Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Naval Intelligence: Taking off the sack-cloth and ashes

The Vanderbilt defense was the highlight of the loss to Auburn, and even they didn't have a very good game. Photo by Stan Jones, VandyMania.com.
I suppose that three days is a good period of mourning for our performance on Saturday.

As you can see, I was able to bring myself to make a post during the game. I have been unable, however (until prompted by an ever-loyal reader), to contemplate reading through all the news from Sunday and yesterday to present it for you, even here on S&S.

But, I am a loyal Commodore, even through adversity (as all those who don the Star and Stripe have always been -- and always must be), and this is Homecoming Week at Vanderbilt University.

If there's ever a time to put off the sackcloth and return unto the Black-and-Gold, it is as a proud alumnus going back to the "city's west'rn border" for my 2005+2 reunion with a football game against the Georgia Bulldogs on national, prime-time television.

Even as I force myself back into the world of Vandersports, I am not fully over the loss on Saturday. I'm not ready to go wade through all the negativity lingering in Commodore Country right now, so I'm not going to post everything that I could in NI today.

Frankly, I don't really want to read a lot of the reaction from the newspapers, blogs, and (especially) message boards from this weekend.

I will try to do a little deconstructing of the loss as we go along today, but I will be more focused on that prime-time, nationally-televised game against the vengeance-seeking Georgia Bulldogs who come to West End this weekend.

We'll start with the fact that Maurice notes in his game-notes today that despite their whipping by Tennessee, the Georgia Bulldogs remain ranked 24th in the country as they prepare to come to Nashville.

The other obvious bit of reporting we have to cover is the quarterback situation. Though we have, in this space, referred to Chris Nickson as the best hope for Vanderbilt's season this year, Saturday made us eat our words, and I, for one, believe it's appropriate to "pull an Auburn" and put our back-up in while our starter thinks about his future.

A quote from Brett Hait's piece in the City Paper: "As long as one of them makes the better reads and is playing better, it doesn’t really have a direct effect on me or anybody else on the offense."

Who said it? Vanderbilt center Hamilton Holiday.

The Tennessean also has a piece on the quarterback situation, but it's not by Maurice Patton; instead, Vanderbilt Hustler sports editor Jarred Amato moonlights for Nashville's paper of record and writes Nickson may have to earn his job back.

Jarred also tells us, in the Hustler, that Mackenzi Adams prepares to be the starter every week, and that no matter what he'll "be there for them" when they need him.

Brett Hait highlights our struggles on offense in general from the last few games, with statistics like these: Nickson was 5 for 16 on passes (31%) while Mackenzi Adams was 4/9 (44%). Combined, the two quarterbacks only put together 59 yards in their combined passing games.

No wonder Saturday was so ugly.

To distract us from the pain, we have a nice human-interest piece by Maurice about the redshirt freshmen and the improvement program that they have been doing. It mainly centers around the fact they're required to be on-time (read "early") for a 5:30 a.m. practices on every Friday morning.

Good thing I didn't play football at Vanderbilt; I would have been doing 100 up-downs every week.

If you want, go pick through Bobby Johnson's press conference from yesterday. Basically, Coach saw it like we did: "Auburn played extremely well and we didn't play well at all." Talk about an understatement.

Down in Georgia, they're trying to find time to spare from their Tennessee-debacle recriminations (remember their score against Yew Tee was barely better than our score against the Tigers) to focus on previewing us.

In the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, David Ching writes that the quarterback who led Vanderbilt to shock the 'Dawgs at homecoming last year may not be starting this game. So much for hoping they'd forgot about that little win between the Hedges.

The Macon Telegraph kindly notes that Georgia's 5.3 yards per play is better than us. So much for my statistical analysis like last week (of course, my statistical analysis went out the door after the first freakin' quarter last Saturday).

Finally, to wrap up the newspapers, the Hustler gives the 'Dores a report card for Saturday, and let's just say that a deficiency notice should be in the mail.

On VandyMania, they appropriately entitle their Auburn recap post the Bungle in the Jungle.

Also on VM, J2M posts his weekly "Stunners" and I agree with his selection for MVP of the game.

At VandySports, Jesse Johnson writes that despite the carnage in Auburn on Saturday, Earl Bennett is on the verge of making history for Vanderbilt. I agree with him that if we have any hope of beating Georgia, it will come in the hands of Earl Bennett.

Of course, that implies that we'll have someone throwing the ball to him in the first place. Which is, see above, still in doubt.

Will Mackenzi Adams get to start against Georgia? It all depends on how practice goes this week. Photo by Stan Jones, VandyMania.com.
VS also has up the transcript of the post-game press conference.

This quote really sticks out: "They were tougher than we were, more physical and we didn't have what it took to get back in there."

Saith Bobby Johnson.

On the blogs, Vanderbilt Sports Line has a well-titled Recapping the Crapping that was written on Sunday by Seamus O'Toole. With a bit more perspective (but similar analysis), Bobby O'Shea joins new VSLer "Correspondent Chris" to give their version of the meltdown on the Plains.

Fially on VSL, the gents have posted their weekly Power Rankings post. Frankly, if we hadn't beaten Ole Miss, I would have put us at 12th after Saturday.

And maybe 3rd in Jefferson County, Alabama (after Hoover and Vestavia Hills High Schools). But I digress.

On Vanderbilt Tailgate, Senn SM points out that the last time Yew Tee beat UGA this bad, Vandy won in Athens. Umm... I hope there's a nifty correlation to that this year, but somehow (cough)Auburn(/cough) that doesn't seem likely. Senn SM also has a nice photo that sums up how a lot of Vanderfolk feel about our hopes for this year's team.

Marv has to barf after seeing the game from this weekend, and he points out that this was the worst game he'd seen in a long time. I concur.

Sadly, our game this weekend was televised on LF Sports (of course, it won't be as sad as it will be if we play like that on national, prime-time TV this week), and so our SEC brethren got to laugh uncontrollaby at watch the Commodores take on (or exist on the same field with) the Auburn Tigers.

Thus, we have two blogposts from our friend at Best of the SEC Blogs. First, he notes that we were surprisingly poor on Saturday (and I have to agree).

Second, Best of the SEC stands up for our belonging in the SEC after a hateful and non-hygenically sound individual at From the Bleachers argues that we should leave the SEC (didn't I just go off about that this very week?!).

Best of the SEC quotes some of the fatalism that Philip over at Save the Shield brought up in his three-part review of the Bungle (hat-tip to VM).

The thing that BoSEC doesn't realize, though, is that fatalism is literally built into the very DNA of the Vanderfan. Witness our fight song:

"Dynamite, dynamite,
when Vandy starts to fight:
down the field with blood to yield,
if need be, save the shield!

"If vict'ry's won when battle's done,
then Vandy's name will rise in fame;
but win or lose, the Fates will choose,
and Vandy's game will be the same:

"Dynamite! Dynamite,
when Vandy starts to fight!"


And guess what: those lyrics were penned in 1922. You know, back when we were actually good.

I guess Francis Craig didn't know how prescient his words would come to be.

Anyway, be sure to check out the rest of Philip's views on STS, as he goes into some depth in his "sorting through the carnage." Here is Part II and Part III.

Well, enough is enough. I said I was taking off the sackcloth, and this post has somewhat devolved into depression. Let's pick things up.

In very-exciting-news for the University and its beleaguered students, alums, faculty, staff, and friends (you know, the "Vanderbilt community"), our baseball recruiting class was named 12th in the country despite the fact that we have one of "the smallest classes in the Top 25." Check out that great story from Mike Rapp on VS.

In other good news for the program-in-general, our men's basketball team (despite the loss of JeJuan Brown to withdrawal from the University) has seen recruiting turn around 180 degrees in the right direction (careful, that's premium content).

So there we go. Got all the bad vibes out today; tomorrow, we're gonna see if we can't get excited about Homecoming. 'Cause it's Homecoming & Reunion, and it's my University, and no matter what, we're still Vanderbilt, and we're still gonna throw a heckuva party.

Let's just hope we can have a heckuva football game, too.

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