Thursday, June 24, 2010

Expectations for Vandy football are dropping by the minute

A buddy just called to say he was listening to the Paul Finebaum radio program — Finebaum's a UT grad but a Bama lover stationed in Birmingham who's got a pretty good afternoon sports talk show — and Finebaum says Vandy's going 1-11 next season and Bobby Johnson won't be coaching the Commodores in 2011.

That seems to be the conventional wisdom, even among Vanderbilt fans. In fact, as assorted media outlets and blogs roll out their 1-120 rankings of all the FBS teams, Vanderbilt is widely regarded as the second-worst BCS conference team in America, ahead of Washington State.

But don't forget that Vandy wasn't expected to do much better in 2008, the year the Commodores went 7-6 and won the Music City Bowl. That team had a makeshift defensive line, no returning starters on the offensive line, a shaky returning starting quarterback from Alabama, a questionable receiving corps and a young, talented defensive back seven.

Here are some things that need to happen:

1. The offensive line gels and is able to protect the quarterback and open up holes for talented runners Warren Norman, Zac Stacy and Wesley Tate.

2. Receivers John Cole and Udom Umoh hit their strides, and a couple of guys emerge from a promising group of youngsters, including sophomore Brady Brown and true freshmen Chris Boyd, Jonathan Krause and Jordan Matthews.

3. Larry Smith blossoms into a legitimate SEC starting quarterback.

4. At least one of the true freshmen defensive tackles — Vince Taylor, Jared Morse, James Kittredge and Kyle Woestmann (who'll probably slide over to end) — puts on enough weight this summer to contribute to a defensive line smarting from the loss of senior Adam Smotherman to a knee injury.

5. Nobody gets injured, but especially not to LB Chris Marve, CB Casey Hayward and SS Sean Richardson.

6. Either walk-on sophomore Richard Kent or true freshman Carey Spear proves an able replacement to punter Brett Upson. (We wouldn't have had a winning season or a bowl victory in 2008 without Upson, who was MVP of the Music City Bowl.)

Can all that happen? You bet it can.

Does it seem likely right now? No way, because everybody's lowered their expectations after last season's disappointing showing. But Vanderbilt's opponents have lowered their expectations, too. And when our guys come out next season and kick them in the mouth, our opponents are going to think, "This is the team that Paul Finebaum said would only win one game and get their coach fired?" And like we saw in 2008, some of those teams (Auburn, South Carolina, Ole Miss) just may panic.


Anonymous said...

and on top of that, after every game our opponents will walk home saying that is one helluva long snapper


Yeah, our long snapper won the long snapping contest at national all-star long snapping camp and yours didn't.

Hey, can he just line up in the shot gun with his back to the line of scrimmage, catch the ball between his legs and then long snap it to one of the wide receivers?