We're still waiting to get the official word from Vanderbilt Football as to the fate of offensive coordinator Karl Dorrell, but it looks as though his time on the sidelines at Dudley Field has come to an end. FootballScoop.com broke the story on Monday, and the Commodores have maintained a quiet front on the matter, they also failed to deny the report as well. It seems likely that Derek Mason will be on the hunt for a new playcaller as the holiday season bears down on us.
Few Vanderbilt fans have been mourning the potential loss. A quick look at the comments from our first story on Dorrell's departure shows overwhelming support for jettisoning the former UCLA coach. After a 3-9 season that featured several difficult to watch games, it's not difficult to understand why. The Vandy offense rarely found a rhythm in three months of football. While a young, developing roster was part of the problem, a poorly executed offensive gameplan ultimately doomed this team back to the bad ol' days.
Here are the numbers you need to know in order to understand why no one was surprised when reports began to swirl that his tenure in Nashville was over. A little perspective shows just how objectively horrible the Commodore offense was in 2014:
Passing yards per game. That's down from 227.5 in 2013, another season where Vanderbilt deployed two quarterbacks - only this time it was due to injury and not some strange pregame tradition of picking names out of a hat ("Freebeck? How'd he get in here? Well, the card says you're our guy. Go ahead and toss that shirt right on the fire there"). That was good for 108th among the FBS schools, behind teams like Florida Atlantic, Purdue, and South Alabama.
Rushing yards per game. You'd think that the lack of passing would lead to an uptick on the ground, right? Nope, it turns out that Vanderbilt's terrible offensive attack was also a balanced on. Ralph Webb did his best with a Commodore freshman record 907 yards, but that made up nearly 70 percent of the team's rushing total. Last season, the now-dismissed Jerron Seymour and Brian Kimbrow teamed up with Wesley Tate to produce 139.3 yards per game. The 'Dores rushing rank? 116th in the FBS, behind Idaho, Kansas, and UMass.
Yards of total offense per game. Hoooo boy. Down nearly 100 yards from the average yardage in James Franklin's final season (366.5). The next three names above Vandy's ranking of 125th in the league? Eastern Michigan, Florida International, and Texas...San Antonio. If relegation were an option, this is the stat a committee would point to when considering whether to bust Vanderbilt down to the FCS ranks.
Quarterbacks with 60 or more passing attempts. Patton Robinette, Stephen Rivers, Johnny McCrary, and Wade Freebeck. Only three other SEC schools had two QBs to attempt as many passes - Texas A&M, Tennessee, and Florida. No one even got near four.
Points per game. That tied for 119th in the country.
Games with one touchdown scored or fewer. Only LSU, who had three such games, came anywhere close to Vanderbilt's mark for offensive futility.
Points per game in SEC contests. Dead last in the conference. The next closest team was LSU, who scored 19.13 per game against league foes despite playing in the more competitive SEC West. Seven teams - half the league - doubled Vanderbilt's 2014 scoring output.
The completion rate on Vanderbilt's passes. Plenty of factors went into play here - inexperience passers, poor blocking, and play calling that wasn't compatible with the athletes on the field. That was good for 121st in the country. Once again, the Commodores are looking up at Eastern Michigan.
Interceptions thrown. Tied for 5th in the nation. Again, this is the final product of a mix of ingredients - of which the team's playcalling is certainly a part.
The yards this team gained, at home, against its only I-AA opponent of the season. Charleston Southern finished their year 8-4 and gave up an average of 325.7 yards per game over that span. 10 of those games came against FCS level opponents or lower...and they still managed to outgain the Commodores. They also outscored the 'Dores, on average, 22 to 21.
There it is. An offense that couldn't keep up with Charleston's Southern's average opponents. None of this is acceptable for an SEC team - not even the same ol' Vandy of years past. The Commodores need to send a message, and the man in the line of fire is the coach who was put in charge of a unit that never found a way to fit their square talents into the round holes he laid out. No matter the number of first-year starters, there's no way the 'Dores can look like a mid-tier FCS program and survive in the NCAA's toughest conference.
By dropping the OC that got them there, the program can at least acknowledge that they understand this. If not, the Commodores are going to be a hard sell for fans and recruits in 2015 and onward.