NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Vanderbilt Commodores hope that a week off to heal up and a few defensive tweaks by the coaches will get them going again.
The Commodores (3-3, 0-3 Southeastern Conference) are coming off the worst loss of coach James Franklin's tenure, though losing 51-28 to No. 14 Missouri doesn't look nearly as bad after the Tigers handed Georgia its first league loss.
Now Vanderbilt is preparing to host the battered and bruised 15th-ranked Bulldogs (4-2, 3-1) on Saturday, the first of three straight games against ranked SEC opponents. After Georgia, the Commodores hit the road to visit No. 7 Texas A&M with another open date before heading to No. 22 Florida.
Franklin said Monday that they studied a lot of tape and realized their offense is ahead of where it was this time a year ago. They also spent a lot of time recruiting during the open date and made some adjustments on defense to help a unit that has struggled with injuries and touchdowns.
"That's where you have to be careful," Franklin said. "You don't want to reinvent the wheel over the bye week and you just want to tweak some things that are simple adjustments for you, but give a different appearance to the defense, and that's all we are trying to do."
Linebacker Chase Garnham has not played since getting hurt in the opener. But the Commodores are getting back outside linebacker Karl Butler, a senior who missed the past three games with an undisclosed injury.
Franklin said they also discussed whether to go ahead and play some freshmen at linebacker rather than redshirt them. Butler's return helps postpone such a move for now.
"Based on the depth chart, you see now we haven't really decided to go in that direction," Franklin said. "We have some other things I think you'll see on Saturday besides just having Karl Butler back. You'll see some other things on Saturday we're doing to address those issues as well."
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