Last week about this time, we wrote on how well the Vanderbilt defensive line played in week one versus Texas A&M. It was so good that Pro Football Focus ranked them as the No.1 defensive line in the nation for their performance that week.
However, one week later, and following a game in which the defensive line managed just three quarterback pressures and no sacks on 37 dropbacks against LSU quarterback Myles Brennan, the Commodores are nowhere to be found inside the top-10 this week.
So just how good are they?
That's a great question and one that deserves an answer, though it's not exactly an easy one.
Against the Aggies, whose offensive line was a veteran bunch, the numbers weren't much better. Only two pressures and one sack by Dayo Odeyingbo against A&M.
Simultaneously, the Commodores allowed 202 rush yards against the Aggies compared to 161 versus LSU.
Now I'm not sure of PFF's metrics to grade this position group, but considering those numbers, there wasn't much of a difference from week one to week two for Vanderbilt.
Regardless of subjective ranking, what we do know is that while individual players might have had better performances than others in a given week, their play as a unit hasn't been good enough to produce a win.
Granted, other positions must also handle their business for a team to win a game. The collective hasn't been good enough to accomplish that goal either.
So what's the answer to this question?
We don't have a definitive answer, and it will be a week to week process. It also depends upon matchups. Some teams match up better against one team rather than another, and this seems the case for Vanderbilt through two games.
The Aggies are not a prolific passing team, meaning the Commodores looked better against them because they are not one that flips the scoreboard through the air. That's the exact opposite of LSU, who can and does toss the football all over the yard.
What we do know is that with South Carolina coming to town for an 11 am kickoff on Saturday, the Commodores will have another chance to find a win against a team with an identical 0-2 mark and one that's offense isn't exactly lethal.
Through two weeks, the Gamecocks are averaging 20.5 points per game, collecting 27 versus Tennessee in week one and 24 last Saturday against Florida.
Does any of this guarantee a good performance and a Vanderbilt win?
No, but it is an opportunity, and it's up to the Commodores and their defensive line to prove how good they are for another week.