Thursday, October 18, 2007

Naval Intelligence: When losing by 3 is as bad as a blowout

As the 'Dores took the field on Homecoming, hopes were high that a bowl was still within reach. What about now? Photo by Diezba, Star & Stripe.
It's been very busy in the real-life world of both Diezba (who's seriously questioning the conventional wisdom that the third-year of law school is supposed to be the easiest) and Mark (who's learning that having a job is not so pleasing a thing as wanting a job).

Of course, we've written posts when we were busy before; part of the reason that we've been so, well, hesitant about writing is because it's been so difficult to know what to write.

I was in the south endzone, watching Mackenzi Adams power up to the goal line, only to be called back because of a Vanderbilt timeout. I was there watching Cassen Jackson-Garrison run toward destiny, only to see destiny turn to destitution in the moment it takes to yell "Sic 'em, Dawgs!"

And I've learned this week that a 3-point loss, even when arguably well-played on national television for Homecoming, can be just as devastating to the Vanderpsyche as a 30-point pounding.

I posed this dilemma to one of our regular readers who happens to be a fellow law-slave with me here in Birmingham. This young man, a dedicated Vanderbilt fan, seemed thoughtful when I spoke to him. Later, he emailed me an encouraging post, and I have obtained his permission to post his thoughts pseudonymously:

by Eighty-Two Dore, Esq.
Special Contributor

"Is it basketball season yet?"

Three years ago, my answer to that question would have been a whole-hearted, "Hell yes, it is."

This past Friday [before Homecoming at Vanderbilt] was the date NCAA teams could officially begin practice. Games are still a few weeks off, but practice has always signified the beginning of a new season to me.

When your football team is toiling through what is sure to be another losing season, it's easy to move on. Vanderbilt is coming off a Sweet 16 run last year, and we add a great recruiting class to the mix.

I could keep going about how excited I am about basketball season, but football isn't done yet. Not this year.

We're 3-3, 1-3 at the halfway point.

Let's recap the first 6: we won the games we were supposed to in Richmond, Ole Miss, and Eastern Michigan; we lost the games we were supposed to in Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia. I'll be honest: it's my fault.

I've been present for the 3 losses and absent for the 3 wins. In fact, I just had to look up the last time I physically was at a game Vandy won. For the record, it was the Ole Miss game in 2005. The 2005 season changed my view on Vanderbilt football.

Yeah, we started 4-0 only to finish 5-6, but the team showed they could win games they weren't supposed to win. They won in Fayetteville and Knoxville. Yeah, they blew games against MTSU and Kentucky, but they also went to double-overtime in Gainesville, arguably the toughest road environment in the country.

Previous Vandy teams would have folded when down 35-21 with 4 minutes left. Not that team.

And I don't think this team will either. I still believe in them.

Their backs are against the wall with the remaining schedule. They should have one definite win on the schedule with Miami (Ohio). Wake showed they are still a good team in their win over FSU, but these aren't the 'Noles of the '90s. Wake has to play a near-perfect game to win a game like that, much like Vandy must do. That being said, Wake is a very winnable game.

Assuming we will beat both Miami and Wake, we have to steal one from SC, UK, UF, or UT. That's where 2005 comes in.

The past two years we've "stolen" a game we weren't supposed to win. In 2005, it was Arkansas and Tennessee, and last year it was Georgia.

It's going to happen again this year. We'll win at least one of those 4. I'm not bold enough to predict which one, but I believe we will win at least one.

As heartbreaking as the loss to Georgia was on Saturday, the season isn't over. This team has learned to play through adversity. They're going to come to play with their backs against the wall.

The second half, particularly the final couple of series, may have looked like "SOV," but I still believe this team has the will-power to get the wins they need to go bowling.

Disagree? At least basketball has started.

We play South Carolina this week. We're 11th best in the SEC; they're in the national Top 10. I don't know how we'd steal this one, but if we win, it will definitely be a steal.

1 comment:

PhilipVU94 said...

Congrats to all the true believers. Your faith in your team was vindicated today.

As wrong as I was, I'm just thrilled for our kids.