Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vandy fans, stop whining and enjoy being in first place

Sure, the Georgia loss was humbling. And sure, Chris Low now has us dead last in his latest SEC power rankings.

But guess who’ll be in the SEC East driver’s seat if they win on Saturday?

That’s right, Vanderbilt.

Today, South Carolina and Vanderbilt are the only teams in the East with two conference losses. Everybody else — Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee — has three.

So if Vandy upsets the Gamecocks on Saturday, the Commodores will be all alone in first place with a 2-2 record.

Sure, the likelihood of the Dores beating Florida and Arkansas to maintain the lead seems slim to none.

But we’ve never been in this position before. It’s the eighth week of the season and we’re not in the cellar of the SEC standings. In fact, we’re on top. In many ways, our season begins on Saturday. Sure, it could all turn to crap pretty fast, but for now let’s pause to acknowledge the rare gift of playing badly and still having the opportunity — however unlikely — to pull off a miracle season.

It’s too early to throw in the towel.


Mark said...

Ha great write up. I totally agree that this season is far from over. Over the past few years Vandy has always played SC hard and won 2 out of last 3. Our guys played awful last Saturday and its going to be interesting to see how they come out against SC after last weeks terrible performace. Hopefully the staff comes up with a solid game plan like they did against Ole Miss. Funny how those result in wins. Go Dores.

Anonymous said...

Great write up! I needed the inspiration even though it will most likely be dashed. But that is part of Vandy football... Hoping.. In the event that we do have another Georgia like game, I hope we can get to see Goro play. I read this about him today.

"He is accurate, a great decision-maker, athletic, has a 37-inch vertical jump, runs 100 meters in 10.9 seconds, makes all the throws, the short ones and the deep ones."

I would love to see us run the option with him if he is that fast. I can't tell you how many times I have heard about Klause being fast and running a 10.9. Goro is supposed to be just as fast. Let him run the option and throw short passes!


Yes, I was really sorry we didn't play Goro in Saturday's 43-0 blowout. But you have to be careful about reading high school scouting reports.

Wish we had this quarterback?: "Big, athletic and dangerous as a dual-threat QB... Is capable of making all the necessary throws... Shows solid zip and power on downfield throws and can fit the ball into tight spots underneath... Is an efficient passer when on the run and is extremely difficult to defend when he breaks contain... Makes quick decisions and does a good job of avoiding sacks."

We do have that quarterback. That's ESPN's scouting report of Larry Smith in 2007.

Steven said...

Dimon, I really enjoy reading your blog. It's an excellent source of lots of great info on Vandy football that truly can't be found anywhere else.

I love your optimism, but I think 2 more wins this season is probably the best we can hope for. We don't really have any business beating SC or Arkansas. We might have a better shot against Florida or Kentucky, but we really shouldn't win those. At best, we're evenly matched with UT. The only team we really should beat is Wake. That's not a bad season, but should be we doing better?

I think Bobby Johnson (and now Robbie Caldwell) have done some great things for the program--as you noted the abysmal performances by DiNardo, Widenhofer, etc. Bobby made Vanderbilt a better program, establishing fairly regular upsets against SEC teams, and more importantly reducing the number of terrible blowouts. And of course the '08 bowl season.

However, if you look at overall performance of top academic schools, we could be doing better. Here are the top 6 FBS schools based on graduation rate (all highly ranked academic schools):

Notre Dame (96)
Duke (96)
Navy (93)
Northwestern (92)
BC (91)
Vanderbilt (91)

Now look at those teams' records over the past 5 years:

ND (35-27)
Duke (11-48)
Navy (43-22)
NW (34-28)
BC (47-19)
Vandy (23-37)

Of those teams, we only compare favorably with Duke. Granted, we are in the toughest conference by far, but I think we could still do better (wiser non-conference scheduling would be a nice too).

I think Caldwell and co. still deserve the rest of this season, and maybe another, to prove themselves (and I know we'll have lots more experienced talent the next two seasons, as you've been reiterating) but I have to wonder if what we really need is a totally new staff, to compete at the level of these other academically elite schools.

What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Don't tell anybody...but we only have two SEC losses..........
Yes, I agree with all the above. **Where does Stanford fit in with all the academic/big-time conference schools?**
USC did everything but hand us the game last year, but we politely said "No Thanks, you guys can win this one". I saw the Kentucky/USC game last Sat. and I can tell you that UK played harder than I have ever seen them play(other than when they beat us in Nashville last year). The offense was not going to give up. We have tickets to see them play UGA Sat. in Lex.; UK may win this one, too. Unlike us, Trevathan and Wyndam will go after that freshman quarterback Murray. Those guys play with a lot of Hart-and UK may come out on top at Commonwealth.

Vanderbilt also can beat USC. We match up better and Garcia is very predictable. We get picks against them all the time and they will fumble the ball. Watch for the upset.X's and O's aside, USC knows there is a jynx with Vanderbilt.

Anonymous said...

Good post Dimon. I wish that I could share this good yet unrealistic feeling on the rest of the season. But unfortunately, there is somethng different about this season; too many mental mistakes on offense / defense; the penalties; poor position coaching at WR and qb leading to bad game-day play-calling; and seemigly poor chemistry with coaching the team to actual execution on the field. I hope for a good season, but feel that the best move is to replace the entire coaching staff because there appears to be a "losing mentality" with this coaching staff even though we have better athletes from a good recruiting class. We need a fresh start (coaching staff) to instill a winning approach. Don't forget that this is BJ's old staff....they have had plenty of time to prove themselves. Go Dores !

Dimon said...

I'll be disappointed when we're no longer bowl eligible. But until then...

Remember what happened after we got manhandled by LSU, a team with a much worse offense than Georgia? We came out and played a great game against Ole Miss, which beat Kentucky, which beat South Carolina.

Greg M said...

There are about 10 FCS ( DII) teams ahead of Vandy in the Sagarin rankings. I say give one of those coaches with a long history of winning a chance to coach Vandy!!!!


You mean like we hired Bobby Johnson from Furman? I like the idea of hiring a successful head coach, like Ohio State hired Jim Tressel from Youngstown State. But however Sagarin cooks his numbers, Vanderbilt would beat Stephen F. Austin and Eastern Washington, even if they're ranked higher. It's apples and oranges.

Greg M said...

No. Not like Bobby Johnson. He never won a championship and was only 60-36. I am talking about a WINNER, who has won championships and has better than a 60 something winning percentage. Maybe a young fiery guy. Not a minister or a comedian like or last two guys.

Dimon said...

We gonna get some new players when we get this fiery young winning coach? Or I guess he's going to attract a bunch of 5-star players, right?

Greg M said...

Yes. Might might finally get some real recruits with an agressive coach who has a winning track record to point out.

Greg M said...

BTW. The Vandy team that showed up against Georgia could easily lose to any team in the country, DI or DII.

Anonymous said...

Well said "Greg M". Any D1 or D2 school would have beat Vandy the way they played at Georgia. I agree that either a solid young coach who has served as a offensive coordinator at one of the 25 football programs or hiring a solid candidate from a top 5 FCS school with some recent history at building a winning program. It's not unusal at all to replace an entire coaching staff when they don't perform.....it happens every year. These are pretty much BJ's holdovers and they have not got the job done. It's laughable that some Vandy hopefull consider 2-3 wins a good season. I hope that David Williams already has a short-list.

Anonymous said...

I hate to type this, because I'm one to have low expectations for VU football and then get mad about not winning 6 games anyway, but I can't take this anymore.

Have you already forgotten VU beating EMU 52-6 all of two weeks ago? Do you really think that UGA team last Saturday beats the Eagles 95-6? Apparently some of us do, given the previous two comments, but I sure don't.

*Any* Division II school would beat Vanderbilt last week? I know hyperbole is the norm on message boards and in Interweb comments, but REALLY NOW. Unless someone can unearth a comment projecting Hi Lewis as a 1st-round NFL pick after the 1998 MSU game, this is the single craziest thing ever typed about Vanderbilt football ever.

Do you even know what Division II football is, or are you confusing it with I-AA/FCS? And either way, how can you possibly believe it?

Here, let me introduce you to the Livingstone College Blue Bears, the worst football team in Division II (real Division II, not I-AA.) Click that link, and look at those scores and opponents. Do it.

We're talking about a college of 1100 students, and a team averaging a mind-bendingly awful 105 yards a game.

As mortifying -- and it was Dowhower-era level awful, to be sure -- as Vandy's play against Georgia was, they still picked up 140 yards. And that was against an SEC defense, not Newberry College. Newberry held Livingstone to EIGHT.

But yes, this is surely a team that could somehow miraculously defeat Vanderbilt.

MV asked us to stop whining. I suppose we've done that and moved on to postulating the most insane gibberish imaginable. Whether that's progress or not, I don't know.

Either way, I guess it's time to ask if the NAIA's Mid-South Conference would take Vandy. Bring on the rivalry with Cumberland!


So Vandy played really well against EMU and terrible against UGA? I don't buy it. We played well because EMU is terrible and we played terrible because UGA, which has much better athletes, played well.

In fact, if we'd have played as badly in the first quarter of the UGA game as we did against EMU, we'd have lost that game 65-0.