While Vanderbilt’s offensive line has been thinned out considerably by players’ decisions to sit out the 2020 season, the defensive line has rarely had so many potential experienced contributors under coach Derek Mason. Multi-year starters Dayo Odeyingbo, Cameron Tidd and Drew Birchmeier have been fixtures on the defense over the past three seasons, but the Commodores have added talent via the transfer market with Malik Langham (Florida) and Derek Green (Oklahoma) and gave true freshman defensive tackle Daevion Davis a shot last season. Oregon transfer Rutger Reitmaier has also seen increased playing time and flashed in the spring.

The Commodores will need that unit to improve, as they finished with an average ranking of 108.7 nationally out of 130 FBS teams over the past three years in rushing yards allowed per attempt. They’ve ranked 100.5 nationally over the past two campaigns in total sacks, although the linebacking corps bears some responsibility for that.

“A year ago, as I look at our defensive line play, I thought guys had to play way too many snaps,” HC Derek Mason said. “We were on the field too much. It’s always about rotational depth. You’ve gotta have rotational depth in the SEC. I think when you get into games when you’re talking 70 to 80 snaps, (we) have to be able to evenly spread the work around, and I think we’ve got enough functional depth to do it.”

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