(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The Commodores fans did something last season they had not done since 1982. That was going bowling and they made the most of it beating Boston College 16-14 in the Music City bowl.
While Vanderbilt fans will never be considered greedy, the football program has never gone to a bowl game two years in row. With 18 starters back on a team that won seven games last season it is not too much to ask for a return to the post season.
The only problem is that the Commodores play in the SEC not the ACC like Wake Forest or the Big-10 like Northwestern. Vanderbilt will never challenge for the SEC title but a bowl game every so often is not out of the question.
To do so the Commodores will have to find some offensive help. With all five starting linemen back on the offense the running backs should be able to find holes to run and the quarterbacks should have time to throw.
Mackenzi Adams will take the snaps under center but has to be a better passer this season than last. If Adams can get the pass game down he will have receivers to throw to. Two transfers Tray Herndon from Minnesota and Terence Jeffers from Connecticut will provide solid targets.
The running game will not scare anyone but there are several backs on the roster led by returning starter Jared Hawkins.
On defense the Commodores will have to find replacements for D.J. Moore and Reshard Langford in the secondary. The front seven should be the strength of the defense with six of the seven starters returning this season.
No one can question the job Bobby Johnson has done while at Vanderbilt. Johnson could be the most underrated coach in the country. He has turned the Commodores in to a solid team year in and year out.
While they will not compete for SEC titles they will be competitive with the middle of the pack teams in the SEC and a threat to pull an upset if the top tier teams over look them.
A second straight bowl game is not impossible for the 2009 season. More than every other team in the conference Vanderbilt has to win the games it is supposed to win. That means beating Western Carolina, Mississippi State, Rice, and Army.
That would give the Commodores four wins and only needing two more to become bowl eligible. To get the other two wins Vanderbilt will have to win at home against Kentucky and Georgia or at Tennessee or South Carolina. They could win all four but more than likely they will split them and get to six wins.
The LSU, Florida and Ole Miss are not winnable this season but they could pull an upset that is always possible every season from Vanderbilt.
Bobby Johnson has done great recruiting and returns a veteran team so a bowl game is not a wild idea. The Commodores will have to stay hungry to get there but they can get there.