For the first time in five years, Vanderbilt has a double-digit ranking for total offense. Right now, the Commodores are No. 99.
Here's our total offense ranking for the four previous seasons:
• 2010: No. 110
• 2009: No. 110
• 2008: No. 117
• 2007: No. 103
It's amazing to think we had a winning season in 2008 with such a terrible offense. This season, we're gaining per game about 30 more yards on the ground, 50 more yards in the air, and seven more points a game than we did in 2008.
And while we're only gaining about 35 more yards per game than we did last season, we're scoring 10 more points a game.
Here's how our stats compare to last season:
• Rushing offense: 162.2 ypg (No. 59), up from 138.8 ypg (80)in 2010
• Passing offense: 172.5 ypg (100), up from 159.4 ypg (105)
• Total offense: 334.9 ypg (99), up from 298.3 ypg (110)
• Scoring offense: 26.1 ppg (68), up from 16.9 ppg (112)
No, our offense isn't dramatically better in yards gained, but we've taken risks to break long plays (Franklin calls them "explosive plays") when we can't move the ball consistently. Lately, though, we've started moving the ball consistently, at least consistently for us. That's why we had fewer explosive plays against Kentucky in one of our most dominating offensive performances of the season.
The key to our offensive improvement has been our wide receivers. Sure, the offensive line has improved by leaps and bounds, and in Rodgers we found the quarterback we've been looking for. But the biggest difference is that we've found two legitimate receiving threats in Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd. Since the Arkansas game, those guys have been making tough grabs in traffic. Watching the Kentucky game on Saturday, as Boyd and then Matthews made big catches to set up another big run by Zac Stacy, I thought how far we've come since last season, when our two top receiving threats were John Cole and Udom Umoh.
And this better offense has made our defense, which was already much improved, dramatically better because it's kept them off the field. Here's how our defense compares to last year's:
• Rushing defense: 122.9 ypg (No. 32), compared to 193.0 ypg (100) in 2010
• Passing defense: 204.7 ypg (39), compared to 226.3 ypg (75)
• Total defense: 327.6 ypg (22), compared to 419.2 ypg (93)
• Scoring defense: 21.6 ppg (31), compared to 31.2 ppg (94)
This year, we're scoring 10 more points a game and we're allowing 10 fewer points a game.
And we're hitting our stride. When's the last time a Vanderbilt team was better in November than it was in September or October?
This team is better. Now let's go beat the Vols in Knoxville!