Statistically speaking, the Commodores are the Southeastern Conference's most improved team.
Vanderbilt has shown more progress under first-year coach James Franklin on both offense and defense than any other team in the conference. A close comparison of 2011 SEC stats through Week 9 and the final 2010 stats shows the Commodores rank No. 1 in the league in scoring offense differential (+7.9 points), scoring defense (-8.1 points) and rushing defense (minus-60 yards). The Commodores also are most improved in turnover margin (+7 turnovers).
Franklin's squad also enjoys the second most improvement in several other key stats, including total offense (+28.4 yards), total defense (-78.6 yards), pass efficiency and defensive pass efficiency.
Here's a quick look at the categories:
Comparison of 2011 (thru 9 games) vs. 2010 (entire season)
2011 (SEC Rank)
2010 (SEC Rank)
7.9 - 1st
8.1 - 1st
28.4 - 2nd
78.6 - 2nd
60 - 1st
4th Down Conv. %
56% - 1st
Time of Possession
1:40 - 3rd
QB Sacks (per game)
0.3 - T-1st
46.6 yds (3rd)
41.7 yds (11th)
4.9 - 2nd
Discounted Tickets With Canned Food Donation It's time to jump off the fence - and Vanderbilt Athletics is asking that you do so by donating a canned food item to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.
Discounted tickets ($35 ea.) to the Kentucky game are available until kickoff with a canned food donation at the McGugin Athletic Center on Jess Neely Drive during regular business hours Friday or at the stadium box office Saturday morning.
All fans holding season tickets also are encouraged to participate in the canned food drive.
Game of Historical Significance The Kentucky-Vanderbilt game marks the first time in Southeastern Conference history that both teams will be guided by African-American head coaches. The Commodores are mentored by first-year head coach James Franklin. The Wildcats are directed by second-year head coach Joker Phillips.
Sylvester Croom (Mississippi State, 2004-08) is the only other African-American to serve as head coach of a SEC team.
Cutler on Vanderbilt: 'Different feel' to 2011 squad Talking to Chicago's radio co-hosts Tom Waddle and Marc "Silvy" Silverman on Tuesday, former Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler added his thoughts about watching his former team from the sidelines during the Vanderbilt-Arkansas game Oct. 29. Listen to Interview
"There's definitely a different feel with that new coach and the attitude they have. They're fun to watch," Cutler said. "They've lost some heartbreakers the last couple of weeks, but you can see the program making a turn. Hopefully we get a couple SEC wins down the road that sets us up for next year."
When asked why he watched from the sidelines while the brother of Commodore quarterback Jordan Rodgers (Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers) watched from the stands with relatives, Cutler quickly deadpanned, "I still went to school there."
Sorry Earl, We're Siding With the NFL We appreciate Cutler's favorite Bear receiving target, former Commodore Earl Bennett, as much as the QB does. But we're siding with the NFL brass on this one - `orange' cleats deserve a fine!
The NFL office fined Bennett $5,000 on Tuesday for wearing orange cleats. Despite the fine, Cutler has Bennett's back, telling the co-hosts that he'll pick up the receiver's tab.
Facing the Eagles on the road, Bennett and Cutler formed a sensational tandem. Coming off a six-week layoff due to injury, Bennett caught five passes for 95 yards and the game-winning 5-yard TD reception.
Haye Staying In Shape for Possible Return Another former `Dore with six years of pro experience, defensive lineman Jovan Haye, is staying in shape on campus looking to sign a NFL free agent deal.
In the last week, three teams have invited Haye in for private workouts.
Vandy-Kentucky Series Has Been Close A Vanderbilt victory Saturday would narrow the all-time series record with Kentucky to 39-41-4. Historically, it has been a close series: the last eight games have been decided by an average winning margin of 3.5 points.
Two of the SEC's Active Career Tacklers Square Off Two senior linebackers, Vanderbilt's Chris Marve and Kentucky's Danny Trevathan, are two of the SEC's top active career tacklers. Marve has 371 career tackles, with Trevathan in close pursuit with 342 stops.
Series Has Produced Amazing Individual Performances The recent Kentucky series has produced some amazing individual performances for both teams. Here's three quick Vanderbilt examples:
In a 2008 victory in Lexington, D.J. Moore became the only Commodore ever to post two touchdown catches as a WR and grab two interceptions as a DB.
In 2006, quarterback Chris Nickson threw for 446 yards (No. 2 all-time by a Commodore) and accumulated 517 yards of total offense.
In 2005, Earl Bennett matched a SEC record with five touchdown catches in a 48-43 home loss.
Looking for Fifth Home Victory The Commodores are trying to capture a fifth home win in Vanderbilt Stadium for the first time in nearly three decades. It was last accomplished when the `Dores went 6-0 at home during the 1982 campaign.
Rodgers has jumped into the team's all-time Top Ten charts for junior quarterbacks. He ranks 10th among junior QBs with 959 passing yards. He is also averaging 241 passing yards - and 302 total yards - during the last three games.
Matthews has also caught fire. The sophomore has 321 yards on 15 catches in his last two games and now ranks as the team's leader in receptions (23) and receiving yards (438).
Stacy's Rushing Performance Junior Zac Stacy needs 43 rushing yards to pass Kwane Doster (798 yards, 2002) on the team's single-season Top Ten rushing list. Stacy is currently 10th on the all-time list with 756 rushing yards.
He would also pass Doster (1,621 yards, 2002-04) and Tom Moore (1,606 yards, 1957-59) on the team's career rushing charts with 57 yards.