Thursday, September 13, 2007

VSL's Ole Miss/Vanderbilt Preview

Perhaps the biggest question going into Saturday’s game is whether Chris Nickson’s hamstring injury will prevent him from playing. Nickson has seen limited action in practice this week, and as of this posting, CBJ has not made a decision.

I’ve got to say, I think the questions at quarterback might actually force the Commies to branch out offensively. In looking over the first 2 games, something has stood out to me: Jeff Jennings and Cassen Jackson-Garrison have only 33 carries in 2 games. I was under the impression that with a veteran offensive line and 2 “#1” backs, Vanderbilt would try and get more out of the running game than they have. Vanderbilt’s running the ball 47% of the time (61 plays), yet our #1’s aren’t getting the ball enough. As I said in Monday’s Recriminations post, Vanderbilt’s offense would have been a lot better off against Bama in the 1st half had they actually committed themselves to running the ball. Vanderbilt is 11th in the SEC in rushing offense, yet Jennings is averaging 4.9 yards a carry, and CJG coming in with 3.8. The fact that you have 2 “#1’s” is something the Commies should look to take full advantage of. Clearly, as we saw against the Tide, if Vanderbilt continues to force the ball to their wide-outs (particularly His Name Is), the offense stagnates. Running the ball, particularly against a defense that is allowing 4.8 yards a carry, would seem to be the way to go given the QB situation.

This is a big game for both the Commies and the Rebels (ironic, two mascots that lost their battles with America), who enter Saturday’s match-up at 1-1. The last 8 meetings have been decided by an average of 5.9 points, including 2 overtime games (thank you Ole Miss Game Notes!). Unfortunately, Vanderbilt is only 2-6 in this stretch.

Perhaps the worst game over the last 8 was last year’s offensive explosion for 400 yards that resulted in a 17-10 loss. You lose 4 fumbles, including 2 in the Red Zone, you aren’t going to win, hence, last year’s meeting. For that reason at least, you have to like Vanderbilt’s ability to put points on the board against this Ole Miss defense. It is also worth mentioning that Chris got injured in last year’s game and was spelled by Mackenzi Adams.

I’ve hit on the running game, but my real goal for the game is to, after it’s over, have a new tackles leader on the team. DJ Moore has played great this season at cornerback, so great he is actually leading the team and the SEC in tackles with 21. The problem is, he’s a cornerback. You know your defense is having problems –particularly against the run, when someone in your secondary is the team’s leading tackler. With Ole Miss’ Green-Ellis coming to town, it is all that much more important that the front 7 make some plays.

Despite a cornerback leading the team in tackles, I think, overall, the team as equipped itself well on the defensive side of the ball. Of course, we are 9th in total defense in the league, but considering most teams haven’t played anyone yet, I think that stat is less indicative that others. The defense has only allowed 3 TDs this season, and one of those was the result of a 1-yard drive set up by spectacularly bad punt coverage. The Commies haven’t let up a passing TD this season (although not for a lack of trying on Myron Lewis’ part), and hope to continue that streak against Ole Miss QB Sean Adams, who has started all of 2 games. He’s been effective early, but I am hoping that this is the week he comes back to earth after starting the year out with 506 yards and 4 TDs.

My Keys:
- Run the damn ball
- Get some pressure in the backfield
- Win Time of Possession:
Vanderbilt’s defense has played well this season, especially considering the offense can’t seem to sustain a meaningful drive to let the boys on D catch their breathes (see note 1 on the running game)
- Special Teams play has GOT to improve. The punting game, both the kick itself and the coverage thereafter has got to improve.

Bottom Line:
This is a statement game for both teams, who are 1-1. Ole Miss is not highly regarded in the SEC, and neither is Vanderbilt for that matter. While pundits and prognosticators have hedged their bets and are telling people to “watch” the Commies, sellers are still out-numbering buyers by a pretty sizable margin (sounds like the Stock Market, come to think of it). A loss, at home, to Ole Miss would be devastating. With a team that is banged up, Saturday’s game is a chance to see what these Commies are made of.

Prediction: Commies 33 – Ole Miss 20


Das Fuhrer said...

Your getting a little fire in your belly aren't ya O'Shea. Its that Irish coming out in ya and I like it.

Avi said...

Check into tomorrow if your into that sort of thing. I apologize to anyone that has been checking it in the last couple weeks like a forlorn housewife whose husband's at war. Hopefully you didn't go down on the plumber in the meantime.

Tom said...

FYI - People will be at Buffalo Billiards in Dupont again this week

BP said...

havefunexpecttowin, your username made me laugh out loud. Love it!

Anonymous said...

Nice job Bobby. Final Score 31-17