I have run across several items today which mention Vanderbilt in a (mostly) favorable light. First, on one of my favorite CFB blogs, EDSBS, Point number 4 in this post mentions how the two best QBs in the SEC this year may be at Vandy and UK. They say that they have respect for the Commodores and call us “possessed dervishes.”
Second, a blog out of Atlanta brought up the point that Vandy has three players on the all-SEC first team, and Georgia has none. That’s right, zero. And the two teams from Alabama only have one apiece. He questions what that really means for the season, but would not be surprised if Vandy wins 3 or 4 SEC games this year.
Will this be a year of parity, with such high hopes from Kentucky and Vanderbilt fans, or will it just turn into the same ol’ season? 19 days to go!
Vanderbilt players have inundated the list of the best players you’ve never seen on Yahoo! Sports. Commodore stars Earl Bennett (WR), Chris Williams (OL), and Jonathan Goff (LB) all received write-ups, as well as an honorable mention for Brian Stamper (OL). The writer even finished up his blurb on Goff with the following statement:
The inclusion of three Vanderbilt players on this team indicates that perhaps the Commodores’ hopes of earning their first bowl bid since 1982 aren’t so far-fetched.
This is the sort of press that has me very excited about the upcoming season. As opposed to the last 3 years, where the articles were always asking if one player could lead us to the promised land of a December/January game, we are now receiving coverage of many of our players. It takes a full team to win in the SEC, and this year we truly have one.
The PGA’s website has a blog written by former Vanderbilt golfer Brandt Snedeker giving his feelings on how his rookie season has developed so far. He talks about the high points of earning his card for next year early in the season, and the lows in the middle of the season. He is training in Nashville this week to prepare for the stretch run to the Playoffs for the FedEx Cup.
There are only four weeks left till the start of football season at Vanderbilt. The excitement is starting to build, and it’s easy to see why. This year, the team features a very experienced lineup and a favorable schedule (8 home games out of 12). Unfortunately, this is also the first year in the past 7 that I will not be living in Nashville. It is sad to say that most of my football watching will be on TV instead of live at the game. I think that my games attended this year is going to be either 1 or 2, instead of the 6-7 I had averaged over the past 3 years. However, I am still excited to get the season underway and see if our experience gained last year will carry us over the threshold into bowl eligibility this year.
And I’m sure the cable company is excited that I will have to buy the ESPN College Gameplan this year to get my fill of Vanderbilt games (and SEC games at all, for that matter).
After much thought and confusion, I am now posting my preview of tonight’s matchup between the Hoyas and the Commodores. As I wrote in my earlier posting, this is going to be a true challenge for the ‘Dores, facing a superior sized opponent. They are also known to go to the running game, so I am unsure if we will be able to wear them out with an up tempo gameplan.
I started out this week very apprehensive. I still find myself with those feelings, but they are much closer to the way I feel before any important game, and no longer on par with where I was during the game against UConn in 2004. I no longer feel Georgetown is a “super team” on par with the Okafor led Huskies. Georgetown does have several very large players, but Vanderbilt has actually played great ball against similar teams throughout the season. For instance, against Florida and LSU.
Vandy also has the desire to avenge the loss earlier this season. This team is completely different than it was back when the Hoyas handed them a 16 point loss in Nashville. This is their chance to show everyone just how far they have come. And now, with most analysts going back to giving the ‘Dores no chance to win the game, the issue of having something to prove becomes even stronger.
From what I have heard, everyone on the team has been enjoying themselves in New Jersey, but also have been practicing very well. I feel that they will be quite prepared for the matchup tonight and will come out ready to prove the skill of the SEC and the “academic” teams. There is a good chance that the magic of this season will end tonight, but the players are prepared and I think that they will give a fabulous effort. At the end of the game, I think the Commodores will have themselves in a position to win. And after the heroics of the double overtime game against Washington State, I won’t be one to pick against us in the clutch.
Let’s Go Dores!
P.S. I will miss almost the whole game, so I am relying on Vanderbilt to win so that I have another chance to watch the team this season.
Tubby Smith is no longer the coach of the University of Kentucky. He will now be the coach of downtrodden University of Minnesota. The Gophers have long struggled to keep their own kids in-state and compete in the Big 10.
Minnesota’s last coach, Dan Monson, resigned at the end of November, and the assistant coach had been the interim coach for this season. It took less than a day for Tubby to make the move, as Minnesota just began talking to him earlier this morning. For the much-embattled Smith, this is a way to leave on his terms, rather than face the UK “firing squad.”
So, what’s next for UK? The coaching search will begin tomorrow I assume. If I was hiring, first on my list would be Billy Donovan, but I really don’t think they can get him. Who will we see next year on the sidelines at Rupp Arena?
Later in the week, I will post my official preview of Friday’s game between the Commodores and the Hoyas. However, I just wanted to jot down a few of my early feelings tonight.
Although I have heard some hope from fellow Vandy posters and analysts, I have to say that I am very concerned about this matchup. We are facing a bigger team that has won 17 of its last 18 games now. I can’t help but have flashbacks to the Vandy-UConn game in the 2004 Sweet Sixteen, or even just back to Sunday when Kansas played Kentucky. I am afraid that the ‘Dores are going to be simply outmanned by a taller, stronger team.
The possible good news: Kevin Stallins said that getting to the Sweet Sixteen seemed more businesslike than in 2004. These players are in this tournament to play their best and win, no matter the competition. This is a great attitude to have, but when a loss does come along, it will be crushing. These guys won’t be happy if they go home on Friday, and I’m proud to follow a team that seems so determined and eager for more.
I think winning this game will take the stingy defense of the last several games, combined with an improved shooting performance. Simply put, however good Vanderbilt has been so far in this tournament, I think that Friday will have to be their best game in order to advance to the Elite 8.