There is nothing wrong with the Vanderbilt defense, but coach Derek Mason’s stone-age approach to offense has put his regime in jeopardy.
The Commodores rank in triple digits in most relevant statistical categories on the offensive end, and the only recent successes from the offense have come against non-Southeastern Conference foes that can be victimized by the Stanford-style bully ball that Mason is trying to translate from his days in Palo Alto on David Shaw’s coaching staff.
Mason’s attack is not working against SEC defenses. The Commodores have been held to 21 points or fewer in 15 of their past 16 games against conference foes, and struggling quarterback Kyle Shurmur appeared to be throwing while wearing a blindfold when completing 9 of 25 passes in Vanderbilt’s latest low-scoring loss to Florida last week.
Further complicating matters for the Commodores on Saturday will be an apparently improving Kentucky defense that shut down South Carolina two weeks ago and made Alabama work harder than anticipated for its points last week.
These teams did not come close to this week’s posted total in the low 50s in their past four meetings, as those games totaled 40, 28, 24 and 38 points. All signs point to Vanderbilt-Kentucky staying under 51½.
More college tech notes and trends from Goldsheet.com:
• Boise State at New Mexico: Lobos coach Bob Davie is 4-0 against the spread versus Boise since 2012, including a shocking win on the blue carpet last year. New Mexico went 3-1 as a home underdog last season. The Broncos are 8-8-1 ATS in their past 17.
Tech edge: New Mexico.
• Brigham Young at Michigan State: First-year coach Kalani Sitake is 4-1 ATS for the Cougars. Spartans coach Mark Dantonio is 3-6 in his past nine as a home favorite.
Tech edge: BYU.
• Maryland at Penn State: These teams played one-point games the past two seasons, splitting them straight up. Nittany Lions coach James Franklin is on an 8-18 spread skid since early in the 2014 season. The Terrapins were 7-3 as road underdogs the past two seasons.
Tech edge: Maryland.
• Indiana at Ohio State: Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer is a surprising 0-4 ATS versus Indiana, which has covered the past five in the series. Ohio State is 2-0 as a home favorite this season after a 1-6 record in that role in 2015.
Tech edge: Indiana.
• Oklahoma vs. Texas: Charlie Strong has covered both games as the Longhorns’ coach against Bob Stoops and won straight up as a big underdog a year ago. Texas has covered the past three in the series. Stoops is 13-14 in his past 27 when favored.
Tech edge: Texas.
• Florida State at Miami: The Seminoles have won the past six in the series, though the Hurricanes have covered three of the past five meetings. Miami coach Mark Richt is 4-0 straight up and ATS.
Tech edge: Miami.
• Tennessee at Texas A&M: Volunteers coach Butch Jones is 7-1 ATS in his past eight away from Knoxville. The Aggies are 4-1 ATS this season, but coach Kevin Sumlin was 6-12 as a home favorite the previous three years.
Tech edge: Tennessee.
• UCLA at Arizona State: The road team has won and covered the past four meetings.
Tech edge: UCLA.
• UNLV at San Diego State: The Rebels have covered three of the past four in the series, but coach Tony Sanchez is on a 4-8 spread skid since early 2015 and he’s 1-4 in his past five away from home. Aztecs coach Rocky Long is 10-2 ATS in his past 12 against Mountain West opponents.
Tech edge: San Diego State.
Las Vegas handicapper Bruce Marshall is editor of The Gold Sheet (Goldsheet.com).