We need a win this weekend. That's the consensus among the pundits around the internet today. I couldn't agree more.
The only question, really, is whether we'll have (as Coach Johnson says) the "mental toughness" to concentrate on this week, and adequately prepare for the Eastern Michigan Eagles. If we do, we'll blow them out. If we don't, it could be ugly.
If we have a defensive performance like we did last week against Ole Miss, then we won't have to worry about any problems against the Eagles (well, worry that much, at least). I have to agree with Bobby Johnson that so far, at least, Bruce Fowler is doing a "good job mixing zone pressure with pass pressures and man pressures," to keep those SEC (and MAC?) offenses off-balance.
At the same time, the Vanderbilt offensive line is also getting some attention from Maurice Patton in the Tennessean.
I say "attention," because as Maurice points out, what was supposed to be one of our strengths -- our senior o-line -- hasn't really proven to necessarily be that big of a strength (we're currently 10th in the SEC in rushing yards).
Be sure to check out that whole article, though, 'cause Maurice does give Chris Nickson some respect.
Over in the City Paper, Brett Hait has a Vandy Note about the 'Dores coming familiarity with the MAC (since we're playing two of their teams, EMU and Miami of Ohio). He also has a funny quote in his general SEC Notes piece about Alabama fans.
Brett writes: "Proving again that its fan base defies description, Alabama officials estimated some 32,000 ticket-less fans roamed around Bryant-Denny Stadium last Saturday when the Crimson Tide hosted Georgia. ESPN’s College GameDay show was in town, but seriously, would you stand in 90-degree heat just to see Lee Corso?"
I dunno... I thought about going (remember first, I'm in Birmingham, and second, we had an off week). There has just been electricity around 'Bama in this State so far. It didn't seem like a bad idea just to go and have a communal experience watching the game on this big screen they'd erected on the Quad in front of the 'Bama library on campus.
And you know, even after the big loss, the Tiders are still giddy about their team and their coach. We'll see how they crow after the FSU win-- er, umm, "game."
Up on the Pleasant Peninsula, the Ann Arbor News has another piece about the EMU kicker. The current player comes in this year to replace Eastern Michigan's (now get this) all-time leading scorer. That's right. The kicker.
In the Lafayette, La. Advertiser, there's an SEC this week post that has some general Vanderthoughts (along with some commentary about our brothers in the Nine States).
Down in Shreveport, La., Glenn Guilbeau (humbly) writes in his weekly Guilbeau Poll about our chances this week: first, he says, Vanderiblt has "[a]n off week, then Eastern Michigan. That's living right." Couldn't agree more.
In the Sporting News, the authors pick Vanderbilt by 20, after taking a look at the rest of the SEC.
Athlon also has a Eastern Michigan-Vanderbilt preview. According to them, we're "are feeling pretty good about [our]selves after beating Ole Miss 31–17 two weeks ago in the school’s first double-digit SEC win since 2004." You know, I don't need the glib-ness, Athlon. I really don't. I mean, we're glad we won, and we appreciate your picking us, but we're not exactly thunderstuck over here, and we don't need the sarcasm.
SportsMemo.com has a look at "sports from the Vegas perspective," in its SEC football notes. And they have some interesting things to say about Vanderbilt's bowl chances.
One of the more interesting non-Vanderbilt folks reporting this week is from LakeHartwell.com (I think it's in Hartwell, Ga.). Their Jay Holgate has his weekly SEC Coaches Performance Report. Bobby J comes in at 10th... which sort of reflects where people think our team is; they do, however, put Coach at 3 stars, which apparently is an "okay" rating.
On to VandyMania and VandySports. Not too much going on with their content; instead, we'll go straight to the message boards.
First up, as usual, is "BrentVU"'s daily Vandernews post.
The "GluttonforPunishment" points out our 20-point spread and doesn't think we'll make it. I believe he sees a win, but he doesn't see the spread. I dunno... we've done fairly well against the spread in three games (2-1 -- which reflects our record, as well). Maybe that means that if we win, it'll be by the spread? I don't know -- but several folks on VM post like they do.
Apparently the Alabama people who were regulars on VM during the first couple of weeks of the season can't get enough of our boards -- or maybe these are some of the season-ticket holders who are slowly becoming Vanderfans. Anyway, it's "tide4ever1" who brings up the fact that Florida State apparently has somewhere around 23 athletes implicated in cheating. Uh oh.
Poster "AlbertCamus" has an interesting pseduo-obsession with Chris Nickson's touchdown run against Ole Miss that put us up by a touchdown after our first drive against the Rebels.
He says, "I can't get it out of my mind. I am talking about the play, of course. What play? Nickson's scramble into the endzone for the first [touchdown] against [Ole Miss]. Nickson turned the tiniest seam into an opportunity to score with what was the greatest athletic play I have seen by a [Vanderbilt] [quarterback] in [thirty-plus] years."
Pretty heady stuff. And he has a lot more to say, too. Check it out.
In a much more interesting post, "Dores311" puts up our plagiarized-from-'Bama Eastern Michigan look-alike comparisons post. As usual, some of them are really strikingly close; others-- well, others aren't so close.
On VandySports, "Vu4life" seems a bit worried that no one is talking about Eastern Michigan. This raises some discussion, as well as (at least) one very funny joke at Yew Tee's expense.
VS poster "Vuftball1" notes that all week, we've been worried that Vanderbilt may overlook EMU with a somewhat-vulnerable Auburn team only a week away. He argues, however, that it's also a real possibility that Eastern Michigan could be overlooking Vanderbilt. Don't buy it? Go read what he has to say; it actually makes a lot of sense.
On to the blogs. At Who Ya With, Marv points out that in the history of Vanderbilt football, we have never beaten a team from the Pleasant Peninsula. Instead, we're 0-11-1 (quick, who knows who the tie was against -- the answer in a few -- and don't cheat). And, as he points out, we're looking for our first consecutive wins since TSU and Temple last year (and at least if we get the win this week, we'll have defeated to D-I schools in a row).
At Gatorsports.com, Brandon Zimmermen discusses, in the Gainesville Sun, whether the new kickoff rule has made an impact on the college game thus far this year. Most of the SEC coaches are loving it: Les Miles, Houston Nutt, and Urban Meyer all have positive things to say about it. But not our man, Bobby Johnson: "It gives offenses too good of field position. You're asking your defense to do too much now. It wasn't broken, so I don't see the need to try to change it."
You know, sometimes Coach Johnson is like the Edmund Burke of college football.
Finally, today, ESPN noticed Kevin Stallings' big catch in Steve Tchiengang; according to them, we're stocking up on "talented bigs." That sounds impressive, doesn't it. Wouldn't it be cool to make another run to the Sweet Sixteen?
That's it for today. Football is coming, Commodore fans, so stay tuned.