Defense Should Lead the Way for Vanderbilt, But How Good Can They Be?

Greg Arias

Just how good can the Vanderbilt Commodores defense be in 2020? To find out that answer, we went to the source, the man who head coach Derek Mason said would lead that unit and call the shots, Ted Roof. 

Roof, appearing on a conference call with Nashville media on Tuesday, spoke about several topics, including how good he thought this group could be this season. 

"We'll find out, you know, they've put in the work," said Roof. We've got some guys who've played, but it's all about getting better, and that's what we've been focusing on and grinding and straining to improve, but how far we can go depends on how hard we strain and where we are from that standpoint." 

"That's something we've got to continue to do, but certainly there's some guys who've played before," continued Roof. "What we've got to do is be able to play some rotational guys to get to play more people because what's happened across the country with all the situation that everybody's in, that' you've got to have some depth and your depth's got to rotate in and provide quality reps."      

One of the significant aspects of this year's unit will be improving on third-down defense and being able to get off the field when they have the opportunity. That was something the Commodores struggled with last season and must improve this time around. 

"Guys that make plays (are key) you know, whether it's a pass rusher that can win one-on-one, whether it's a DB or linebacker that can win a one-on-one in coverage, but you know, on third down guys have got to be able to win one-on-ones," said Roof. "That's a big deal, and also, I think part of it is not being predictable."

"It's not doing the same thing all the time," concluded  Roof. "There's a fine line as a coach because you want your players to have familiarity with what you're doing so they can play fast, and at the same time put a little different wrinkle in there or a little different look to it to at least be able to delay their ability to recognize what you're doing."     

We'll find out on Sept.26 when the Commodores kick off their season against Texas A&M, who currently hold the No.10 ranking according to the most recent Associated Press poll. 

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