Monday, October 20, 2008

Naval Intelligence: Signs of life in loss to Georgia keep 'Dores looking for sixth win

Despite Vanderbilt's recent dominance of the Duke Blue Devils, as in the last meeting between the two teams, when Vanderbilt won 45-28, the Commodores face a dangerous Duke team, led by first-year head coach David Cutcliffe, in Vanderbilt Stadium for Homecoming this Saturday.Photo by Duke Athletics.
It certainly was a tough game this weekend, but I agree with Mark that it's only "the mildest of setbacks."

After all, we did re-establish, if just for one game, a balanced offensive attack against a very good SEC defense. In fact, the only team to score more rushing yards against Georgia was the Alabama Crimson Tide -- and that puts us in very good company, indeed.

Still, BNV is not about moral victories, and neither is its newly revitalized fanbase. The frustration with managing to just miss number six is starting to grow, and it's not just among the long-time fans of the program. Even the team is starting to get antsy.

"We've got to make sure to get that sixth win, something a Vanderbilt team hasn't done in 20-something years," Mackenzi Adams told the Tennessean.

Is all the attention starting to be counter-productive? Do the Commodores feel like there's a carrott on a stick dangling in front of them, forever just out of reach?

Not according to Vanderbilt's newly-christened starting field general.

"It's definitely a hump, but at the same time we've got to face the fact that it's there. If we focus, we'll get that sixth win and then we'll keep rolling after that," Adams said.

There are five games left in the regular season of 2008, and that means five chances for the Commodores to have their first non-losing season in 26 tries.

Vanderbilt's first -- and best -- opportunity in this second-half of the season is also Homecoming on West End. All that is what's making news in Commodore Country:

Chris Low keeps the 'Dores at no. 5 in the SEC, saying that we have what it takes "to win 7 or 8 games" (I like that, but I just can't see 8 wins).

Does this sound like a moral victory to anybody else? (I am having trouble discerning the difference between a moral victory and learning from one's mistakes).

Matt Wilson is ready to move on and focus on our preparations for Duke (he also sees the beginnings of what could be a Cutler-Bennett type relationship between Mac Adams and Jamie Graham -- how cool would that be, pairing two fan favorites? -- attention VU marketing and promotions: exploit this if it continues to develop).

Jimmy Morris says we still have to play perfectly in order to win against SEC teams (and sadly, that may not even be enough: yes, we had costly mistakes against Georgia, but so did they -- the Dawgs won because they were a better team, in the opinion of this spectator who travelled to Athens).

Maurice Patton chronicles our Top 25 adventure this season, and points out that we broke records by staying in for 4 weeks (but Maurice also notes that stat I mentioned at the top of this article: we managed to get the most rushing yards against UGA's defense of any team except Alabama).

David Climer is channelling Commodore angst about that sixth win (and he's right: number 6 seems like it will never, ever come, doesn't it?).

Maurice Patton notebooks the post-game, and it sounds to me like BoJo and Bruce Fowler were not happy with somebody on that O-line (what changed that led to the relative success we enjoyed in our ground game this week?).

BoJo was pleased with Mac Adams in his first start this season (and I think this game cleared up any quarterback controversy that may have lingered from earlier in the season: Mackenzi Adams is the Vanderbilt quarterback).

This sounds less like a moral victory, at least when you put some context around it (and no one sounds satisfied -- just realistic that they did make some improvement despite the loss).

The Tennessean's grade for this week is a 2.43 (a bit more than a C+).

David Climer has a good point: despite the loss, our defense continued to look strong against a overwhelming opponent (and yes, they did put up more than 400 yards, but the game wasn't a blow out, and the defense anchored down in the second half to keep Moreno relatively under control).

PhilipVU94 sees a line of demarcation amongst the Vanderfaithful (roughly divided between "The end is near!" and "That wasn't so bad" -- I guess you count Philip, Mark, and me in that camp -- we've still got 5 chances to win 1 game -- and we haven't had a six-game losing streak in 3 years).

Dimon Kendrick-Holmes has his bowl projections posted, along with a brief history of where the "experts" say we'll be in December (it's certainly an interesting read).

Dimon also takes a look at our roller-coaster Top 25 rankings (it's a realistic possibility that some wins here and there could take us back into the rankings, at least in the mid-20s).

Dimon gives us a future-opponents update, and if you're not worried about Duke, you should be (I know I am).

Dimon sees grit in the Commodores' loss in Athens (and again, despite seeing positives in the team's loss, I don't think this is a moral victory, in the sense that either the team or the fanbase is satisfied with "a good loss").

Mike Easterling breaks down the 2008-09 men's basketball schedule, and he thinks a Tourney invite is possible, after all (isn't it cool that we're not consumed with basketball right now? normally, at this point in the season, we've moved on from worrying about how well football will do).

Former Vanderbilt pitcher David Price pitched the final four outs to take the Tampa Bay Rays to the World Series (and somewhere on West End, Tim Corbin smiled a knowing smile).

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