Times"

Tez Doolittle had five years of college, a diploma, a busted Achilles and a dream to play one more season of football. Logic said it couldn't be done. Logic lost out to Tez Doolittle. The Auburn University noseguard defied all odds by winning a sixth year of eligibility, coming back from the injury far sooner than anybody expected and playing so well so early that he's headed for his first career start against Tennessee on Saturday.
"Auburn noseguard caps return from injury by winning starting assignment" by Charles Goldberg, "The Birmingham News"

Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin says his play-calling improved and quarterback Chris Todd played well against LSU on Saturday night. Franklin's two biggest regrets? Auburn didn't win and Auburn didn't throw more passes. If more passes are really in order, Auburn fans could be in store for some big totals in the next few weeks. Todd threw 32 times against LSU, and Franklin said he should have called 10-15 more passes. LSU's stout defensive line dictated more throws, Franklin said, but maybe he will make up for it by calling more passes against Tennessee this Saturday. No guarantees, though.
"Franklin hints there may be more passing for Auburn" by Charles Goldberg, "The Birmingham News"

Auburn tailback Brad Lester is having his right knee checked out. Coach Tommy Tuberville said Sunday Lester would have an MRI, though he said Dr. James Andrews indicated after the game with LSU that the knee appeared stable. Lester had a number of tests last week after spraining his neck. "Auburn's Lester undergoing tests on his knee" by the AP,

Monday, September 22
Commodores ranked No. 21; VU impressive on and off the field; bye week will help injured 'Dores heal; FS Ryan Hamilton earns Defensive Player of the Week honors; ESPN's Chris Low's blogs; another look at the VU vs. UM game; Auburn practice report.

Winning their fourth consecutive game in hard-fought fashion Saturday night at Ole Miss, Bobby Johnson's Vanderbilt Commodores entered the national Top 25 for the first time in more than two decades while junior safety Ryan Hamilton garnered national attention after posting one of the top individual defensive performances in team history. Vanderbilt is ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press Poll, and No. 25 by the USA Today Coaches' Poll. The last time Vanderbilt was ranked by the Associated Press was Sept. 30, 1984 after defeating Alabama for a 4-0 start. "VU enters AP and Coaches' Polls" by

Saturday's victory over cross-division rival Ole Miss means a great deal for fans throughout the small but energetic Commodore Nation. The inevitable national ranking, the recurring number four (4-0 for the fourth time since the `40s), and the general excitement surrounding our scrappy but successful football team may be the beginning of a resurgence in school spirit.
"University values competition on, off field" by "The Vanderbilt Hustler"

Quarterbacks: B -- Both Mackenzi Adams and Chris Nickson did a solid job of leading the offense. The pair was a combined 9-12 for 71 yards on the night. Nickson's fumble on Vanderbilt's second possession of the game was costly as Ole Miss would run it in for a touchdown, but Nickson redeemed himself later in the game with a nice screen pass to Jared Hawkins for Vandy's second touchdown of the game. Also, Adams did a great job of managing the game late.
"FOOTBALL: Ole Miss Report Card" by David Shochat, "The Vanderbilt Hustler"

Vanderbilt is back in the Associated Press Top 25, and the Commodores' stay is likely to be longer than their last appearance. After a 23-17 win Saturday at Ole Miss, the Commodores (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) broke into the poll at No. 21. It's the first ranking for Vanderbilt since the 1984 season. "VU cracks Top 25 for first time since '84" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

This week's off week comes at a perfect time for the newly ranked but banged-up Vanderbilt Commodores. When senior quarterback Chris Nickson left Saturday's game with a shoulder problem, he joined a group of key injured players that includes senior receiver George Smith, junior defensive back D.J. Moore and linebacker Patrick Benoist.
"Week off will help key players heal" by David Rutz, "The Tennessean"

After his record-tying three-interception performance in Saturday's win at Ole Miss, Vanderbilt junior free safety Ryan Hamilton was named national defensive player of the week by the Walter Camp Foundation. Hamilton returned his first pickoff 79 yards for a touchdown, the longest interception return for a score by a Commodore in 42 years. His second interception set up a Vanderbilt field goal, and his third inside the Ole Miss 20-yard line wrapped up the 23-17 victory. The three picks matched Chris Donnelly, who had three against Memphis in 1989, and three other former Vanderbilt players.
"Commodore defender gets national award" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt junior safety Ryan Hamilton, who intercepted three passes against Ole Miss on Saturday, was named National Defensive Player of the Week on Sunday by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. Hamilton also produced a critical goal-line stop on fourth down to prevent a Rebel score and added a fumble recovery on an Ole Miss punt return.
"VU's Hamilton gets national honor" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Vanderbilt, for years the weakest team in the Southeastern Conference, moved into the AP Top 25 Sunday for the first time in 24 years. The Commodores (4-0) are No.21. "Vanderbilt Ranked For 1st Time In 24 Years" by the AP, "The Hartford Courant"

Lots of good performances to choose from, but here are our selections for weekly honors in the SEC: DEFENSE Ryan Hamilton, S, Vanderbilt: If you haven't noticed, the Vanderbilt secondary is pretty good. In the Commodores' 23-17 win at Ole Miss on Saturday, Hamilton put together one of the finest individual defensive performances in school history with three interceptions, including one he returned 79 yards for a touchdown and another that sealed the win as time expired. Hamilton also came up with a critical goal-line stop on fourth down and added a fumble recovery on a punt return. "SEC Week 4 award winners" by Chris Low,

Vanderbilt: The Commodores have trailed in every game this season, but they're 4-0 and nationally ranked for the first time since 1984. This is no mirage, folks. This is a good football team that does all of the little things right. The open date this week comes at a good time. Vanderbilt had several players banged up in its 23-17 win at Ole Miss last Saturday.
"Georgia remains on top of SEC rankings" by Chris Low,

Vanderbilt catching up: One of the best stories in college football this season is Vanderbilt and the Commodores' 4-0 start. They went to 2-0 in the conference Saturday with a 23-17 win on the road at Ole Miss. This is a team that gains more confidence by the week, and a big part of that is how well prepared and how disciplined the Commodores are. Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson has received his well-deserved props, but his staff also deserves credit. Athletically, the Commodores don't look as far off as they once did in this conference. John Sisk, Vanderbilt's speed, strength and conditioning director, has done a terrific job. The relationship between Sisk and Johnson dates to 1994 when Sisk was a Furman strength assistant in Johnson's first year as coach.
"Gators finding other ways to win" by Chris Low,

The Southeastern Conference needs to find another pushover. Vanderbilt, for years the weakest team in college football's toughest league, moved into the AP Top 25 on Sunday for the first time in 24 years. The Commodores (4-0) are No. 21 in the latest rankings.
"Vanderbilt in rare company - among elite" by the AP, "San Francisco Chronicle"

Each week during the season, readers can select their pick for USA TODAY's Player of the Week. Choices will be made available on Sunday night. The fan vote will comprise one-third of the award with one vote each also going to college football editor Erick Smith and Gannett columnist Mike Lopresti. THIS WEEK'S NOMINEES Ryan Hamilton, DB, Vanderbilt: Three interceptions weren't enough for the Commodores safety. The junior also had a fumble recovery and six tackles against Mississippi. Hamilton returned one interception for a 79-yard touchdown and his pick on the final play sealed a 23-17 victory to improve Vanderbilt to 4-0.
"Help make the call on USA TODAY's Player of the Week" by "The USA Today"


The Ole Miss defense frustrated Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson and held a very good rushing offense well below its 225.7-yards per game average. Vandy didn't crack the 100-yard mark until its last possession and finished with 131 yards.
"REWIND:Vanderbilt 23, Ole Miss 17" by Parrish Alford, "The Daily Journal"


The No. 15 Auburn football team held a light workout in shells Sunday afternoon at the practice fields behind the Athletics Complex as the Tigers prepare for Saturday's game against Tennessee. The workout included little contact as the Tigers recovered from Saturday night's 26-21 loss to LSU. The offense and defense started with group drills before splitting up to work against the scout teams.
"Auburn Football Practice Report" by

Week of September 15

Sunday, September 21
Ole Miss game recap; quotes; notes; VU defense holds UM scoreless in second half; FS Ryan Hamilton grabs three INTs from UM; QB Mackenzi Adams subs for injured Nickson; Hamilton earns an ESPN helmet sticker; 'Dores silencing critics; first-quarter follies lead to 24-combined points.

RELATED LINKS: Box Score  |  2008 Stats

Ryan Hamilton tied a school record with three interceptions, scored a touchdown on an interception return and saved a score with a goal-line tackle to help Vanderbilt beat Mississippi 23-17 on Saturday. The Commodores intercepted four of Jevan Snead's passes to put themselves in position to be ranked for the first time since 1984 by surviving an early and odd Rebels scoring flurry. Vanderbilt was one spot out of the Top 25 entering the week and is 4-0 for just the fourth time since World War II.
"Commodores roll to 4-0 Video highlights, interviews and photos" by the AP,

Reaction from the players and head coaches following the game. "Ole Miss postgame quotes" by

With the victory over Ole Miss, the Commodores move to 4-0 for the first time since the 2005 season ... It is only the second time the team has accomplished the feat since the 1984 season ... It also marks the first 2-0 start for Vanderbilt in Southeastern Conference play since 2004, and just the second time since 1956 for the Commodores to open league play with two straight wins.
"Ole Miss postgame notes" by

Vanderbilt's budding reputation as a second-half team received another boost Saturday night, as the Commodores overcame a shaky first half by shutting out host Ole Miss for the final 30 minutes of a 23-17 Southeastern Conference victory. With the win, Vanderbilt moved to 4-0 for just the second time in 24 years while also staying unbeaten in league play. The 2005 team won its first four games as well, including a pair of SEC contests, to become the first Commodore club to do so since 1984.
"VU defense pitches second-half shutout" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt safety Ryan Hamilton recently characterized the last few games of the Commodores' series with Ole Miss as "awkward." Hamilton contributed to that awkwardness from the beginning to the end of Saturday's eventual 23-17 decision, as the matchup continued to live up to its "never-a-dull-moment" history. The junior intercepted Jevan Snead three times -- returning the first one 79 yards for a Vanderbilt touchdown -- recovered a fumble and closed out a goal-line stand with a fourth-down tackle inside the 1-yard line.
"Hamilton keys VU defense" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Ole Miss alum John Grisham may not have been able to write a better angle for Mackenzi Adams' first meaningful action of the season. The Vanderbilt junior quarterback, who threw an interception and was stripped for another turnover in the second half of an eventual seven-point loss to the Rebels two years ago, came off the bench Saturday night and led the Commodores to a pair of second-half field goals in a 23-17 victory. Adams stepped in for Chris Nickson in the third quarter, after the Vanderbilt starter injured his right (throwing) shoulder for the second time in as many years against Ole Miss.
"Backup steps in for injured quarterback" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Time to dole out the helmet stickers in the SEC. Ryan Hamilton, S, Vanderbilt: It's been a different player every week stepping up for Vanderbilt's defense. Hamilton was the guy Saturday. The junior safety tied a school record with three interceptions, returning one of those 79 yards for a touchdown, as Vanderbilt held off Ole Miss 23-17 to remain unbeaten. Hamilton also recovered a fumbled punt, one of six turnovers collected by the Commodores. "Week 4 SEC helmet stickers" by Chris Low,

Misery could be ending for one team, while it continues for the other. Vanderbilt, which hasn't had a winning season since 1982, came Saturday night to Oxford, where it had lost 22-of-25 to Ole Miss. But these Commodores look nothing like those teams. Ole Miss' Mike Wallace romps past Vanderbilt's Casey Hayward as he returns a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown Saturday night. The score put the Rebels up 17-7, but the Commodores stormed back.
"VU stymies Ole Miss" by Marlon W. Morgan, "Memphis Commercial Appeal"


Desperately searching during the game's agonizing final seconds, Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead rolled out to his right and threw a wobbly pass downfield. But instead of finding his desired receiver, the ball bounced around before settling into the outstretched hands of Vanderbilt safety Ryan Hamilton. And honestly, there couldn't have been a more fitting ending to this wild, mistake-laden game.
"Snead falters again" by David Brandt, "The Clarion-Ledger"

On the one hand, we had the Ole Miss Rebels, who hadn't won a Southeastern Conference game in 665 days. On the other, we had the Vanderbilt Commodores, who hadn't been to a bowl game in more than 9,000 days and hadn't been ranked in 24 years. Obviously, something had to give. "Different 'Dores" by Rick Cleveland, "The Clarion-Ledger"

Vanderbilt and Ole Miss played to a scoreless tie through the game's first 10 minutes before things started to get a little crazy late in the first quarter. In all, a whopping 24 points were scored in 53 seconds as Vanderbilt went on to beat Ole Miss 23-17 Saturday night. Everything seemed normal enough when Ole Miss kicker Joshua Shene chipped in a 20-yard field goal to give the Rebels a 3-0 lead. There was 5:10 remaining in the first quarter. "Flurry of crazy plays highlights first quarter" by David Brandt, "The Clarion-Ledger"

The last time Vanderbilt began the season 4-0 was three years ago. The Commodores then proceeded to lose their next six and finished the season with a 5-6 record. These Commodores - the ones that defeated Ole Miss 23-17 Saturday night after falling behind 10-0 and 17-7 - don't expect a repeat.
"4-0 and confident, Vanderbilt looks for more in the coming weeks" by Rick Cleveland, "The Clarion-Ledger"

Game starts at 6 p.m. CT at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.; No live television; broadcast on 104.5 FM; Gametracker Live Stats available

RELATED LINKS: Gameday Central  |  2008 Stats

Satuday, September 20
T.J Greenstone pays tribute to friend; Photos from Friday's walk through in Oxford; Vanderbilt's ground game a factor; Solid play keys Commodore turnaround; Snead works on mechanics; Ole Miss' keys to victory.

The football team is battling harder than ever for a bowl game this season. Virtually every Commodore player wears D.W.I.T. (Do Whatever It Takes) wristbands distributed by team captains as a reminder to leave every effort on the field. T.J. Greenstone plays for yet another reason. "Greenstone playing big for defensive line" Josh Arntz,

The Vanderbilt football team arrived in Oxford, Miss., Friday afternoon in preparation for Saturday's SEC game with Ole Miss. Check out's exclusive photo gallery from the team's walk through at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
"Photos: Commodores arrive in Oxford" by Brandon Barca,

If numbers are any indication, the underlying theme of Vanderbilt's offense has been "run if you can, throw if you must." Of 179 offensive plays through the Commodores' 3-0 start, 134 of them -- nearly 75 percent -- have been rushing attempts. That might start to even out today, bringing more focus on a largely untested receiving corps, when Vanderbilt visits Southeastern Conference rival Ole Miss. "Vanderbilt takes run-first approach" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

There was a time not long ago when nearly every school in the Southeastern Conference could look at its schedule and almost automatically put a game against Vanderbilt in the win column.
"At 3-0, Vanderbilt's vicious" by Marlon W. Morgan, "The Commercial Appeal"


Just two games into his Ole Miss career, quarterback Jevan Snead had already spoiled the viewing public with his immense ability. So when the sophomore finally missed a few receivers on what should have been easy passes during his third game against Samford, many were almost stunned, asking "Oh no, What's wrong with Jevan?"
"Snead brushes up on mechanics" by David Brandt, "The Clarion-Ledger"

Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson is just as much of a threat to run the ball as throw it. The Ole Miss defense can't get out of position or Nickson will tuck the ball and run for a 20-yard gain at a moment's notice. "Keys for Ole Miss", "The Clarion-Ledger"

Friday, September 19
DWIT; UM quick facts; watch this week's episode of Commodore Connection; Friday Conversation with TB Jared Hawkins; Saturday's matchup poses threat to both squads; what to watch for; CB D.J. Moore looking for first TD this season; UM coaches Nutt and Austin bring two different philosophies to offense; VU starting linebackers feature pair of former Memphis standouts; VU enters Oxford at the top of the SEC in sacks; 'Dores poised to return to a bowl game this season; VU and UM have historically taken advantage of each others' weaknesses; QB Chris Nickson fueling the VU running threat; Ole Miss ready to start succeeding.

With the nation abuzz over Vanderbilt's undefeated start, a team motto has emerged within the Commodores' locker room and spilled over onto the gridiron. Faced with a lengthy bowl drought, losing six players to the NFL Draft, and an inexperienced starting lineup heading into the season, the Commodores knew they could count on some inspiration from within to turn things around. Enter DWIT. Four simple letters that reflect the mentality of the 2008 squad: Do Whatever It Takes. "Do whatever it takes" Barca Blog,

Learn more about Vanderbilt's opponent this week: the Ole Miss Rebels. Saturday's SEC matchup is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss. "Quick facts about Ole Miss" by

Sign-up for All Access (free) to watch this week's episode of Commodore Connection featuring football head coach Bobby Johnson. Footage includes highlights from last week's victory over Rice plus a preview of Saturday's road matchup with Ole Miss. "Video: Commodore Connection show Rice highlights, Ole Miss preview" Courtesy of Comcast Spotlight,

After two years as a back-up, redshirt junior running back Jared Hawkins has assumes starting duties and set personal career highs in rushing yards in two straight games. Hawkins spoke with the Hustler after practice Wednesday, discussing the responsibilities of being the featured back, how he prepares mentally for each game and what role his faith plays in his life.
"FRIDAY CONVERSATION: Jared Hawkins" by David Rutz, "The Vanderbilt Hustler"

Seeing each other a ripe for the beating has perhaps contributed to the competitive nature of the Vanderbilt-Mississippi football series. Before the Commodores defeated the Rebels 31-17 last year, eight straight games in the series had been decided by nine points or less. Three came down to a field goal. When these teams meet, neither gives an inch.
"'Dores, Rebels again stand in each other's way" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

What to watch for on offense: Vanderbilt's rushing attack has been in high gear and ranks 17th nationally. Meanwhile, the Commodores have yet to pass for 100 yards in three games. If Ole Miss loads up to stop the run, can VU answer with a productive passing attack? "What to Watch for: Vanderbilt vs. Ole Miss" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

After getting within sniffing distance of a touchdown on two punt returns through his first three games this season, expect Vanderbilt's D.J. Moore to go airborne if the situation presents itself again. Moore was unable to avoid the blocking effort of teammate Myron Lewis, got tripped up and settled for a 91-yard return in the season opener at Miami (Ohio), stopping at the 1. Against Rice last Saturday, he was marked out of bounds inside the 1 at the end of a 67-yard return.
"Moore has plans to take to the air for one extra yard" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

For most football followers that are familiar with Houston Nutt and Kent Austin, the idea of their working together is a little surprising. Yet, there they are, Nutt in his first year as head coach at Ole Miss, Austin in his first season as offensive coordinator at his alma mater. The two have joined forces to get the Rebels off to a 2-1 start heading into Saturday's Southeastern Conference matchup with visiting Vanderbilt. It's a bit of an unusual coupling in that Nutt has historically brought a run-first, ask-questions-later approach to that side of the ball, while Austin -- who spent the bulk of his professional playing career in Canada, where teams only have three downs to get 10 yards -- is considerably more pass-oriented. "Ole Miss has an odd couple for its offense" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

A new attitude appears to be brewing in Nashville, where the Commodores are undefeated, thanks in part to two young linebackers from Memphis who typify the changes here. Sophomore John Stokes, a former Memphis University School standout, and redshirt freshman Chris Marve, a White Station product, are starting for Vanderbilt (3-0, 1-0 SEC), which hopes to convert more skeptics into believers at Ole Miss (2-1) on Saturday night.
"Attitude: VU linebacker duo bring Memphis muscle" by Scott Cacciola, "Memphis Commercial Appeal"


Everybody who's played against Vanderbilt this season has come away talking about the Commodores' improved speed on defense. Obviously, that's not just talk. Vanderbilt leads the SEC with 10 sacks through three games and is second with six interceptions. The Commodores, though, face their biggest challenge yet in getting to the passer this weekend against Ole Miss. The Rebels have allowed just one sack in three games, and offensive tackle Michael Oher is a wall unto himself on the left side.
"Speed fuels Vanderbilt's sack patrol" by Chris Low,

IT'S NOT exactly a plum job, football coach at Vanderbilt. When the team plays in a bandbox of a facility (capacity 39,773, smallest in the SEC) and has a long and colorful history of losing (25 years and counting without a winning record), sweet-talking blue-chip recruits into helping you build a winner isn't easy. Yet under seventh-year coach Bobby Johnson, the Commodores have been one of the nation's early-season surprises. After beating Rice 38--21 at Vanderbilt Stadium last Saturday, VU is 3--0 and prompting whispers of "bowl game" around Nashville--two words not associated with the school since Ronald Reagan was president.
"Is This The Year?" by Lars Anderson, "

Mississippi coach Houston Nutt's message is simple: It's time to take Vanderbilt seriously. "They're not a homecoming team anymore," Nutt said. The Rebels open their Southeastern Conference schedule with the Commodores on Saturday in Oxford, and the game is not the gimme everyone has come to expect. Vanderbilt has already knocked off South Carolina and is aiming to start 4-0 for just the fourth time since World War II. "Up is down in Vanderbilt-Mississippi game" by the AP,


The Vanderbilt Commodores will arrive in Oxford undefeated Saturday night, and if their quarterback play remains consistent their success may not be a passing thing. Certainly, on the field it hasn't been a passing thing, and that bothers Chris Nickson not at all. "Nickson's the one who makes VU run" by Parrish Alford, "Daily Journal"

The last time Ole Miss won a Southeastern Conference football game, Jevan Snead was a quarterback with the Texas Longhorns, Houston Nutt was solidly entrenched as the Arkansas football coach and Jerrell Powe was still mired in what looked like an unwinnable eligibility battle. The day was Nov. 25, 2006. The score: Ole Miss 20, Mississippi State 17. And my, how things have changed around Oxford since that afternoon. "Time to produce" by David Brandt, "The Clarion-Ledger"

Thursday, September 18
Monday's press interviews with S Ryan Hamilton and DE Steven Stone; Ole Miss will test VU rushing defense; VU vs. UM promises another close contest; VU special teams making big contributions in 3-0 start; Ole Miss defense returning to full strength; UM offensive line boosting the Rebels running game.

Watch Monday's football press interviews with junior safety Ryan Hamilton and junior defensive end Steven Stone as the Commodores prepare for Saturday's SEC road game at Ole Miss. "Video: Interviews with Hamilton, Stone" by

Vanderbilt's defensive line has proven it can hassle opposing quarterbacks this season. Can the Commodore front stop the run? This might be the week of revelation. If any coach in the Southeastern Conference is a disciple of the running game, it's Houston Nutt of Ole Miss, whose team plays host to Vanderbilt on Saturday in a key early-season Southeastern Conference showdown.
"VU's ground resistance to be tested against Ole Miss" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

The interdivisional Southeastern Conference rivalry between Vanderbilt and Mississippi has been marked by many close games in the last few years, although Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson cannot put his finger on why. "It's been very competitive and it seems to hinge on one or two plays or incidents or calls," Johnson said. "Why? I have no idea."
"Coach expects usual close game vs. Rebels" by David Rutz, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt junior Joel Caldwell remembers the home game during his freshman year when Vanderbilt might have played Florida to a standstill -- but the wheels came off on special teams. Already in 2008, the Commodores have had big punt returns to set up 1-yard scoring drives against Miami (Ohio) and Rice. They've also blocked a field goal and recovered a muffed punt, each leading to touchdowns against Southeastern Conference rival South Carolina.
"VU gets leg up by improving play on special teams" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Ole Miss defensive tackle Peria Jerry looked down the line of scrimmage Tuesday in practice and confidently nodded his head. For the first time since the start of preseason practice, the Rebels were playing with a full deck in what appeared to be one of the strongest defensive lines in the SEC before all the injuries hit in August. "Rebels back to full strength on defensive line" by Chris Low,

Ole Miss' defense is starting to get healthy. And with the 2-1 Rebels preparing to open their SEC schedule against 3-0 Vanderbilt, it couldn't come at a better time. Defensive tackles Peria Jerry and Ted Laurent played for the first time this season in Saturday's 34-10 win over Samford. The 6-foot-2, 290-pound Jerry was named one of the SEC's top defensive performers of the week with six tackles, including two for losses. This week, the Rebels hope to get pass-rush specialist Greg Hardy back, and Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt believes it'll transform his defense. "Rebels' defense getting healthy" by Mike Herndon, "The Mississippi Press"

It's always fun to excel at something, and Ole Miss offensive linemen have been good at pass protection through three games. Center Daverin Geralds was tickled, however, that he and his teammates were able to crank up the running game in last week's 34-10 win over Samford. It was a good feeling as the Rebels picked up 196 yards and averaged 5.3 yards per rush. An SEC team ought to be able to push around a lower-level opponent, but Geralds says there are positives to take nonetheless.
"REBELS:Linemen looking for complete performance" by Parrish Alford, "Daily Journal"

Wednesday, September 17
Barca Blog on the Ole Miss offense; coach Bobby Johnson's interview with 104.5 FM; team close to a national ranking; this week's Commodore Call-In Show with Coach Johnson; QB Chris Nickson the X-factor for VU; CB D.J. Moore's impressive performance against Rice; around the SEC; TB Jared Hawkins improves 'Dores rushing attack; WR Andrew Diomande possible for Saturday's contest; VU defense will challenge UM QB Snead; Snead and offensive line share credit for lack of sacks; UM DE Hardy looked good in practice.

After holding Rice's high-powered offense scoreless in the second half last weekend, Vanderbilt's defense will face another stern test Saturday against first-year head coach Houston Nutt's revamped attack at Ole Miss. Not only do the Rebels still possess their signature power running game, but with the addition of sophomore quarterback Jevan Snead, a transfer from the University of Texas, Ole Miss now displays a more balanced offense that's averaging 34.3 points per game and 407.3 yards per outing.
"Barca Blog: Rebel offense brings balance" Barca Blog,

Vanderbilt head football coach Bobby Johnson was a guest on the 104.5 Wake Up Zone Tuesday to discuss Saturday's SEC road game at Ole Miss. Download the entire interview for free on
"Audio: 104.5 FM with Bobby Johnson" Courtesy of the 104.5 Wake Up Zone,

A 3-0 start has Vanderbilt knocking on the door of its first national ranking in 24 years. The Commodores, undefeated through three games for only the third time since 1984, received 63 votes in this week's Associated Press poll, the most of any team outside the Top 25. That's no small accomplishment for a program that hasn't won a bowl game since 1955 and is in the midst of a 25-year losing streak. "Vanderbilt nears national ranking" by the AP,

Did you miss this week's Commodore Call-In Show with football head coach Bobby Johnson? Then sign-up for All Access (FREE) to listen to the entire program. (Note - you may have to fast forward through the first part of the audio to get past the previous program)
"Audio: Football Call-In Show archived" by

To find the key to the Commodores' electric 3-0 start, one should look no further than the fleet feet of dual threat quarterback Chris Nickson. The big redshirt senior's ability to scramble out of the pocket and run for big gains has proven to be valuable in several aspects of the Commodores' offensive attack. First and foremost, a running Nickson gives coach Bobby Johnson a valuable offensive weapon. Nickson leads the team with 268 rushing yards and five touchdowns, on an impressive 5.5 yards per carry. Nickson's production cannot be doubted. "What's been the X Factor in Vanderbilt's 3-0 start?" by Peter Letarte, "The Vanderbilt Hustler"

Even by D.J. Moore's lofty standards, his performance in last Saturday's game against Rice left observers shaking their heads in amazement. The Vanderbilt junior cornerback piled up a career-high 206 yards of total offense on just seven touches of the football to help lead the Commodores to a 38-21 win. He opened the game with a 39-yard kickoff return, then added 17 yards on his first punt return. One play later, he scampered 24 yards on a reverse to help set up Vanderbilt's first touchdown. In the fourth quarter, he returned a punt 67 yards to the Rice 1-yard line, then returned an interception 31 yards later in the quarter.
The All-Southeastern Conference performer is the only four way player in the league this year, handling duties as a cornerback, wide receiver, kickoff returner and punt returner.
"Vanderbilt still abuzz over Moore's dazzling performance" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

On a weekend full of compelling Southeastern Conference football action, Saturday's LSU-Auburn showdown stands alone.
"Around the SEC: West title on the line, as usual" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Over the past three seasons, Vanderbilt tailbacks rushed for 84 yards or more on just six occasions. Jared Hawkins has done it in each of his first two Commodore starts. The junior from Texas has given Vanderbilt's rushing game a no-nonsense attitude and a punch that has paid off in the second half of wins over South Carolina and Rice. Hawkins and the Commodores look to carry that ground game into this weekend's Southeastern Conference road matchup with Ole Miss.
"Hawkins puts up big yards twice" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson had hoped to get some injured Commodores back for this weekend's matchup with Ole Miss, but they won't be the impact players some had anticipated. Receiver Andrew Diomande, who transferred last summer from Clemson and has been slowed with a toe injury, might make his debut Saturday.
"Vanderbilt transfer receiver may play vs. Ole Miss" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Didn't see it coming from Ole Miss? Jevan Snead did. When Snead decided to exit the University of Texas two years ago, Ole Miss wasn't on the radar. At least not until Snead began doing his due diligence, looking for the program that best fit him. While most saw Ole Miss as a program in flux, Snead saw an SEC team with a nucleus in place.
"Ole Miss QB Snead gets his first test with SEC in upcoming VU contest" by Doug Segrest, "The Birmingham News"

Usually, when fingers are pointed on a football team, it's all about blame. This guy dropped a pass. This one blew his assignment. That coverage unit didn't play well. That play cost the team a win. But in the case of the Ole Miss offensive line and its exceptional protection of quarterback Jevan Snead, fingers are pointed for good reasons. The line points to Snead and his ability to escape pressure in the pocket as the reason the Rebels have allowed just one sack all season - a mark that tops the Southeastern Conference. Snead doesn't buy it, pointing to the five guys on the offensive line in front of him who weigh a combined 1,623 pounds. He says they're providing all the protection that's needed. "Line, Snead share credit for no sacks" by David Brandt, "The Clarion-Ledger"

Ole Miss defensive end Greg Hardy wore full pads during Tuesday's practice, and coaches said they were impressed with his mobility as he continues to recover from a stress fracture in his right foot.
"Hardy returns, shows mobility" by David Brandt, "The Clarion-Ledger"

Tuesday, September 16
Coach Johnson's Monday press conference; Coach Nutt's weekly press conference; Barca Blog Monday entry; official game notes for VU vs. Ole Miss; strong second-half play propelling 'Dores to 3-0; Commdores will focus on UM running game; Vanderbilt comes close to Top 25 ranking; opponents yet to sack UM QB Snead; UM DE Hardy could return against VU; preview for the VU vs. UM matchup.

Video, audio and quotes following Monday's press conference
"Coach Johnson discusses Ole Miss game" by

Ole Miss coach talks about Saturday's matchup with Vanderbilt
"Nutt's weekly press conference quotes" by

One of the best stories of the Commodores 3-0 start has to be senior placekicker Bryant Hahnfeldt. After experiencing plenty of ups and downs throughout his career (like all kickers do), Hahnfeldt looks like he's fully recovered from a 2006 leg injury and has been nothing short of spectacular during his senior campaign. The Nashville native now stands as Vanderbilt's all-time leading scorer with 210 points after contributing eight points in the Commodores 38-21 victory over Rice Saturday night. His extra point after Chris Nickson's touchdown run in the fourth quarter pushed him past fellow Montgomery Bell Academy product John Markham (1997-2000) on the career list. "MONDAY MORNING NOTES FROM MCGUGIN" Barca Blog,

Read the official football game notes for Saturday's contest at Ole Miss. The game is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. "Game Notes: Vanderbilt at Ole Miss" by

Perhaps based on the law of averages, Vanderbilt was destined to become an efficient second-half team sooner or later. The Commodores have done it on offense and defense, scoring on 13 of 14 red-zone opportunities this season, including 10 touchdowns, while leading the Southeastern Conference with 10 quarterback sacks. Many have come at key moments.
"Second-half surges fuel VU's 3-0 start" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Vanderbilt didn't have to devote much attention to defending Rice's running game during preparation for last Saturday night's 38-21 victory. That will change -- drastically -- this week. When Vanderbilt (3-0) visits Ole Miss for Saturday's Southeastern Conference matchup, it will meet a 2-1 Rebels squad that's rushed for 173 yards per game in its first three games.
"Vanderbilt will try to slow Ole Miss run game" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt is undefeated and unranked -- but the second fact will change if the first continues. After improving to 3-0 with last Saturday's 38-21 win over visiting Rice, the Commodores are atop the list of "others receiving votes" in the Associated Press Top 25, effectively making them No. 26 in the eyes of the poll's voters. Heading into Saturday's game at Ole Miss, Vanderbilt can break into the poll with a fourth win. It would be the first appearance in the Top 25 since 1984, when the Commodores were No. 19 after a 4-0 start.
"Vanderbilt flirts with Top 25 ranking" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

A 3-0 start has Vanderbilt knocking on the door of its first national ranking in 24 years. The Commodores, undefeated through three games for only the third time since 1984, received 63 votes in this week's Associated Press poll, the most of any team outside the Top 25. That's no small accomplishment for a program that hasn't won a bowl game since 1955 and is in the midst of a 25-year losing streak. Should Vanderbilt win at Mississippi on Saturday, the Commodores could vault into the national rankings for the first time since being ranked No. 19 after the first four games in 1984. "VU close to Top 25 for first time since 1984" by the AP, "International Herald Tribune"

Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt should not have much trouble getting his team's attention this week. The Rebels open Southeastern Conference play at home on Saturday night against Vanderbilt, which is on the cusp of the AP Top 25 with a surprising 3-0 start. The Commodores shut out Rice in the second half on Saturday and knocked off the previously unbeaten Owls 38-21. Plus, Ole Miss twice lost to Vanderbilt in Ed Orgeron's three seasons as its head coach, including last year's 31-17 loss in Nashville. Ole Miss is listed as a five-point favorite for Saturday's game in Oxford. "Rebels getting ready for 'real football'" by Jim Mashek, "Sun Herald"

As Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead continues getting used to be a starting college quarterback, there's one thing the sophomore has yet to experience. Snead has gone virtually untouched when dropping back to pass. Ole Miss heads into its first Southeastern Conference game Saturday against Vanderbilt as the only team in the league yet to give up a sack.
"Rebels notebook: Sackless Snead" by Marlon W. Morgan, "Memphis Commercial Appeal"

As Ole Miss heads into its first Southeastern Conference game Saturday against Vanderbilt, coach Houston Nutt would love to have defensive end Greg Hardy suited up for every snap as the Rebels look to contain elusive Commodores quarterback Chris Nickson. But he'll settle for the next best thing, which is just having the former Briarcrest Christian star available for spot duty.
"Ole Miss counting on Greg Hardy" by Marlon W. Morgan, "Memphis Commercial Appeal"

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt met with the media on Monday and discussed the Rebels' victory over Samford and this week's opponent Vanderbilt. "Nutt Weekly Press Conference" by

GAME NOTES: Rebels Open SEC Play With Vanderbilt by click here

Looking to open the season 3-1 for the first time since 2002, the Ole Miss football team opens SEC play Saturday evening at 6 p.m. against Vanderbilt at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Ole Miss enters the weekend coming off a 34-10 victory over Samford in which the Rebels racked up 424 yards of total offense. Senior Mike Wallace reeled in four catches and finished with a game-high 101 yards receiving, while sophomore quarterback Jevan Snead, who leads the SEC with six touchdown passes this season, finishes 13-of-24 for 222 yards against the Bulldogs. "GAME PREVIEW: Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt" by

Just in time for the start of SEC play, the Ole Miss defensive line might be getting a much-needed boost with the return of reigning conference sack champion Greg Hardy. Hardy returned to practice Sunday after being out of action since the first week of fall practice, following surgery to insert a screw to repair a stress fracture in his right foot. Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said Hardy made it through practice on Sunday, but was hesitant to say Hardy would be ready to play against Vanderbilt until seeing how the injured foot responds throughout the week. "Hardy practices, return possible" by Jacob Threadgill, "Daily Mississippian"

Ole Miss defensive end Greg Hardy returned to practice on Sunday with hopes that he'll be healthy enough to help the Rebels when they face Vanderbilt at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
"Rebs hope for healthy Hardy" by David Brandt, "The Clarion-Ledger"

Monday, September 15
PK Bryant Hahnfeldt breaks VU points record; LB Patrick Benoist broke hand against Rice; VU vs. UM matchup; Ole Miss safety Fon Ingram suspended for Saturday's game.

Bryant Hahnfeldt chuckles when asked to describe the topsy-turvy nature of his career as Vanderbilt's place-kicker. There have been highs, such as when he drilled a field goal to topple Georgia in 2006. Through the peaks and valleys, Hahnfeldt has held onto his job long enough to be a four-year starter, and his career accomplishments were validated last Saturday when he became Vanderbilt's all-time leading scorer. "Hahnfeldt's Vanderbilt career receives its coronation" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Vanderbilt junior linebacker Patrick Benoist broke a bone in his right hand during the first half of the Commodores' 38-21 victory Saturday night over Rice. Coach Bobby Johnson said after Sunday's brief practice that he thought Benoist would be available for Saturday's Southeastern Conference game at Ole Miss. "Linebacker breaks hand vs. Rice" by David Rutz, "The Tennessean"

The Commodores are led by quarterback Chris Nickson, who's more capable at running than throwing. He's rushed for 268 yards and five touchdowns on 49 attempts, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Also in the backfield, RB Jared Hawkins has been solid in his first three games with 242 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The offensive line is very inexperienced, but has performed well during the first three games. When Vanderbilt does happen to throw the football, Sean Walker and Brandon Barden have proven to be the big-play threats so far. "Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt" by David Brandt, "The Clarion-Ledger"

Ole Miss safety Fon Ingram has been suspended one week for breaking team rules and will not play against Vanderbilt after being arrested and charged with driving under the influence and careless driving early Sunday morning.
"Ole Miss football player Fon Ingram arrested" by the AP, "Boston Herald"

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt announced Sunday afternoon he has suspended sophomore strong safety Fon Ingram of Atlanta, Ga., for one week. "Fon is being suspended this week for breaking team rules and will not play against Vanderbilt," Nutt said.
"Nutt Suspends DB Fon Ingram For One Week" by

Week of September 8

Sunday, September 14
Game recap, notes and quotes; local columns on the Vanderbilt game; Rice special teams hurts them in the loss.

Box Score  |  Season Stats  |  Photo Gallery (Russell)   |  AP Photos

Jared Hawkins rushed for 107 yards and the Vanderbilt defense held Rice scoreless in the second half for a 38-21 victory on Saturday night. The Commodores snapped a 21-21 halftime tie on Jamie Graham's 27-yard touchdown run with 11:41 left in the third quarter. "Football team remains undefeated" by AP,

The Commodores move to 3-0 for the first time since the 2005 season ... It is only the second time the team has accomplished the feat since the 1984 season ... The win is the ninth in 10 games against non-Southeastern Conference opponents ... After giving up 21 first half points, the defense held Rice scoreless in the second half. Vanderbilt has outscored opponents 45-10 in the second half this season ... The Commodores outscored the Owls 24-0 since the 3:19 mark in the first half ... The 38 points is a season high, besting the 34 scored against Miami (Ohio) in the season opener ...The 273 yards rushing is the first time the team rushed for over 200 yards since going for 239 yards against Kentucky last year. Vanderbilt moved to 3-1 against Rice all-time.
"Rice Owls postgame notes" by

Rice Owls postgame quotes, click here

When is the last time Vanderbilt, the bastion of academia in the Southeastern Conference, dumbed it down in order to win a football game? Tired of watching the Rice offense torch his defense Saturday, Commodore coach Bobby Johnson ordered his team to think less and react more. "Vanderbilt pulls away from Rice in second half" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Vanderbilt pitched a second-half shutout Saturday night and improved to 3-0 for just the second time in 24 years with a 38-21 decision over visiting Rice. The Commodores broke a 21-all-tie with their first possession of the third quarter, on a Jamie Graham 27-yard run, and scored on two of their next three possessions to pull away for the win.
"Nickson, Vanderbilt stay unbeaten" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

D.J. Moore admitted he thought he was in a time machine Saturday night. The All-SEC defensive back got tired of watching Rice's no-huddle offense pile up the yards in the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium. "I was tired,'' Moore said. "It felt like we were losing.'' In fact, it was 21-21 at intermission, but the second half belonged to Vanderbilt's defense, which kept the Owls off the scoreboard during the 38-21 victory that moved the Commodores to 3-0. "Defensive changes hit mark" by Joe Biddle, "The Tennessean"

With the Houston area reeling from the effects of Hurricane Ike, the Rice football program has felt the impact as well. The Owls' radio flagship station was unable to air the broadcast of Saturday's game with Vanderbilt because of power outages. The sports information department made arrangements for an Internet link off its Web site to the Commodores' feed.
"Hurricane ruffles Rice's routines" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

The old joke used to be that it only took two minutes to cook Rice. That may be true at P.F. Chang's, but these Rice birds were a tough out for Vanderbilt Saturday night. Rice is in the wrong league. If the Owls were as wise as their name suggests, they would withdraw from Conference USA and join the Arena Football League. Their air-oriented offense moved up and down the field with the precision of the U.S. Marines drill team. "Vanderbilt turns up the heat on Rice" by Joe Biddle, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt vs. Rice photos, "The Tennessean" click here

Having answered every question while dissecting the first loss suffered by his team this season, Rice coach David Bailiff reserved his most pointed criticism for after the interviews concluded. "Rice beat Rice," Bailiff grumbled.
"Special teams mistakes cost Rice at Vanderbilt" by Moisekapenda Bower, "Houston Chronicle"

Friday, September 12
Feature on RB Jared Hawkins; watch this week's episode of Commodore Connection; SEC home games sold out; Hawkins making the most with his chance; what to watch for in Saturday's game; Hawkins to face his hometown team; Rice and Vanderbilt programs making strides; Rice receiver Dillard and quarterback Clement teaming up for big plays; Owl DB Jammer's interception against Memphis capped big comeback; Rice's preparation for Hurricane Ike.

Vanderbilt running back Jared Hawkins is a 5-foot-10, 200-pound cliché for perseverance. The same way he waits for his blocks, the redshirt junior remained patient through two trying seasons and when given the opportunity, he burst right through the hole, rushing for 84 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries in the Commodores' 24-17 victory over then-No. 24 South Carolina last Thursday.
"Hawkins running with opportunity" by Jarred Amato,

Sign-up for All Access (free) to watch this week's episode of Commodore Connection featuring football head coach Bobby Johnson. Footage includes highlights from last week's victory over South Carolina plus a preview of Saturday's non-conference matchup with Rice. Tickets are still available for $12 and can be purchased by calling (615) 322-GOLD.
"Video: Commodore Connection show South Carolina highlights, Rice preview" Courtesy of Comcast Spotlight,

Vanderbilt's remaining three football games against Southeastern Conference opponents Auburn, Florida and Tennessee are sold out, according to Commodore athletic officials. The only tickets left on the Vanderbilt schedule are both non-SEC opponents, Rice and Duke. The Rice game, scheduled this Saturday in Nashville, features a $12 ticket, the least expensive price on the Commodores' 2008 schedule. The price for remaining tickets to the Duke game on Saturday, Oct. 25, are $22.
"Football SEC home schedule soldout" by

Jared Hawkins figured it was only a matter of time before opportunity presented itself for him at Vanderbilt. He also wondered if time was running out. In his first two seasons, the Commodore tailback showed flashes of promise and even had the highest average yards per carry in 2006 and 2007 among the team's backs. "Patience rewarded for VU's Hawkins" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

What to watch for on offense: Rice's defense gives up huge chunks of yardage and lots of points, so it won't be a good sign Saturday if the Vanderbilt offense sputters. The Commodores punished South Carolina on the ground last week. Look for more of the same against Rice, which is giving up an average of 40.8 points in its past six games.
"What to watch for: Vanderbilt vs. Rice" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Vanderbilt junior tailback Jared Hawkins, a Houston-area native, has been anticipating Saturday's matchup with Rice for a while. "It's my hometown school," said Hawkins, who rushed for a career-high 84 yards and a touchdown in the Commodores' 24-17 win over South Carolina. "I'm really excited about playing." Hawkins played at Klein High School in Spring, Texas. He said he was lightly recruited by Rice, but selected the Commodores over Central Florida and Liberty.
"Back will face his hometown team" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt football fans are a bit uncomfortable with the program's 26-year absence from postseason play. Rice supporters just shake their heads at such impatience. Before the Owls' appearance in the 2006 New Orleans Bowl -- where they lost to Troy, 41-17 -- their previous bowl berth had come 45 years earlier, a 33-7 loss to Kansas in the 1961 Bluebonnet Bowl.
"Vanderbilt, Rice both improving" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Rice wide receiver Jarett Dillard can't explain his relationship with Rice quarterback Chase Clement, but he doesn't question it. From the moment the two stepped on campus five years ago, they've had a chemistry that is unmatched by any other quarterback-receiver duo in the country. That bond has led both to set numerous school, Conference USA and NCAA records. And their senior season is just getting started. "Clement and Dillard hope chemistry leads to wins" by Graham Watson,

Immediately following the first interception of his career against Memphis, defensive back Chris Jammer's 69- yard return for a touchdown with 11 seconds left capped a game that saw Rice recover from a 28-13 deficit in the fourth quarter en route to its first 2-0 start in four seasons. Rice returns to Tennessee tomorrow to face Vanderbilt University at 6 p.m. in Nashville.
"Freshman Jammer tames Tigers with key late game interception" by Brody Rollins, "The Rice Thresher"

Rice's preparation for Hurricane Ike -- "For the Latest on Hurricane Ike" by Rice Athletics,

Thursday, September 11
Video from Monday's press conference with VU players; Dores will need secondary to contain Rice offense; LB Patrick Benoist named Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week; Rice/VU may score in bunches this Saturday; notes on Rice; notes on Rice/VU matchup; pre-game preview; Greg Billinger lucky to be on the gridiron.

Watch Monday's football press interviews with Reshard Langford, Chris Nickson and Bradley Vierling as the Commodores prepare for Saturday's home game with Rice. "Video: Football press interviews" by

Football isn't played on paper. So even though it ranks 10th in the 12-team Southeastern Conference in pass defense, Vanderbilt is encouraged by the play of its highly touted secondary through the first two games of the season. With nickelback Darlron Spead sidelined by a leg injury, the Commodores face a tough aerial challenge Saturday, when Rice brings its spread offense to Vanderbilt Stadium. "Vanderbilt relies on secondary against Rice" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Patrick Benoist, who earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors with his 15-tackle effort against South Carolina, has been recognized again. The Football Writers Association of America on Wednesday named Benoist as its Bronco Nagurski national defensive player of the week. "Vanderbilt linebacker Benoist receives a national award" by David Rutz, "The Tennessean"

Rice can score points in bunches. It also gives up a few. The stage is set for a potential shootout Saturday night when the Owls visit Vanderbilt in a battle of upstart 2-0 teams with high hopes. Rice, guided by senior quarterback Chase Clement, has scored 30 points or more in six consecutive games dating back to last season, tied for the longest streak in the nation.
"Vanderbilt-Rice shootout in the works?" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

While Memphis managed to ground Rice's passing attack for only one half last weekend, the Owls are aware that Vanderbilt's touted secondary will present a greater challenge Saturday at Nashville, Tenn. The Commodores are led by All-SEC junior cornerback D.J. Moore, but the entire secondary has NFL potential. College Football News rated Vanderbilt's secondary, a unit that includes hard-hitting safeties Ryan Hamilton and Reshard Langford, third-best in the nation. "College Notes: Rice preps for tough Vanderbilt defense"
by Moisekapenda Bower, Terrance Harris and Chronicle News Services, "Houston Chronicle"

What's at Stake: Both teams are coming off rousing victories last week. Rice, which hasn't started 3-0 since 1953, scored 15 straight points over the final 1:15 to beat Memphis. Vanderbilt defeated South Carolina 24-17 for its first home win over a ranked opponent in 16 years. "Rice-Vanderbilt Capsule" by The Associated Press, "Dallas Morning News"

A pair of teams trying to remain undefeated on the young season collide in Nashville this weekend, as the Rice Owls do battle with the Vanderbilt Commodores in non-league play. The Owls have come out of the gate quickly this season and have taken control of Conference USA thanks to two straight victories. "Rice (2-0) at Vanderbilt (2-0)" by The Sports Network, "The Idaho Statesman"

Almost every day on the practice field, which is located adjacent to Vanderbilt Medical Center, Commodores defensive tackle Greg Billinger II hears the thump-thump-thump of the rescue helicopter as it makes its approach and remembers how lucky he is to be playing. Three years ago, Billinger and his family were driving back to Atlanta after his recruiting visit to Vandy. One of the car's tires blew, sending the car swerving into the grass medium where it flipped numerous times before coming to rest on the opposite side of the highway, facing oncoming traffic. "Vanderbilt's Billinger remembers close call" by Lenn Robbins, "The New York Post"

Wednesday, September 10
HOF profile of Bill Wade; LB Patrick Benoist named Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week; coach Bobby Johnson's interview with 104.5 FM; this week's Commodore Call-In Show with Coach Johnson; Receivers George Smith and Alex Washington return to practice; defense unsure when nickelback Darlron Spead will return; Spurrier on the chopping block after loss to Vanderbilt; Rice and VU succeeding on their own terms; Owls tight end James Casey fulfilling bigger role than anticipated.

If there was ever anyone who was destined to play football at Vanderbilt, it was Nashville's own Bill Wade. The son of former Vanderbilt team captain W.J. Wade, Bill starred at Montgomery Bell Academy and spent many of his days as a youth throwing the football around at Dudley Field. "Wade was Nashville's All-American boy" by

Commodore linebacker Patrick Benoist has been named the Football Writers Association of America Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in Vanderbilt's 24-17 victory over No. 24 South Carolina.
"Benoist named FWAA Nagurski National Defensive Player of Week" by

Vanderbilt head football coach Bobby Johnson was a guest on the 104.5 Wake Up Zone yesterday to discuss Saturday's home game against the Rice Owls. "Audio: 104.5 FM with Bobby Johnson" by

Did you miss this week's Commodore Call-In Show with football head coach Bobby Johnson? Then sign-up for All Access (FREE) to listen to the entire program. (Note - you may have to fast forward through the first part of the audio to get past the previous program)
"Audio: Football Call-In Show archived" by

With Chris Reinert watching practice from an electric scooter after surgery to repair a broken leg, and John Cole scheduled to undergo surgery today to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, the sight of Vanderbilt receivers George Smith and Alex Washington in helmets and shoulder pads Tuesday was a welcome one for the Commodores. Smith and Washington participated primarily in individual workouts with trainer Tom Bo"Injured Vanderbilt receivers return to practice" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean" ssung.

If any area of the Vanderbilt football team can overcome a key injury, it might be the defensive secondary. Nickelback Darlron Spead, one of the team's most reliable pass defenders, is out indefinitely after sustaining a fractured fibula in last Thursday's upset win over then-No. 24 South Carolina. He was injured after intercepting a pass and being knocked out of bounds. While Spead is expected to play again this season, a return date is unknown. "VU leaning on talent and depth of its secondary" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Only a loss to Vanderbilt could force Steve Spurrier to have to answer questions about whether or not the game of college football has passed him by. Yet that was the case this week for the South Carolina coach, whose team was upset 24-17 last week in Nashville. The same coach who was credited for changing the way offense was played in the Southeastern Conference in the 1990s now wonders where the magic has gone. "Around the SEC: Spurrier now forced to defend himself" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Battle of the Brains? Yep, that's probably going to be the billing anytime Rice and Vanderbilt play a football game. They're both 2-0 going into Saturday's game at Vanderbilt Stadium, and both are coming off eye-opening victories. Rice scored 29 points in the fourth quarter to pull off an amazing 42-35 comeback win over Memphis last Saturday. Vanderbilt knocked off then No. 24-ranked South Carolina last Thursday for its first win over a nationally ranked team at home since 1992.
"Vanderbilt, Rice doing it their way" by Chris Low,

Perhaps the most humorous aspect of the wonderment enveloping Rice sophomore utility back James Casey is that at this point of the 2007 season, no one associated with the Owls knew exactly what Casey was capable of -- not even Casey himself. Several things were obvious from the moment Casey stepped foot on campus in January 2007: He was a hulking specimen with ample athleticism, a passion for football, a perspective courtesy of toiling as a minor league pitcher, and a swagger that fashioned him a dangerous weapon on the football field. "Rice's Casey goes from utility man to main man" by Moisekapenda Bower, "Houston Chronicle"

Tuesday, September 9
Coach Bobby Johnson's Monday press conference; home win over Carolina makes statement for the program; LB Patrick Benoist named SEC Defensive Player of the Week; official game notes for Rice vs. VU; offensive line gaining valuable experience in first two games; 2-0 start looks promising for the Dores; VU's victory last Thursday provides inspiration; Rice's schedule gets tougher; Owls' head coach David Bailiff's Monday press conference.

Video, audio and quotes following Monday's press conference. "Coach Johnson discusses Rice game" by

There was no need to ask Bobby Johnson how it felt to beat a Top 25 opponent at home for the first time since 1992. The look on his face following Jared Hawkins' seven-yard run on third-and-five in the final minutes to seal Vanderbilt's 24-17 victory over South Carolina last Thursday said it all. "Vanderbilt makes home statement" by Jarred Amato,

Vanderbilt junior linebacker Patrick Benoist was named Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week Monday for his performance in the Commodores' 24-17 win over No. 24 South Carolina last Thursday.
"Benoist named SEC Player of Week" by

Read the official football game notes for Saturday's non-conference matchup with Rice. The game is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT at Vanderbilt Stadium. "Game Notes: Rice at Vanderbilt" by

For the second week in a row, a Vanderbilt player has been singled out for Southeastern Conference player-of-the-week honors. Commodore linebacker Patrick Benoist was recognized Monday as the league's top defender following a career-high 15-tackle game in Thursday's 24-17 win over then-No. 24 South Carolina. Benoist, a 6-feet, 222-pound junior, had a sack and two tackles for lost yardage among his 15 total stops. He was also credited with a pass breakup.
"Commodore receives honor from SEC again" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Winning a football game in the Southeastern Conference usually requires a team to come through when it matters most. Vanderbilt's moment of truth in last Thursday's upset of then-No. 24 South Carolina came when the Commodores took possession of the ball at their own 5-yard line with 2:34 remaining. "Vanderbilt's 'nasty guys' growing up quickly" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

On a night when Vanderbilt had plenty of worthy candidates, Patrick Benoist stood tall for the Commodore defense in last Thursday's 24-17 upset victory over South Carolina. The junior linebacker was named Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Monday for his performance, which included a career-high 15 tackles. Benoist, a second-year starter, also had a quarterback sack, a tackle for loss of yardage and a pass deflection. He helped the Commodores limit South Carolina to one second-half touchdown and 325 total offensive yards. "Vanderbilt Football Notes: Linebacker Benoist stands tall" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Nobody is saying quite yet that this could be the year for Vanderbilt (meaning its first bowl bid since the disco era), despite bubbling optimism after a 2-0 start that included an SEC victory last Thursday over South Carolina.
"Touring the college football nation: Vanderbilt optimistic after 2-0 start" by Ron Higgins, "Memphis Commercial Appeal"

I don't know how many of you were watching, but I saw an inspirational performance Thursday night. Thrust into the spotlight, with naysayers all around, the white-haired veteran rallied his team and took a strong step forward for the rest of the fall. You might have missed it since Sen. John McCain was making his acceptance speech at the same time, but Bobby Johnson's Vanderbilt Commodores delivered hope from a football field in a way no politician ever will.
"Hope delivered on a gridiron" by James Clements, "Culpeper Star-Exponent"

The Owls will enter the most daunting stretch of the 2008 schedule by playing Vanderbilt and Texas, representatives of the Southeastern and Big 12 conferences, on consecutive Saturdays. In an ideal world, Del Conte would have opted for a break between two such opponents, but considering all the moves he made to revamp the '08 schedule, he isn't complaining too vocally.
"Del Conte wants to unburden football team" by Moisekapenda Bower, "Houston Chronicle"

Members of the Houston media met with Rice football head coach David Bailiff, quarterback Chase Clement and defensive lineman Chris Ptaszek Monday afternoon to recap the Owls thrilling 42-35 comeback win over Memphis and preview the Vanderbilt game this Saturday at 6pm. "Football Press Conference Quotes" by

Monday, September 8
Feature article about Dan McGugin; injuries: WR Chris Reinert out for season, DB Darlron Spead could possibly return this season.

He was a lawyer first and a ball coach second. He was a practical joker who was beloved in Nashville social and business circles. He was an innovator and a motivator. So why does Dan McGugin still cast such a huge shadow upon Vanderbilt athletics 72 years after his death? "McGugin's legacy stands strong" by

Chris Reinert visited Vanderbilt's brief practice Sunday, just a couple of days after undergoing surgery to repair the broken left tibia and fibula he suffered in Thursday's 24-17 win over Southeastern Conference rival South Carolina. The junior receiver was hit while blocking on an 8-yard Jared Hawkins run, five minutes into the fourth quarter. He'll miss the remainder of the season.
"Vanderbilt receiver Reinert is out for year" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Key Vanderbilt defensive back Darlron Spead suffered a lower leg fracture in last Thursday's game against South Carolina and will be sidelined indefinitely, VU coach Bobby Johnson said Sunday. The injury came after Spead intercepted a pass and was knocked out of bounds by Gamecocks quarterback Chris Smelley. The Commodores upset No. 24 South Carolina 24-17. Spead, Vanderbilt's top nickel back, might still be able to return this season.
"Vanderbilt Football Notes: Spead down but maybe not out" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Week of September 1

Saturday, September 6
Coach Bobby Johnson's interview with 104.5 FM; Johnson not shocked by win over USC; Thursday's win gives fans hope; VU athletic program finding success without official Athletic Department.

Vanderbilt head football coach Bobby Johnson was a guest on the 104.5 Wake Up Zone Friday to discuss the Commodores 24-17 victory over No. 24 South Carolina. Download the entire interview for free.
"Audio: 104.5 FM with Bobby Johnson" by

Bobby Johnson wasn't quite sure what all the fuss was about after Vanderbilt's 24-17 win over 24th-ranked South Carolina on Thursday. "I didn't understand why people thought we couldn't win," Johnson said. "We beat them last year and I didn't see where they got any better than we got better." "Vanderbilt coach says win was no upset" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

I won't pretend to tell you how many games Vanderbilt will win this season. Who hasn't been burned trying to nail that answer in seasons past? After Thursday night's 24-17 win over No. 24 South Carolina, Commodores fans were exiting Vanderbilt Stadium with their hair on fire. All I know is Vanderbilt was a better football team for 60 minutes. The Commodores were well coached, played hard, got stronger as the game went on. They never quit, as some Vandy teams of yesteryear were prone to do.
"Vanderbilt fans get hope from win" by Joe Biddle, "The Tennessean"

As president of Vanderbilt University and four other prominent schools before that, Gordon Gee perceived an unhappy trend: Student-athletes were drifting away from the core of university life. They lived, ate and studied in a jock bubble. Sure, most went to class. But they missed out on virtually every other important college experience, from studying abroad to Greek life. Five years ago this week, Gee decided he'd had enough. At loggerheads with his athletic director, he summoned his top administrators and stunned them with the news: He planned to disband Vanderbilt's athletic department, and fold it into the division of student life.
"No athletic dept at Vanderbilt, but much success" by Justin Pope, The Associated Press

Friday, September 5
The Commodores beat the Gamecocks 24-17; freshmen continue new tradition; Vanderbilt gets huge home win against SEC opponent; Coach Bobby Johnson not shocked by team's victory; VU special teams plays big role in decision; VU defense kept team in the game; Dores snapped a five-quarter scoreless streak for USC; Chris Nickson impressive in the win.

RELATED LINKS: Box Score  |  Quotes  |  Notes  |  Season Stats  |  AP Photos   |  Photo Gallery (Russell)

Vanderbilt heard all the talk from South Carolina after beating the then-No. 6 Gamecocks last October. It made the Commodores mad. And for the first time since 1992, they finally did something about it on their own turf. Chris Nickson threw for a touchdown and ran for another and Vanderbilt beat a ranked opponent on its own field Thursday night, upsetting No. 24 South Carolina 24-17 in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. "Vanderbilt outlasts No. 24 South Carolina" by

The freshmen class has run onto the field to start the first home football game for the past five years, and tonight was no different as 1,500 students clad in black stormed the gridiron just prior to the Commodores pregame entrance onto Dudley Field. Former chancellor Gordon Gee began the tradition to introduce the newcomers to VU athletics and ignite school spirit.
"Freshmen tradition ignites school spirit" by

This is what Vanderbilt had been trying in vain to do for 16 years. By upsetting No. 24 South Carolina 24-17 on Thursday at Vanderbilt Stadium, the Commodores knocked off a ranked opponent at home for the first time since 1992. VU has picked up big wins on the road in recent years, but slaying a giant in Nashville has proved to be an elusive assignment.
"'Dores get it done at home" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Perhaps the nation was stunned Thursday that Vanderbilt upset South Carolina for the second straight season. VU coach Bobby Johnson wasn't shocked in the least. "Johnson not stunned at all with VU win" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Vanderbilt apparently took note of the impact special teams had on the college football landscape last weekend, and put the knowledge to good use Thursday night against visiting South Carolina. The Commodores recovered a punt that struck a Gamecocks blocker in the foot and blocked a field goal during a five-minute span of the third quarter. They turned the plays into 10 pivotal points in an eventual 24-17 victory over their Southeastern Conference East Division rival. "Vanderbilt win ranks high" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt's defense did exactly what needed to be done. With two first-half interceptions and four total sacks, the Commodore defense kept its squad in the game against South Carolina on Thursday night. The performance opened the door for Vanderbilt's offense to fashion a second-half comeback in the nationally televised home opener, and rally to defeat the Gamecocks for the second consecutive season with a 24-17 victory. "Early plays by defense keep Vanderbilt in game" by Jessica Hopp, "The Tennessean"


No. 24 South Carolina's fourth quarter comeback effort Thursday against Vanderbilt fell short and the Gamecocks fell 24-17. South Carolina (1-1) extended its streak of quarters without yielding a point to five by keeping Vanderbilt (2-0) scoreless in the first. The Commodores' third quarter touchdown on a Chris Nickson pass to Brandon Barden marked the first time an opponent reached the end zone against the Gamecocks this season. "No. 24 Gamecocks Fall to Commodores, 24-17" by

USC defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson gave his unit a B-minus or C-plus for its performance Thursday night. But with a struggling offense and a couple bad plays on special teams, the Gamecock defense needed an A to avoid another upset against Vanderbilt. "Defense cracks in second half" by Seth Emerson,

Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson will not earn any style points for his performance against South Carolina on Thursday night. The reigning SEC offensive player of the week, who compiled 257 total yards and three touchdowns in last week's 34-13 blowout of Miami of Ohio, posted paltry numbers against the Gamecocks, passing for 90 yards and rushing for 17. But the flashy, fifth-year senior commanded Vanderbilt's unheralded offense to a 24-17 win against offensive guru Steve Spurrier -- and that is all that matters to Nickson. "Nickson commands Vanderbilt offense" by Steve Silver,

Injured Vanderbilt receiver Chris Reinart departed the field on a cart early in the fourth quarter, wildly waving his arms to pump up the crowd and his teammates. Not that any additional motivation was required by the Commodores as the underdogs were already riding high on adrenaline against South Carolina. "Vanderbilt upsets USC -- again" by Eric Boynton,

An array of errors -- by the offense, defense and special teams -- kept Vanderbilt hanging around, and then the Commodores broke through Thursday night for a 24-17 upset of No. 24 South Carolina before 36,850 fans at Vanderbilt Stadium.
"Error-prone Gamecocks again fall to Vanderbilt" by Travis Haney, "The Post and Courier"

Game starts at 7:30 CT on Dudley Field in Nashville, Tenn.; televised on ESPN; broadcast on 104.5 FM; Gametracker Live Stats available

Thursday, September 4
Video of press conference with Commodore players; quick facts about the Gamecocks; free episode of Commodore Connection; Kellie Pickler will sing the national anthem tonight; USC focused on the Commodores; pre-game notes; Carolina poses a much greater test for Vanderbilt; who has the edge, and how each team can win; Spurrier would have chosen Smelley had Beecher been healthy; key matchups for tonight's game.

RELATED LINKS: Gameday Central  |  2008 Stats

Watch Monday's football press interviews with Ryan Hamilton, Chris Nickson and Sean Walker as the Commodores prepare for Thursday's home opener with South Carolina. "Video: Football press interviews" by

Learn more about Vanderbilt's opponent this week: the South Carolina Gamecocks. Thursday's matchup is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT at Vanderbilt Stadium and will be televised by ESPN. "Quick facts about South Carolina" by

Sign-up for All Access (free) to watch this week's episode of Commodore Connection featuring football head coach Bobby Johnson. Footage includes highlights from last week's victory over Miami (Ohio) plus a preview of Thursday's opener against South Carolina. "Video: Commodore Connection show Miami highlights, South Carolina preview" -- Courtesy of Comcast Spotlight

Four nights before she's set to join a lineup of fellow country music stars performing at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards, American Idol alum and BNA Records artist Kellie Pickler will pay tribute to her American roots by singing the national anthem before the Vanderbilt Commodores' home opener Thursday against the No. 24-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks.
"BNA Records artist, American Idol alum Kellie Pickler to sing National Anthem" by

After Vanderbilt stunned the University of South Carolina last year at Williams-Brice Stadium, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn had trouble sleeping as he sought to make sense of the loss. "I woke up like 3 o'clock in the morning. I was like, 'We just lost to Vanderbilt. We were No. 6 in the nation. We probably could have moved up to like No. 4 because a lot of other teams lost,' " Munnerlyn said.
"Loss to Vanderbilt still weighs on South Carolina" by Rick Scoppe, "Greenville (S.C.) News"


South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier had made a career of whipping up on teams such as Vanderbilt before it all came crashing down in 2007. Last October, the Commodores upset the then-No. 6 Gamecocks, 17-6, in Columbia, S.C. It was the highest-ranked team Vanderbilt had defeated in nearly 70 years and its first-ever victory on the road against a Top 10 opponent. Spurrier had been 14-0 against Vanderbilt while coaching at South Carolina and Florida, and many of those wins had been of the lopsided variety.
"This time, Commodores have South Carolina's attention" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Vanderbilt hopes to make Kenny McKinley wait another week to become South Carolina's all-time leading receiver. With 159 career receptions, the standout Gamecocks senior wide receiver needs only 11 to become the most prolific pass-catcher in school history. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt features a defensive secondary it believes ranks with the best in the Southeastern Conference, drawing the battle lines for an intriguing matchup in tonight's game at Vanderbilt Stadium.
"Vanderbilt pre-game notes: McKinley has 'Dores on high alert" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"


Given the traditional hierarchy of the SEC East, it's reasonable to think that any chance Vanderbilt or South Carolina have for a successful season hinges on their success against each other. That dynamic, plus the fact that tonight's game is the conference opener for both teams and its being televised nationally, makes the Gamecocks-Commodores matchup pivotal for both squads -- coachspeak aside.
"SEC crossroad comes early for Vanderbilt, S.C." by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt looked impressive during its season-opening win last week at Miami (Ohio), and while the RedHawks may well wind up playing for the Mid-American Conference championship, they were pressed to stay with the Commodores in a 21-point loss. But the competition will crank up tonight as Vanderbilt enters Southeastern Conference play against visiting South Carolina. Here's a look at how the Commodores stack up, position-by-position, with the rest of the SEC...
"Vanderbilt doesn't always match up well vs. SEC foes" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

HOW VANDERBILT CAN WIN It may be too much to ask for Vanderbilt to repeat last year's effort -- seven sacks, four turnovers -- against South Carolina, so the Commodores may have to generate some offense. Whether running or passing, that will start with Chris Nickson. HOW SOUTH CAROLINA CAN WIN The Gamecocks will look for a steady performance from its quarterback(s), hoping to score just enough points and put the contest in the hands of its defense. Smart move, with 10 starters returning on that side of the ball. South Carolina has some gamebreakers defensively, including safety Emanuel Cook.
"Vanderbilt vs. South Carolina: Who has the edge?" by "The Tennessean"

You can tell college football season has kicked off. After one game, South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier has changed quarterbacks. Granted, Tommy Beecher lost his starting job because of an injury in the season opening 34-0 win over North Carolina State -- but throwing four interceptions did not exactly endear Beecher to the Ole Ball Coach. Spurrier admitted this week that even if Beecher were healthy enough to play tonight, he likely would have started Chris Smelley against Vanderbilt.
"Big-stakes game sees South Carolina shuffle the deck" by Joe Biddle, "The Tennessean"


Here are three key matchups for No. 24 South Carolina entering tonight's game at Vanderbilt -- 1. USC WR Kenny McKinley vs. Vanderbilt CB D.J. Moore; 2. Vanderbilt QB Chris Nickson vs. USC defensive front; 3. South Carolina offense vs. the Ghosts of Vandy Past.
"Pick 3: USC vs Vanderbilt" by Travis Haney, "The Post and Courier"

South Carolina was 7-1 and ranked No. 3 in the country last season entering its Oct. 27 SEC East showdown at Tennessee. Oh. Wait. That's just what the Gamecocks assumed would happen entering last year's Vanderbilt game, not what actually went down. Riding as high as the program had been in years -- since 1984, really -- USC forgot it actually had to, you know, go out and beat the Commodores. "Loss to Commodores haunts Gamecocks" by Travis Haney, "The Post and Courier"

For four months, Chris Smelley was tainted by a horrific, five-interception performance ... in a game that did not count in the standings. Let the record show the South Carolina quarterback believes the importance of spring games is overblown. Anointed by the media as the successor to the throne he shared with Blake Mitchell last year, Smelley lost his hold on the job by throwing five picks in the first half of April's spring game, including three in a seven-play stretch. "Smelley likes team spirit" by Joseph Person,

Wednesday, September 3
Commodores ready for USC game; Chris Nickson named SEC Offensive Player of the Week; 2008-09 Wallpapers of the Week; wear BLACK to Thursday's game; Bobby Johnson's interview with 104.5 FM; audio from the Commodore Call-In Show; postgame traffic plan changed; USC QB Smelley to start Thursday; senior RB Jeff Jennings possibly out for USC game; Gamecocks' practice report; video previewing USC vs. VU; Carolina hoping to avenge last season's loss to the Commodores.

Chris Nickson has seen the Commodores silence Rocky Top in 2005, win between the hedges in 2006 and pull off the upset in Columbia in 2007. But after four years, Nickson is still waiting to watch West End go wild after a home victory, which is why the senior quarterback could not hold back his excitement when discussing Thursday night's home opener against South Carolina.
"Commodores excited about home opener" by Jarred Amato,

Vanderbilt senior quarterback Chris Nickson was named Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week Tuesday for his performance in the Commodores' 34-13 win over Miami (Ohio) last Thursday.
"Nickson named SEC Player of Week" by

2008-09 Wallpapers of the Week -- click here

After an impressive outing against Miami (Ohio) last week, the Commodores return home for their season home opener and SEC schedule opener against South Carolina this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The team and the Vanderbilt student body ask that all fans, even those watching from home, participate in a "Black Out" - where black shirts, headbands, jackets, etc. to the game that evening. Feel free to go crazy and get creative with your styles. "Team encourages fans to wear black Thursday" by

Vanderbilt head football coach Bobby Johnson was a guest on the 104.5 Wake Up Zone today to discuss Thursday's home opener against the South Carolina Gamecocks. Download the entire interview for free on
"Audio: 104.5 FM with Bobby Johnson" by

Did you miss this week's Commodore Call-In Show with football head coach Bobby Johnson? Then sign-up for All Access (FREE) to listen to the entire program. (Note - you may have to fast forward through the first part of the audio to get past the previous program)
"Audio: Football Call-In Show archived" by

Vanderbilt is changing the way fans drive away after football games, hoping the changes will help cut down gridlock. The new postgame traffic plan will begin during the home opener Thursday against South Carolina.
"Vanderbilt to re-route traffic after home games in '08" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson was honored Tuesday as the Southeastern Conference's offensive player of the week, following his career-best 166-yard rushing performance in last week's 34-13 win at Miami (Ohio). Nickson, who scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the victory, also threw for 91 yards and a score in his first start since last year's Georgia game. The fifth-year senior is the first Commodore to earn SEC offensive player of the week honors since Earl Bennett got the nod following last season's opener.
"SEC names Nickson week's best on offense" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

You can bet South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier doesn't plan to lose two straight games to Vanderbilt, and he's taking steps this week to prevent that from happening. Quarterback Chris Smelley didn't start for South Carolina in its season opener last week, but he will get the call Thursday when the Gamecocks visit Vanderbilt, Spurrier said this week.
"Around the SEC: Smelley gets the nod for Vanderbilt game" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Vanderbilt senior running back Jeff Jennings will likely miss Thursday's game against South Carolina with a shoulder injury, VU coach Bobby Johnson said Tuesday. Jennings started in last week's season-opener at Miami of Ohio and sustained the injury during the game. In his absence, junior Jared Hawkins and sophomore Gaston Miller are expected to receive most of the carries as the Commodores shoot for their second straight victory over the Gamecocks.
"VU's Jennings likely to miss Thursday's game" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

South Carolina debuted in the national rankings Tuesday, coming in at No. 24 in both the coaches and media polls. USC is tied with Illinois in the Associated Press poll, and is one spot ahead of the Fighting Illini in the USA Today coaches' poll.
"Practice report: Spurrier on being ranked" by

In their second weekly video of the 2008 football season, Gamecock beat writers Joseph Person and Seth Emerson preview the team's SEC opener at Vanderbilt. "VIDEO: Previewing USC-Vanderbilt" by

The sun shone brightly last October and fans in the upper deck of Williams-Brice Stadium watched the ferris wheel spin at the State Fairgrounds next door as they ramped up for South Carolina's game with Vanderbilt. Their mood was festive, and why not? The Gamecocks were 6-1, ranked No. 6 in the country and coach Steve Spurrier had never, ever lost to the Commodores. Who'd guess this Saturday would be any different.
"Gamecocks look to avenge '07 loss to Vanderbilt" by the Associated Press,

Motivation should be more than plentiful on the South Carolina sideline Thursday night at Vanderbilt. After all, the sting of last year's 17-6 loss to the Commodores at Williams-Brice Stadium still lingers for the Gamecocks. They committed four turnovers -- including two interceptions by Broome product D.J. Moore -- and gave up seven sacks.
"Spurrier: We're mad at ourselves about last year's Vanderbilt game" by Matt Cobbs,

Tuesday, September 2
Video, audio and quotes from Coach Johnson's press conference; QB Nickson will run the ball a lot this season; Coach Johnson taking games one at a time; Vanderbilt concerned about losing wide receiver John Cole; the Commodores make the SEC proud both on and off the field; USC announces QB Chris Smelley will start on Thursday.

Video, audio and quotes following Monday's press conference. "Coach Johnson discusses USC game" by

After running the ball 20 times during Vanderbilt's season opener, it's clear that quarterback Chris Nickson will be in harm's way quite a bit this season. The Commodores have little choice, Coach Bobby Johnson said. The lack of a game-breaking running back means Vanderbilt needs to get rushing production from its mobile quarterback.
"Vanderbilt expects Nickson to carry ball" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Bobby Johnson's Vanderbilt teams have pulled off some Southeastern Conference victories during the past three seasons that few thought the Commodores capable of -- winning at Arkansas and Tennessee in 2005, at Georgia in '06 and at No. 6 South Carolina in 2007. But they haven't been able to score those big wins on their home field. And though he would love nothing more during the home opener Thursday, Johnson insists he's not putting too much significance on any single game.
"Bobby Johnson doesn't build up S.C. game" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Chris Nickson almost single-handedly led Vanderbilt to a season-opening victory last week at Miami (Ohio). As the Commodores prepare for Thursday's game against South Carolina, Nickson will gladly accept the burden one more time. The senior quarterback ran the ball 20 times for a career-high 166 yards last Thursday in engineering a 34-13 victory.
"No game-plan change coming for Commodores" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson admitted Monday he's concerned about his team's wide receiver position as the Commodores prepare to play host to South Carolina on Thursday. "Yes," he said. "A big yes." True freshman John Cole is the latest receiver to be sidelined with an injury and is expected to miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn meniscus in last week's season-opener at Miami (Ohio.) Already out of action is senior George Smith, the team's leading returning receiver from 2007, who is nursing a stress fracture in his right foot. "Vanderbilt Football Notes: Receiving corps takes another hit" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

After the first blast of tubas in college football, we can report the Southeastern Conference looks mightier than ever. So which of the league's juggernauts deserves our attention? Sure. Vanderbilt. This is Commodores Appreciation Day. The thought occurred sometime while Alabama was mashing Clemson, and South Carolina was crushing North Carolina State and LSU was whipping Appalachian State and Georgia was rolling and the conference was going 10-1 the first week, with Monday night's Tennessee-UCLA game still out. How hard is it to be a tuna in a shark tank? How hard is it to be Vanderbilt?
"Vanderbilt does SEC proud on, off field" by Mike Lopresti, "The USA Today"

It started at an early age for Emanuel Cook. At some point a very wise (or lucky) Pop Warner League football coach in south Florida told Cook to play linebacker, and a career was born. The little kid grew up, though not enough to stay at linebacker. So when he arrived at South Carolina -- after somehow escaping the clutches of three major programs in Florida -- he was moved to safety. But his specialty never changed. "Soft-spoken Cook lets tackles do the talking" by Seth Emerson,

The calendar said Labor Day, but South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was in an April Fools' Day mood. Addressing the media Monday evening, Spurrier said he had narrowed the quarterback field to two candidates: Chris Smelley and ... Stephen Garcia? Then Spurrier grinned and said he was joking about Garcia. Instead, the Gamecocks' quarterback against Vanderbilt will be Smelley, the player many fans figured would be this season's starter all along. "Smelley gets the nod" by Joseph Person,

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier says backup quarterback Chris Smelley will start Thursday night against Vanderbilt. Spurrier says he made the decision after starting quarterback Tommy Beecher couldn't practice Monday because he couldn't lift his non-throwing shoulder. "Smelley named starting quarterback for South Carolina" by "The USA Today"

Monday, September 1
Official game notes for VU vs. USC; new postgame traffic plan announced; freshman receiver John Cole expected to miss eight weeks; Spurrier unsure about starting QB; USC to be wide-awake during Thursday's game; Gamecocks plan to use Smelley and Beecher at QB this season; Spurrier's weekly press conference.

Read the official football game notes for Thursday's home opener against South Carolina. The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (615) 322-GOLD.
"Game Notes: South Carolina at Vanderbilt" by

Vanderbilt Police Department in conjunction with Vanderbilt Athletics has created a new traffic plan for postgame traffic that goes into effect this season. "New postgame traffic plan announced" by

Vanderbilt freshman receiver John Cole is expected to miss the next eight weeks after suffering a torn meniscus in his right knee during Thursday's win at Miami (Ohio). One of four freshmen to play in the season opener, Cole was injured on a punt return. His loss is another setback to a receiving corps that already is missing junior Alex Washington (knee) and senior George Smith (foot). With the injury occurring so early in the season, there's a possibility that Cole can receive a medical redshirt and retain four years of eligibility.
"Knee injury will force receiver to sit eight weeks" by David Rutz, "The Tennessean"

After watching starter Tommy Beecher get banged up in South Carolina's opener, Steve Spurrier figures it'll take more than one quarterback to get the Gamecocks through the season. Beecher, a junior making his first start, threw four interceptions and was ineffective for much of the first three quarters of South Carolina's 34-0 victory over North Carolina State on Thursday. He came out before the final period after taking a hit to the head and hurting his left shoulder so badly he couldn't practice Saturday. Spurrier didn't say on Sunday if Beecher or backup Chris Smelley would get the call Thursday night at Vanderbilt, only that the team likely would need them both to succeed this season. "Spurrier stays noncommittal on quarterbacks" by Pete Iacobelli (AP), "The Tennessean"

South Carolina cornerback Captain Munnerlyn remembers looking around the locker room last year before the 12:30 p.m. kickoff with Vanderbilt and noticing some of his teammates rubbing the sleep from their eyes. "Some of our guys were still yawning. I was like, man, we need to get up," Munnerlyn said. "And by the time we got up, it was 17-0 (after the first quarter)." After the Gamecocks' offense slumbered through the 17-6 loss to the Commodores, USC's nightmare continued for another five weeks. The No. 6 national ranking, the hopes for an SEC East crown and dreams of a New Year's Day bowl game -- were spoiled by a season-ending, five-game losing streak. "Vets leave wake-up call for Vanderbilt" by Joseph Person,

It took only one game for the "Tommy's the guy" period to grind to a halt. That's not to say that Tommy Beecher won't still end up being South Carolina's quarterback for most of this season. But after his iffy performance in last week's opener against N.C. State, the job may still be up for grabs. Coach Steve Spurrier suggested Sunday that it's probably going to take more than one quarterback to lead the offense. "Spurrier plans to use both Beecher, Smelley" by Matt Cobbs,

So much for that whole going with one quarterback thing for Steve Spurrier and South Carolina. A week into the regular season, and after Tommy Beecher bombed in his first career start, Spurrier said it looks like it's going to take two (or more) to get through the year. "Well, it appears that we're probably going to need two quarterbacks," Spurrier said Sunday in his weekly news conference.
"The Gamecocks' two-headed monster?" by Travis Haney, "The Post and Courier"

Head Coach Steve Spurrier met with the media for his weekly press conference on Sunday afternoon in the Crews Building team meeting room. Here are some excerpts from the press conference: On the quarterback for this week and this season: "We're probably going to need two quarterbacks. Guys get hit all the time. The best thing is to always have two to maximize our talent this year."
"Steve Spurrier's Weekly Press Conference" by


Week of August 25

Sunday, August 31
Explosive offense promising for VU; USC QB Smelly takes snaps with the first team; USC sophomore Jarriel King to start at left tackle; USC QB Tommy Beecher sits out practice.

In a game of word association, "Vanderbilt" wouldn't typically get the response of "explosive offense." But the fact that the Commodores posted two offensive plays of 40 yards or more in Thursday's 34-13 win at Miami (Ohio) is cause for some optimism. And while that outlook might be tempered by the fact that Vanderbilt's six such plays last fall came against nonconference foes, it's still promising that this year's squad displayed some big-play ability in the season opener.
"Quick strikes encourage Vanderbilt" by Maurice Patton

Chris Smelley worked with the first team at quarterback during South Carolina's practice Saturday and would appear to be in line to get the start Thursday at Vanderbilt. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier will probably announce a starter on Monday. Tommy Beecher is nursing a sore shoulder, but didn't help himself any with four interceptions in the season-opening 34-0 win over North Carolina State last Thursday. "Smelley to get next shot for Gamecocks?" by Chris Low,

Regardless of the status of Tommy Beecher's shoulder, USC quarterback Chris Smelley wants to shoulder more of the load at the Gamecocks' most visible position. Smelley, who came off the bench to lead three fourth-quarter touchdown drives against N.C. State, worked with the first team during Saturday's practice. But it was unclear whether that was based on his performance against the Wolfpack or the health of Beecher, whose sore left shoulder could keep him out today as well. Either way, Smelley is glad to be back in the saddle again. "Smelley ready for his turn" by Joseph Person, The

Less than a month ago, Jarriel King had not played offensive line in four years. Now the sophomore is USC's new starting left tackle. King was named the starter Saturday, after playing well as a reserve in Thursday's 34-0 victory against N.C. State. The 6-foot-7, 285-pound King played defensive end for one season at Georgia Military College and played both ways in high school.
"USC Practice Report: King to start; Doerr leaves team" by The

USC quarterback Tommy Beecher was in a yellow jersey at today's practice and did not partipate in the early portion of drills. He was also clearly favoring his left arm or shoulder as he walked. Beecher did not play in the fourth quarter of Thursday's 34-0 win over N.C. State, after getting "woozy" with a hit to the head, according to coach Steve Spurrier.
"Beecher sits out practice" by Joe Person, The

Saturday, August 30
VU rushing attack lackluster in first game; Steve Spurrier undecided on starting quarterback for VU game; Spurrier blames offensive line for QB struggles against NC State; SC first-half offense disappointing in last game.

One of the sticking points in Vanderbilt's 34-13 season-opening win Thursday night at Miami (Ohio) was a lack of production from the Commodore tailbacks. Despite rushing for 269 yards as a team, the trio of Jared Hawkins, Gaston Miller and Jeff Jennings accounted for just 77 of those -- on 25 attempts, for an average of 3.1 yards per carry.
"VU running backs sputter during Thursday's win" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean" class="news-link"

This is one quarterback debate Steve Spurrier would rather not have to deal with. The South Carolina coach might go with backup Chris Smelley next week against Vanderbilt, but he said Friday that starter Tommy Beecher's four-interception performance in a 34-0 win against North Carolina State wasn't all the junior's fault.
"Spurrier to wait on naming starting QB for Vanderbilt game" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Steve Spurrier wasn't aware that he was already hooked up to his teleconference Friday when he started mumbling not-so-sweet nothings about South Carolina's offensive line. "We had five false starts didn't we?" Spurrier asked himself. "How about that? Pitiful." But he didn't hold back, either, once the teleconference got going. He said the line, especially early, contributed to Tommy Beecher's dud of a debut. Beecher threw four interceptions in three quarters, including three on USC's first five possessions.
"Spurrier: It's embarrassing" by Travis Haney,

This is one quarterback debate Steve Spurrier would rather not have to deal with. The South Carolina coach might go with backup Chris Smelley next week against Vanderbilt, but he said Friday that starter Tommy Beecher's four-interception performance in a 34-0 win against North Carolina State wasn't all the junior's fault.
"Spurrier may try Smelley" by the Associated Press, "Athens Banner-Herald"

One might expect a more joyful viewing experience reviewing game film the day after a season-opening 34-0 victory. But not when South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier watched his offense be downright morbid for three quarters against North Carolina State. "We were embarrassed offensively the entire first half," Spurrier said during a Friday teleconference.
"Gamecocks' victory doesn't satisfy Spurrier" by Eric Boynton,

Friday, August 29
Postgame interviews and more; Miami game recap; Chris Nickson silences critics in first game; D.J. Moore does it all in the season opener.

For postgame interviews, photos and more click here.

Quarterback Chris Nickson rushed for a career-high 166 yards and two touchdowns and passed for another TD to lead Vanderbilt to a 34-13 victory over Miami of Ohio in the season opener for both teams Thursday night.
"Nickson rushes Commodores past RedHawks" by

For at least one week, Chris Nickson proved he was the right choice to be Vanderbilt's quarterback. Riddling the Miami (Ohio) defense throughout the night by rushing for a career-high 166 yards, he led the Commodores to a 34-13 season-opening victory at Yager Stadium on Thursday. Throughout August training camp, Nickson insisted he was healthy and ready to return to form. On Tuesday, he was named the team's starter. By rushing for two touchdowns and passing for one Thursday, Nickson accounted for three scores in a game for the first time since last season's season opener. He also passed for 91 yards as the Commodores recorded their most lopsided road victory since 1991. "Nickson, Vanderbilt leg out opening victory" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

D.J. Moore wasted no time this season in displaying why he's regarded as one of the nation's most multi-dimensional football players. The Vanderbilt junior cornerback blistered Miami (Ohio) in a variety of ways, sparking the Commodores to a season-opening 34-13 victory Thursday night at Yager Stadium. Moore intercepted a pass, recorded a quarterback sack, forced a fumble and returned a punt 91 yards - all in the first quarter. "No surprise -- Moore does it all for 'Dores" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

With a passing touchdown, two rushing scores and a career-high 166 rushing yards, Chris Nickson proved to be the right choice at quarterback Thursday night for Vanderbilt. The fifth-year senior led the Commodores to three straight first-quarter scoring drives and a 17-point halftime cushion on the way to an eventual 34-13 season-opening win over Miami (Ohio).
"Nickson gets VU off to strong start" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Most punt returners are instructed not to catch any punt inside their own 10. Though he had never done it in a game before Vanderbilt's season-opening matchup Thursday with Miami (Ohio), it quickly became obvious that D.J. Moore isn't most punt returners. Late in the first quarter, fielding the first punt of his Commodore career at his own 8, the junior didn't stop running until he couldn't avoid teammate Myron Lewis' blocking attempt, and went down at the 1 -- 91 yards from where he started. It was the second-longest punt return in Vanderbilt history, 2 yards short of the record set by Phil King against Middle Tennessee State during the 1956 season.
"Moore makes a quick impact" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Youth was served Thursday night for Vanderbilt, as a number of Commodores made their debuts in a 34-13 season-opening win at Miami (Ohio). Among Vanderbilt's redshirt freshmen, offensive lineman Kyle Fischer was on the field for the opening kickoff as an upback on the return unit. Tight end Brandon Barden contributed an 11-yard reception on the first scoring drive. Linebacker Chris Marve finished with six total tackles (four solos) and a sack, and defensive tackle T.J. Greenstone checked in with four stops (three solos).
"Young Commodores win their debut" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

There was more than the scent of college football in the air last night in Yager Stadium. Vanderbilt players smelled ambush. Luckily for the Commodores, fifth-year senior quarterback Chris Nickson was able to outrun any hopes Miami University had of adding on to its string of upsets against teams from Bowl Championship Series conferences. Nickson ran for 166 yards and two touchdowns and threw for a touchdown, and Vanderbilt flexed its Southeastern Conference muscles with a convincing 34-13 victory over Miami in front of a crowd of 18,398 and a national television audience on ESPNU.
"Commodores put damper on RedHawks' opener" by Mark Znidar, "The Columbus Dispatch"

When the Miami RedHawks football team opened the door Thursday night, Chris Nickson was quick to run through the opening. Nickson gained 166 yards on the ground and was 9-of-16 passing to lead visiting Vanderbilt to a 34-13 victory in a season opener that marked the first visit of an SEC team to Oxford. "Vanderbilt Spoils RedHawks Home Opener" by Mike Smith,

Game starts at 6:30 CT in Yager Stadium in Oxford, Ohio; televised on ESPNU; broadcast on 104.5 FM; Gametracker Live Stats available

Thursday, August 28
Photo gallery of the team arriving in Oxford; quick facts about the Redhawks; pre-game notes by "The City Paper"; VU lineman returns home for Miami game; Commodores playing the first of back-to-back Thursday games; Q&A with Coach Bobby Johnson; D.J. Moore a bright spot for the offense too; who has the edge? And how can VU win?; Nickson named starting QB; Miami Gameday; Redhawks looking for "Tomahawk" win against Vanderbilt; MU wants the big play on offense.

RELATED LINKS: Gameday Central  |  2008 Stats

The Vanderbilt football team arrived in Oxford, Ohio, Wednesday in preparation for Thursday's season opener against Miami (Ohio). Check out's exclusive photo gallery from last night's team walk thru at Yager Stadium.
"Photos: Commodores arrive in Ohio" by

Learn more about Vanderbilt's season-opening opponent: the Miami RedHawks of the Mid-American Conference. Thursday's matchup is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT at Yager Stadium and will be televised by ESPNU.
"Quick facts about Miami (Ohio)" by

Despite its proud football tradition, Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, has never played host to a Southeastern Conference opponent. That will change tonight when the RedHawks take on Vanderbilt at 6:30 p.m. at Yager Stadium. While the Commodores aren't one of the SEC's traditional powers, they still expect to encounter a motivated Miami squad.
"VU-Miami pre-game notes: 'Dores first SEC team to visit Oxford" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"


After redshirting as an offensive lineman two years ago and playing sparingly last season as a defensive end, Reilly Lauer is set to make his first Vanderbilt start Thursday at Miami (Ohio). "I'm especially excited to go to Miami. They were the first school that offered me," said the 6-6, 275-pound Lauer, who played his high school ball at St. Ignatius in Cleveland. "To go there and start against all those kids in my home state would be awesome. It's about three hours from my house. I'll have a lot of family, a lot of friends there."
"Lineman wants happy homecoming" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

The football calendar in the South has a basic flow: high schools on Friday nights, colleges on Saturday and the NFL on Sunday and Monday nights. That flow has been disrupted -- often -- as more opportunities for television appearances become available to more programs. Vanderbilt plays the first of back-to-back Thursday night games this week, as the Commodores travel to Miami (Ohio) for their season opener, then return home for a Sept. 4 matchup with South Carolina. Both games will be broadcast on an ESPN network, as will South Carolina's opener tonight against North Carolina State.
"Gameday isn't just Saturday anymore" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

How important is it for one quarterback to emerge and maintain the starting role? I don't know, to tell the truth. I think we've got very capable guys all the way across. If one of them shows he's the best one and he goes in the game and backs that up with his play in the game, he'll probably be that guy. We're not worried about that much. What's the significance of having an experienced secondary playing behind such an inexperienced front seven? "Q&A with Bobby Johnson" by "The Tennessean"

With plans to use him on offense and in the return game, in addition to his established role as one of the Southeastern Conference's top cornerbacks, D.J. Moore likely will be the most recognizable Commodore this fall. How well his individual success will correlate to the team's success is another story. Moore adds depth and explosiveness to an already deep and explosive receiving corps. The Commodores can't use him everywhere, though, and there are some areas that loom as question marks heading into the 2008 season. "Moore lends a hand to VU's offense" by "The Tennessean"

HOW VANDERBILT CAN WIN -- The defense may have to hold down the fort early while an inexperienced offense finds its way. Though a little young, Vanderbilt's defensive line and linebackers will need to keep Miami's ground game in check. Offensively, the Commodores will need to get Sean Walker and Justin Wheeler involved in the passing game.
HOW MIAMI CAN WIN -- Defensively, the RedHawks, with their stable of linebackers, may be able to slow down Vanderbilt. On the other side of the ball, though, Miami has to muster something behind quarterback Daniel Raudabaugh.
"Vanderbilt vs. Miami (Ohio): Who has the edge?" by "The Tennessean"

The mystery is over for the Commodores, and coach Bobby Johnson is going with senior Chris Nickson as his starting quarterback in the season opener against Miami (Ohio) over Mackenzi Adams. Johnson announced his decision after practice Tuesday. Nickson shouldn't get too comfortable, not with Vandy opening on the road Thursday night before returning home for the Southeastern Conference opener Sept. 4 against South Carolina. Johnson has made it clear he won't hesitate to switch quarterbacks.
"'Dores look to Nickson in opener" by "The Daily Herald"


By the numbers -- 9: Opening-day victories by Vanderbilt over the last 25 years. 32: Consecutive passes attempted by Shane Montgomery, which still stands as the NCAA record, when he played quarterback for North Carolina State, in the second half of a game against Duke. He completed 16. 1899: The year Miami and Vanderbilt first played on the football field. Vanderbilt won 12-0. Scouting Report: Both Miami and Vanderbilt have a high-caliber defense and an offense with question marks, the RedHawks with an inexperienced group of running backs, the Commodores with an inexperienced group of receivers. Both teams had a stiff quarterback competition with the head coach choosing the more experienced player. The contest could come down to something as simple as prestige and home-field advantage. "Miami Gameday" by Pete Conrad, "The Oxford Press"

When the Miami University football team begins a new season tonight, Aug. 28, the RedHawks will be thinking, at least a little bit, about the past. About Oct. 27, 2007, to be exact. On that date, the RedHawks held a 13-10 lead at Vanderbilt midway through the third quarter. This was big. It had been four years since Miami had earned what has traditionally been called a "Tomahawk" victory against a major nonconference opponent on the road. But the Commodores came back to win 24-13. The RedHawks continue to wait for that major victory. Tonight, they get a second chance. "RedHawks have major motivation" by Pete Conrad, "The Oxford Press"

The Miami RedHawks are confident about their defense as they begin a season in which they hope to win their second straight Mid-American Conference East Division title and post their first overall winning record in three years. The big play. That's what worries them. On offense. It's something in which the RedHawks once specialized behind quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Josh Betts, something that has been lacking the past two years. "Montgomery wants more big plays" by Pete Conrad, "The Oxford Press"

Wednesday, August 27
Watch Monday's press conference with Reshard Langford, George Smith and Bradley Vierling; Coach Bobby Johnson's interview with 104.5 FM; listen to the Commodore Call-In Show; Chris Nickson named the starting QB; young receiving corps may emerge as a strength for the offense; feature article about MU receiver Chris Givens.

Watch Monday's football press interviews with captains Reshard Langford, George Smith and Bradley Vierling as the Commodores prepare for Thursday's season opener at Miami (Ohio). "Video: Football press interviews" by

Vanderbilt head football coach Bobby Johnson was a guest on the 104.5 Wake Up Zone today to discuss Thursday's road opener with the Miami RedHawks. Download the entire interview for free on
"Audio: 104.5 FM with Bobby Johnson" by

Did you miss this week's Commodore Call-In Show with football head coach Bobby Johnson? Then sign-up for All Access (FREE) to listen to the entire program. (Note - you may have to fast forward through the first part of the audio to get past the previous program)
"Audio: Football Call-In Show archived" by

Chris Nickson will start at quarterback for Vanderbilt on Thursday at Miami (Ohio), VU coach Bobby Johnson said after Tuesday's practice. Nickson, a senior, had battled with junior Mackenzi Adams for the starting spot throughout August training camp. Nickson was told before Monday night's practice that he will start Thursday. "It was a process that's been going on," Johnson said. "There was no magic moment." This marks the third straight August that Nickson has emerged from training camp as the Commodores' starting quarterback. "Nickson will start at QB for Vanderbilt on Thursday in season opener" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Want to see some Vanderbilt football players get excited? Mention the name Chris Marve. Everyone in black and gold raves about the potential of the redshirt freshman middle linebacker, who is slated for starting duty in his first collegiate game tonight when the Commodores travel to Miami (Ohio). The 6-foot, 225-pound Marve has been chomping at the bit to play since sitting out the 2007 season as a redshirt. Even while redshirting, he made his presence felt and was likely good enough to have played if needed.
"Vanderbilt set to unleash Marve in season opener" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

RELATED LINK: "Get to know Chris Marve"

Chris Nickson has been named the starting quarterback for Vanderbilt's season opener Thursday night at Miami (Ohio). Coach Bobby Johnson announced the decision after practice Tuesday, a day after both Nickson and Mackenzi Adams were informed. "They have a tremendous amount of confidence in me as well as Mackenzi to get the job done," Nickson said. "For playing purposes, they chose to start off with me." Johnson warned that the quarterback position is as subject to a change as any other.
"VU gives nod to Nickson" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Receiver was one of Vanderbilt's strong points last season. With the record-setting Earl Bennett leading the way, the Commodores' 193 receptions was the 12th-best single-season total in school history. The position again might be a strength for Vanderbilt, but the players don't have nearly the fame of a Bennett -- at least, not yet. Of the six receivers listed on the Commodores' depth chart heading into Thursday's opener at Miami (Ohio), three will be playing their first college game. The other three have combined for 52 career receptions -- 23 fewer than Bennett posted in his final season alone.
"VU receivers lack experience - but not talent" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

It was obvious from the start that Chris Givens was mature beyond his years. Last season as an 18-year-old true freshman, Givens led Miami University's receivers in yards per catch (17.2). In only his second collegiate game, he nearly brought down the Minnesota Golden Gophers, grabbing five passes for 112 yards. Late in the fourth quarter, Givens scored a 23-yard touchdown that was part of a 16-point comeback, sending the game to overtime. "Givens grows into leading role fast" by Pete Conrad, "The Oxford Press"

Tuesday, August 26
Get to know Theron Kadri; Coach Bobby Johnson's Monday press conference; official game notes for the VU vs. Miami game; Johnson still undecided on a quarterback; Miami game a must win for the Commodores; MU pleased with choices at tailback.

Get to know Theron Kadri -- sat down and chatted with the redshirt junior offensive tackle.
"Get to Know Theron Kadri" by

Video, audio and quotes from Monday's press conference "Coach Johnson discusses Miami game" by

Read the official football game notes for Thursday's season opener at Miami (Ohio).
"Game Notes: Vanderbilt at Miami (Ohio)" by

Vanderbilt's race for the starting quarterback position is expected to end before the Commodores' departure for Thursday's season opener at Miami (Ohio). Whether it's Mackenzi Adams, who started the final six games of the 2007 season, or Chris Nickson, who started 18 consecutive games before that, the opening night starter should have an opportunity to settle into that role for the foreseeable future. "We've got one more big day of practice," he said. "We've got another important day of practice and we'll probably make a decision after that. "Vandy won't sit quarterback" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

If you look at college football schedules, you try to identify games you think that particular teams will win, games they will likely lose and those referred to as "swing'' games. Those are games, which if a team plays well and the ball bounces its way, it will win. If it doesn't play to its capability, the ball bounces the other way, soon it becomes wait till next year. Vanderbilt doesn't waste any time jumping into the college football furnace. Miami (Ohio) is one of those swing games for the Commodores.
"Vanderbilt opens with must-win" by Joe Biddle, "The Tennessean"

Senior Chris Nickson and junior Mackenzi Adams will duel down to the wire for the right to start against Miami (Ohio). A Monday night practice, during which the VU scout team will simulate the Miami defense, will weigh heavily in Johnson's decision. Although the job has been up for grabs throughout August training camp after neither Nickson or Adams grabbed control of the job during the 2007 season, Johnson didn't expect the position to still be unsettled during the week of the first game.
"Vandy QB duel coming down to the wire" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Three days from its season opener, Vanderbilt still doesn't know who its starting quarterback will be. Chris Nickson won the starting job a year ago, but his season unraveled mainly due to a separated shoulder that limited his passing effectiveness. Last October, Commodores coaches turned to Mackenzi Adams, who replaced Nickson in the lineup and started the final six games of the season. Nickson, who piled up 2,779 yards of total offense as the starter in 2006, has proclaimed himself healthy and ready to return to his old form. If a quarterback controversy exists, the Commodores say they're aren't getting caught up in it.
"No decision on Vanderbilt QB starter yet" by

Sophomore Thomas Merriweather will start at tailback for the Miami RedHawks in their season opener Thursday, Aug. 28, against Vanderbilt. But it doesn't make much difference whether Merriweather or junior Andre Bratton is in the backfield for the opening drive, head coach Shane Montgomery said. "I think you're going to see both Thomas and Andre out there," he said. "Those are the top two guys and I don't think it really matters who starts." "RedHawks have solid choices at tailback" by Pete Conrad, "Dayton Daily News"

Monday, August 25
Watch a free video highlight reel of defensive returners; VU starting quarterback for Miami game still undecided; Coach Bobby Johnson focused on ending the VU losing streak; Miami is healthy and at full strength; Redhawks picked to win the Mid-American Conference East Division.

Watch a free video highlight reel of Vanderbilt's 2008 defensive returners on
"Video: 2007 defensive highlight reel" by

It'll be one of the first questions asked of Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson at his press conference today: "Are you ready to announce who your starting quarterback will be?" It won't be the first time the question has been posed to Johnson this month -- and in all likelihood, it won't be the last. Johnson has shown no intention of ending the competition between Chris Nickson, Mackenzi Adams, and to a lesser degree, Jared Funk and Larry Smith for the starting nod for Thursday's season opener at Miami (Ohio). "Why?" Johnson countered when asked late last week when or if he would dub one of the four as the Commodore starter in advance of Thursday's game.
"Vanderbilt delays call on starter" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

The question, perhaps surprisingly, seemed to catch Bobby Johnson off guard. Last month, he was asked if he was aware that he's the first Vanderbilt football coach in nearly 20 years to have held on to the job for seven years. For any coach of the Commodores, that's no small task. More than one has accepted the daunting challenge of winning at a school with a list of built-in disadvantages. More than one left town after a few short years in a demoralized state.
"Johnson determined to end 25 years of losing at VU" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Miami University football coach Shane Montgomery was asked the inevitable, awful question, the one to which he has become much too accustomed over the last three years. "So coach, which players are on the injured list this week?" He paused, as if thinking, "Hmmm, there has to be someone, somewhere, who probably won't be able to play in the season opener." After a couple seconds he gave up. It was a triumph of sorts. "There's nobody," he said, "who's not going to play." It's a triumph because that's the first time Montgomery has been able to say that in a long time, perhaps since the fall of 2005. If the RedHawks can make it through the next couple practices, he will have a fit team to face Vanderbilt when the Southeastern Conference makes its first visit to Yager Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 28.
"RedHawks healthy as season opener looms" by Pete Conrad, "The Oxford Press"

Coach Shane Montgomery's Miami University football team is being picked as one of the favorites to win the Mid-American Conference East Division. PRESS CONFERENCE: Video of Coach Shane Montgomery's press conference last Friday.
"Notes from Camp Oxford -- Day 22" by

Week of August 18

Sunday, August 24
Vanderbilt offense has something to prove; Commodores go through short workout Saturday; A look at Vanderbilt's 2008 opponents; Commodores get closer under Johnson; Saturday's news from Miami's camp.

Vanderbilt's offense won't have a time luxury. Miami's defense, with nine starters returning from last season, is called the best in the Mid-American Conference. South Carolina has 10 defensive starters back, including its secondary and linebacker corps, and still smarts from a 17-6 loss to Vanderbilt last year in Columbia. Coming together quickly and building some confidence will be crucial for Vanderbilt's offense. "Offense has questions, but coach has confidence" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

With a handful of players nursing minor injuries, a scheduled off-day today comes at a good time for Vanderbilt. The Commodores went through a short workout Saturday morning and will not return to the field until a Monday night practice inside the stadium as they gear up for Thursday's season opener at the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks.
"Commodores take break before opener" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Aug. 28 at Miami (Ohio): The RedHawks had their own quarterback competition during preseason camp, with incumbent Daniel Raudabaugh holding off redshirt freshman Clay Belton. Player to watch: LB Joey Hudson. The senior middle linebacker is on the Butkus Award watch list, along with teammates Caleb Bostic and Clayton Mullins.
"Vanderbilt's game-by-game outlook" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

The Commodores have come closer under Johnson than at any time since the relatively golden days of Gerry DiNardo in the early 1990s (DiNardo won five games in 1991, 1993 and 1994). Vanderbilt came frustratingly close in 2007. The Commodores started the season 5-3 and needed just one upset in the final four games to break through a quarter-century of losing seasons. But near-misses against Kentucky (27-20) and Tennessee (25-24) doomed their chances.
"Vanderbilt shoots for winning mark" by Evan Woodbery, "Press-Register"

The RedHawks had a shoulder-pads practice on a very hot Saturday afternoon where temperatures approached the mid 90s. A handful of players were in attendance, but did not practice, including redshirt freshman Brandon Brooks. Coaches expect their big right guard to be able to practice the remainder of the week. All other Miami starters are healthy and will see action in Thursday's season opener. "Notes from Camp Oxford -- Day 21" by

Saturday, August 23
Majid "Magic" Noori's training table; New faces to spark Commodores' defense; Hensley optimistic after injury; New traffic plan for football season; Miami experienced at wide receiver; Redhawks' week one game notes.

My visit to Vanderbilt reinforced what I'd always known about college football: Some of the most important people in a program aren't always the ones you see walking up and down the sideline on Saturday afternoon. Majid "Magic" Noori is an institution at Vanderbilt. He doesn't coach football. His area of expertise is nutrition. "He's the Commodores' Magic Man" by Chris Low,

Vanderbilt lost all but two pieces of its defensive front seven from last season. Gone are big-play linebackers Jonathan Goff and Marcus Buggs, as well as tackle Theo Horrocks and end Curtis Gatewood. They formed the nucleus of a unit that finished the season ranked 16th nationally in total defense. We won't have to wait long to get a look at what Broderick Stewart says is the "New Generation" of Vanderbilt's defense. "Don't sleep on the Commodores, says Stewart " by Chris Low,

Coming into August camp, junior Eric Hensley had been expected to be a starting tackle. But his recovery from the ankle injury has been slow and, as practices wore on, Hensley was surpassed by Reilly Lauer and has been working as a backup guard as Vanderbilt prepares for Thursday's season opener at the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks.
"Ankle injury costs Hensley his job as starter" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

A new postgame traffic plan for Vanderbilt football will be unveiled following the Commodores' Sept. 4 home opener against visiting South Carolina. The plan, which has been created by the school's police department and athletic officials, includes some significant changes.
"Vanderbilt to alter postgame traffic flow" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Miami University football coach Shane Montgomery apparently thinks his receiving corps will specialize in big numbers this year. Big numbers. As in the quantity of experienced receivers, both wideouts and tight ends. It also refers to what he hopes will be a large number of yards gained on individual plays. "Deep receiving corps gives Miami options" by Pete Conrad, "Dayton Daily News"

Thursday's game marks only the fourth meeting in the all-time series between Miami and Vanderbilt, with the Commodores leading the series by a 2-1 count. The first three meetings all took place at Vanderbilt. "Miami (Ohio) game notes " by

Friday, August 22
Coach Bobby Johnson's interview with 104.5 FM; the first part of a Q&A with Coach Johnson by's Chris Low; Brett Upson plans to start against Miami, D.J. Moore wins punt returning duty; DT Adam Smotherman hopes to shine in season opener; VU freshmen trying to adjust to the college level of competition; Miami players moving up the depth charts.

Vanderbilt head football coach Bobby Johnson was a guest on the 104.5 Wake Up Zone Thursday to discuss the latest in Commodore football. Download the entire interview for free on
"Audio: 104.5 FM with Bobby Johnson" by

The Vanderbilt administration has put their faith in Bobby Johnson to get the Commodores to a level where they're regularly going to bowl games. That's the minimum standard, according to David Williams, the school's vice chancellor for university affairs and athletics. When Duke came after Johnson this offseason, Vanderbilt gave him a new, long-term contract that will pay him in the proximity of $1 million annually, Williams said. Vanderbilt, with upgrades and renovations planned to its stadium and football complex over the next few years, is serious about putting a winner on the football field. Johnson is serious about giving the Commodores one. Here's the first part of my Q&A with Johnson on Thursday. "Kicking it with Bobby Johnson, Part I" by Chris Low,

Start reeling off the most explosive multi-purpose athletes in the SEC, and most of the names roll off your tongue. Percy Harvin. Eric Berry. Derek Pegues. Knowshon Moreno. Dexter McCluster. But will anybody be busier this season than Vanderbilt's D.J. Moore, who just might be the most versatile of the bunch? Moore tied for the SEC lead last season with six interceptions and was named first-team All-SEC. One of the best shutdown cornerbacks in the league, Moore also led the Commodores with 63 solo tackles and averaged 25.7 yards on kickoff returns. "Vandy's Moore will rest after the season" by Chris Low,

Despite missing most of August training camp with a stomach illness, Brett Upson is expected to handle punting duties for Vanderbilt in the Aug. 28 season opener at Miami of Ohio. Starting cornerback D.J. Moore appears to have won punt-return duties, Johnson said Thursday. Wide receivers John Cole, Jamie Graham and Sean Walker could also return punts.
"Vandy Notes: Upson, Moore in line for duty for special-teams duty" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

The skeptics were out in full force while Adam Smotherman played his senior football season at Smyrna High in 2005. Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee were the only colleges to offer him a scholarship. Committing to the Commodores that year put a bull's-eye on his chest. "People from other schools said, `You're not an SEC player,'" Smotherman said. The truth will be revealed soon enough, as Smotherman is poised to start at defensive tackle Thursday when Vanderbilt opens the 2008 season at Miami (Ohio).
"VU's Smotherman awaits chance in season opener" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Think of college football as a bunch of all-star high school teams. Sean Richardson does. The Vanderbilt freshman defensive back points to the talent level as the biggest difference from his prep days at Linden High School in Alabama, just south of Tuscaloosa. After being bigger, stronger and faster than many of their opponents in high school, many incoming freshmen football players often get a rude awakening when they first join their new college teammates on the practice field.
"Freshmen adapt to different role in college game" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Brett Upson will likely resume his punting duties in Vanderbilt's season opener against Miami (Ohio) on Thursday night. The junior, who spent six days in a hospital with abdomen pains and kidney failure earlier this month, attended his first preseason practice Monday. Coach Bobby Johnson expressed confidence that Upson would regain his form, despite his long absence.
"Punter intends to play when season kicks off" by David C. Rutz, "The Tennessean"

Several RedHawks have moved up on the depth chart since the beginning of summer practice. Brandon Brooks, a 6-5, 335-pound redshirt freshman from Milwaukee, began the summer as the backup center and right guard. Now he is the starting right guard. Sophomore Bob Gulley, who had been listed as the starting right guard, has been moved to right tackle. Lakota West High School graduate Andrew Phelan, a 6-4, 285-pound true freshman, has moved up to the second string at left tackle. Players who have slipped on the depth chart are redshirt freshman Ken Staudinger, who has moved from first string to backup at right tackle, and sophomore Nate Williams, who started the summer No. 2 at left tackle and now is not listed on the two-deep.
"Channels drops pounds, secures starting spot" by Pete Conrad, "The Oxford Press"

Thursday, August 21
Get to know Thomas Welch; report on Chris Aaron and George Smith's progress; D.J. Moore wants to make a big impact on offense; offense will rely heavily on receivers Justin Wheeler and Sean Walker against Miami; feature about Miami captain Robbie Wilson; report on how the Miami players are weighing in.

Get to know Thomas Welch -- sat down and chatted with the redshirt junior offensive tackle.
"Get to know Thomas Welch" by

Offensive lineman Chris Aaron took part in Vanderbilt's second practice Wednesday, just a week after being taken off the field on a stretcher with a neck injury. The sophomore worked through position drills for the bulk of Wednesday's practice session. The workout, which took place in helmets and shoulder pads was largely devoted to special teams. Receiver getting better: Receiver George Smith is no longer on crutches or in a protective boot, as he continues to recover from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot. Johnson, however, cautions against expecting the sixth-year senior to return to action too quickly.
"Offensive lineman shows quick recovery" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

The playmaking threat from Vanderbilt's D.J. Moore aims to terrorize the other side of the ball as well. Already established as a first-team all-SEC selection, the junior cornerback is expected to become a triple-threat this fall -- expanding his role at receiver, where he saw time last year, and becoming more involved in the Commodores' return game. The Commodores will put Moore in more situations where he can have an impact. This preseason, the coaching staff moved Moore over to offense for entire practice sessions. They hope to deepen his knowledge of the offense and make his appearances more unpredictable for opposing defenses.
"VU's Moore expands his role" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Wide receivers Earl Bennett and George Smith combined to catch 107 passes for Vanderbilt last season. Neither will be on the field Aug. 28 when the Commodores open the 2008 season at Miami (Ohio), raising questions and concerns about the team's ability to move the ball through the air. To compensate, VU will rely heavily in the season opener on senior Sean Walker and junior Justin Wheeler, the only two receivers on the roster with significant game experience.
"New stars waiting to shine at receiver, Commodores coach says" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Miami University senior Robbie Wilson has his own beat and his own drums, and he's at his best when he is on stage, whether at a music concert or a football game. Wilson, a third-year starter, might be the hardest-hitting strong safety in the Mid-American Conference. On the field, Wilson has made 25 consecutive starts for the RedHawks. Which proves somebody made a wise decision five years ago after Wilson broke his leg in his final high school game.
"RedHawks safety plans to keep the hits coming after football career" by Pete Conrad, "The Oxford Press"

Offensive linemen once again top the weight charts among Miami football players, averaging 296 pounds per man. That average includes 255-pound lightweight center Steve Bray. ... Altogether, eight heavyweights tip the scales at 301 pounds or more, led by 323-pound redshirt freshman Brandon Brooks. After offensive linemen, defensive linemen average 272 pounds a man, followed by tight ends (250 avg.), linebackers (230 avg.) and quarterbacks (212 avg.). ... The lightest player at 160 pounds is sophomore receiver/kick returner Jamal Rogers. "RedHawks Weigh In With Interesting Numbers" by

Wednesday, August 20
Check out photos of facility upgrades; punter Brett Upson returned to practice after missing weeks with a stomach illness; tough schedule for Georgia may prevent a national championship; MU announces Daniel Raudabaugh as starting QB; MU senior safety Robbie Wilson named a team captain; MU has established its two-deep offense.

Check out the latest photos from the first phase of several multi-million dollar upgrades to Vanderbilt Athletics facilities.
"New photos of facilities upgrades" by

Brett Upson initially got sick at an Atlanta Braves game. But despite that team's struggles, there is no punch line. The sharp pains in the right side of the Vanderbilt junior punter's abdomen following his July 28 visit to Turner Field were no joke. Tests performed at two different hospitals never found the source of the initial pain. However, complications from a dye used in one of the procedures led to kidney failure, putting Upson in the hospital for six days. By the time he finally arrived on campus, a week later than scheduled, he had lost 14 pounds. Upson took part in his first preseason practices Monday.
"Vanderbilt punter Upson back after abdomen pain" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Since the Associated Press began ranking college football teams in 1950, only two schools have been No. 1 in the preseason and remained there all season while winning the national championship. Guess what? Georgia isn't going to make it three. Georgia is bracing for what some consider the toughest schedule in its history. For that reason, a national championship will be out of reach.
"Around the SEC: Murderous schedule will derail Dawgs" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Miami University's Daniel Raudabaugh is showing few ill effects from having his right ankle stepped on during last weekend's scrimmage. That's what the RedHawks would call timely good news. Head coach Shane Montgomery confirmed Tuesday, Aug. 19, that he has given the nod to Raudabaugh as Miami's starting quarterback for next week's season opener against Vanderbilt.
"Miami has its starter at QB" by Pete Conrad, "The Oxford Press"

Shortly before taking the field Saturday for the annual Miami University Pigskin Preview scrimmage, senior strong safety Robbie Wilson learned his teammates had voted him to serve as one of three captains for the 2008 RedHawks. Such an honor typically goes to a player who not only has been successful at his own position, but also possesses strong leadership qualities.
"Wilson's Persistence Paying off for Miami" by Mike Smith, Mac Report

Miami's offensive two-deep has been established, and it's a group that includes letter winners at 10 of the 11 starting positions. The only starter who has not had game experience is highly touted redshirt freshman right guard Brandon Brooks. The balance of the offensive starters includes four seniors (left tackle Steve Sutter, left guard Dave DiFranco, center Josh Satterthwait and tight end Tom Crabtree), two juniors (wide receiver Dustin Woods and quarterback Daniel Raudabaugh) and four sophomores (right tackle Bob Gulley, tailback Thomas Merriweather, and wide receiver Chris Givens and Eugene Harris).
"Miami's Offensive Two-Deep Announced" by

Tuesday, August 19
Get to know Justin Wheeler; deep secondary forces veterans to share playing time; Tim Fugger donned shoulders pads and participated in drills for the first time this month.

Get to know Justin Wheeler -- sat down and chatted with the redshirt junior wide receiver.
"Get to know Justin Wheeler" by

Any time Joel Caldwell might feel bitter, all he has to do is look at the talent around him. The Vanderbilt junior enters the 2008 season as a backup safety, just two years after starting 11 games as a cornerback. Being forced into a reduced role can be trying, but it's made easier by the fact that the Commodores now field a cornerback duo in D.J. Moore and Myron Lewis that ranks with the best in the Southeastern Conference. "Veteran Commodore defenders taking one for the team" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Redshirt freshman defensive end Tim Fugger eased back into action for Vanderbilt, putting on shoulder pads Monday and going through the majority of both preseason practices. It was the first time he has done anything other than conditioning drills this month, as he's been sidelined after breaking his collarbone in a June off-field accident. Fugger said after Monday's second practice that running around in pads and a helmet was an improvement over dragging a weighted sled around the perimeter of the practice field.
"VU lineman returns from broken collarbone" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Monday, August 18
Commodores unveil new uniforms; check out photos from Dore Jam; offense still has questions at certain positions; VU becoming a destination for receivers; freshmen to see more playing time rather than redshirting; report from Miami training camp; Redhawks punter discusses his talent.

Vanderbilt unveiled its new Nike football uniforms at Dore Jam Sunday afternoon on campus. Take a look at several variations of the uniform in's exclusive photo gallery.
"New uniforms unveiled at Dore Jam -- View exclusive photo gallery" by

Check out John Russell's fan photos from Sunday's Dore Jam event at the John Rich Practice Facility.
"View fan photos from Dore Jam" by

Vanderbilt began training camp this month with a laundry list of questions to answer on offense. Ten days from the season opener, much remains to be decided. Virtually every position was open for competition this month, creating an often dizzying situation. What you see today might not be what you see tomorrow. The quarterback spot is unsettled. All five offensive-line starters must be replaced. George Smith, the leading returning receiver from last season, is out with a stress fracture. No tailback on the roster has ever rushed for more than 448 yards in a season. "VU offense still unsettled with opener looming" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Is Vanderbilt becoming a destination school for wide receivers? Former University of Minnesota wide receiver Tray Herndon has transferred to VU and participated in the team's practice Friday. He's the second receiver to transfer to Vanderbilt this summer, joining former Connecticut standout Terence Jeffers. Commodores coach Bobby Johnson said the recent success of former Vanderbilt receiver Earl Bennett, who departed after the 2007 season as the leading receiver in Southeastern Conference history, makes transfers consider VU. "VU attracting more receivers" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

One of the keys to Vanderbilt's improvement over the seven-year tenure of Coach Bobby Johnson has been an increased ability to redshirt most of its incoming freshmen. Over the past two years, nearly three-quarters of Vanderbilt's players have redshirted their initial season. This year, the Commodores may not be able to hold out quite that many, but more than half of the incoming freshmen will likely sit this fall. As they prepare for the Aug. 28 opener at Miami (Ohio), the coaching staff is working to determine which of this year's crop will be able to help immediately. "VU's freshmen sit at crossroads" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

This is the fifth in a series of diaries from Miami University's football training camp. Jordan Gafford is a junior defensive back -- As far as our team this season, we're progressing really well. We're way ahead of where we were a year ago, offensively and defensively. Guys are practicing hard with confidence and enjoying themselves out there. There's a little different feel to this team and I think it's about our experience. We're all making decisions faster and playing at a higher level. Our linebackers--Clayton Mullins, Joey Hudson and Caleb Bostic--are as good as anyone in the country, and it's fun playing behind them.
"Gafford: RedHawks are progressing" by "The Oxford Press"

One of the lessons Jake Richardson has learned about punting a football is that it's a craft which relies not so much on a sturdy leg, foot and toe, but rather a sturdy mind. The Reily Twp. native knew he had the leg power when he joined the RedHawks as a walk-on in 2004. At Talawanda High School he not only handled the punting but also made the All-Mid-Miami League team as a senior linebacker. He joined the RedHawks as a walk-on in 2004 and boomed a 60-yard punt. Only 11 of his 46 punts were returned. But he averaged only 38.1 yards per punt. "Richardson masters mental part of punting" by Pete Conrad, "The Oxford Press"

Week of August 11

Sunday, August 17
Recap of Saturday's scrimmage with Coach Johnson's press conference; Commodores begin preparations for Miami (Ohio); Receiver George Smith recovering from a broken foot; Quarterback Chris Nickson in a tight race with Mackenzi Adams; Miami's Josh Satterthwait also plays lacrosse.

The Commodores returned to work in Vanderbilt Stadium Saturday, staging their second full length scrimmage of camp and beginning initial preparations for the season opener at Miami (Ohio) on Thursday, August 28. Head Coach Bobby Johnson put the squad through a 73-play scrimmage on the Dudley Field surface.
"Report from second scrimmage and press conference video" by

With the season opener at Miami (Ohio) less than two weeks away, Vanderbilt has started to turn its focus in that direction during preseason practice. The early portion of Saturday's scrimmage was spent working against the anticipated offensive and defensive looks of the RedHawks, according to Commodores Coach Bobby Johnson.
"Vanderbilt works on plans for opener" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

There are coaches that haven't lasted as long at Vanderbilt as George Smith. The senior receiver is in his sixth year in the Commodore program. During that time he survived a life-threatening illness and a gunshot wound. He's currently sidelined with a broken foot but is expected back on the field sometime after the season starts.
"Vanderbilt receiver goes extra mile" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Chris Nickson is a familiar name in this area. He's a familiar name in the state of Alabama. He was even dubbed Mr. Football by the Alabama Sports Writers Association back in 2003. Now Nickson is a familiar name in the Southeastern Conference. Nickson has seen a share of playing time in his three previous seasons as a Vanderbilt Commodore, but now he is battling to lead the team all on his own.
"Pike County alum fighting for QB job" by Ben Stanfield, "The Messenger"

One of Josh Satterthwait's many responsibilities this season as Miami University's new starting center will be to absorb hit after hit from cranky defensive linemen. After his senior season is finished, Satterthwait might decide it's his turn to deliver the punishment. On the lacrosse field.
"Miami's Satterthwait can play lacrosse, too" by Pete Conrad, "The Oxford Press"

Saturday, August 16
Big play receiver transfers to Vanderbilt; Today's scrimmage won't be as heavily tilted toward contact.

Former University of Minnesota wide receiver Tray Herndon has transferred to Vanderbilt and participated in the team's practice Friday. The 5-foot-10 Herndon started seven games with the Golden Gophers last season and caught 22 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown while appearing in all 12 games. "Minnesota receiver Herndon transfers to VU" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

In anticipation of today's scrimmage, Vanderbilt went through a light-contact workout Friday afternoon. After the practice, Coach Bobby Johnson admitted it's a challenge to strike the right balance of putting his team through enough live work without overdoing it.
"Vanderbilt plans less hitting today" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Friday, August 15
Get to know Gaston Miller; Dore Jam on Sunday; Wednesday's practice report; quarterback competition can have positives for the team; Chris Aaron retuned to the practice field on Thursday.

Get to know Gaston Miller - another entry in a series of one-on-one interviews with the people under the black and gold helmets.
"Get to know Gaston Miller" by

An array of family and childrens activities are on tap Sunday as Vanderbilt athletics hosts Dore Jam 2008 on campus, an event aimed at getting players on the Commodore football squad in front of fans of the program. This year, Dore Jam will also feature the unveiling of the first new Commodore football uniforms since Head Coach Bobby Johnson's first year in 2002. Numerous variations of the Nike uniforms will be shown. "Dore Jam Fan Day scheduled for Sunday" by

After working in partial gear for four consecutive practices, the Commodores concluded their second two-a-day Wednesday night with a lengthy full-gear session. Head Coach Bobby Johnson staged a brief 11-on-11 situational scrimmage to conclude the session, using the full-contact work to take a close look at numerous younger players expected to contribute in key reserve roles this season.
"Players return to full pads Wednesday" by

The Commodores are one of three Southeastern Conference teams whose situation under center remains up in the air, with season openers just a couple weeks away. Despite the uncertainty, though, Coach Bobby Johnson thinks the competition -- primarily between previous starters Chris Nickson and Mackenzi Adams, with untested Jared Funk and Larry Smith on the fringes -- will have a positive effect on the offense once the season starts. "Vandy has tight race at quarterback" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Chris Aaron watched Vanderbilt's practice Thursday afternoon, one day after suffering a neck injury at Wednesday night's workout that resulted in a trip via ambulance to the university's medical center. Aaron was released at about midnight Wednesday. "First they found out there were no breaks, and that was good," Commodores Coach Bobby Johnson said. "Then they got the MRI and found out there was no soft tissue damage that would have long-term repercussions. That's when we started feeling good."
"Lineman is able to leave hospital after neck injury" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Thursday, August 14
Get to know Chris Marve; Brent Trice to move to linebacker; O-lineman Chris Aaron taken to hospital after neck injury in practice; close losses last season fueling player motivation; D.J. Moore looking to contribute on both sides of the ball; three Redhawk linebackers named to Butkus watch list.

Get to know Chris Marve -- the first segment in a series of one-on-one interviews with the people under the black and gold helmets.
"Get to know Chris Marve" by

After spending his first two seasons as a backup safety at Vanderbilt, Brent Trice was recently presented with the proverbial offer he couldn't refuse -- an inside track to more playing time. By making the shift, Trice gets into the linebacker mix along with sophomore John Stokes and freshman Tristan Strong. And while the Commodores sometimes remove a linebacker in certain passing situations, Trice's presence could allow the coaching staff to leave him in the game on those occasions.
"Vandy's Trice shifts to linebacker" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt reserve offensive lineman Chris Aaron was taken off the practice field on a stretcher Wednesday night and transported by ambulance to the university's medical center for evaluation after apparently suffering a neck injury during live drills. "He felt like he got hit somewhere in his shoulder and neck area and had pain," Commodores Coach Bobby Johnson said after the team's second preseason session of the day. "We don't know the extent."
"Vandy lineman injures his neck during practice" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

A pall fell over Vanderbilt's Wednesday night practice as reserve offensive lineman Chris Aaron was transported by ambulance to the Vanderbilt Medical Center after sustaining a possible neck injury. A Vanderbilt Medical Center spokesperson said Aaron was in stable condition as of 10:45 p.m. and would undergo further evaluation throughout the night.
"Vanderbilt offensive lineman transported to hospital" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger is a notion all too familiar to the Vanderbilt Commodores. A year ago, they upset then-No. 6 South Carolina on the road only to watch Georgia escape with a late field goal. They also watched a 49-yard field goal glance off an upright in the final minute against then-No. 19 Tennessee, losing by a point after blowing a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter. Safety Reshard Langford said those memories are feeding the Commodores' motivation now.
"Vanderbilt hopes to snap 25-year skid"

Vandy CB plans to show off talent on offensive side -- At Vanderbilt, where SEC-brand athleticism is a perennial shortcoming, the talents of a player like D.J. Moore must be maximized. That suits Moore, the preseason All-SEC cornerback who also returns kicks, plays receiver and generally agrees that time on the sideline is time squandered.
"Rivals will see more of Moore" by Allan Taylor "The Huntsville Times"

The Miami University RedHawks became what is believed to be the first team in college football history to have all three of its starting linebackers named to the Butkus Awards watch list, which was released Wednesday, Aug. 13. Outside linebackers Clayton Mullins, a senior from Fairborn, and Caleb Bostic, a junior from Galloway, and middle linebacker Joey Hudson, a senior from Piqua, all made the list, Hudson for the second straight year. "Three linebackers named to Butkus watch list" by Pete Conrad"The Oxford Press"

Wednesday, August 13
View a preseason photo gallery from Monday's practice; several positions on offense and defense yet to be filled; freshmen look to contribute on special teams; D.J. Moore's philosophy on football; offensive scheme lacks star runners but continues to gain big yards; report from the Redhawks training camp.

Check out's exclusive two-part preseason football photo gallery from Monday morning's practice.
"Sights of preseason camp - August 12" by

As Vanderbilt nears the end of its second week of football training camp, several positions on offense remain up for grabs while the defense is all but settled. So said coach Bobby Johnson on Tuesday after the Commodores completed a late-afternoon practice session. Competition is ongoing most notably at quarterback, wide receiver and on the offensive line. On defense, battles are raging mostly for backup spots. "VU practice report: Spots on offense still open; defense more settled" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

A handful of incoming freshmen could avoid redshirts by contributing on special teams -- and the more, the better, Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson said following Tuesday's practice. Among the youngsters that Johnson said could work their way into playing time are safety Sean Richardson, defensive end Josh Jelesky and defensive tackle Rob Lohr, as well as linebacker Tristan Strong.
"Special-teams play can help Vanderbilt freshmen" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

D.J. Moore has a simple philosophy about football. "I don't like to just stand around," he says. "If I'm out there, I might as well be doing something." Moore is one of college football's multi-taskers. He is a fixture at cornerback in Vanderbilt's defense but now is getting an increased role at wide receiver. "I'll play whenever and wherever they need me," he says. "I'd play every snap if they'd let me."
"Vanderbilt's Moore sees field both ways" by David Climer, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt rushed for more yards per game than Tennessee, Alabama and three other Southeastern Conference teams last season, but no Commodores running back managed much individual success. In a league that saw seven teams with at least one 1,000-yard rusher in 2007 -- Arkansas had a pair, with Darren McFadden and Felix Jones -- Vanderbilt's leading rusher, Cassen Jackson-Garrison, racked up less than 600 yards. It's not a new trend. It's been 12 years since a Vanderbilt player ran for 1,000 yards.
"Vanderbilt doesn't gain ground in SEC" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

This is the fourth in a series of diaries from Miami University's football training camp. Daniel Raudabaugh is a junior quarterback -- I'm really pleased with how practice has been going so far. One thing we really emphasized during the offseason is that we need to be able to score points from inside the 20-yard line... Every receiver we have can take it to the house. They are all big-time play-makers, and they all play well off each other. "Raudabaugh: Red zone offense key for RedHawks" by "The Oxford Press"

Tuesday, August 12
Commodores start week with first two-a-day sessions; watch a free video highlight reel; Monday practice possibly the best workout yet; youthful coach brings more than his ability.

The Commodores started their second week of practice with their initial two-a-day workout Monday on campus. Head Coach Bobby Johnson liked the enthusiasm his squad displayed in a pair of 2-hour, 20-minute sessions at the John Rich Practice Facility. The Commodores practiced in ideal temperatures.
"Commodores start two-a-day drills" by

Watch a free video highlight reel of Vanderbilt's 2008 offensive returners on
"Video: 2007 offensive highlight reel " by

Coming off their first off day of the preseason, the Vanderbilt Commodores enjoyed perhaps their best practice day of the month Monday. "The morning practice was one of the best we've ever had," Coach Bobby Johnson said following the second of two workouts Monday. "They had a lot of energy, paid attention, tried to do their assignments and hustled.
"Coach notes improvement after Commodores' day off" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Now that Desmond Kitchings is on the Vanderbilt coaching staff, his youth may well be an asset. That wasn't necessarily the case, however, as the decision was being made to bring him on board. Kitchings, 30, became the youngest Commodore full-time assistant when he replaced Kevin Carter last spring as running backs coach.
"New coach adds infusion of youth to Vandy's staff" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Monday, August 11
Linebacker Brandon Bryant fights through adversity; Linebacker Chris Marve looks to step into starting role; Miami's defense rules scrimmage.

Brandon Bryant figured it was time to wave goodbye to the Vanderbilt football program last winter. The frustration of a disappointing 2007 sophomore season, during which various injuries limited his effectiveness and eventually sent him to the bench, had spilled over.
"Bryant is thankful for second chances" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Chris Marve missed Vanderbilt's first preseason scrimmage with a pulled muscle. There's a strong chance it could be the last meaningful work Marve misses as a Commodore over the next four years. The heralded redshirt freshman linebacker from Memphis is bidding to step into the vacancy created by Jonathan Goff's departure and could become a fixture in the middle -- perhaps as early as the Aug. 28 season opener at Miami (Ohio). "Marve on the fast track for Commodores" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

The most difficult part of the preseason for the Miami RedHawks' tailbacks is not their lack of depth or experience, but rather their daily nemesis: the Miami defense. Runners and tacklers went at it again during a scrimmage Sunday, Aug. 10, at Yager Stadium, and with one dazzling exception, the tacklers ruled the day. "Miami defense gets praise" by Pete Conrad, "The Oxford Press"

Week of August 4

Sunday, August 10
First scrimmage provides learning experience; Baggerley works hard as a walk-on; Commodore defense outdoes offense in Saturday's scrimmage; Miami's Belton looks to win starting QB job.

Head Coach Bobby Johnson wouldn't hint whether his offense or defense got the upper hand Saturday at Vanderbilt's first preseason scrimmage in Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday. The coach did say his youthful Commodores need a greater sense of purpose in such important practice settings. "VU stages first full scrimmage in stadium" by

During the hardest days of fall camp, when temperatures near triple digits and the humidity percentage is almost as high, football players steel themselves with visions of the glory and pageantry that lies just around the corner. That's hardly the case for Vanderbilt senior linebacker Bo Baggerley. Now in his fourth year as a member of the football team, the Forsyth, Ga., native never has played a down in a real game. But despite that -- or maybe because of it -- he has endeared himself to his coach and teammates in a way that few All-Southeastern Conference performers have been able to. "Walk-on's loyalty earns respect" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt's first scrimmage of the preseason was dominated by the Commodores defense early and by an overall lack of intensity, in Coach Bobby Johnson's estimation. Of the 18-series, 83-play scrimmage at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday, the offense didn't score a touchdown until the halfway mark. The unit had given up two interceptions by that point and faced a third-and-42 situation.
"Coach says scrimmage lacked intensity" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Vanderbilt football coach Bobby Johnson expected his defense to perform well in Saturday's team scrimmage, and the unit didn't disappoint. Johnson, however, found plenty to be concerned about after the Commodores wrapped up an 18-series, 83-play practice at Vanderbilt Stadium. "Johnson disappointed with intensity in scrimmage" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

There was a lot of excitement when Northmont High School quarterback Clay Belton signed with Miami University in the winter of 2007. The RedHawks had a starter in place, Mike Kokal, but the makeup behind him was shaky. Despite Kokal missing time, Belton took a redshirt year with the team. That's when some of the excitement about him, at least to those who don't follow Miami daily, was lost.
"Miami QB Belton ready to step into the spotlight" by Kyle Nagel, "Middletown Journal"

Saturday, August 9
New faces on the defensive line need to develop quickly; Commodores prepare for Saturday's scrimmage; Miami (Ohio) defensive back likes to hit.

Vanderbilt's defensive line conjures one of those half-full/half-empty propositions. Empty: Only five of the current Commodore defensive linemen have seen much college playing time. Full: Those five accounted for 10 sacks, 17 tackles for lost yardage and 87 total stops last season. Still, no matter how well those returnees -- ends Steven Stone, Broderick Stewart and Theron Kadri as well as tackles Greg Billinger and Adam Smotherman -- play, they're going to need reinforcements. "Commodores pushed for depth on defensive line" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

With the first full-scale scrimmage of the preseason set for today, Vanderbilt scaled back on the contact for Friday's practice. The Commodores worked in "shells" -- helmets and shoulder pads -- for a little over two hours in anticipation of today's drills.
"Contact limited in preparation for scrimmage" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

When he first tried it in the fifth grade, Jeff Thompson hated football. His father, Jeffrey Thompson, apparently knew something about his son, though. A couple years later Jeff saw the light. Or rather, felt the thrill of a good hit. "Hard-hitting Thompson key cog on Miami (Ohio) defense" by Pete Conrad, "The Oxford Press"

Friday, August 8
Former Commodore Corey Chavous visits his alma mater; behind the scenes with the video operations staff; Bobby Johnson making steady progress, while becoming the longest serving football coach in 20 years; Chris Nickson poised for redemption in his final season; the team focused on expanding its playbook and special teams Wednesday.

After staging arguably their most enthusiastic practice of the preseason on Thursday, Commodore players got to hear from one of the greatest players of the team's modern era. Corey Chavous, a two-time All-Southeastern Conference defensive back with the Commodores in the mid-1990s and a 10-year veteran standout of the National Football League, addressed the squad at Head Coach Bobby Johnson's invitation after the current Vanderbilt players capped a spirited practice with a 28-play scrimmage. "VU great Chavous attends practice" by

On a blistering hot afternoon in the middle of August, Commodore football players aren't the only ones striving to get ready for the upcoming season. Perched at the top of four-story towers stationed at the end zone and sideline of John Rich Practice Facility, the video operations staff films the football practices for Vanderbilt coaches. The footage they record help coaches break down plays and evaluate the player fundamentals, enabling them to pinpoint both areas of excellence and need. "Unsung heroes of the gridiron" by Josh Arntz,

During his seven-year tenure as head of Vanderbilt's football program, it hasn't been X's and O's that have allowed Bobby Johnson to narrow the competitive gap with the rest of the Southeastern Conference. It's been A's, as in attitude and approach. The mind-set Johnson brought to the program with his December 2001 hiring -- a mindset that the Commodores can overcome the inherent limitations of being the league's smallest school and only private school in arguably the nation's top football conference. "Johnson fights to reverse losing trend at Vandy" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Former Vanderbilt defensive back Corey Chavous addressed the Commodores at the end of Thursday's practice. Entering his 11th professional season and third with the St. Louis Rams -- who are practicing with the Tennessee Titans this week -- Chavous spoke to the team about ending its bowl drought, which extends back to 1982. "Alumnus visits Commodores during practice" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Having faith in himself landed Corey Chavous a football scholarship at Vanderbilt 14 years ago. On Thursday, he attempted to instill the same level of self-confidence into the current Commodore squad. Chavous, a St. Louis Rams safety and 11-year NFL veteran, visited VU's evening practice and delivered an inspirational speech. "Chavous delivers spirited pep talk at Vanderbilt football practice" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Chris Nickson walked into Vanderbilt's football training camp a year ago holding the world in his hands. Fresh off a promising and often dynamic 2006 season, during which he became one of the best multi-dimensional quarterbacks in the nation, he seemed poised to take a step toward greatness. By the middle of October, Nickson found himself on the bench. "VU's Nickson ready to return to 2006 form" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

About midway through his address to reporters at SEC Media Days last month, Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson was posed a question that seemed to come as a surprise to him. Entering his seventh year, the reporter wanted to know if Johnson realized he was the longest serving coach at Vanderbilt in more than 20 years. "They said we couldn't do it," Johnson said with a smile. "Vandy's Johnson in it for the long run" by David Hale,

The Commodores focused on expanding their playbook and special teams Wednesday. One day after donning full gear and staging a limited live scrimmage, Bobby Johnson's squad practiced for more than two hours Wednesday in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts. While spending time on individual instruction and working to correct miscues from the Tuesday scrimmage, the staff allocated additional team teaching sessions aimed at broadening the offensive and defensive playbooks. "Commodores stretch playbook" by

Thursday, August 7
Fifth-year seniors show the depth of the team; redshirt-freshman receiver Jamie Graham sits out practice on Wednesday; Bobby Johnson considered one of the most underrated coaches; Bobby Johnson says the team deserves the recognition; check out more camp photos.

As redshirt freshman cornerbacks, Josh Allen and Jared Fagan were key contributors on Vanderbilt's 2005 team -- combining for eight starts, 52 tackles and one historic interception. Three years later, the players illustrate the strides the Commodores have made under Bobby Johnson. "Fifth-year seniors provide Vandy depth" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Jamie Graham was one of three Vanderbilt receivers on the sidelines for Wednesday's practice, joining George Smith and Larry Simmons. Graham, a redshirt freshman who went to high school at Whites Creek, overheated toward the end of Tuesday's workout and was carted off the practice field. As a precaution, he was held out of Wednesday's drills. "Ex-Whites Creek standout is latest setback at receiver" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Underrated coaches, on the other hand? That seems pretty harmless. Here are my top five: 1) Bobby Johnson, Vanderbilt. How can a coach that's gone 20-50 in six seasons be "underrated," you ask? Because record be damned, Vandy is no longer your father's Vandy. The Commodores, for the first time in a quarter-century, are a legitimately competitive SEC team (and this at a time when the conference has never been tougher). "Most underrated coaches, latest on Reggie Bush and much more" by Stewart Mandel,

Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson all but laughed off a Wednesday article on that listed him as the nation's most underrated football coach. "It's a nice compliment, but it's for the players and the program," Johnson said. " VU's Johnson is nation's most underrated coach" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

Check out's exclusive preseason football camp photo gallery from Tuesday's full gear practice. "Sights of preseason camp - August 6" by

Wednesday, August 6
Commodores end first full-pad practice with brief scrimmage; free preseason football video coverage; Bobby Johnson talks about his expectations for the offensive line; players prepared for the heat; junior quarterback Mackenzi Adams ready to lead the team; senior receiver George Smith out for at least four weeks; Vanderbilt exceeding 2007 season-ticket sales.

The Commodores concluded their first preseason practice in full gear Monday with a brief yet energetic live scrimmage. Head Coach Bobby Johnson put the squad through the 25-play, five-possession scrimmage to close the 2-hour, 30-minute session held in hot and humid conditions at the John Rich Practice Facility. "Intensity picks up at practice " by

Free preseason football video coverage on "Two-Minute Drill: Benoist and Spead" by

Bobby Johnson didn't hold back when discussing what he expects out of Vanderbilt's offensive line. Despite losing all five starters from last season -- including tackle Chris Williams, an NFL Draft first-round pick -- the seventh-year Commodores coach looks at the experience and talent remaining and doesn't envision the drop-off in performance that such departures sometimes trigger. "Vandy likes talent level of front line" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

It was just coincidence that Vanderbilt's first preseason practice in full pads took place on the hottest day of the year in Nashville to date. Neither the 97 degree temperature nor the heat index of 103 Tuesday was overly challenging for the Commodores, though, as precautions were taken before and during the workout. "Vandy stays prepared for heat" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

The Vanderbilt roster featured about a dozen seniors, and only a half-dozen had a shot at starting. Adams, a VU quarterback and Union graduate, assessed the situation and realized something. The fourth-year junior needed to be a leader this season. "Top Commodore " by Matt Levin, "Tulsa World"

Vanderbilt starting senior wide receiver George Smith will be out of action for at least the next four weeks due to a stress fracture in his right foot, Coach Bobby Johnson said Tuesday. Smith, the team's leading returning receiver from 2007, is scheduled to undergo surgery Thursday. He is likely to miss at least the first game of the season Aug. 28 at Miami of Ohio. "VU receiver Smith out for four weeks with stress fracture" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

With nearly a month remaining before the Sept. 4 home opener against visiting South Carolina, Vanderbilt has already exceeded its season-ticket sales total from 2007. "We're extremely pleased to surpass last year's total, especially with virtually an entire month to go before the home opener," Vanderbilt Ticket Manager Eric Jones said. "Vanderbilt tickets on the move" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Tuesday, August 5
Season ticket sales surpass last season's mark; team to practice in full pads for first time; check out camp photo gallery; freshman receiver John Cole emerging as possible contributor; Bobby Johnson pleased with young core of linebackers.

With more than a month remaining until the Commodores' home opener against South Carolina, 15,385 season tickets have been sold through Monday, Athletic Ticket Manager Eric Jones said. Last year, 15,171 season tickets were sold for Vanderbilt's eight-game home schedule. The 2007 total was the most sold by Vanderbilt athletics since 1996. "Season ticket sales surpass 2007 total" by

The Commodores will practice in full pads for the first time today. Head Coach Bobby Johnson and Commodore players are excited to start practicing in full gear. The team worked in shoulder pads, helmet and shorts Monday, fulfilling the NCAA rule that mandates an acclimation period. "Commodores move into full pads today" by

Check out's exclusive preseason football camp photo gallery from Sunday's practice. "Sights of preseason camp - August 4" by

Maurice Patton of "The Tennessean" reports that over the first few days of Vanderbilt's preseason camp, freshman wide receiver John Cole has run past a lot of people. It will be interesting to see if the incoming freshman from Kentucky has the opportunity to do so on Saturdays this fall. "Vandy may need freshman to play"

Through the first four days of preseason practice, Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson said he's been particularly pleased with the linebackers. That unit lost seniors Jonathan Goff and Marcus Buggs, both of whom are in NFL training camps... "Linebackers draw praise with efforts in practice" by Maurice Patton, "The Tennessean"

Perhaps Vanderbilt's questions at linebacker aren't as serious as first thought. Asked Monday if any aspect of his team had caught his attention through four practice sessions, Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson quickly singled out the linebackers. "VU linebackers make early impression" by Brett Hait, "The City Paper"

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