Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Naval Intelligence: Roadmaps and blueprints for finding a bowl -- and caging the Tigers

With three wins under their collective belts, the Commodores need to win 3 of 8 remaining games to break even and earn their first post-season trip since 1982. Photo by Neil Brake, Vanderbilt University.
If you want to get some attention, apparently, all you have to do is make a statement that could possibly be construed as accusing some great sportswriters (like Maurice Patton and Brett Hait) of plagiarism, and your website hits will go up.

And so, let me be plainly blunt: yesterday's Naval Intelligence was my attempt to compliment our beat reporters and point out that have the privilege of getting to read and comment on their hard work. And nothing else.

Now, moving on to today's news.

Maurice has a great piece outlining what he sees as the blueprint for Vanderbilt to make it to a bowl.

In a nutshell, he sees the following games as "thumbs up": Auburn, Georgia, Miami (Ohio), Tennessee, and Wake Forest. He sees these games as "thumbs down": South Carolina, Florida, and Kentucky.

I think that I don't have much disagreement with Maurice on this; the only game that I might switch is the Georgia game.

Believe me, the Georgia players have not forgotten losing their Homecoming game to us, and the big ESPN2 prime-time game is an opportunity for them to redeem themselves and get the attention of some folks out their in the AP voting community. Not to mention the fact that we have traditionally not done very well, win-wise, on ESPN (remember our performance against LSU?).

Our buddies at Vanderbilt Sports Line also write extensively about the blueprint, and they have some discussion about which games they see differently from Maurice.

Elsewhere, in his general game notes, Maurice lets us know that Bobby Johnson sees things "half-full" when it comes to Chris Nickson's performance against EMU.

We know, Brett Hait writes, that Auburn is going to try to run the football against us. And the Vanderbilt defense -- currently nationally ranked in many parts of the defensive game -- know what's coming.

Theo Horrocks says it best: "They're going to try to run it down our throats until we stop it. ... We have to shut them down and make them pass it."

Brett also let's us know that Vanderbilt received some good fortune at the hands of the Florida Gators offense: Auburn senior defensive end Quentin Groves will probably not play when the 'Dores storm the Plains.

At the same time, though, another big Tiger playmaker will be back on the field: Brad Lester. It's bad news for the VU defense because, as Tiger Ben Tate says, "... they'll always have a fresh back coming at them." Let's hope our new-found depth continues to hold.

Of course, as the Vanderbilt Hustler points out, that may not be a problem because the Commodores relish playing on the road. I have lots of theories as to why this might be; part of it, I think, is that the 'Dores, used to playing before an unfriendly crowd, respond much better when that unfriendly crowd is not housed in "their" stadium.

Scouting report on Auburn. First, we get more detail about Auburn's loss of Quentin Groves. We hear about Coach Tuberville's "mixing it up" on the Tiger offensive line. Finally, the Huntsville Times gives us their Auburn notebook, where we get an interesting quote from Coach Tuberville, who said, "We don't have that instinct yet that we need to finish people off." Hopefully, they won't find it before Saturday.

In the Kansas City Star, we have a great preview of our game this weekend. Their analysis is in depth, and we take a look at their highlights in our Auburn-Vandy preview tomorrow.

Over on, the conference has a preview of the game, and they note that the series is tied 19-19-1. Isn't that wrong? I thought that with their win in 2003, Auburn led 20-19-1. Can someone clear this up?

In the blogosphere, Brandon Barca has pictures from the women's basketball photo shoot that took place yesterday.

The entire Vanderbilt defense was named the player of the week; so who gets to carry the Anchor this week? Photo by Neil Brake, Vanderbilt University.
Jesus Quintana at Who Ya With has an Auburn preview (no, really, I promise -- after the ranting). He sort-of makes a prediction: "[w]hoever wins the turnover battle" wins the game. Well, if we go by the stats (and tomorrow, we will), then that is good news for the Commodores.

Music City Bloggers, looking on the bright-side of things for Nashville sports fans, gives Vanderbilt some respect by noting that we're 3-1.

T. Kyle King, at, has his weekly SEC Preview, and it's possible he's a closet Commodore fan. He writes, "Surely all the pieces are in place for a Vanderbilt upset, right? I'd love to think so; I'll be rooting hard for it to happen... but I just don't see it."

Hopefully, we'll see if we can't help him find some faith this Saturday when the 'Dores rumble into the "Loveliest Village."

Let's talk some about the Auburn blogs.

I went through all the Auburn blogs I could find, and I even searched Technorati and Google Blog Serach to try to find something besides post-Florida-win afterglow. Despite a huge web presence, I could only find two blogs who even mentioned Vanderbilt more than in passing.

First, Auburn91 at Track 'Em Tigers sees danger looming for the Tigers this weekend. He has some great stuff from the Auburn perspective, and he even comes up with an interesting Vanderstat:

"The Commodores come into Saturday’s contest with a 3-1 record including a conference win over Ole Miss. Their only defeat came against Alabama in week two, a 24-10 loss that was closer than the score indicated.

"Their superstar is wide receiver Earl Bennett, who will become the all-time leading receiver in SEC history before the season is over. The Birmingham native is the real deal and can make the big catches.

"They also have a pretty good quarterback in Chris Nickson. Vandy scores quickly. They have only one scoring drive over five minutes this season. And here’s something interesting: the Commodores average starting field position is its own 42 yard line."

Nick at Fire Al Borges also blogs about the 'Dores, but his analysis is less-- well, let's be nice, it's ok.

Elsewhere on SEC blogs, the Garnet and Black Attack has posted their weekly SEC power ratings, and the Commodores are ranked eleventh with a measly 28 points (compared to Ole Miss at 13 and Miss. State at 33). I just don't get it.

File this under the heading "wtf?"

Finally for this edition of NI, a loyal reader points out that we have really been missing some of the big baseball recruiting noise coming out Tim Corbin's team.

Happily, he provided us with a link to some analysis of the recruiting class Coach Corbin has put together. And it's pretty impressive stuff.

Hope you enjoy our look at the stats that prove why we'll go bowling; and check back tomorrow for our previously-mentioned Auburn-Vandy preview.

Until then, save the shield and go Dores.

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