America pulls for the underdog, and the Vanderbilt Commodores would certainly fit into that category.
James Franklin took over as the Commodore coach in 2011 and he took them to three bowl games in a row which has never happened before. After the 2013 season and a 9-4 record, Franklin left for Penn State.
Derek Mason was hired from Stanford where he was the Defensive Coordinator under David Shaw.
So far, he has not equaled the success of James Franklin.
In 2014, Mason’s first season was a disappointing 3-9. 2015 wasn’t much better with a 4-8 finish.
The Commodores put their season in 6-4, 220 sophomore Johnny McCrary’s hands. He threw for over 1,500 yards, but he threw twice as many Interceptions as Touchdowns.
Towards the end of the season, he was replaced by true freshman Quarterback Kyle Shurmur from Pennsylvania. Shurmur is also a good sized Quarterback at 6-4, 225.
McCrary is transferring in May when he graduates, but Shurmur looks like the guy that Mason has been looking for to run his offense.
Ralph Webb is back at Running Back and he is one of the better backs in the SEC. He ran for 1,152 yards and 5 Touchdowns in 2015 after running for 906 yards as a freshman.
Because Mason was a Defensive Coordinator before being hired by the Commodores, so you would think they would field a good defense and they do.
Zach Cunningham returns at Linebacker, and so does Outside Linebacker Stephen Weatherly. Defensive Backs Oren Burks, Torren McGaster and Tre Herndon also return.
The defense should be good if Kyle Shurmur can come through at Quarterback the Vanderbilt
Commodores could be better in 2016.
Derek Mason may have this season and the next to get things turned around. But, after the success of James Franklin at Vanderbilt, the fan base may be expecting a turnaround by this season.
We know Mason can build a defense, but the jury is still out on whether he can build an entire team. Some Vanderbilt fans may think the verdict is in and Mason is not the man for the job. But, I think we need to give him this season to see if he can get Vanderbilt to a bowl game.