Saturday, September 4, 2010

Vanderbilt fans should psychologically prepare themselves for tonight's game with Northwestern

Yes, we're excited about our new head coach and our new talent and maybe even the fact that we're playing a private university without a great football tradition. So we're gonna win, right?

Wrong. At least, we shouldn't win.

I've already picked us to lose this game but win six games. We have a shot tonight, sure. But there are a ton of questions to be answered about this team, starting with our receiving corps and offensive line, last year's two big eye sores.

We feel better because we have new players at those positions. But get this:
• THREE of our top six receivers are true freshmen.
• SEVEN of our top 10 offensive linemen (not counting Ryan Seymour, who's been dropped from today's roster for disciplinary reasons) have never played in a college football game, and four of them are true freshmen.

I'm not trying to be a buzzkill, but it's important to be realistic about this.

If we lose, and even lose in a blowout, it's not the end of the world. Those true freshmen and redshirt freshmen — and other players like sophomore Jabo Burrow who still haven't played yet — are still talented players on whom we're building the foundation for a promising future. We need to remember that if we struggle tonight. This is a work in progress, and we're playing a team that scored 31 points in a New Year's bowl game against Auburn. We, you may recall, didn't win an SEC game.

If we do win, it's a really, really big deal. The media loves Robbie Caldwell, and some of them, like Chris Low, are actually picking Vandy to win. But we should be bigger underdogs than the 5.5 point spread. If we win, don't take it for granted. It would be a tremendous accomplishment, on the lines of any of our five wins in our miracle 5-0 run of 2008. And that team, you may recall, also returned no starters on the offensive line and was picked to win one or two games.

So what I'm saying is, I'm going to psychologically prepare myself for the game — win or lose — and you should too.

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