AU FOOTBALL 2008: Vandy hoping to replace key players

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the sixth in a series previewing Auburn’s 2008 football opponents. This week: Vanderbilt (Oct. 4). The series will run weekly.
When it comes to Southeastern Conference football, it’s hard not to feel sorry for the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Every year is a tough slog for Vandy, the SEC’s only private school. The Commodores routinely lack depth, playmakers and big names. Vandy has never won an SEC championship and hasn’t finished with a winning record since 1982.
Even last season, with star wide receiver Earl Bennett, a senior-laden offense and a first-round NFL draft pick in offensive tackle Chris Williams, the Commodores struggled. Vandy finished 5-7 overall and 2-6 in SEC play in 2007.

This year doesn’t look any better. Bennett, the SEC’s all-time leader in receptions, is gone.

So is Williams, Vandy’s second first-round pick since 1986, plus six other starters on offense.

Almost the only familiar face on offense belongs to quarterback — except that the Commodores aren’t sure who he’ll be. Senior Chris Nickson and junior Mackenzi Adams are both back after splitting time at the position last season.

Neither managed to complete 56 percent of his passes or average 100 yards passing per game.

Nickson, who was slowed by a sore shoulder in the second half of 2007, edged ahead of Adams during spring practice. But Adams could win the job in fall practice or if Nickson struggles once the season starts.

oanow.com
6/11/08