Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Naval Intelligence: Despite lingering doubts, still hope for Vanderbilt's season

Vanderbilt struggled to get its offense moving against Mississippi State, but the Commodore defense was one silver lining in the loss.AP Photo.
What a difference one game can make.

We predicted a tough game here on S&S, but ultimately, when it came down to the game, we believed that Vanderbilt would accomplish its eighty-year feat in a win over Mississippi State.

So much for that.

But even as we look at the aftermath of an ugly loss, there is plenty of silver lining:

► Despite the loss, VU remained in the Top 25 for the fourth consecutive week -- the longest ranked streak in Vanderbilt history;

► The Commodores are 5-1, their best start since 1941 (that team, under Red Sanders, finished 8-2); and

► We finally have a starting quarterback.

One does not envy the team against whom the Commodores are expected to mount their rebound -- the Georgia Bulldogs are also 5-1, and they just finished a convincing (if not dominating) win over the Tennessee Volunteers.

As Vanderbilt prepares for their trip to Athens, the mood in Commodore Country, despite our impressive start, is eerily similar to the recriminations that swirled after our loss to Auburn last year: a game that was supposed to be so full of promise ended in ignominity.

Of course, we all know what happened after that loss.

Hope and fear abound today, and that's what's making news in Commodore Country:

Dimon Kendrick-Holmes is like Jim Carey in that bad movie about conspiracies and numbers, except for Commodore fans, it's the number "6."

Dimon went to Starkville, and despite the fans' gracious welcome, Davis-Wade had Dante-esque torture in store for him and his boys (and let me tell you: there's nothing more annoying than the cowbells combined with State's band's obsession with playing "Hail State" and derivatives thereof -- you think the Yew Tee band is bad about playing "Rocky Top" too much? go to Starkville: you'll have "duh... da duh daaaaaaa" stuck in your head for weeks -- indeed, as I write, the cursed song still plays in my head, and I didn't even make it to Starkvegas this year).

Despite the loss, we're still no. 22/23 in the polls (and 5th in the SEC, as far as national polls go).

Surprisingly, we're also still projected to go to a relatively big-time bowl (I mean, after that game, I'm questioning winning season, let alone a bowl at all).

Dimon kicks off our pro-Mac, anti-Chris article section (and, to be honest, it's more of a "Why-the-heck-didn't-BoJo-or-TeCa-take-Chris-out-earlier" section).

PhilipVU94 also wants to know why Chris was still in, but he also has some reassuring words (and makes fun of some Vanderfans' overreaction with his funny headline).

Lindsey Rutledge piles it on a bit thick when it comes to bashing the leave-Nickson-in-decision (but her statistics are rather persuasive).

Maurice Patton says the QBs depend on the defense and that Mac's great numbers (as cited by Lindsey, above), are the product of "desperation offense" against Ole Miss, Auburn, and Miss. State (but really, was the Ole Miss situation desperation offense? I seem to recall that we were, well, rather conservative -- imagine that! -- in our play-calling there toward the end).

Rob Robinson lays blame and credit with BoJo for both our excellent start and the don't-put-Mac-in-yet decision (I believe Rob is forgetting that we still have 6 games to play, though).

Jesus Quintana was pithy in his assessment of the game against State.

Stanimal looks at whether BoJo would leave for Clemson, and whether Clemson would want him in the first place (answer: maybe and probably).

Bobby O'Shea's soothing words helped calm me down and his order not to utter the dreaded acronym is also reassuring (I guess here's at least one person who'still buying my "BNV" argument).

Jarred Amato looks closely at BoJo's decision to start Mac Adams, and he has some very interesting quotes from Vanderbilt center, Brad Vierling (Jarred, do you know all these guys, or what?).

Jarred joins Bobby O'Shea in nipping any ideas of SOV in the bud, but he's honest enough to ask whether the glass, after the State game, is half-full or half-empty (I could guess the result of the poll before I voted, though, Jarred: Commodore fans are optimists, otherwise we wouldn't be Commodore fans, now would we?).

Give Chris Low credit: he predicted our upset in Starkville, but he still has us ranked no. 5 in the SEC and finding some success later this year (and, if Mac Adams is as much of a spark as Brad Vierling thinks, then maybe Chris is right).

T. Kyle King dropped us to no. 18 in his poll, but he is still impressed with our win over what is appearing to be a very good South Carolina team (basically, he attributes our loss to "just how much SEC teams chew one another up" in conference play).

David Rutz reports on BoJo's defense of Chris Nickson, and it's interesting to read this in light of coach's announcement yesterday that Mac would be starting (was this, to use a political analogy, BoJo's effort's to give Nickson a "spend more time with his family" justification on the way out?).

Maurice Patton brings back the obsession with 6, as he discusses the difficult row the Commodores have to hoe if they're going to make it to a bowl (it's a good thing we've got 6 games ahead of us, too).

Matt Wilson sees VU exercising selective memory: remember the good things, forget the bad ones (you know, that's what most Vanderbilt fans do anyway, otherwise we'd all go insane!).

The Vanderbilt Hustler grades the Commodores, and they earn a 2.06 GPA (roughly a C).

The Tennessean also grades the State game, and they give the 'Dores a 1.75 GPA (C-).

Fitsnews gloats that they were right about Mississippi State beating us (though they do have a poignant picture of Coach Sylvester Croom with his arm around Chris Nickson -- almost like he's consoling him).

David Climer even says it's too early to say SOV, one more sign that the apocalypse is imminent (of course, if Joe Biddle had said it, I would have immediately ran to church and started praying, because Jesus would be coming in less than 24 hours).

Hey Jenny Slater drops VU to no. 23 nationally and tell us to delete his number out of our cell phone (he's breaking up with us).

Even after the debacle in Starkville, Mr. SEC picks us to go 7-5 this season (despite his pre-season 4-8 pick).

Somebody said that Auburn got Johnsoned last week, and this week it was our turn to get Croomed.

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