Tuesday, November 13, 2007

If Vanderbilt had Adam Vinatieri, would we be 5-5 right now?

Dr. MZ and I have been having a spirited conversation on GChat about what has ailed Vanderbilt this season. It is the good doctor's contention that it is a lack of depth on both sides of the line why Vanderbilt can't finish games, and ultimately explains their 5-5 record at this point in the season. While I think there is enough blame to go around, and that the line had been A problem, THE problem has been the kicking game, specifically the placekicker. I would argue that 3 games have been affected, and in at least 2 games its been the difference between potentially winning and eventually losing (Georgia and UK), by our inability to make makeable field goals and PATs and get points whenever possible. Allowing big returns on punts (Bama), having punts called back for ticky-tack penalties (Bama), and muffed returns (UK) have also plagued this team. In my view, Special Teams has absolutely killed this team, of course, that's just like my opinion... what do you think?

Note: We are talking about Adam Vinatieri independent of his 11/11/07 performance.

23 comments:

Jason said...

Yes, special teams are equally weighted with offense and defense. Many people forget this. Hahnfeldt has been a negative this year.

400+ yards of offense vs. KY and only 20 points. Enough said.

andrew banecker said...

This has been a long term problem with coaches named "Bobby." I need not mention the years of torment the place kicker position has caused Florida State, but obviously, I felt the need to claim that I wouldn't mention it. Regardless, Hahnfeldt has been pretty terrible these past few years, and it's safe to say his confidence is shot. The sad thing was how phenomenal he was his Freshman year... knee injury happens... never regains his leg/confidence. Apparently, we have a top 20 kicker coming in next year, so to avoid the "Bobby curse," I propose CBJ officially start going by Robert. To my knowledge, there is no such hoodoo associated with the formal version of that name.

ben said...

Vanderbilt's margin or error won't allow them to be really successful (7+ wins) without an elite or near elite kicking game. It may yet cost us a bowl game.

If I'm not mistaken we've got a verbal comit from K Ryan Fowler out of South Carolina.... hopefully he can either take over, or (perhaps more ideally) push Hanfeldt back to his awesome freshman form.

The worst part is it's all in Brian's head.

Jason said...

Can't use Robert...The founder of BET and also the famous blues guy are named Robert Johnson

Anonymous said...

My feel is that there have been significantly fewer breakdowns with special teams this year (outside of PK accuracy - Johnson said Brian had muscle strain going into the Ky game, BTW) than in the recent past. Specifically, how many blocked punts have we suffered this year vs. last? We have had very good production on kick/punt returns (and a few fumbles, too) compared to prior years.
There are still some problems, but we're generally much better than the last couple of years.

Aaron said...

it seems to me that this time in every season we look back at Vandy fans and look for excuses. This year it was the officials in the bama game and our kicking game. A few years ago it was the excessive celebration call.

When will the excuses stop?
The fact that we are getting a better kicker wont matter, the team is going to be bad next year, ole miss bad.

For Vandy to take the next step we need to stop making excuses and start winning games. This comes down to recruiting, coaching, and execution. We perform poorly in all 3 categories, and it is sad to say.

We need these two wins, and i hope we will get them, and i hope we dont have any more excuses at the end of the season.

Bobby O'Shea said...

There is a fine line between reasons and excuses, and while I appreciate Aaron's sentiments that too often Vanderbilt fans are quick to make excuses, I think you can look at the teams 5-5 record and pinpoint reasons why this team is not better.

Special teams has improved somewhat this season, but again, I would argue that the difference between us being 7-3 and 5-5 are breakdowns on Special Teams.

The nature of blogs is to play the blame game, true to form, I will point a finger and ask a very pointed question: if Vanderbilt has significantly improved the quality of recruits this season, why have only 2 played? While I understand you don't want to "waste" a year of eligibility if you don't have to, you can't tell me that some of this new talent might not have made a difference on special teams outside the kicker's inability to make makeable kicks.

With 2 games left and our backs aganist the wall, I am cautiously optimistic that we can pull it all together and win out, where I am frusterated is this situation was not inevitable, and I can't help but think that somewhere, things are being missed that are preventing this team from living up to it's true potential.

Jason said...

Bobby: Short answer-- Football is much different than basketball.

With very few exceptions, even the best HS players need a year to lift weights and adjust to the speed of major college football.

What was missed, and what there are no excuses for, was not scoring 2 more touchdowns against KY based on how the offense was moving at will between the 20's.

Stanimal said...

Also, to get back to the root of the discussion regarding depth and special teams, the two are actually inter-related. Vandy has talent, but it doesn't have a lot of talent ready to go like the other schools in the SEC. Your special teams players are composed of guys who fill out the depth chart who are looking to show they can make plays. When you lack depth compared to the other schools, it hurts you.

I would agree with Ben in that it is clear that we cannot break the cusp without a solid kicking game. We're simply not good enough to blow teams out.

Bobby O'Shea said...


Is help on the way?

J.B., M.D. said...

I think we need to start talking about Andrew Ogilvy. This guy is the truth.

Bobby O'Shea said...

Crocodile OG's line: 20 points (9-12 from the field), 4 rebounds; Shan led the Commies with 21 points and 8 rebounds.

Commies are 2-0, get excited

pucks & pigskin said...

VU hotline: Win-out edition

Anonymous said...

The BACK-UP kicker at d-2 Univ. of North Alabama - a school that is only allowed 36 total grants to give out - is better than our current #1 kicker.

That sucks.
Almost as bad as american idol.

Jason said...

I'm thinking about writing a 40,000word rambling post on mind control, nazis and other subjects in a moderately unhinged fashion...

andrew banecker said...

I'm with J.B. Not that our current football season is over (I still believe we've got at least one win in us) but the basketball team seems to be showing no ill effects from the loss of D.B. Ogilvy is adding the inside presence we've lacked since Friege, and some could say we've lacked since Will Perdue. We're becoming a basketball and baseball school, which is nothing to laugh at. I think we're Stanford, but with a better team in both basketball and baseball. We've got a shot at finishing in the top 16 of each this year. Once again, we've got a young QB and Earl should probably be back. We'll need to replace a bunch of o-lineman, but DJ Moore is a legit All American candidate. However, our shots for greatness come from basketball and baseball. There is no shame in this. Let's start reveling in it.

Stanimal said...

inside presence and freije are not synonymous words

Jason said...

McCaffrey was also an inside presence, right?

August West said...

One part of the Hanfeldt discussion that many people forget is the great freshman year he had; a spontaneous downturn like he's had last year and this year is tough to blame recruiting or coaching (unless said coach is Frank Beamer).

The kid has just lost it between the ears, and it's time to start over. At a state school, we could pluck an experienced Ju-co kid to step in day 1, but here we'll have to find a freshman who's ready for business.

And yes, Ogilvy is a pimp... hope he hits his potential, but then stays a few years!

Bobby O'Shea said...

I think there is little chance that Earl stays. Why would he? Vanderbilt loses a TON to graduation, and having to replace the entire o-line means it is unlikely that whomever is under center will have enough time getting His Name Is the ball anyway.

I hope I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure I'm not.

Aaron said...

On the kicking note why dont we just go to our mens soccer team and get a kicker....oh wait...thats right we dont have one...

Damn Athletic department..oh wait...

andrew banecker said...

The reason I'm more confident now that I was before the season that Earl will return is simple: he hasn't had his best season. At this point, he'll be hearing the same things Cutler heard before he chose to come back: "We like you, kid... in the third round." He'll be back for the same reason any draft eligible Junior returns... the scouts aren't guaranteeing he's a first rounder. Remember, it was just a few years ago that NFL scouts told Cut he was a borderline 3rd rounder, and needed to see if he could rally a team. One year later, and he's the 11th pick overall.

Bobby O'Shea said...

That's true, but I don't know that given all the Commies lose on offense (their entire starting line), EB can make the bet that he'll be able to have his best season next year should he return.

I absolutely see your point, but I have to think that the risk/reward for another year with the Commies is much more tilted in the direction of risk.