Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Vanderbilt Hotline: Chin-Up, Edition

The angry emails have been pouring into VSL from fans worried that we have given up on the season. Nothing could be further from the truth. I just got access to the Internet after being in the dark for the past few days, and the rest of the crew is dealing with the trials and tribulations of being a 1L. Anyway, not to worry, we are still here, and the reality is, the Commies are only 1 game behind where we had them at this point in the season heading into the South Carolina game. Better still, the Commies finally showed signs that this team was "who we thought they were" on Saturday. Payback is a bitch, and the similarity between what happened to the Commies on Saturday and what happened ot to Dawgs last year are eerily similar. Am I disappointed? Absolutely, but all is not lost.

As few thoughts before getting to today's articles:
1. Mac Adams has to be the starter. For a team whose offensive strength is their wide receiving corp, having a QB who can put the ball where it needs to be to give the guys a shot to make plans is critical. Adams does that...and right now at least, Chris does not. The offense moves the ball better and is much more efficient when he is under center. That doesn't mean that Chris shouldn't be worked into the gameplan, but it does mean the team needs to have Mac on the field more, and needs to go to the air and utilize the weapons we have.

2. I won't pile on CGJ because I am sure he feels bad enough about the fumble. Bobby said in his post game press conference that that fumble didn't cost us the game. He's right, but it certainly didn't help matters. For what it's worth, I feel a lot more comfortable with Jeff Jennings and Jared Hawkins (who had a great game on Saturday and needs to be worked into the game plan more) than I am with Cassen. Looking back to Saturday, and then some games last season (most notably at Ole Miss), CGJ is prone to have bad things happen to him when the game is on the line.

3. Ted Cain finally opened up the playbook. Thank goodness. Utilizing D.J. Moore on offense is great. Running one play to set up another is awesome. There is no reason why it should have taken the team this long to do that, but with 6 games left (and needing 3 wins), it's about time.

4. Vanderbilt's defense played well in the 1st half and got tired in the second. That's not surprising since the offense was woefully ineffective until their last drive that needed with a fumble inside the 10. Georgia's Moreno is a stud and will be a very good running back in the SEC in the years to come, still, I have to think the defense would have stood a better shot had they not been on the field so damn much in the second half.

5. It's too bad His Name Is didn't get to break the all-time SEC receptions record in front of the hometown, homecoming crowd. I think we'll all get over it with a win in Columbia however.

Mo Patton had a piece in yesterday's Tennessean about QB situation for the Commies. Mo intimates that CBJ has "hinted" that Adams will be Saturday's starter in Columbia. I hope he does more than hint, since its obvious that the team is in better hands right now with Mac than Chris.

The Man We Love to Hait's got two pieces in today's Nashville City Paper. The first, appropriately, focuses on the tough road ahead for the Commies. Finding 3 wins won't be easy, but a win on Saturday would certainly go a long way. In his "Golden Nuggets" Brett talks about Coach Richt's reaction after his players starting stomping around on the Vanderbilt Logo after the kick. Mark Richt is class all the way and looked he was out for blood. It wouldn't surprise me if he didn't make some of his played walk back to Athens.

Brett's second article focuses on the high expectations at Memorial and the excitement surrounding Crocodile O.G. While it's still a little early for me to get excited about Basketball season, I think Kevin Stalling could put a team on the floor this year unlike any we've seen in the past...one that can score in the paint.

I know you all have opinions about Saturday's heartbreaking lost, so sound off. Winning in the SEC is never easy, and this team showed on Saturday that they can compete with anyone in the league, the key is doing it and having more points on the scoreboard at the end of the game.

Bobby, OUT.

One final thought, and this has nothing to do with Vanderbilt sports. I was watching Monday Night Football last night and heard a comment that makes me very happy Tony Kornheiser is in the booth. As those of you who know me know, I love Mr. Tony and think he is the man. So, this sentiment is by no means unbiased. Still, he was discussing Tiki Barber and how great he was for a 5 year period in New York. He then made an analogy that every sports fan should have gotten up and cheered. He said that Tiki's 5 year stretch was just like Don Mattingly's run in the mid-80's. Not only is that a great comparison and dead on, but it's one that you wouldn't get with just another jock in the booth (Theismann would have reminded Mr. Tony that is was football and probably asked who Don Mattingly was). Context matters, and a sports columnist can give a wide-angle lens to the broadcast.


Seamus O'Toole said...

I confess that I did not post a recap of the game for the following reasons:

1) I was legitimately depressed and didn't want to have to write something along the lines of "this is the life of a Vanderbilt fan" -- gag me. I've experienced heartache watching Vanderbilt sports on numerous occasions, but it never gets any easier. Writing about it wasn't the medicine I wanted to take.

2) I was fuming that all of America missed the first half in which we controlled the game because they were watching LSU-Kentucky. All recruits had to see was the offensive ineptitude of the second half. Splendid.

3) I did not want to embarrass myself by going nuts about what the Georgia players pulled after the game. Bobby may be right that Mark Richt is a class act, but I would expect ANY coach to get mad at his players the way he did. The Bulldog players embarrassed themselves with that bush-league stunt at the end of the game. I can now accept Richt's apology to Vanderbilt fans and move on, but I wasn't prepared to do that immediately after the game.

So now that my reasons for being a baby are on the table...

We are a good team in what is by far the toughest division in college football. I'm proud of how hard our defense played on Saturday and optimistic that we can still get to a bowl. After games against some pretty good teams, we still have the #22 defense in the country.

Coming into this season, we were confident that the offense would be good but not sure about the defense. My how the tables have turned. The offense is currently #103 out of 119 Division 1-A teams. There is nowhere to go but up. If we can actually establish a rhythm and some consistency on offense (getting the QB situation settled will go a long way to making that happen) then I'm confident we can make a bowl game. Let's see more of DJ Moore in the slot, more getting the ball in Earl Bennett's hands, and less stupid mistakes (penalties, fumbles, bad passes). Seems pretty simple, eh?

Finally, a shout-out to Cassen Jackson-Garrison regarding something that matters a lot more than football: Congrats on being a new dad.

Seamus is done.

Anonymous said...

I think we'll all get over it with a win in Columbia however.

Naivete must be bliss. Actually I figure we're about due for USC to smack us around. And no, I don't predict the same thing every week.

Anonymous said...

Ah Mr. O'Shea. But the very, very important difference between Donnie Baseball and Tiki is that Mattingly's HOF run was tragically cut short by injuries. And this can't be overlooked, because his health forced him to walk away from a team that was ready to take the series. Tiki, on the other hand, walked away from football on his own terms...on two good legs...straight to the Today show.

I know you're talking about how good they were for 5-year stretches...but even still. Mattingly was a hard ass who had to be wrenched from the game. Tiki admittedly ran soft and finally started to excel late in his career because he boned up and stopped fumbling. He told Jon Stewart as much on the Daily Show last week!

Anonymous said...

And it was I Dr. Mz, who posted the above comment.


Bobby O'Shea said...

Tony's point was, correctly, that both Donnie Baseball and Tiki were, for a five fantastic years, great New York athletes who were sat the top of their respective sports. Regardless of why they left, the comparision is a good one.

Aaron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aaron said...

I am still a little concerned about our bowl chances, even after watching the game on saturday. We looked better than we have all season, but where are we going to get 3 more wins?

Here is how i have the remaining games ranked according to winability.
1) Miami (Oh)
2) Wake
3) Kentucky
4) Tenn
5) USC
6) UF

The reason Uk is higher than UT is because it is at home and UT has a better D in my mind.

I know Bobby has something different...please share

I am not sure that we can get 3 wins with those games left, but lets hope so.

Anonymous said...

Hear Hear re: this post.

PhillipVU94: Vandy matches up pretty well with S Car. Better than they did with Bama or Auburn.

A better analogy for Barber's Giants stint is, IMO, Tino Martinez. Talk about high impact in a short stretch of time.

Douglas James said...

Tino did not put up all time numbers during those years. He was an excellent complimentary piece to championship teams.

Anonymous said...

PhillipVU94 [sic.]: Vandy matches up pretty well with S Car. Better than they did with Bama or Auburn.

How exactly do you figure? Auburn had a very young OL and not really a great offense against what's supposed to be our tremendous defense, and a lot of good it did us.

Perhaps there's some factual basis for your comment but until you state it clearly, it just sounds like more wishful thinking. Vanderbilt fans are really good at wishful thinking, me included.

What do you consider an ideal matchup for Vanderbilt?

Stanimal said...

Nickson would match up better against S. Carolina than Mackenzie because South Carolina is extremely succeptable to the spread option and they have been owned on it all season long. They gave up 256 yards of rushing offense to UL-Lafayette including 116 by their QB on nothing but spread option. South Carolina State ran the same plays and they gave up 196 with 58 going to the QB. With Nickson's speed, that would be a greater benefit.

Nonetheless, expect the SC rush to in our faces the whole game. They have a solid front and good linebackers. They swarmed Andre Woodson all game and forced him into two huge fumbles that went for TDs. (both by DE Eric Norwood).

As to their offense, Chris Smelley is totally prone to bad decisions (he's a redshirt freshman) and if we blitz him hard we should be ok. Their tailbacks are underrated but not super-stars, and as long as D.J. Moore is trailing Kenny McKinley like a hawk we can compete.

Seamus O'Toole said...


I agree with your winnability rankings. One thing we can't overlook is that we're currently in about the same position we were in the past two years -- five wins is expected and six wins is probable if we can pull off one "upset." The one thing we have to do this year that we didn't do the past two years is win all the "should-wins." A win over UK means a lot less if we chunk it against Wake. Beat Miami, Wake, and go one-for-four against USC, UF, UK, and UT.

What this will require is some offense. It can't get much worse on that side of the ball, can it? Like Bobby said, it appeared as though Ted Cain actually decided to turn the page against UGA -- given the (apparently) improving QB situation and the increase in creativity on O, why shouldn't we expect to win one of those four games?

My Vandy-homer optimism is slowly returning...

Anonymous said...


On offense, SC is the traditional SEC running with play action mixed in (forget about Spurrier's FL fun and gun past) In 4 games this season, Vandy's defense has been quite good at keeping Goff, Buggs and Langford (Buggs/Langford alternate as a roving LB on run downs) free of blockers so they can make plays. If the offense can give them a rest with a few long drives, I don't see Smelley beating them...Smelley reminds me of Seth Adams or JP Wilson.

With Sidney Rice gone, there are no real physical mismatches with our DBs and SC receivers.

I would second Stanimal's comments with the MSU game...Croom's O came out in the second half and ran the ball effectively on SC's defense.

With Brinkley gone, they are caught between being a Vanderbilt "scheme" type defense or an LSU style defense which depends on D linemen to make plays at the point of attack.

They're vulnerable, IMO.

Anonymous said...

South Carolina nearly lost to UNC. As a total UNC homer, I will be the first one to admit that when the Heels come close to beating you, you're not that good. With that said, UNC does a lot of beef up front on defense, and that certainly helped out their cause last weekend. Vanderbilt would have much a better shot against the Cocks if they had Marvin Austin lining up for them at tackle. He's one big mama jama.


Anonymous said...


Appreciate the info. Wish everyone would be so informative when they cite "matchups".

We'll see.... hope my pessimism is unwarranted.

Stanimal said...

Dr. MZ is right, they are totally vulnerable.

Unfortunately Spurrier is like 21321892112-0 against Vanderbilt and makes it his mission to keep it that way.