First, before I get into sports, it's important to take a step back and remember where we were today, six years ago. I, myself, was on the Vanderbilt campus, walking from Kissam Quandrangle up the hill to Rand Hall, to go work as a student-worker in the Vanderbilt Bookstore (don't worry, that only lasted one year). I watched the towers fall on a TV up on the second floor, and I remember thinking, as I numbly stocked Vanderwear, that what was happening was something that I'd always remember.
And with men and women (including many of our Vanderbilt ROTC and NROTC graduates) fighting and dying across the seas, I want to take this opportunity to remind all of us what's important.
With that said, our men and women are fighting and dying so that our way of life may go on, and a big part of that way of life, for many of us, has to do with college football. Specifically, Vanderbilt. So.
The biggest surprise in Saturday's game (i.e., "debacle") against Alabama, even more surprising (to me at least) than the usual great calls made by the SEC zebras, was when Coach Johnson took Chris Nickson out of the game in the second half of play.
Since I did not bring a radio into Vanderbilt Stadium with me, I did not have the benefit of the "Voice of the Commodores," Joe Fisher, to explain what was going on when Mackenzi Adams went under center for the Black-and-Gold.
And it seems that the problem may not be going away.
Maurice Patton breaks the bad news for us in today's Tennessean: injury may force Nickson out as quarterback, at least for the short term. Brett Hait also writes about Chris in the City Paper. Even the Sporting News gets in on the "uh-oh" action, with an AP story that helps the Ole Miss folks have some confidence.
Now here's a question: do you think Vegas knew about Chris when they set the line at Vanderbilt -5? I think we'd better keep an eye on whether the line goes up or down -- I think it may go closer to even.
Seeking, perhaps, a little positive light to shed on the 'Dores, Maurice then writes about Curtis Gatewood and the influence he's having on the Vanderbilt defense.
Brett gives us some Commodores Notes that inform us that Coach Johnson won't complain about officiating. I agree with Coach Johnson that whining about the refs won't accomplish anything. And I also agree with the cliche that "winning teams win despite the refs." But, good Lord, people. Some of the calls we've gotten over the years are just ridiculous. More on that, below.
Apparently the Ole Miss media got wind of our comments about their poor showing as compared to Alabama media, and so they got hopping today.
Parrish Alford writes in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal the Ole Miss defense may be in worse shape than ours. If Chris were healthy, I'd argue that would give us a great shot at a win this Saturday. As things stand, it's still much better than if their defense were healthy, but I'm not nearly as confident as I could be. Parrish also has an Ole Miss game notes piece that has bad news for the Rebs, good news for us.
Down in lower Mississippi, Jim Mashek writes in the Gulfport Sun-Herald that Orgeron thinks that the game this Saturday will be a grind. Seeing as how Oregeron knows that Chris may not be healthy, I tend to agree. Of course, if we can take advantage Ole Miss' injuries and position changes, we have a good chance.
In Jackson, Robbie Neiswanger writes in the Clarion-Ledger what we also heard from Parrish up in the north part of the State: Ole Miss has to plug holes in their defense.
Up in the land of the Delta Blues, Scott Cacciola, in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, jumps on the Ole Miss-defense-has-problems bandwagon, arguing that "things won't get any easier against Vanderbilt." It's still weird to read about us being viewed as a legitimate middle tier team by front-line Southern media. Of course, we'll have to win to keep that ball rolling.
Over on VandyMania, the intrepid "VandyMania Staff" (I'd like to know who this really is) updates us on our opponents and how they did this week. It's really interesting to note that all four of our upcoming opponents (including Auburn and Georgia) all lost this week. Who would have thought that coming into week 3, we'd legitimately (if we can get Chris healthy) have a shot at wins over both the Dawgs and the Tigers?
Elsewhere on VM, Nik Rodewald has his weekly Commodore Keys article up for the Ole Miss game. He observes, with me, that if Chris is healthy, we've got a great shot.
In the blogosphere, Jesus Quintana at Who Ya With gives us some props for our pointing out, yesterday, the VM thread about the newest Vanderbilt Stadium cheer: "We'll pay more!" He also has an amazing picture of an SEC official being led away from a stadium in handcuffs (where did that picture come from?).
Finally, our friends at Save the Shield point out an interesting occurrance on Nashville talk radio yesterday, when anti-Vandy-guy David Climer agreed that the punt-return-facemask and the other stupid penalty were actually that: stupid and bad.
Thanks for your patience on Naval Intelligence for today; our state-of-the-art Star & Stripe computers have been malfunctioning, and my partner-in-crime is currently out of town. We're going to continue to do our best to keep things up to date.