Saturday, September 11, 2010

Initial Thoughts on the LSU Game

As is too often the case with Vanderbilt, the final score does not accurately reflect how close the game was. Still, a loss is a loss, and the Vanderbilt program, and Commodore fans, have moved beyond taking solace in such facts. I've got a lot to say about tonight's loss, but I'll admit the ideas aren't fully formed just yet, so bear with me.

The defense is very good and they played an excellent game tonight. For all intents and purposes, the Commodore defense held LSU to 13 points. The second touchdown was set-up by a short field on Warren Norman's fumble, and the final touchdown was one of those things that happens when the game is out of reach. While LSU amassed 392 yards of total offense, at least 120 of those yards were gained after the fumble and the game was out of reach. I was impressed with the defense, regardless of what the stats say.

Moving now to the offense. After their second half against Northwestern last week, Vanderbilt's offense gave fans reason to be optimistic. The can't be said after tonight's performance. The Commodores gained 135 yards: 65 rushing, 70 passing. Those numbers are paltry, especially the running numbers when you consider 51 of those 65 came on one run by Warren Norman. Larry Smith gained 24, but lost a whopping 47 yards on sacks. Some of those losses were due to a porous offensive line, but several were the result of him not feeling the pressure and getting rid of the ball. Larry's willingness to hang in the pocket is admirable, but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, something Smith needs to learn.

I thought the offense play calling was as uninspired tonight as it's been in years past. I was hoping Jimmy Kisser's elevation as offensive coordinator would mean more dynamic and creative play calling. I get it's hard to get too creative with as many 3rd and longs as the Commodores were facing. With that said, if the Commodores dialed up something LSU wasn't expecting a little more often, perhaps we wouldn't have been looking at so many 3rd and longs.

Finally, a comment in the aggregate about the SEC. Sorry guys, but the conference is down this year. LSU, despite beating Vanderbilt by 24 on the road, is not the good a team. Florida and Georgia have been unimpressive early, and Tennessee is currently getting destroyed by Oregon. It's unfortunate that in a year where the conference is down, so too are the Commodores, but that's the hand we've been dealt. This team has talent and showed tonight they can play with anyone in the league. Unfortunately, they also showed they've got a long way to go.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

i've seen high school offenses run more effectively. in crc's postgame he talked about the need to "simplify" the offense more perhaps...to maybe only run 4 plays but run them well. is this a joke? i sincerely doubt that making our offense less "innovative" than it currently is (which by the way is predictable as hell) is the key to a 5+ win season.

since like most of you i am a vanderbilt alum with less than 5 million in my 401k, we really can't do a damn thing about the current situation that is vu football. we can only hope someone rich enough cares and buys us the type of coach it will take to revolutionize a program this is in the shitter. secretly i hope we go 0-12 because it may be the only way to get david williams to do something. 3-4 wins is probably good enough to skirt by for crc.

scuse me while i go puke.

Sad night Vandy fans said...

Last week’s game gave Vanderbilt fans a reason to be optimistic. However, after tonight’s game, that optimism died when Vanderbilt got down to the LSU seven yard line and didn’t get score a touchdown. A lot of powerhouse in the SEC are down this year, including LSU, and we still can’t capitalize. The defense played as well as they could, especially considering how long they were on the field. The offense looked worse than last year and Vanderbilt played them better in Baton Rouge a year ago. I like Robbie Caldwell but if Vandy goes winless in the SEC again it’s time to gut the offensive coaching staff. Herb Hand came to Vanderbilt so we can obviously get high profile coaches/ coordinators. We are only one full season removed from a bowl winning season, now is the best time to try and got out and bring new offensive blood to this lackluster coaching staff.

Williams is not going to fire Robbie, mainly because he doesn’t want to even think about putting together a search for a new coach. I’m willing to give Robbie chance but if he doesn’t gut this offensive coaching staff at the end of the year…fans will want him gone next.

Chuck Heston said...

After last week's opening game loss, I swore off watching the program for the rest of the season. Have to admit that I watched most of the LSU game because, quite frankly, it was one of the few televised matchups in the 6 pm CT slot that was somewhat competitive.

At some point, and I'm not sure at what point in the future, Vanderbilt will learn to run the no huddle offense. They've made that threat many times in the past, but it never seems to make an appearance. Does anyone realize how effective the no huddle would've been against LSU in the 2nd Half? We really could've eaten LSU up. Instead, we were forced to watch Smith go through his usual (what I can only assume is some form of) audible, which I suspect only serves to confuse an already tenuous O-line. I never see any other program go through such machninations when setting up for a play.

Andrew said...

1. I think you're kidding yourself that the game was closer than the score indicated. LSU outplayed us hugely during the first three quarters. It was a fluke that they were only up a touchdown rather than, say, 17 points. And they earned their late touchdowns because they finally just figured out (or wore down) our defense. Whatever it was, they moved the ball at will on their last five real possessions.

2. Our biggest problem, on both sides of the ball, is the line. Our defensive line, while playing pretty well against the run, created no pressure whatever when we did not blitz (and even our blitzes were lackluster). Had they been able to pass they would have beaten us by 45 points

Our O-line, meanwhile, was entirely unable to block, either for the run or the pass. There simply were no holes for the running backs to exploit and, on most plays, very little time for Larry. This needs to be fixed or we basically won't be winning any games this year. If you can't run or pass, you can't win football games.

3. The coaches and Larry needed to recognize that the offensive line couldn't hold the rush and keep the pass plays under three seconds. It is absurd that we let ourselves take, what?, six sacks. Larry often holds it all day, and there's no excuse for that. Three looks and throw the ball away.

4. You're right that the SEC is down this year. I actually think that LSU could be a really good team, if it had a good QB, but it has a terrible QB and unless you're Nebraska during the Tom Osborne days, you can't win with a QB who can't throw at all.

AD said...

I agree with all of Andrew's points. My thought as I was walking home was that the final score actually represented how the game went. Once the defense finally gave way (starting in the first minute of the fourth quarter after being on the field basically for the first three quarters), we saw a score that is probably pretty close to what our honest expectations had to be.

Two other things: 1) we need to find a way to score touchdowns. This was a problem last year too. 2) field position related to special teams. Whoever does kickoffs never puts it inside their 10-yd line. That's ten free yards, plus the kick isn't that high, so we don't have time to get down there. Related, our Music City MVP punter must be gone because this guy is ok but my heart always skips a beat because the kid is spraying it all over the place.

EMU is a must win.

Anonymous said...

You are all right in your comments. It was hard sitting through the boos from the crowd. The defense played very well but finally wore down. I think its time to see what this recruiting class can do especially at wr. The upper classmen wr's were a non-factor again even though there were offensive-line play issues. At 0-2, I say play Mathews, Boyd, and Krause extensively to see what we have for the future. Krause is very good... but is not involved in the offense nearly enough. Mathews and Boyd have been non-factors by this coaching staff despite being highly recruited and hearing about all three have great fall camps. Why is Mathews wr skills being wasted on special teams and very little attempt to take advantage of his wr skills. I think that Mathews and Boyd are about 6'4" and should create opportunities against most db's. The coaching staff is close to losing the goodwill of the most hardened Vandy fan....that was painful to watch last night and the entire offensive coaching staff needs to re-evaluate thier use of skill players.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen such a contrast in play from any team in a long time. The Vandy defense is very good. And the Vandy offense is absolutely terrible.

I agree with the previous posters. The offensive staff needs to be gutted. If the offense was decent and if we had a reliable kicker, we could stay in games with field goals and with our defense.

The OC, Kiser, really has not shown that he can improve the offense.

Anonymous said...

I've seen enough.

It's bad enough that Forrest Gump Caldwell carries himself like a buffoon with the media, but he sure doesn't enstill any discipline with his team. How a team of supposedly academically superior players commits 7 penalties (for 52 yds) to the opponents 3 (for 15 yds) is beyond me. You can't give up 1/2 of your total offense in penalty yards and expect to win. Vandy fans can live with undersized linemen, but not the mental midgetry of not knowing the snapcount.

This is more of the same mediocrity/inferiority CBJ accepted, with nothing changed except names on the shirts. The scary part is that as interim head coach, Caldwell is the sharpest of this bunch of turkey inseminators posing as SEC coaches.

Dean Williams needs to remove the "interim" title from Caldwell and replace it with "former".