Saturday, September 11, 2010

Preview: Vandy faces tall challenge against LSU

So 55 percent of visitors to this site believe the Commodores will win tonight against LSU.

Not me. Before the season, I picked us to lose this game 26-14. I'm thinking it might be worse than that.

Again, that doesn't mean this team's not progressing. But remember how we ran the ball seemingly at will against Northwestern? While we were moving the ball up and down the field against the Wildcats, LSU was holding North Carolina to 24 yards rushing on 33 attempts.

Let me say that again: 24 yards rushing on 33 attempts.


The good news, if there is any, is that Ryan Seymour returns to the offensive line, which increases our number of linemen with more than one game of experience to four.

I think we really struggle on offense in this one. There's no way we'll move the ball through the air tonight with Cole, Umoh and Wimberly in the lineup. Last year, SEC secondaries were laughing at these guys. Yeah, they've worked hard in the off season but they still can't get downfield and separate from elite defenders. Jonathan Krause needs to stay on the field tonight, and Matthews and Boyd need to get some serious reps too. They'll take their lumps and they probably won't be the difference in the game, but they could very well be the difference for us next week and for weeks to come.

Larry appears to be growing and learning and finding a rhythm. He faces a huge challenge tonight because our line is young and light by SEC standards, LSU has its usual massive D-line, our receiving corps is shaky, and we'll have trouble gaining yards on the ground. It'll be interesting to see how he responds.

On defense, Jordan Jefferson is going to give us problems. Stanimal at VSL compares him to Dan Persa, and they're right in that he's capable of putting up those kinds of numbers against us tonight. But we contained Persa for key stretches of the game, and a good portion of his passes were on third down and were short of the marker because we backed off, allowed the completion and then made the tackle that forced the punt.

Jefferson is about half a foot taller and maybe 30-40 pounds heavier than Persa, and he's got gigantic wide receivers with world class speed. And the LSU offensive line is bigger and stronger than the Cats.

LSU can beat itself, and if they do and we're also playing at the height of our powers,
then we can win this game but we've got to have help from them and from the renowned game manager Les Miles. It's no secret that we have zero margin for error against a supremely talented team like LSU.

So yes, we can win. But we could also get blown off the field.

If that happens, keep your heads. Really, we have no business beating or even hanging with LSU. At the end of this one, it will probably be easy to blame:

• Larry Smith
• Our young offensive line
• Our receivers
• Our defensive line
• Larry Smith
• Larry Smith
• And did we mention Larry Smith?

If we lose to LSU, don't look for a scapegoat. Outside of maybe Florida, this is by far the most talented team we'll play all season. And maybe you've heard that we're not supposed to win every game.

Don't dwell on the scoreboard in this one. It'll be a victory for us if:
• We don't lose any starters or key players (last season against LSU we lost our best offensive lineman and a four-year starter at safety for the rest of the year)
• The unbelievably young offensive line continues to gel.
• Larry Smith keeps his cool, stays healthy and makes some good throws whether we catch them or not.
• We take the wraps off Krause — a bunch of us would love to see him on a reverse — and get Matthews his first reception.
• The secondary, particularly redshirt frosh Jay Fullam, keeps the Tigers from completing long pass plays.
• Ryan Fowler makes an extra point.


Andrew VU '04 said...

Well aren't you Nostra-freaking-damus. Other than calling Les Miles a good game manager (what?! WHAT?!) you were spot on, especially the part about who we'll be wanting to scapegoat. Excellent post, just excellent. Also, Larry Smith needs to go away. Just go away, Larry.


The Les Miles comment was intended as sarcasm. I was glad to see Funk get some snaps at the end. I say we give Larry the nod against Ole Miss and if he can't deliver then we should start thinking about going back to the drawing board, whatever that means. Robby Caldwell's got to be thinking about burning the redshirt off Jordan Rodgers if he's ready.