Monday, September 10, 2007

Vanderbilt Hotline: Monday Recriminations, Edition

Vanderbilt's 24-10 loss to Alabama was awful. Seamus got the ball rolling with his thoughts, but I figured I would share some of mine (a few of which have already been stated), since I finally have the internet again.

First, I thought the offensive play-calling was awful. I have no idea why the team was so reluctant to establish the run. Watching the game, it seemed as if Jeff Jennings was getting some good yards and giving the offense options. Particularly in the first half though, it seemed as if we were throwing on first down all the time. That coupled with Nickson's inability to hit the broad side of a barn door, set up a lot of 2nd and 3rd and longs.

Across the board, it looked like Chris Nickson's mechanics were off. Listening to CBJ's interview after the game, apparently Chris tweaked his hamstring. If that's why he played the way he did, that's one thing. But I have a difficult time believing that's it. He looked scared the entire game. Of all his bad throws, the one on 4th and 2 when the team was making a push was particularly bad.

There were 4 plays that changed the dynamic of the game. If Earl doesn't get whistled for pass interference on play one, you have to think Chris Nickson and the team's confidence would have been extremely high. As it turned out, the play was called back, the Commies went 3 and out, leading to big play #2: the "punt."

That wasn't a great punt, but the coverage downfield was abysmal. The return to the 1 yrd line set up Bama'a first TD and put the Commies in a 7-0 hole. Still, all was not lost.

Vanderbilt was able to put something together, and get a field goal to cut the lead to 10-3. After a Bama 3 and out, Vanderbilt returned a punt for a TD that would have tied the game at 10. This was big play #3. Instead of a tie game after the 1st quarter, the TD was called back on a face mask that I STILL have not seen. Yet, we were still in the game, down just 10-3. Vanderbilt's previous drive had netted some points, and the Commies were in fine shape starting the second quarter down by just a TD. Which brings me to the 4th and final "game changing" play as far as I was concerned. Chris Nickson and the Commodore offense tried to get the TD that was called back on the first play. Surprise, surprise, the ball was picked off and set up Bama for another FG. Going back to my previous point about the running game, why not give the ball to Jeff there and settle things down? There was no reason to panic when the TD got called back, yet the Commies did just that.

The fact that the Commies were only down 16-3 at the half was truly a miracle, and gave me reason to be hopeful. That was, in large part, because the defense really stiffened up in the Red Zone in the first. The defense kept them in the game, and played well enough to win.

Yet, because the defense was on the field for almost the entire game (Vanderbilt actually won TOP in the first quarter by having the ball for 9:15 in the 1st), they were exhausted which allowed Bama to run all over them. Alabama is loaded on the O-line and at running back, but I was thoroughly unimpressed with JPW. I guess that doesn't much matter since they came out of Nashville with a W.

A few parting shots:

- I thought Myron Lewis looked terrible. Every time I would look up, it seemed like he was getting beat.

- In a game that was a complete disappointment, the play of Broderick Stewart and DJ Moore stood out to me. These guys can play and will be keys for Commie defenses in the years to come.

- Special teams play has got to get better if this team has any chance to win in the SEC. Special teams is, as much as anything else, about momentum. It seemed that we would have been better of several times going for it on 4th and long. At least then you have a shot to get the first down. As it was, the punts were netting 20 yards when they weren't being run back.

Mo Patton focuses our attention on Ole Miss, which we will be focusing on later in the week, in today's Tennessean. The "blind-sided" quality of Saturday's game was Mo's focus yesterday, while The Man We Love to Hait, accurately, points out that the questions raised by Saturday's game need to be answered quickly, in today's Nashville City Paper.

I am also angry about a creative decision made by NBC that I will deal with later today or tomorrow. In the meantime, we have another day to bitch and moan...after that, the focus is entirely on Ole Miss.

Bobby, OUT.


Stanimal said...

Somebody please explain to me who thought it was a good idea to implement squib punting with a special teams unit that lacks any talent. That punt return for a TD was entirely based on that. Instead of having time to get downfield and converge on the ball like you are SUPPOSED to do in punt coverage, we got out of our lanes and left a wide open alley to score. In my mind, from that point, this game was over. The wind was out of our sails, and we don't do well when we have to play from behind.

If CBJ can't find someone to kick the ball as deep as they possibly can correctly, then we're going to have even worse issues all year.

And you're right Bobby about that facemask Bobby, I saw the replay three times and still have NO idea what the refs saw. CBJ had every right to be infuriated after that hosing.

Chris Martin said...

Vanderbilt's lack of big game experience really showed against Bama. Expectations were high, and they responded by playing tight.

When the breaks of the game went against them (most notably the penalties), they did not know how to react. They are going to have to learn how to put a bad play behind them.

How will Vandy respond against Ole Miss? Will they have an emotional letdown because they played poorly against Bama? Or, because of their experienced players, will they learn from their mistakes and come out angry against the Rebels?

August West said...
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August West said...

Vandy didn't play well enough to win this game... not by a long shot, but the SEC refs have gotten out of control when it comes to shafting Vandy. And the worst part is it only really happens against the big SEC opponents:

• In the Florida game Cutler's senior year Leaks knee obviously hit the ground, yet he was allowed to run into the endzone.

• In that same game, Earl got the most horrendous excessive celebration penalty I've ever seen (remember that shoulder shake that lasted 2 seconds?), forcing us to go for overtime, rather than go for 2 and maybe a win. [note: as someone said afterwards on'Coach [Johnson], Southern Baptists allow more dancing than what Earl did']

• In the Arkansas game last year that same ref. declared an obvious lateral (which was picked up by VU and run back for a TD) a forward pass. No TD. We lose by 2 points.

• If Earl's hand check (not a push off) in Saturday's game was called consistently, then Marcus Monk, Dallas Baker, Robert Meacham and His Name Is would have combined for 2 TDs all of last year.

• The facemask that negated VU's punt return was a glancing touch on the complete opposite side of the field and behind the play.... grrrrrrrrrr.

And these are just off the top of my head, without so much as a google search. There are plenty of instances over the past 3 years that should warrant some form of action from the SEC.

Alas, Vandy doesn't bring those fat BCS checks, so we've got to beat 22 players plus 5 officials everytime we play a top-teir SEC team.

Anonymous said...

august west, you're not even mentioning jeff green, the single most egregious non call I've ever seen.

Anonymous said...

But to look to the future: The offense will put at least 28 points on the board, I suspect.

I'm confident that, not being on the field for 2/3 of the game, the D will contain BenJarvis Green Ellis.

I'm seeing a 28-17 kind of game.

Anonymous said...

the single most egregious non call I've ever seen.

That's really over the top. Green walked, but he walked by a subtle drag of his pivot foot before leaving the ground for good. CBS wrongly made a big deal about him lifting his pivot foot (which is legal), went back and examined the tape, and then found him dragging the foot. He walked and Vanderbilt got shafted, but that call gets missed quite often. By erroneously identifying the point of the walk, CBS made it sound much more outrageous than it was. Still Vanderbilt got robbed though, as usual.