'Dores coach Johnson trying to find right combo to make the offense go
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - More bodies, fewer injuries.
It's a short prescription for what Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson needs to improve an anemic offense with few options left. He finally switched Jamie Graham back to wide receiver after keeping him at cornerback all season, and it helped the Commodores produce a season-high in points against Georgia.
And it still was nowhere close.
The Commodores have scored an SEC-worst 29 points in four league losses, including that season-best 10 scored in last weekend's 34-10 loss to Georgia.
Johnson said Monday the production hasn't been too good, but he believes the philosophy is sound. He likes the talented running backs they have in Warren Norman and Zac Stacy.
"We've just got to, I think, shore up our receiving corps a little bit. I think the people we've got in it are going to be more productive. We need more help. We need more bodies there. When you have those kind of ingredients, I think that can be a very good offense for us," Johnson said.
That is why Johnson finally switched Graham back to offense where he caught 17 passes as a freshman last year. Graham had been desperately needed on defense with injuries to the Vandy secondary early this season, but now he's the starting receiver and is staying there. Freshman Collin Ashley also got some playing time.
They are among six current starters who are redshirt sophomores or younger. That inexperience might be why the Commodores can't convert once they get inside an opponent's 20. They scored 89 percent of the times they got there in 2008 when they went 7-6, and now are last in the SEC with a 68 percent rate (17 of 25 possessions).
It could get worse. Next is a visit Saturday night to No. 23 South Carolina (5-2, 2-2), a team Vanderbilt has a two-game winning streak against.
But Johnson confirmed Monday that tight end Austin Monahan tore his left ACL against Georgia and will have surgery later this week. Left tackle Thomas Welch also sprained an ankle and may not be available for an offensive line that allowed three sacks to Georgia with repeated hurries and hits on Smith.
"The main thing is get healthy people in there, teach them the right technique and ask them to battle as hard as they can. That's all we can do," Johnson said. "I think we'll try hard. It's up to us to get them in the right position, use the right technique and give them the best chance to be successful."
Note. Vanderbilt dismissed sophomore running back Jermaine Doster from the university He had been indefinitely suspended following an arrest Oct. 9 for continuing to fight on the street when ordered to stop by police. He was suspended for the 2008 season after an arrest on misdemeanor charges in Florida.