Saturday, September 8, 2007

Wait...that wasn't supposed to happen.

Well, as Mo Patton put it in today's Tennessean, few games are as big as this one was today for Vandy. And few would have predicted that the game would have gotten out of hand the way it did.

A few initial thoughts:

1) Our fears about Bama's offensive line came true as they more or less manhandled our front four, allowing Terry Grant to rush for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns on 24 carries (the Tide picked up 223 total yards on the ground). Their downfield blocking -- a point RollBamaRoll emphasized -- was especially noteworthy. Not encouraging that cornerback DJ Moore was the Commodores' leading tackler today.

2) We looked nervous in the first half (especially Nickson) and tired in the second (which is unsurprising as our offense never got anything going, forcing the D to play into exhaustion).

3) Alabama might be better than advertised. They have a ton of offensive weapons.

4) We're not that bad. We lost this game more than Alabama won it. The coaches can take a lot responsibility for that with their bizarre playcalling and failure to take advantage of the few things that were going right (e.g., the running game). It also looked like they were prepared to concede the game down the stretch. Injuries definitely played a role as well, which brings up the point of greatest concern:

5) We're banged up. Nickson and Bennett are especially worrying. We'll try to keep you posted on their status. Theo Horrocks and Merritt Kirchoffer going down didn't help either. In some ways I wish the Eastern Michigan game were next week instead of Ole Miss. Alas, such is life in the physical SEC.

6) Bright spots: I actually think we've got a great team. Nice to know Mackenzi Adams can come in and get it done if we need him, although it obviously took a couple series for him to get going (13 of 23 for 108 yards and a TD ain't bad). The other players I loved watching today were:

1. Jeff Jennings - He runs hard and hits the hole better than any Vandy back in years.
2. Broderick Stewart - This guy has incredible speed for his size and flies around like a maniac. He should definitely be starting at DE in my opinion.
3. Marcus Buggs - Speaking of maniacs...a sack, 8 tackles, and two QB hurries. This guy can straight up lay the wood, as JP Wilson learned the hard way today.

In conclusion, I'm incredibly disappointed but I can't help but think it will get better from here. If we can get people back to full speed and take the next few days to learn from the many mistakes that were made today, we stand a good chance of not repeating those mistakes later in the season in the games that will determine our bowl eligibility. Ice down, watch film, move on.


NateB said...

Good game 'Dores. Hope Nickson and Bennett are back to 100% soon. Bobby Johnson has built ya'll a tough, hard nosed football team. Getting down early and not being able to sustain drives killed your defense.

Sol Blake said...

Our offensive coordinator is god awful. I've never seen such predictable play-calling. Wait, yes I have, in every Vanderbilt game since 02. What's that? big play negated by penalty? we better throw deep for an INT. did no one tell the coordinator when Adams came into the game? quit calling QB draws for the immobile QB.

Anonymous said...

Alabama was as advertised: Average QB, good running game, above average defense with athletes.

1) VU's Front 7 did not stop the run in the third and 4th quarters when they knew it was coming. It will be tough to have a winning season if this does not change. That being said, the defense did a fine job keeping Vandy in the game for 3 quarters.

2) Whether it was the hamstring or nerves, Nickson was awful. Can't happen again.

3) I agree with your assessment that the team is better than this performance.

4) Eventually, someone must launch an investigation of SEC referees...three (3) critical calls going against Vandy in the 1st half? Come on...

Anonymous said...

1000 pardons re: George D., BTW.

Anonymous said...

The officiating sucked...maybe worse than american idol.
And that's REALLY bad.

Aaron said...

Nickson look soo bad and couldnt get anything going. He was constantly overthrowing the ball and he looked scared out there after that first hit.

Penalities killed us, for the team that was the lowest penalized team in the SEC last year we looked stupid (This is a product of our coaching).
We looked shaken on our own home field.

Coaching was all around awful and the playcalling as noted could have been done better by a 4 year old retard. Ie. 3rd and 6 in the 3rd and YOU RUN THE BALL!!!!!!!!!!

Defense looked good for the first half, and actually held bama to field goals, as opposed to touchdowns, their one td in the first was a product of our below average special teams. But they got tired through the end of the game and just could not compete.

On the note of special teams, what is with the punting formation and our kicker? In a game that was supposed to be about field position our kicking game looked as though we wanted them to have the ball in our territory every time.

What is the report on Nickson, on the radio yesterday after the game they said he was not hurt at all, but the coaches just took him out. His name is has a sprained ankle, but he was ready enough to come back in, but they wouldnt let him.

BP said...

I know it's fruitless to think this way, but our two biggest plays of the day were called back for penalties. Give Vandy 14 points there instead of those two penalties and we're talking about a completely different ballgame.

Regardless, though, what really stood out to me yesterday was just how awful Chris Nickson looked. He looked completely rattled and was missing badly, even on short passes. By the second quarter, it was Rick Ankiel-esque. And it's frustrating because I thought after a full season as the starter, he would be past such stage fright.

Even still, I do believe that Nickson can gain confidence and overcome and excel this year. What concerns me more for our long-term success this season is the play of our defensive front seven. Like Jason said, in the third and fourth quarters, when they knew the run was coming, Alabama was still able to get 6-10 yards a carry. This must improve if we want to win SEC games.

I think Ole Miss this week is definitely beatable, and a win over them - a conference win - would be a big boost for our confidence. Go Dores!

Unknown said...

i completely agree, BP. Nickson was throwing off his back foot and completely misthrowing easy passes at key moments. that said, i do think he can improve, but i am also comforted by the fact that our backup was able to come in and look pretty good.

those penalties in the first half were our fault, not necessarily the refs'. the only one i really dispute was the facemask on the return - i never saw it on the replay. some of the others werent so questionable. regardless, i place the blame on the coaches - poor play calling and special teams are what killed us the most.

aaron said it best when he highlighted the 3 and mid-to-longs when we RAN IT UP THE MIDDLE. i know our running game was a mildly bright spot, but it wasnt so great that we could have snuck the ball up the middle on 3rd down.

i want the ole miss game now - this week is going to suck.

Anonymous said...

You have to be worried about an SEC opponent, and I'm a bit concerned that Ole Miss put up a bunch of points against Missouri.

The Ole Miss running back with two hyphenated names ran for like 200 yds or something gaudy like that.

Boyer in the District said...

Arkansas 38, Alabama 24