Vanderbilt football has concluded its Black & Gold game, and there is plenty to unpack from the scrimmage. Here are five takeaways from the game that may give fans an idea of what to expect from the Commodores next season.
Firstly, Vanderbilt’s depth in the trenches may make or break its season. After having their depth wrecked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commodores have been gradually rebuilding. This spring, the offensive line looks deeper and more experienced. Furthermore, the defensive line has emerged as the team’s strongest unit. Keep an eye out for Yilanan Ouattara, a 6-foot-7, 305-pound defensive tackle from Germany, who has the potential to be a breakout star.
As far as the quarterback position goes, A.J. Swann is undoubtedly the starter, and there’s no drama there. Senior Ken Seals is back and the clear backup, so the Commodores have some stability at the position.
However, it may not be all about Swann at quarterback. Unheralded sophomore Walter Taylor had a fantastic showing in the spring game, directing the day’s first touchdown drive and launching a beautiful deep ball for a 50-yard touchdown just before halftime. Taylor stands at 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds, with excellent mobility and a strong arm. If he can find consistency, he could provide the Commodores with some big-time upside.
The Vanderbilt football team is still searching for a new kicker to replace Joseph Bulovas. Junior Will Faris had a mediocre showing on Saturday, going 1-of-3 on field goals and missing a couple of easy shots and an extra point in damp conditions. The Commodores may need to look to incoming freshmen or walk-ons to fill the void.
Finally, De’Rickey Wright emerged as a star of the scrimmage, making tackles and picking off a pass for a 60-yard pick-six. If his showing on Saturday is any indication, the senior safety could be due for a big season.
Overall, it’s still too early to make definitive predictions about the Commodores’ performance in 2023. However, these five takeaways from the Black & Gold game give us a glimpse of what to watch out for when the season kicks off this fall.
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