2018 Vanderbilt football projections on the Hour Glass
By John Luke McCord
Earlier this spring Derek Mason said this year’s team would have “more weapons than we’ve had since I’ve been here.” That always sounds good coming from a coach who needs it to be true. The facts are that the Dores finished just 5-7, even with a blowout win over rival Tennessee in the season finale, and will lose most of their best offensive playmakers.
Ralph Webb has been an anchor in the Vanderbilt backfield in recent years, but he’ll have to be replaced this fall. Receivers Trent Sherfield, CJ Duncan and Caleb Scott will also be missing off next year’s team. Sherfield had established himself as a particularly dangerous playmaker on the edge for the Dores.
The offensive line, however, returns a wealth of experience. That should help a growing running game that finds itself in search of a playmaker. It should also give quarterback Kyle Shurmur time to find Kalija Lipscomb downfield. In a recent spring scrimmage Lipscomb showed that he can be the Dores’ top wideout in 2018 by grabbing three touchdowns, including long passes from both QBs.
Speaking of Shurmur, he is the bright spot of this Vanderbilt team, and will likely be the MVP of any success Vandy could generate this season. Average teams can be transcended above their talent level by great QB play, and Shurmur is certainly capable. Last season he threw for 2,823 yards and 26 touchdowns, which is why he enters 2018 with the fourth-highest QB stamp, according our analytics, in the SEC at 19.2. That mark puts him just behind Jake Fromm and Tua Tagovailoa, guys who just quarterbacked their team in the National Championship back in January, and of course Drew Lock, who leads the nation with a QB stamp of 35. Needless to say, the HourGlass rates Shurmur as a signal caller that can make his team better, especially if he makes a jump this season.
But the two other areas the Hour Glass values highly say that Vanderbilt is up against it this season. Derek Mason, who is about to embark on his fifth season in Nashville, is ranked 14th in the SEC with a coaching stamp of -13. Additionally, The Dores’ 3-year recruiting stamp is also easily the worst in the SEC. That makes it tough when there are so many key contributors from last season to replace.
The defensive side of the ball will count on plenty of new faces, as well. Especially in the defensive backfield and at linebacker. Josh Smith is a guy that will bring the ability to makes places at multiple levels, while LaDarius Wiley and Tae Daley will be counted on to make plays in the defensive secondary. Up front Jordan Griffin, Dare Odeyingbo and Charles Wright have proven they can get into the backfield and make big plays.
Generally, in my opinion, the Mason’s defense will have an easier time replacing lost production. That unit, led by new defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, is usually solid since Mason came to town. The offensive side of the ball should be fine, too, but they will need Shurmur to come out of the gates playing well.
HG analytics pick: 3-9, 7th in SEC East
My pick: 3-9, 7th in SEC East
2017 Vanderbilt pick; 2-10; Actual finish @ 5-7 (75 percent accuracy)
Hour Glass National Recruiting Ranking: 53rd – Outside our Realistic College Football Playoff Bust Line on our talent index.
National Coaching Rank for Derek Mason on HG Scale: 61st (Mason Stamp at -13) – Average coaching value for 2018 set at 3.75.
Returning Vanderbilt quarterback play rated 14th in the country out of 130 teams. Average quarterback stamp nationally for 2018 is 8.3. Vanderbilt has a stamp of 19.2.