2018 Record: 6-7 (3-5)
6th in the East
Derek Mason’s fifth season with Vanderbilt saw the Commodores come up just short of his first winning season in Nashville. Vanderbilt found its way to their second bowl game under Mason’s tenure, falling just short of the Baylor Bears in the fourth quarter.
The 2018 season certainly had its highlights. A road trip to North Bend nearly saw an upset on the road against No.8 Notre Dame. Another home win against rival Ole Miss marks back to back wins against the Rebels.
More importantly, the Commodores have dominated in-state rival Tennessee in each of the last three seasons as well as winning five of the last seven. It’s a stretch that hasn’t been matched since the 1920-1926 seasons.
2019 Schedule Breakdown
Ceiling: 7-5 (3-5)
Floor: 2-10 (0-8)
2019 Projected Record : 4-8 (1-7)
Conference Standings: 7th in the SEC East
- Week 1 Georgia: L
- Week 2 @ Purdue: L
- Week 3 BYE
- Week 4 LSU: L
- Week 5 NIU: W
- Week 6 @ Ole Miss: L
- Week 7 UNLV: W
- Week 8 Missouri: L
- Week 9 BYE
- Week 10 @ South Carolina: L
- Week 11 @ Florida: L
- Week 12 Kentucky: W
- Week 13 East Tennessee State: W
- Week 14 @ Tennessee: L
Vanderbilt’s roller coaster of a season in 2018 looks to be followed by a disappointing season in 2019. Head coach Derek Mason has yet to see a winning season even though he’s had found some impressive success in his tenure. Despite his extension this past February he finds himself at only 24-38 in his Vanderbilt career.
Vanderbilt graduates the school’s career passing leader Kyle Shurmur. They’ll also lose five of the top seven tackling leaders. The defense will have holes to fill and will be the biggest struggle heading into an improving SEC East division.
The offensive line will have to replace three of the five starters from 2018 but has plenty of young size to fill the holes.
The rest of the offense looks to be well rounded. All of the top receiving threats are returning for the 2019 season. Former Illinois transfer Ke’Shawn Vaughn returns for his senior year after posting 1,244 yards and 12 TDs in the 2018 season.
2019 Position Outlook
It’s been a long time since Vanderbilt has entered the year without a clear idea of who the quarterback will be. Derek Mason will have to decide on who gets the starting job for what may likely be a run-heavy offense this year.
Kyle Shurmur’s absence will define the offensive outlook in a big way. The decision will likely come down to two options.
Redshirt senior Riley Neal will be an option. In his previous three-plus years at Ball State, the Indiana native had mediocre numbers with 7392 throwing yards, 46 touchdowns and 25 interceptions.
Deuce Wallace spent some of last season not playing due to a suspension. He will likely be the other option to lead Mason’s offense that has lost large chunks from last year’s 6-7 team.
The Offense Will Depend on Ke’Shawn Vaughn
“Run the bawl” will be a common line heard among Commodore fans this season. Senior Ke’Shawn Vaughn is the most exciting player returning to the Vanderbilt offense from 2018’s team.
The Illinois transfer put up huge numbers last year in his first season in the SEC. Expect those numbers to increase this season as he’ll likely be taking on an even bigger role. It took about half of the season for him to become the premier back and solidify the starting role last year.
In his final four games, Vaughn averaged 9.2 yards per carry that accumulated 724 total rushing yards. This included four touchdowns as well as a monstrous 243 yards and two touchdowns in the bowl game against Baylor.
The Commodores will have large holes to fill on both sides of the ball in 2019. Derek Mason has proven to be one of the best coaches, if not the best that Vanderbilt has seen in the modern era. It would not be a surprise if he transitions smoothly into this season and delivers a respectable 6-6 season. However, the SEC East has too many up and coming teams to comfortably predict a bowl-eligible season for Vanderbilt.
“From Our Haus to Yours”