Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Naval Intelligence: Auburn may de-emphasize spread against 'Dores

This week, Tuberville hinted in his weekly press conference that the team would be crafting its offense around its players, not the other way around. VU fans wonder if the Tigers do manage to rethink things in time for the prime-time ESPN, SEC match-up this Saturday, can Vanderbilt handle it?Photo by VandyMania.com.
The airwaves in Alabama have been burning with invective toward Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, who only a year ago was toiling in relative obscurity at Troy University.

Tommy Tuberville's gamble elevating the former Trojans coach to the SEC recalls a similar gamble made by the Vanderbilt administration when it tapped Bobby Johnson.

Similar frustration among both fan bases are apparent, as Auburn fans demand success now (and the 3-2 win over Mississippi State didn't help matters at all).

This week, Tuberville hinted in his weekly press conference that the team would be crafting its offense around its players, not the other way around.

The question is: if the Tigers do manage to rethink things in time for the prime-time ESPN, SEC match-up this Saturday, can Vanderbilt handle it?

That's what's making news in Commodore Country today:

Chris Low says our formula for victory is simple: play to win (if we do go to a bowl, I think we should pass a hat to buy Chris Low a steak dinner at Morton's for the great publicity he's been giving our program).

Joe Biddle wasn't asked, but he volunteers (hehe, get it?) that fans should come early and stay late (he also refers to the "West End crowd").

Maurice Patton has even more details on the logistics involved in getting GameDay to Vanderbilt (they have 5 (!) tractor trailers, a bus, and an RV -- wow; also, a money quote from Bryant Hahnfeldt directed toward our "friends" to the East).

Brett Hait has a great article explaining how we're winning despite last-in-the-SEC rankings for both total offense and total defense (hint: it's those "hidden yards" again).

Matt Zemek says the early Dore gets the Tiger, more or less.

The AP has a well-written, comprehensive story on Vanderbilt's resurgence and the key match-up with the Tigers that we'll probably be seeing in a lot of the big dailies this week.

Bruce Feldman ranks our win over South Carolina as the eighth-best upset in college football so far (wonder if he'd call a VU win over Auburn an upset?).

Acid Reign gives his Auburn-fan readers a history lesson on the AU-VU series, and it's actually very well done (lots of good points: Auburn has never played a ranked VU team; also, Auburn hasn't played a Vanderbilt team with a winning record at kick-off since the 1955 bowl game -- and, of course, we know the other reason that 1955 is a significant year for the VU-AU series).

Chris Rushing seems quite confident predicting Auburn 28-7 Vanderbilt (a 21-point game? normally this would offend me, but let's remember last year's game on the Plains and recognize that we were only a 7-point underdog in Auburn, and they beat us with a similar margin).

Vanderbilt Athletics has the Tuberville press conference over at VUCommodores.com (and, did you know: Tuber-ville is sort of like French for Potato City -- props to a certain Mr. Guthrie, VU '05, of Scottsboro, Ala., for that one).

Bridget Grafon tries to coach the Owen kids off the ledge with the news that Vanderbilt's got a good football team (Owen is the Vanderbilt business school, for those playing at home -- as for why they'd be "on the ledge"? welcome back to Earth if you don't know, thanks).

Dimon Kendrick-Holmes thinks that the sportswriters at the Auburn press conference mailed it in (and it's hard to disagree -- since when has Vanderbilt Stadium been an intimidating house of horrors for opposing teams?).

Dimon points out that while the media may underestimate Auburn, Bobby Johnson most certainly does not (great quote from Bobby's press conference on keeping VU humble with all the hype this week: "We just pull out the game tape from last year").

Dimon contrasts Bobby Johnson with Nick Saban, and I'd have to agree that I'd take our upstanding, character-driven leader over ol' Lazer Eyes, too.

Finally, Dimon lists our SEC victories since the bowl season of 1982 (not for the faint of heart -- it ain't pretty, as they say).

Mac Newton spends a very long time bad-mouthing Auburn's offense and then picks the Tigers to win 21-9. Huh?!

T. Kyle King notes a huge stat: Vanderbilt is averaging 10 points-per-game more than Auburn (though I still don't like our total offense and defense being so abyssmal -- one thought on that, though: if we're leading the conference on punt returns, is it that we're not having to drive as far as other teams that's depressing our total yardage output?).

Chris Low goes internal affairs on the SEC and notes that VU leads the conference in sacks (but Auburn is second -- guess both teams will be spending a lot of time scrambling on Saturday).

Cocknfire has the newest Garnet and Black Attack SEC Power Rankings, and the SEC blogging world has pegged the Commodores at 5th-best in the league (leading Auburn by 147-151 votes; Florida, who's ranked 4th, has 172).

PhilipVU94 dreams of a bowl game in Shreveport (or Memphis or Nashville -- or anywhere, for that matter).

CBS Sports predicts a Music City Bowl berth for the Commodores.

Tony Barnhart asserts that Vanderbilt can beat Auburn, pointing to solid fundamentals and discipline (and he explains why "Johnson's teams are so hard to beat" -- who would thought to see that in print?).

Mike Herdon says Vanderbilt is the SEC's biggest surprise, while Tennessee is the biggest disappointment (schadenfreude is always acceptable).

Maurice talks about the offensive line and our need for it to hold steady.

Brett Hait plays conductor and invites people aboard the Commodore bandwagon (and there are plenty of Yew Tee folks out there to join us right now, too).

CBS Sports has their statistics-based preview up, and it says that there is a 53% probability that Auburn will win (which just means that there's a 46% probability that Vanderbilt will).

Mike Kranzler has a preview of some GameDay signs, with a great quote from Bobby Johnson: "Be loud, be rowdy, and give Auburn hell!" (For a man who normally doesn't curse, this is like a temper tantrum -- and I like it).

The Hustler sports staff sits down and hashes out the keys to beating Auburn.

Eric Silver has the Hustler SEC Power Rankings, putting VU at No. 5.

Gregory Cox doesn't think VU can win if it comes to a battle of field position (I would tend to disagree, considering how well our special teams have played so far).

Larry Burton sees the 'Dores sailing into a bowl, calling us "a lock" (frankly, I don't like this sort of talk unless/until we get 6 wins, thanks).

Chris Low notes the SEC penalty leaders, as in lack thereof: Alabama and Vanderbilt.

Matt Hayes and Dave Curtis lack our chances for a bowl, but don't think we're a legitimate SEC East contender (and honestly, how many of you really believe we are, either? of course, the fact that we're in a position to even talk about that is, well, unprecedented -- literally).

Bill Bryant looks at the 1982 bowl season, in a similar article to that USA Today piece we saw a while back; this one's better in my opinion (perhaps because of my own memories of escorting a goal post down West End?).

Three of CBS' five experts pick Vanderbilt over Auburn.

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