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.