Wednesday, July 28, 2010

They were expendable, Part II

Well, my list of "expendable" players caused a bit of a stir.

I realize these kids work hard and are true student athletes, and I realize it's tough when you're third or fourth on the depth chart, or some clown on some blog who was barely able to play intramural football at Vanderbilt is calling you expendable.

But all of the fine student-athletes I mentioned have been on past depth charts and, because of the influx of new talent, are now in danger of either losing playing time or failing to get the playing time everybody expected they would.

And yes, being relegated to special teams.

Vandyphile is right, special teams are not insignificant, and I really appreciate feedback from him and others.

I wasn't saying that these guys suck; I was saying that no fans would talk about them if they were gone. Nobody notices the special teams guys who are doing the blocking and tackling. For example, has anybody said our team will be worse off this season because we lost fifth-year senior Chris Johnson, who was an absolute special teams demon his entire career? Nope. Nobody on this site besides me has mentioned him once in the past two years.

And if Coach Caldwell, who's already said he's going to play more true freshmen than Bobby Johnson would have, really values special teams, then some of those "expendable" guys may not even play special teams this season because we've got a boatload of talented true freshmen defensive backs and linebackers.

Take guys like LB Chase Garnham and DB Steven Clarke, sure-fire redshirts under the Bobby Johnson plan. But both of them can run like the wind and deliver a solid blow. So maybe, instead of sitting them on the bench for a year, Caldwell values special teams so much that he puts them on the kickoff coverage team or another special team. Which means they take the spots of juniors and seniors who can't crack the depth chart but had found a niche on special teams.

I admit that Ryan van Rensburg was a bit of a stretch for my list. He's a victim of the Vanderbilt system, and he's a great utility guy. He'll likely play an important special teams role in every single game of his Vandy career, and he'll also get into some big games as a blocking back and even an extra tight end.

But now that Austin Monahan is back, RVR won't even be listed on the two-deep. Nobody but a few astute fans would miss him when he's gone.

And guys like Turner Wimberly and Akeem Dunham? Those guys had better work their tails off if they expect to play this season, and even then that will be no guarantee. I'm not saying they don't work hard and that they don't deserve to be rewarded with a little playing time, especially Wimberly, who's been at Vandy for five years. But I'm not necessarily saying they are SEC-caliber players either, and they're now facing competition from guys who are SEC-caliber players.


Anonymous said...

Good logical argument. My view as I have said before is that Caldwell should open up just about all positions to play the best players after last seasons performance and this years recruiting class. In a perfect world, at east 2 of the wr's would redshirt; however Caldwell knows that he needs to win now. I hear that the freshman receivers are doing very well in camp / drills. I would be surprised if Chris Boyd or Trent Pruit are NOT in the starting lineup against Northwestern. I also believe that Caldwell will allow coach hand some leeway in getting the ball to the wr's who come out of camp as the best playmaker. The key early in the season will be the running game; it will then allow the wr playmakers to keep defenses honest. Here's hoping that caldwell can get the offensive line to mesh early in the season; that will be the key to stealing an early game or 2. I think that the defense will be ok. Go Dores !

Vandygal78 said...

I thought the title of this series of articles was really terrible and insulting. You usually do such an outstanding job. If I were a player or a parent of a player mentioned here I would just be so very hurt. These guys work so hard. While they might not start, hey now we are getting depth. I hope every last one of these guys gets to contribute this year. Perhaps you should "introduce" us to these young men whether they will be stars or not. It's hard enough to read some of the junk in the Tennessean, couldn't you have done this in a much more thoughtful way. Otherwise you do a very good job.


Hey Vandygal, thanks for commenting. You're probably right that this was a bit over the top compared to what we usually do here. But even at Vanderbilt, college football is a business and we must keep upgrading our talent. When I wrote that Ashabranner and Cagle were leaving the team, nobody commented to say how sorry they were about it or that the team was falling apart. Even one person commented that we were better off without them. Which got me thinking about not which players were worthless as humans, but which ones would garner little or no reaction if they left. I believe all the players I mentioned, even RVR, would elicit little reaction if they left for whatever reasons. That's more a statement about Vandy football fans than about our players. For example, when Alan Strong transferred last summer, we at MV! made a big deal out of it, and his absence last season did hurt our team, but nobody really cared because he wasn't a starter and nobody but me has ever mentioned it since. I'm not saying these guys are expendable as human beings or as student-athletes or even as important players on game day or in practice, I'm saying they've become expendable in the minds of our fans. At this point, these guys are playing because they love the game and they have a dream. I don't think I'm crushing their dream; they've had doubters before. And when one of these kids does beat out a hot shot freshman or crack the two-deep, I promise you I'll notice it and mention it here.

Anonymous said...

Steven Clarke was NOT going to be redshirted under Coach Johnson. Clarke is one of the favorites with Andre Hal to be the team's punt returner, and that was with Johnson as the HC. He's also a corner/nickel that may unseat someone else on the depth chart, he's that good. How he got out of Miami is anyone's guess. I'm not sure why you think that other than you don't know much about him, so you decided to type that about Clarke. Also, Ryan van Rensburg is the team's H-back/Fullback. When they need a short yard, expect RVR to get the ball and expect him to catch passes too. Vanderbilt does use both a H-back and a bookend TE at the same time in their offense. Akeem Dunham will play too (and he's a SEC caliber player guy, how much of him have you seen play to even say he's not?), he's right now the team's biggest receiver and they will use him in the red zone, along with Chris Boyd and Brady Brown. Al Owens is the team's No.2 STRONG SAFETY. Ladler and Simmons are both playing free, Simmons will likely get snaps at corner too. Micah Powell is now a rover linebacker who they want to get on the field. Johnell Thomas will also play as will Josh Jelesky. You're entire blog here, you are finding ways to cut into the depth of the team! Just because you haven't seen them play much as RS FR last year doesn't mean that they are suddenly not a part of the depth here.


Thanks for the report. Great information on specific players, which is hard to get among Vandy fans, who mostly want to talk about Aaron Rodgers.

Do you think Gowder has a chance to play as a true freshman? I've been saying no.

Vandy2012 said...

I absolutely love your blog. I currently go to Vanderbilt, and it is so great to read about the team from someone who obviously cares for the Dores, instead of some commentator that throws us in as an afterthought. I appreciate you responding to your criticism in the way that you did, and I wanted to say keep up the good work! I know a lot of guys on the team personally, and your blog is one of the only ones I can read without cringing.


Thanks much, Vandy2012. Always glad to hear from Vandy students. Feel free to comment anytime.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy this blog and look forward to the updates. I dont have a big problem with "expendable" post; maybe a little strong but lets all be big boys and big girls, It's a shame that the coverage by the "tennessean" is so poor. Lets support Coach Caldwell and the team this season. I think the team will play with its back against the wall all season because so few are giving the team any respect in the sec. Im looking forward to the team playing well this season under coach caldwell. Go Dores !

Anonymous said...

I also do not have a problem with an expendable list. I thought to see if you did your homework on these kids so I I took the time to go and look up the stats on Ryan Van Rensburg:

Vanderbilt Overall Individual Statistics (as of Nov 22, 2009)
All games


Norman,Warren 7
Stacy,Zac 3
Smith,Larry 2
Van Rensburg 2

Total Offensive Plays:

Smith,Larry 312
Norman,Warren 145
Adams,Mackenzi 155
Stacy,Zac 107
Reeves,Kennard 25
Graham,Jamie 6
Miller,Gaston 4
van Rensburg,Ry 4

What does this tell me? You made an assessment about this young man based on the 4 times he was handed the ball of which he score twice. Just look at the list and see how many opportunities the players above him on the list had to make a play.

I believe you have been mistaken by including him in your list. I believe he may be one of the ”players not getting enough credit” after I looked at his stats.