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Vanderbilt Improved D-Line Depth will be Key

While the Vanderbilt Commodores return all eleven starters from a year ago, adding depth, especially to the defensive line, will be critical in 2020.

Even though there is experience aplenty on the Vanderbilt Commodores defense in 2020, the need for added depth across the board will be a key for their success against an all-SEC schedule this season. 

Head coach Derek Mason and ned defensive coordinator Ted Roof know this and have used practice time to find and develop those players. According to Mason, it seems to be paying off. 

"A year ago, as I looked at our defensive line play, I thought guys had to play way too many snaps," said Mason. "We were on the field too long, too much. It's always about rotational depth. You've got to have rotational depth in the SEC.

"When you get into games where you're talking 70 to 80 snaps, guys have to be able to, we have to be able to spread the work around, and I think now, we've got enough functional depth to do it," Mason said."

According to Mason, that depth will come from Malik Langham, Derek Green, and Rutger Reitmaier. 

"It's important for all these guys to be able to give us, you know,  value reps," said Mason. "A year ago, those guys that you mentioned didn't have a chance to touch the grass, two of the three didn't get a chance, (Rutger) Reitaier was on the field a little bit, but now those guys are really coming into their own. They're stronger. They understand the scheme a little better. They understand technically what they're supposed to do, and I think when you get bigger, faster, stronger, it's just that these guys are complementary pieces for us in 2020." 

As for the defense overall, their experience with a new scheme in 2020, Mason shared this. 

"I think, looking at this group of guys, they're going to continue to use their experiences to get guys to function from play to play, and I think those guys play with a lot of confidence," added Mason. "I think what young guys lack a lot of times is confidence in being able to play the game, so they're (the veterans) are going to be able to keep guys clam. They're going to be able to challenge guys, you know, to go from play to play and be better in terms of their energy, focus, ability to compete." 

"I think that's what those guys bring to the table, that's why it's great to have so much experience," concluded Mason 

While it sounds like the Commodores are in a solid place defensively, there is still time for more improvement and possibly even finding more depth for this group before the season begins Sept. 26 in College Station. 

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