October 10, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Vanderbilt Commodores are a young team trying to grow up in a hurry, playing with a freshman at quarterback while Patton Robinette heals up from a concussion.

In other words, a team that can't take any game for granted. Not even if Saturday night is homecoming, and Charleston Southern comes from the Football Championship Subdivision.

''They are a 5-0 football team, we're a 1-5 football team,'' Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said. ''Football is football.''

Mason is trying to get his young Commodores to focus on doing all the little details correctly.

Wade Freebeck is expected to start his third straight game with Vanderbilt back home from a two-game road swing through the Southeastern Conference. The Commodores are coming off a 44-17 loss at Georgia and have lost three straight.

''Our margin of error is slim,'' Mason said. ''We are a football team that is working extremely hard to play better.''

Charleston Southern may be FCS, but the Buccaneers are ranked by the coaches. They are 5-0 for a second straight year and are coming off an open date following a 47-41 overtime win on the road at Charlotte. This will be their first of two road games this season against SEC teams and just the third in the program's history.

Bucs coach Jamey Chadwell said they are trying to treat this like every other game but aren't dumb.

''Our kids know we're playing an SEC team and we're on TV and that doesn't happen a lot so I'm sure we're going to be a little bit more geeked up,'' Chadwell said.

Chadwell also isn't dismissing the Commodores based on their record either. He said Vanderbilt lost to now No. 3 Mississippi and Georgia.

''The cool thing is you get to go and hopefully play your best and see if it's good enough,'' Chadwell said. ''That's how we approach it.''


Here are some things to watch Saturday night:

MORE SIMS: Darrius Sims has scored the most points for Vanderbilt this season, and he finally caught a pass on offense in the loss at Georgia. But Mason wants Sims to touch the ball at least five times a game along with some other players like wide receiver C.J. Duncan and tight end Steven Scheu, who's the team's leading receiver with 18 catches for 262 yards.

SLOW STARTS: Vanderbilt has scored in the first quarter only once this season, taking a 14-0 lead against South Carolina on Sept. 20. That was with Robinette playing before he left with a concussion that has kept the Vanderbilt quarterback sidelined since then. The Commodores have been outscored 59-0 in the other five games combined, and Mason said they have to create their own energy. ''It's a slim margin of error,'' he said. ''We have to make plays that are there to be made.''

TRIPLE OPTION: The Buccaneers run the triple option and do it very well. They run for an average 215.2 yards per game and ran for a season-high 333 yards on 61 rushes at Charlotte. Charleston Southern also can throw a little bit too. Austin Brown completed 17 of his last 18 passes for 216 yards and two TDs in the win at Charlotte as the Bucs threw for 284 yards in that game.

CLIMBING THE CHARTS: Ralph Webb is averaging 83.2 yards rushing per game for Vanderbilt, and he ranks sixth in the SEC and leads all freshmen. He already ranks seventh for most yards rushing by a freshman at Vanderbilt.

FCS SUCCESS: Vanderbilt is 16-1 against teams from the FCS level since 1978 when the NCAA created the I-AA class later renamed the FCS. The Commodores beat Austin Peay 38-3 last season in their last game against an FCS team.

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