NASHVILLE, Tenn. — James Franklin finally has seen the value of a true home-field advantage playing on the road in the Southeastern Conference.
Now Vanderbilt’s new coach wants to see that tonight in the Commodores’ own stadium when Georgia visits.
“We need the same type of support, that 12th member of our team, which can be our fans and really be critical on third down with the opposing offense trying to communicate and run their offense. I’d like to really be able to create a home-field advantage for our players as well,” Franklin said.
Franklin and his Commodores (3-2, 1-2) certainly have done their share to create excitement at home where they won their first three games.
Vanderbilt still had tickets available Thursday night at the SEC’s smallest stadium, and senior tight end Brandon Barden, who played at Lincoln County, has been around long enough he won’t be surprised if the stadium isn’t filled up with Vandy black and gold.
“But we’re all looking forward to being at home,” said Barden, who played quarterback at Lincoln County. “Being on the road is exciting, but we need the home games to come back with your own crowd to get pumped back up. And I feel our morale is pretty high. Our confidence isn’t hurt.”
The Commodores lost 21-3 at then-No. 12 South Carolina, then were shut out 34-0 at No. 2 Alabama last week. On the plus side, Vandy already has one more win than in either of the past two seasons along with a reshuffled offensive line that didn’t give up a sack to Alabama and a defense leading the nation with 14 interceptions.
Georgia coach Mark Richt just picked up his 100th career victory with the Bulldogs, 20-12 over Tennessee last weekend. Now he’s heading back to Tennessee for a second consecutive game with his Bulldogs (4-2, 3-1) having won four in a row. He joked that he has had lots of wonderful memories at Vanderbilt Stadium.
“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been at halftime just wondering what’s going on,” Richt said.
“They’re an outstanding team, a team we have a lot of respect for. We certainly have a lot of respect for coach Franklin and his team, his coaching staff, and what they’re doing.”