Sunday, September 12, 2010

Surprise! Vandy's weaknesses are still its receivers and offensive linemen

Coach Robbie Caldwell said in last night's press conference that the staff is preparing freshman receivers Jonathan Krause, Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd to shoulder more of the receiving burden.

Caldwell said that none of the starting receivers could get open. Boy, was that the truth. Know how many receptions starters Cole, Umoh and Wimberly had against LSU?


Only two receivers, Krause and junior Tray Herndon, caught passes. The leading receiver was junior tight end Brandon Barden.

So far, Krause is the only freshman with a reception — he's got 5 for 77 yards, but only one against LSU. Matthews has been slowed by tendinitis in his knee, and Boyd hasn't played yet but it sounds like he's getting lots of work in practice and is going to play this season.

Meanwhile, Caldwell was especially tough on his offensive line, guys he coached last season. He said he and Coach Hand thought the linemen could go one-on-one with LSU's D-linemen and block them straight up, which certainly didn't happen. He talked about how young those guys are and how little depth they have. Sounds like they're reluctant to throw the true freshmen (especially Kittredge and Stewart) into the mix, as well they should be.

Vandy fans seem shocked right now that we had trouble moving the ball against LSU. None of this should be a surprise to anybody, though. We knew we had big problems on the line and at receiver, those guys are trying to grow up in a hurry and they're struggling.

Again, it's no surprise. We told you Vandy would be 0-2 right now but we've also told you they'll win six out of their next 10. Sure, maybe that's a stretch and we'll know much more Saturday afternoon after the Ole Miss game, but right now nobody should be surprised or panicked.


Anonymous said...

That's fine. I still expected the Northwestern win, and I wasn't too far off. LSU still needed a warm- up game before playing Vanderbilt; it would have been harder for them coming into Nashville cold turkey without tying up loose ends from the NC game. They were well-prepared.
Three S's for offensive line: skill, speed and size. Where are we (Vanderbilt) in all this?


Add a fourth S: ’sperience. We've got two starters and six of our top 10 linemen who'd never played in a college football game prior to this season. In fact, three of them still haven't played yet.

Anonymous said...

Plugging in new receivers isn't going to do much for this offense. From watching the passing game fail miserably for many years (the running game too, to be honest), the majority of the blame MUST be shouldered by the coaching staff.
Sure, Larry Smith isn't great--but why, why! after 4 years in this program do our coaches still not have him going through a progression? He trains on one receiver every play. A typical progression is high/low, has he ever let a deep ball out early? (I mean, I know we never actually throw a deep ball--once again, coaching, we should stretch the defense if we intend to run the spread)
As for the separation issue, other than completely blown coverages, some of the best separation I've seen in a few years here at Vandy was perhaps the 3rd play of the LSU game when Cole had several steps on his man deep on the play action--unfortunately Larry (over)threw a very difficult to catch ball that took Cole vertical as opposed to continuing his post route toward the opposite side of the field which would've allowed him to keep his momentum. However, I thought this was the best play call of the year perhaps, and it was close to being executed. The thing about plays like this that stretch the defense is that they don't have to be completed that often--they just need to be present in the play calling to keep a defense honest. Too often they aren't present in ours. (Some might blame the line, but you can let a deep ball go with less than 2 seconds of protection--in fact, you should, it should be as simple as a read of the coverage/safety and release as it should be the first read--but of course, we have no progression)
To continue on with the separation issue. We play in the SEC, defensive backs are good--damn good. The best wide receivers in this league aren't getting "separation" as our (uneducated) fans would like to see--because it's impossible. Separation is created with good route running and timing. Which brings me to another gripe against Larry (and mostly the coaching staff), he never throws to the receiver as they come out of their cut (occasionally seen when throwing the out route to Barden--the only play that Larry really has a timing for). Out of the cut is when the receiver gains the advantage, and we don't capitalize on it at all.
Our passing attack is bad because of a lack of progression and a lack of on-time throws--it's simple as that. That said, I would love to see the freshmen get time at the Z and X positions, and love to see Cole moved to the slot. It's really a natural position for him at his size, in my opinion, and the freshmen do need to be on the field.
Putting the passing game aside for a second and focusing on the coaching, some innovative thinking would be wonderful. On how many first downs do we run inside zone? On how many third downs do we run routes that don't go to the sticks? The answer to both questions is the majority of them. Identify the playmakers--Norman, Stacy, Cole, Barden, Krause. Figure out a way to get them the ball--and to get them all on the field at the same time. When we go split flex to get Norman and Stacy on the field at the same time, we take Cole off in favor of Wimberly? Why not have all your playmakers on the field? Get Larry on a clock in practice, if the ball's not gone in 3 seconds, blow the play dead. He's gotta get rid of it, for timing reasons and protection reasons.

Anonymous said...

(continuing from above)

If we knew we couldn't out-man LSU with our offensive line, why did we run inside zone so often? At least by half-time, you have to realize you're not winning the battle in the trenches. Resort to getting him the ball with A-routes or screens. I, personally, would love to see us run out of the Pro and I- formations more. I mean we're not kidding anyone by getting in the spread and running the ball--they don't respect our pass(and they shouldn't, yet). Let's get a heavier set out there and try to wear down a defense if our intent is to run 60% of the time. Throw with play action off the run fake, and we might see more separation like we saw with the 3rd play in the LSU game.
I've rambled a lot as our offense really frustrates me to no end. I would love to have a transcript of what's going through Kiser's mind as he sits in the booth on a Saturday. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to a lot that we do. We pound inside zone waiting for one to break, but if you acknowledge you're getting beat on the line as they did post-game, why not make some adjustments? There's no doubt we have talent in the freshmen at WR, but I don't think they're going to be able to do much without some basic changes in the offense as a whole. Our passing game must get back to basics and that is taking a read and throwing on time. Our running game could be more successful with more balance (throw on first down, anyone?) and more diversity in the play calling.

I see talent. I see lots of it, really. I just don't think we do enough to get the ball in the right people's hands.