QB Jay Cutler (PHOTO CREDIT: Vanderbilt Athletics)

2004 Statistics

Coach: Bobby Johnson
6-29, 3 years
2003 Record: 2-9
at Mississippi LOST 23-26 (OT)
at Navy LOST 26-29
at Georgia LOST 3-33
at Louisiana State LOST 7-24
at Kentucky LOST 13-14

2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

If there is any head coach who is “on the bubble” more than Bobby Johnson, we must not know who he is. Johnson, a defensive guy, has had his successes in Nashville, but none of his achievements has meant more than two victories per campaign. Before this skid, no coach in school history remained employed if he won two or less games three separate times, so Johnson now sets a precedence by remaining. But with only six total wins over his three year tenure, little short of a .500 (or better) effort will save his butt.

Vandy is no powerhouse, but the talent is here to be competitive in the SEC. VU lost by an average of about eight points to conference foes (save the South Carolina and Georgia tilts), so Johnson’s schemes at least give them a weekly chance to succeed. But Johnson still has yet to put together a staff who can achieve what fans want – more wins. Cutler & Co. are qualified for SEC play, and with a defense that boasts so much potential (especially at LB), there is little excuse if more wins don’t come.

Especially worrisome are the offensive line and the secondary, but neither is such the weak link that other units will be unable to compensate. The OL, though, is going to need to gel before the subtleties and variables can equal consistent ball movement, and this is likely to be Vandy’s undoing. In other (smaller) conferences, VU’s troubles would not be nearly as impacting, but their SEC foes will continue to exploit whatever they can, which makes VU stronger in the long run, but with less wins for yet another campaign.

At a fine learning institution like Vanderbilt, that only has 6200+ undergrads, even remaining in the same league (literally and proverbially) with such power houses is an accomplishment. And unlike the local recruiting pull of their (state-affiliated) rivals, VU only culls 14% of their talent from its Volunteer surroundings. With so many all-academics, Honor Society members and just-plain sharp cookies loading this squad, we applaud these genuine scholar-athletes and the school itself for remaining committed to such personal excellence. A team like Vandy, in this era that reflects money as most schools’ top pivot/priority, should be proud for sticking to the integrity of its own convictions and for honing great men who also happen to play football.

Projected 2005 record: 2-9
LB Moses Osemwegie (PHOTO CREDIT: Vanderbilt Athletics)
QB - 4 DL - 2.5
RB - 1.5 LB - 3
WR - 2.5 DB - 2.5
OL - 2.5 ..

Passing: Jay Cutler, 241-147-5, 1844 yds., 10 TD

Rushing: Jay Cutler, 109 att., 349 yds., 6 TD

Receiving: Erik Davis, 37 rec., 510 yds., 3 TD

Scoring: Patrick Johnson, 7-14 FG, 18-23 PAT, 39 pts.

Punting: Kyle Keown, 11 punts, 37.1 avg.

Kicking: Patrick Johnson, 7-14 FG, 18-23 PAT, 39 pts.

Tackles: Moses Osemwegie, 94 tot., 66 solo

Sacks: Herdley Harrison, 3 sacks

Interceptions: Moses Osemwegie, Andrew Pace, Kevin Joyce - 1 each

Kickoff returns: None

Punt returns: None


OFFENSE: Brandon Smith-WR, Chris Young-WR, Jonathan Loyte-TE, Justin Geisinger-OT, Brian Kovolisky-OG, Norval McKenzie-RB, Kwane Doster-RB (deceased), Matthew Tant-FB (NFL)
DEFENSE: Robert Dinwiddie-DT, Matt Clay-DT, Aaron Carter-DE, Bill Alford-CB, Abtin Iranmanesh-P, Dominique Morris-CB (NFL), Jovan Haye-DE (NFL)

Senior Jay Cutler is a big-time talent. He has quick feet, a strong arm, but even better decision making skills (ten TDs, five INTs) to make him the complete package, that field general that most coaches/coordinators crave. Cutler had a 55 yard run – the team’s longest from scrimmage - and six ground scores, which was also tops for any/all backs. Cutler still needs to see them coming; foe’s tally of 33 sacks doesn’t reflect the potential for his feet to get him out of the way. The Santa Claus, Indiana-native has not been the same QB in big games, but he is poised to make his last campaign reflect improvements (each successive season, his efficiency rating has increased), no matter the level of VU’s opponent. (Athalon) All-American recruit Steven Bright represents absolutely no drop off in size, on-field performance, and/or leadership ability. We expect to see Bright’s number called even more as the season progresses and if/as Cutler again struggles, for Bright will be the 2006 guy, no doubt, and needs reps that could easily benefit this year’s squad, too. After these two, the talent is there so that Commodore fans can possibly peel themselves off the SEC floor (Nickson, Adams).

Running Back
To say that this unit is revamped would be an understatement. Two backup RBs, who are truly FBs with speed, will combine with a totally new FB package to meet VU’s rushing demands. Knoxville’s Cassen Jackson-Garrison runs a 4.45-second 40, and this former Mr. Football (4A Back) is a team leader who will as soon run around defenders as he will over them. Ex-LB Jeff Jennings, also a RS sophomore, is a step slower, but a size bigger than Jackson-Garrison. Ex-LB Zach Logan (23’4” long jump best) and Ron Bullock (4.5 speed out of Brother Martin, NOLA) are from the same FB/TB mold as the other two, while David Whittington (bass/piano player) is the truest FB out of these three. Combinations of all, if rotated well, could work, as fresh-legged big men are stacked and ready deep into the fourth quarters of Vandy’s dog fights. Realistically, Jackson-Garrison will see the bulk of the runs, with role players emerging (Jennings as their goal line/red zone option). The quickness of this unit – especially in play fakes as the QBs keep LBs honest - will surprise many and open up lots of things in their passing game.

Erik Davis is one of the team’s venerable seniors who has been productive with his efforts since day one. “E. Diddy” runs a 4.4-second 40, and the local product (Ezell-Harding Christian) uses every bit of his talent as either a leader, receiver or return phenom. Marlon White is two inches taller (6’4”), making these two top guys a tough weekly matchup for DBs. White tends to be the field-stretcher, while Davis quietly gets open underneath. Career reserve Jason Burns will get his chances, as will fellow senior Jason Caldwell. With the speed and size of this year’s recruits, the talent/ability is in place. And with Cutler & Co. capably delivering the goods, this unit should again keep defenses, least of all, honest – and moreover, make them worried.

Tight End
With so many heads screwed on properly at VU, it is no wonder they utilize their TEs so well. Senior Dustin Dunning is the combo-package most coaches look for in a TE – they hope his soft hands hold up as he seriously punishes defenders inside. Brad Allen will overlap perfectly, learning the finer points as Dunning is at his peak.

Offensive Line
Even with Cutler’s feet and his moving manner, this line is coming off a sub-par effort that needs correcting for the Commodore’s machine to “run” properly. Trey Holloway is a former defensive tackle, but the senior center seems to be the only guy VU can take to the bank. Hamilton “Hambone” Holliday has proven himself, at guard in his first season, but is also a center when needed. Senior Ryan King adds more leadership, and seems to be the choice at left tackle, but his play will be hedged by surging sophomore Chris Williams. Brian Stamper is another marginal talent who has yet to genuinely reach his potential, though he has started 20 in a row. No one here doubts the skill level(s) of VU’s linemen – what we see is how five components fail to make this line equal more than the sum of its parts.

Head coach Bobby Johnson has his work cut out – especially when his team’s (total) offensive ranking slipped 11 places (for all of I-A) as his QB’s play improved (via efficiency). It is evidently the line that needs the most attention, for allowing 33 sacks with the mobile Cutler and achieving only a 3.7 ypc with strong backs (including the distractions Cutler & Co. create) says that the hogs aren’t keeping up. Conditioning improvements were Johnson’s main off-season weapon(s), so expect to see revitalized efforts across the board. The RBs are big, but straight-ahead speed is not one of their strengths (save Jackson-Garrison). Keeping the backs rotated and fresh will be the key so that defensive assignments remain murky. Role-players can then interchange and confuse overmatched LBs. With Cutler (and his mere five INTs) being such a variable in what he does from play-to-play, Vandy needs to look inward if this much talent can’t equal more than 20 combined fourth quarter points (2004’s total). Everything will open up as long as they keep using the TEs/FBs and throw it closer to half the time (rather than the 39% they did in ’04). Johnson is no offensive specialist, and he should scrutinize the performances of OC Ted Cain and line coach Robbie Caldwell if Vandy’s ball movement again stagnates in the second halves of most games, as it has recently.


WR Erik Davis (PHOTO CREDIT: Vanderbilt Athletics)


Returning Starters in bold
QB Jay Cutler-Sr (6-4, 225) Steven Bright-Jr (6-4, 235)
FB David Whittington-Fr (6-2, 244) Zach Logan-Fr (6-0, 234)
RB Jeff Jennings-So (6-1, 228) Cassen Jackson-Garrison-So (6-1, 210)
WR Erik Davis-Sr (6-1, 190) Jason Caldwell-Jr (6-1, 200)
WR Marlon White-Jr (6-4, 205) Bryant Anderson-Fr (6-3, 202)
TE Dustin Dunning-Sr (6-5, 250) Brad Allen-Fr (6-4, 235)
OT Ryan King-Sr (6-7, 314) Chris Williams-So (6-6, 307)
OG Josh Eames-So (6-5, 304) Merritt Kirchoffer-So (6-5, 315)
C Trey Holloway-Sr (6-2, 293) Hamilton Holliday-So (6-4, 290)
OG Nigel Seaman-Sr (6-5, 305) Mac Pyle-Sr (6-4, 317)
OT Brian Stamper-Jr (6-5, 292) Elliott Hood-So (6-5, 290)
K Patrick Johnson-Jr (5-10, 180) Daniel Lee-Fr (5-10, 180)



Defensive Line
This unit will improve after struggling to stop the run (4.8ypc allowed) and to provide pressure on throws (earned but 13 total sacks as a group – three I-A players had more). The pass rush is bolstered by ex-OLB Herdly Harrison’s move to end. The senior leader has adapted well, and will likely be found in a two-point stance so his speed/assignment won’t be checked. Senior Chris Booker returns (knee kept him out all of 2004), and he, too, will help this group move into opposing backfields more often. Classmate Ralph McKenzie quietly brings the most to VU’s inside presence, while the more-athletic Ray Brown, a former two-way player (prep), has an engine that requires foes to mark him on every play. Reserves constitute no talent drop, so rotations will bring in qualified subs that will make Vandy again respected up front. How much this unit improves will go a long way toward defining the entire team’s plight in ’05.

Senior All-SEC WLB Moses Osemwegie has modestly become the unit’s leader through consistent performances and versatility. A former Mr. Football (TN, Div II prep), Osemwegie has the speed to cover and the bulk to run-stuff. Junior Kevin Joyce, taller than Osemwegie, has a similar mix of skills that, from play-to-play, will keep opposing coordinators from assuming his role. MLB Jonathan Goff is the most versatile of the three, but as a sophomore, has yet to even mature fully – a great sign for Commodore fans. He played five different positions in prep (RB, WR, QB and safety, too), and to surpass amply-qualified backup Otis Washington means he must be the shizz. With others just waiting for their chance(s), this strong unit will make all areas of the defense better once they are truly in sync.

Defensive Back
There is turnover – two starting CBs left – but by moving senior Andrew Pace into one of the vacancies, VU looks to have talent balanced with experience at both secondary levels. Pace can both cover the entire field as a tackler and smother WRs (seven pass breakups led team). Senior Cheron Thompson may be a nickel back, but his presence as a leader will be priceless in Vandy’s group of nubile reserves. Sean Dixon (runs 49.6-second 400, 22’6” long jump best) is one of these newbies who is sound enough in coverage to start, though the rest of the underclassmen represent a drop-off in talent from these three. Senior strong safety Kelechi Ohanaja has proven himself as a good open-field tackler, but must step up to become the cover guy his potential promises. Reshard Langford is Vandy’s frosh free safety, evidently impressive enough to start. This is a well sized crew that just needs to learn to keep the play in front of them.

With only nine INTs and 13 sacks, VU evidently was barely keeping up as the (total) defense slipped from (ranking) 63rd in 2003 to 82nd last year. Seven foes earned 25 points or more, but the scoring defense tightened (highest points allowed was only 38 vs. Tennessee 11/20/04), allowing almost five less per tilt while rising from an 82nd to a 66th ranking in said-category. DC Bruce Fowler is responsible for the team’s move a few seasons ago to the now-used 4-3, but it is these LBs that make us believe he can finally break through with this defense. It is the right mix of experienced talent and potential greatness that will allow the LBs to lead the D, but it is their overlap into the secondary that is most critical. The depth in the DB-pool drops off once past the primary starters and initial reserves. VU’s line should stand up on its own well enough such that the LB’s speed can be used underneath.


DE Herdley Harrison (PHOTO CREDIT: Vanderbilt Athletics)


Returning Starters in bold
DE Herdley Harrison-Sr (6-3, 245) David Carter-So (6-4, 254)
DT Ray Brown-Jr (6-3, 295) Gabe Hall-So (6-1, 295)
DT Ralph McKenzie-Sr (6-4, 305) Lamar Divens-So (6-4, 300)
DE Chris Booker-Sr (6-4, 252) Theo Horrocks-So (6-4, 275)
SLB Kevin Joyce-Jr (6-3, 212) Marcus Buggs-So (5-11, 228)
MLB Jonathan Goff-So (6-4, 235) Otis Washington-Sr (5-11, 247)
WLB Moses Osemwegie-Sr (6-0, 228) Curtis Gatewood-So (6-3, 220)
CB Andrew Pace-Sr (6-0, 200) Cheron Thompson-Sr (5-10, 188)
CB Sean Dixon-Jr (6-0, 186) Josh Allen-Fr (5-9, 172)
Jared Fagan-Fr (5-9, 172)
SS Kelechi Ohanaja-Sr (6-1, 192) Ben Koger-Sr (6-1, 196)
FS Reshard Langford-Fr (6-1, 212) Funtaine Hunter-Jr (6-3, 218)
P Kyle Keown-So (6-0, 200) Bill Robertson-Jr (6-1, 200)




Patrick Johnson’s stats show that 2004 was the tale of two kickers – he went five-of-six in his first five games, only to then go two-of-eight in the final six. This has opened competition up (Daniel Lee is the best of the wanna-be’s), and even with a strong spring for Johnson, no starter has been named heading into fall. Kicks will again average around 20 yards of less per opponent return.

Kyle Keown has the inside track, but the sophomore will have to hold off the booming leg of not-even-unpacked Jake Bradford. Any of them will likely help VU improve its net results, which will also get a boost from the deep LB unit.

Return Game
Davis (punts) and Jackson-Garrison (kicks) are slated to make Vandy tight in their returns. Those now-departed were responsible for marginally poor numbers, so improvements are likely here.