NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WCBI/The Tennessean) — Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin is preparing his defense to deal with the fast-paced “tempo offense” of Ole Miss on Thursday night.
He wants the officiating crew to be ready for it as well.
“When the ball is snapped, I want everybody set,” Franklin said at his Monday press conference. “We went back and looked at (film of the game against) Ole Miss last year and there was probably 10 to 12 plays when they snapped the ball, their offense wasn’t set. But the officials had a hard time keeping up with the pace to get in position to do that.
“So as long as everybody is playing by the same rules and this isn’t Canadian football where people are running toward the line of scrimmage when they snap the football, I’m good with it. I think it’s great for football. I think it (forces) people to stay on their toes and come up with answers.”
Ole Miss returns eight starters to an offense that attempted 50 passes against Vanderbilt last season in Oxford. The Commodores overcame a 403-yard passing night from Bo Wallace to rally past the Rebels 27-26 and earn bowl eligibility in that Nov. 10 meeting.
Vanderbilt, which occasionally implements a few hurry-up plays, is deeper and more talented at most of its defensive positions this year, particularly on the line. But if Wallace can complete a string of passes and keep the chains moving, making substitutions will be a challenge.
“We’re going to run a tempo defense this year, which no one has ever heard of,” Franklin said jokingly. “You’re going to have to wait and see.”
Senior end Walker May said Vanderbilt’s defensive linemen typically go four or five plays in a row as hard as they can, knowing someone will rotate in for them after that.
“We’ve been doing a lot of conditioning,” May said. “If that (substituting) doesn’t happen, we’re not worried about it. I like it when teams go faster. It makes it more fun for me.”
Tickets are available for the 8:15 p.m. opener in Nashville, which will be televised on ESPN. Vanderbilt officials declined to say how many tickets are unsold and how many Ole Miss has received.
Vanderbilt has declared it a “blackout” game, asking Commodore fans to wear black. Franklin joked that anyone not wearing black would be escorted out of the stadium.