Saturday Preview: Vanderbilt-LSU

Friday, September 10, 2010 at 12:15am

VANDERBILT (0-1) vs. No. 19 LSU (1-0)
6 p.m., Saturday
Vanderbilt Stadium
ESPNU/ESPN3.com
WRQQ-FM 97.1

About the Commodores:

• After preseason injuries to the top four on the depth chart, VU’s running backs are healthier than they were in the Week 1 loss to Northwestern. The Commodores carried the ball for 192 yards in that game. Zac Stacy led the effort with 69 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown run.

• Vanderbilt’s offensive line is an area of uncertainty this season with four new starters and several freshmen getting plying time. That unit will be bolstered by the return of 2009 SEC All-Freshman tackle Ryan Seymour, who missed the opener due to academic reasons.

• Junior cornerback Jamie Graham will not play due to a nagging groin injury, which has been an issue since the end of fall practice. Sophomore Eddie Foster (eight tackles, three tackles for loss, one pass defensed against Northwestern) once again will start in his place.

• Linebacker Chris Marve already is on pace for his third consecutive 100-tackle season. He and safety Jay Fullam share the team lead in tackles after one contest with 12 each.

• The Commodores’ 432 yards of offense against Northwestern was a significant improvement over its 2009 average of 306.3 yards per game. Coach Robbie Caldwell said he expected continued improvement as his younger skill players adapt to SEC competition.

• Running back Warren Norman will return to full-time kickoff return duty. A preseason knee injury limited his special teams participation against Northwestern. He returned three kickoffs for touchdowns in 2009.

About the Tigers:

• LSU had an underwhelming 30-21 Week 1 victory over North Carolina. The Tar Heels were without 14 players, including all starters in the secondary, due to suspensions. LSU committed five turnovers and did not score in the second half.

• Playmaking receiver, Russell Shepard will be featured on offense. With just seven touches against UNC, the 6-foot-1 sophomore tallied 79 total yards and two touchdowns, including a 50-yard rushing score.

• Cornerback Patrick Peterson had 257 total return yards in the opener. He returned one punt 87 yards for a touchdown.

• Jordan Jefferson is the second straight run-threat quarterback to come to Vanderbilt Stadium but also is a capable passer. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder was 15-for-21 with two touchdowns last week.

• Outside linebacker Ryan Baker missed the opener with a broken jaw sustained during preseason camp but will play against the Commodores. He will add experience to a linebacker corps that starts three redshirt-freshmen.

Something to consider:

• In 2009 the Commodores were down 17-9 midway through the forth quarter and driving. With the ball at the LSU 23, Larry Smith threw to Alex Washington, who mishandled the ball. Brandon Taylor intercepted the ball, and the Tigers scored on the ensuing drive. Final score: LSU 23, Vanderbilt 9.

• The last time Vanderbilt played its SEC home-opener against LSU was the last time the Commodores defeated the Tigers, 24-21 in 1990.

Prediction:

With healthy backs and the return of Seymour up front, Vanderbilt’s run game will cotinue to be productive. VU’s defense can hang for three quarters but LSU’s playmakers (Shepard, Jefferson, Peterson, et. al.) will not be corralled all day.

LSU 34, Vanderbilt 23