Saturday, October 10, 2009

Initial Thoughts on the Army Game

I had a somewhat uneasy feeling all week that something like what happened today would happen. Unfortunately, that feeling proved to be prophetic. Today's loss might be the most disappointing ones I've ever seen (although I think I've said this before on this space). For those of you who watched the game, you know what I'm talking about. I have to imagine that for those watching at home, the game was all that much more painful given the replays. A few thoughts.

1. No Excuses. I truly mean no disrespect to Army, but that is a game that Vanderbilt absolutely must win. Forgot about bowl eligibility, forgot about any of that. This is a game an SEC team has to win. Army has a formidable running attack, but this was a 2-3 team that had lost to Duke (35-19), Iowa State (31-10), and Tulane (17-16). Vanderbilt might have gotten jobed on a few calls, but the game should have never been close. Make no mistake about it VSL Nation, Vanderbilt football this year is officially indefensible.

2. Penalties. If anyone says Vanderbilt is a disciplined football team, kick them in the balls. Don't think about it, don't consider who is saying it, just kick. Hard. Vanderbilt had 12 penalties for 99 yards today, including 2 that negated touchdowns. We have 46 penalties for 338 yards through 6 games this season. Last season, we had a total of 56 penalties for 473 yards. There is no excuse for so many false starts, there is no excuse (not even the wind) for kicking the ball out of bounds on kick-offs, and there is no excuse for illegal substitutions. I haven't seen a replay of the offensive pass interference that negated what would have been the go-ahead touchdown (but it was impossible to see on the one replay they showed at the stadium), but even if that was a terrible call, 11 penalties for 84 yards is also unacceptable. The fact that 2 of out penalties lead to Army first downs hurts even more.

3. Play-calling. It's awful. The love-affair we had with the "Wild Cornelius" was astonishing since I don't think it ever netted a gain of more than 5 yards. The inability to come up with any kind of cohesive game-plan continues to amaze me. Don't worry though, we still got the reverse in (I think it resulted in a 4 yard game).

4. Larry, Larry, Larry. Larry Smith is not improving as the year progresses, in fact, he's going the other way. 11-24 is a pretty terrible percentage. He gets too many balls batted down, and he takes too much time to get rid of the ball. There's no doubt Vanderbilt's receivers drop a lot of balls, but today that wasn't the problem. Don't get me wrong, there were at least 3 drops, but Larry has got to be more of a play-maker than he currently is. Stanimal texted me that it's time to go to Mackenzi...I'm not so sure. But I'm beginning to come around.

5. Who Needs Touchdowns? Apparently, not us. As I talked about above, we had 3 TDs called back. 2 due to penalties and one due to a ref determining Warren Norman was down. Again, I missed the replay, so I have no idea if the call was a good one or a bad one. What I do know, is Vanderbilt only managed 6 points on 3 trips to the red-zone. Warren was trucking in before fumbling in OT, but the fact we only managed 2 field goals is incredible. You aren't going to win games (let alone road games) 1 field goal at a time.

6. Time of Possession. As good as the defense is (and frankly, I think it's pretty damn good), they aren't given a fair chance to help the team if they never get off the field. Army dominated the T.O.P 36:09 to 23:51. In the 1st and 4th quarter, they possessed the ball for 20 minutes, compared to 10 for us.

I'm sure there's more, but I'm honestly at a loss. What did I miss? What made you nuts? This list is in no way exhaustive. What I do know is this, if last season was a step forward, this season is shaping us to be at least two steps back.


vandygold28 said...

its all about mac now. why not. this season is lost any way. he should get to play on homecoming vs georgia. we are absolutely horrible. this season is officially a joke. i could do nothing but laugh after that game. no words.... just, no words...

if basketball ends up being a disappointment, that will really, really suck.

Anonymous said...

Losing to Army really blows.

But american idol really sucks.

Jon & Kate suck pretty bad as well...8 times the suckness of most other sucky so-called "reality" t.v.

But there is no excuse for losing to Army. And since we had the (sort of) winning season last year and the bowl win, the school now has to keep Johnson and Cain for life. Like the Supreme Court and Pope.

Stanimal said...

Frankly I don't know how to correct so many offensive problems. Wipe the slate completely clean?

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is why we couldn't play the entire game like we did on the final drive. When the pressure was on, we finally grew a pair and start attempting and completing some north-south passes. We had a sense of urgency, and we actually did pretty well. Why couldn't we play like that the entire game?

Anonymous said...

Smith passed the football like Sonny Gray throws the baseball...heaters.

Good passers know how to put some touch on their passses. Cutler...Wuerfel at Florida back in his day...Eli Manning, etc.

Smith doesn't pass the football he throws it.

Anonymous said...

I hope SportSouth shows a replay of the Chattanoga-Samford game again. Coleman's first long pass was a play-action masterpiece with perfect "touch" on it for a long pass. That guy will play on Sundays.

Anonymous said...

The Commies take down Georgia next week (with LS at QB).

Tom M said...

This game reminded me of old days of Dowhower and Widenhofer. It was truly a classic Vandy loss. What other team losses in such spectacular fashion? Two potentially game winning TDs taken back after reviews? A game tying FG hits the upright and stills goes in? TD in OT goes out the end zone? This stuff just doesn't happen to normal teams.

This loss almost eclipses the LSU loss in 1997 with the false start/delay of game and the blocked extra point at the end.