Vanderbilt's gain on defense likely means more losses for opposing offenses

What Vanderbilt stands to gain most from linebacker Karl Butler’s return is losses – tackles for losses, that is.

Coach James Franklin said following the Oct. 5 loss to Missouri that he would explore the possibility of changes to the front seven on defense. Instead, and his staff get back a player who has shown he can get players to the ground before they get back to the line of scrimmage.

Butler had 11.5 tackles for loss last season, second to middle linebacker Chase Garnham’s 12.5.

Garnham has been out since the opener with an injury and has shown no signs he will be back in action. Butler, though, was back atop the depth chart at outside linebacker for Saturday’s game against Georgia (11 a.m., CBS).

“I think it really helps,” Franklin said following Wednesday’s workout. “From a depth perspective, we’ve still got a ways to go. Whenever you’re able to get some guys back that have been out for a couple weeks – for whatever reason it is – is very, very important. We’re able to get a guy that has started a lot of game for us and won a lot of games for us and with us.”

The Commodores (3-3, 0-3 in the SEC) have averaged 7.2 tackles for losses overall but just six their three SEC games – and that number was bolstered when they recorded 10 against Missouri.

Last season they averaged 7.5 per game overall and 7.1 against conference competition.

Butler had at least half a tackle for loss in seven of last season’s eight SEC games.

His one thus far this season was against Austin Peay. In four games he has recorded 11 tackles, one more than sophomore Larry Franklin, who started in his place the last three games.