FIve questions on the Commodores

Jeff Lockridge covers Vanderbilt athletics for The Tennesseean newspaper in Nashville. Here’s what he had to say on five questions about the Commodores:
1. PA: What’s the latest on Chris Boyd? Do you envision a scenario in which he plays? It would be much easier for the Rebels’ inexperienced corners to focus on Jordan Matthews if Boyd does not play.
Jeff: Nothing has changed since last week, which is to say Chris Boyd remains suspended from the team and is still facing a felony charge of accessory after the fact in the Vanderbilt rape case. The longer he is away from the team, the longer it will take him to get re-acclimated to what is going on when (and if) he returns. Obviously, he hasn’t been in practice for Ole Miss implementation, so I don’t know if the Rebels would have to worry about him playing even if something dramatic happened that led to his suspension being lifted before Thursday night. Without Boyd, Jonathan Krause will be the No. 2 receiver. He doesn’t have the size or big-play ability of Boyd, so the Ole Miss secondary should be in better shape. When Vanderbilt lines up in a three-receiver set, the third guy could be a tight end or H-back (Steven Scheu, Kris Kentera or Fitz Lassing), a running back (Wesley Tate or Brian Kimbrow) or a true receiver that has never played (Trey Wilkins, Jordan Cunningham, Carlos Burse or Latavius Rayford).

2. PA: In the big picture of things can you tell if the rape case has been a distraction for this team?
Jeff: It’s honestly hard to tell in the preseason. I think Boyd’s absence has been a distraction because it impacted the Xs and Os, which in turn impacts practice. The incident itself and the dismissal of the four players (who have since been charged with raping an unconscious female student) happened in late June, so I get the sense enough time has passed to where the event is no longer on the forefront of the players’ mind. It clearly was in the month following the incident.

3. PA: How is the Vanderbilt offense different with Austyn Carta-Samuels at quarterback?
Jeff: The offense has expanded a bit, at least in terms of wrinkles that James Franklin and offensive coordinator John Donovan threw in, but Carta-Samuels will still be running the same system that Jordan Rodgers was. Carta-Samuels has a stronger arm than Rodgers, so don’t be surprised if Vandy throws a few more deep balls to Matthews or Krause every game. The questions will be whether Carta-Samuels can get Vandy into the right audibles at the line of scrimmage when the situations call for it, and whether he can be accurate with his short and mid-range throws on a consistent basis. Rodgers did those things very well in 2012.

4. PA: How will Vanderbilt replace three starters along the defensive line?
Jeff: Strangely, I don’t see this being a problem. Defensive tackle Rob Lohr is the guy who will be missed the most, but Vince Taylor has the chance to be an even more dominant interior lineman over the next two seasons. Jared Morse, who started half the season in place of graduate Colt Nichter in 2012, may not start this season because of how far redshirt freshman Adam Butler has come. The leadership of Johnell Thomas is gone at defensive end, but I look for Kyle Woestmann and Caleb Azubike to put up some nice sack and quarterback pressure stats with the extra reps.
5. PA: When Bobby Johnson was coach, I remember people saying, “Vanderbilt is a much-better coached team.” The thought seemed to be that Vanderbilt was close to turning the corner but never seemed to get there. What has Franklin done differently to turn that corner and to do it with so many Johnson players?
Jeff: This may come off as a slight knock on Johnson’s former staff, which he was very loyal to – some would say to a fault. It’s not meant to be. That said, Franklin and his staff seem to do a better job in terms of getting more accomplished in practices, getting players bigger and stronger, and (perhaps most importantly) making in-game adjustments. The energy level is up from what it used to be within the coaching staff, and that has funneled down to the players. It’s also fair to say, based on what players have told me, is that the playbook is much more complex and capable of giving defenses problems than it used to be.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

Posted in Football
  • JB

    I think Ole Miss hurry up offense has Vandy coach nervous, see where he is complaining to officals to make sure Ole Miss offense players are set. Bo got them all nervous afraid he is going to have another 400 plus air yardage against them..I look for Scott to do his thing maybe over 100 yards rushing.I hope those Rebel Freshmen are ready to play some SEC football and not get intimidated by all that trash talk the will be hearing.

  • REB

    I hope that good ole PA stays covering Ole Miss. That rascal does a pretty fair job. HOTTY TOTTY AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!! and FINS UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!plus a big can of “ASSWHUP” for 2 years of probation state.

    • Parrish Alford

      Thanks Reb, I will try and work “rascal” into a story this year.

  • Cid Riley

    The casinos in Monaco have the Jonnie Rebelbear Sharkfins a 3 point favorite. The spread should be Ole Miss favored by 13. Too much muckaluck going on in Vanderville. Unless the human turnover machine has a bad night at QB, the rebelbear sharkfins should win easily.
    #olemissprobation2014

    • Killer_Beeze

      Cid…you really should worry more about how your dogs are going to perform against the #13 ranked team in the nation.
      OK St. 38
      Miss Stake 13

  • Cid Riley

    When the NCAA gets time to really investigate Ole Miss..they won’t open up a can of worms…they’ll open up a bucket of snakes. Indeed!!!
    #olemissprobation2014

  • Cid Riley

    Whoa….the jonnie rebelbear sharkfins have won only once in Vanderville, since 2005!!!
    Lost 6 of the last 8 …I still like em to beat the dores. The odds will catch up with Vandy.
    #olemissprobation2014

  • Cid Riley

    I heard that Ole Miss has signed an agreement with the LOGO channel for exclusive rights to show all football games…kind of like Notre Dame and NBC. #olemissprobation2014

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