Saturday, October 29, 2011
"I want everybody to understand that you can learn lessons and win. You don’t have to lose to learn lessons." - Coach James Franklin
Vanderbilt football fans are not strangers to tough losses. The Commodores 31 - 28 defeat to the #8 Arkansas Razorbacks certainly goes on the list. Near the top.
James Franklin was quick to say that "their are no moral victories." CJF then said during his post-game press conference: "“We are getting better. You look at this team and how we are progressing, statistically, it’s not even close. But statistics don’t matter a whole lot. The only statistic that matters is the wins and losses, and we didn’t come out on the right end of it.” Franklin is right on both levels. Vanderbilt gained 462 yards, as compared to Arkansas' 388. Jordan Rodgers was 15-27 for 240 yards and a touchdown through the air, and 18 carries for 78 yards and 2 TDS on the ground. The Commodores have a quarterback. Zac Stacy had 132 yards and 19 carries, including a 62 yard touchdown run. Vanderbilt has a running attack. Jordan Matthews had 6 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown, and made an outstanding 1-handed grab to keep Vanderbilt's hopes alive late in the 4th quarter. The Commodores have a go-to receiver. What they didn't get today, however, was a win.
The two plays everyone will circle in this game are Zac's fumble on the 3 yard-line with Vanderbit up 28-20 with 13:48 to go in the 4th, and Casey Spears' missed field goal that would have likely forced overtime with 17 seconds remaining. Without question, these were the two plays that killed the Commodores. Although what also killed Vanderbilt was the fact that for the 4th SEC game in a row, they allowed a touchdown with less than a minute to go in the 1st half. They have lost all 4 games when that's happened.
“You guys are going to write the story however you want to right it, but the story is we are making progress, we are getting better. And we’re light years ahead of where we were when I first arrived on this campus. That’s the story. This is not the same old Vanderbilt. This is not the same old Vanderbilt.”
Amen, Coach. And, while I get the sentiment from fans anyone who doesn't recognize that this team, with this coaching staff, is different, isn't paying attention. Franlkin went on to say: “We are going to find ways real soon to how those games finish game like that and we aren’t going to make mistakes like that much longer. I can guarantee you that.” I believe you Coach, but VSLNation is hoping that its sooner than later.
The Commodores are .500 heading into November, a position we all would have gladly taken when this season began. Vanderbilt is 1-4 in the SEC, and finish the season with 4 winnable games (yes, I said it, 4). Things are getting better, even if it doesn't feel like it right now.