A tale of two Vandys.
When you consider the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-2, 0-1 SEC) you have to think of them as two different teams. There is the Vandy that looks like it could contend for the Conference USA title that has beaten CUSA contenders Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky, scoring 88 points to win those two games, and then there is the Vandy that is 0-2 vs. Power 5 schools, having lost to South Carolina (13-10) in SEC action and Georgia Tech of the ACC (38-7).
In the wins over Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky, it didn’t matter that
Vandy’s passing game is from the leather helmet era, because the Commodores had enough size on their O-line to overpower undersized fronts well enough to spring Ralph Webb in the running game. Against the South Carolina and Georgia Tech defenses, it was eight in the box at all times knowing fully well the Commodores lack the speed to stretch a defense with the passing game.
Take a look at Vandy numbers overall, against CUSA opponents and then in the losses to South Carolina and Georgia Tech.
Through 4 games:
SCORING: 23.8 … #102 NCAA
TOTAL OFFENSE: 312.5/4.63 per play … #121 NCAA
RUSHING: 148.75/3.74 per attempt (9 TDs) … #93 NCAA
PASSING: 163.8/5.9 per attempt (3 TDs, 2 INT) … #112 NCAA
SACKS ALLOWED: 7-55 … tied for #149 NCAA
SCORING DEFENSE: 26.3 … tied for #65 NCAA
TOTAL DEFENSE: 452.5/6.37 per play … #102 NCAA
RUSHING DEFENSE: 177.75/5.39 per attempt (6 TDs) … #85 NCAA
PASS DEFENSE: 274.8/7.2 per attempt (7 TDs/3 INT) … tied for #108 NCAA
SACKS: 3-15 … #118 NCAA
In two wins vs. Conference USA opponents (47-24 vs. MTSU; 31-30 vs. WKU):
TOTAL OFFENSE: 361.5/5.02 per play
RUSHING: 170.5/3.91 per play (8 TDs)
PASSING: 196.0/6.87 per attempt (2 TDs, 1 INT)
SACKS ALLOWED: 5-35
SCORING DEFENSE: 27.0
TOTAL DEFENSE: 495.5/5.60 per play
RUSHING DEFENSE: 150.5/5.57 per attempt (2 TDs)
PASS DEFENSE: 395.0/6.57 per attempt (5 TDs, 2 INT)
In two losses vs. ACC/SEC opponents (13-10 vs. SC; 38-7 vs. GaTech):
TOTAL OFFENSE: 258.5/4.1 per play
RUSHING: 127.0/3.52 per attempt (1 TD)
PASSING: 131.5/4.8 per attempt (1 TD/1 INT)
SACKS ALLOWED: 2-19
SCORING DEFENSE: 25.5
TOTAL DEFENSE: 409.5/6.52 per play
RUSHING DEFENSE: 205.0/5.25 per attempt (4 TDs)
PASS DEFENSE: 204.5/8.70 per attempt (2 TDs, 1 INT)
The Gators can stack the box against Webb and play the Vandy receivers straight up. When UF has the football, there will be time to throw because Vandy has absolutely zero pass rush. Derek Mason’s only hope will be to dial up blitz after blitz, so the key will be to unload the football in a hurry. The middle should be wide open on drag routes. In the run game, Vandy’s front four hasn’t been able to stop anyone. As long as the Gators don’t turn the ball over, they should win this game handily.
The late great Freddie Prinze talked about cockroaches in his standup comedy routine. Freddie claimed you could step on a cockroach and the cockroach would snap its fingers to convince you he was dead. The moment you lift your foot, the cockroach would run for a crack in the wall. Well, even though that routine was done 41 years ago, it was the perfect description of Vanderbilt football.
The Commodores are like cockroaches. Unless you step on them and then take precaution to squish them, they get up and run. Florida has to stomp and squish Saturday.
SEC REVERSES BRANDON POWELL SUSPENSION
Brandon Powell will play Saturday against Vanderbilt. The SEC saw the film of his “ghost punch” at Tennessee safety Rashaan Golden and determined it wasn’t a punch and made no contact. Golden flopped and it was his intent to draw a 15-yard penalty against Powell. The SEC should have forced Golden to sit the first half against Georgia. The league could put an end to flopping and other attempts to draw phantom personal fouls with one simple rule change: penalize the player for the first flop by suspending him a half; then the next player on that team who flops is suspended for three games. You wouldn’t see any flopping after that.
THE LES MILES DILEMMA
“What should be done eventually must be done immediately.” – Jeremy Foley
That’s the approach LSU took in firing Les Miles. Midyear is never a good time for firing a coach, but LSU took into consideration that “Lucky Les” has this habit of rallying the troops. That – and the fact they didn’t have the money package put together for buyouts not only of Les but Jimbo Fisher – is why Les survived a palace coup last year. The thought that he could rally the Tigers to run the table and win the next eight games is why Joe Alleva (LSU AD) decided Les had to go. Immediately.
On one hand, Alleva has given himself plenty of time to get the money together that it will take to lure Jimbo from FSU or Tom Herman from Houston, but he’s also created another problem – he put Coach O in charge.
Say what you want about Ed Orgeron but he can flat out coach and he’s one of the best recruiters in the business. He also bleeds purple and gold and he’s just emotional enough and savvy enough to run the table in the last eight regular season games. Coach O also inspires incredible loyalty among the troops. If the Tigers go on a tear – which might not be that difficult to do considering the amount of talent they have – those kids are going to demand Coach O is the permanent replacement.
If he were to keep Coach O, Alleva might catch lightning in a bottle and have that coach who can recruit the state of Louisiana like no other. But, what if Coach O is a one-year wonder? We’ve seen those before. If he’s a one-year wonder and Alleva passes on a chance to bring in Jimbo or Tom Herman, the Tiger faithful will tar and feather him before dropping him off the bridge into the muddy Mississippi River.
LSU: Jimbo says he’s happy as a clam at FSU. If LSU offers $7.5 million, which is rumored to be the initial offer, I think he would be foolish to stay in Tallahassee. It’s a good time for him to leave FSU anyhow. The divorce was messy and there are only so many jobs like LSU that not only come open but are willing to pay like LSU will pay.
Tom Herman is 10 years younger than Jimbo and he makes $3 million. LSU could double his salary and save at least $1.5 million. Herman’s college roomie at Cal Lutheran was LSU DC Dave Aranda. It’s a scary thought that those two could be working together.
Despite all his denials and claims of bliss in Tallahassee I think Jimbo takes the job.
Southern Cal: Clay Helton hasn’t been fired yet, but it isn’t a case of it, just when. He’s a fine OC but a disaster as a head ball coach as witnessed by eight on the field for an extra point against Stanford. Southern Cal should make every effort to lure Tom Herman, who grew up in the LA burbs. Given the talent that’s available within 100 miles of the USC campus and the excitement his offense would generate, this is a natural fit. And just think … maybe he brings Aranda with him. Money will be no object. It’s said that only God and the Longhorns have more money than the Aggies. Well, you could also say that God, the Longhorns and the Aggies are the only ones with more money than Southern Cal. Of course, it will take a ton of money since California has that 13.3% state income tax for people making $1 million or more.
Baylor: In the wake of the sexual assault mess and losing almost an entire recruiting class because of the scandal, Baylor needs to zero in on Larry Fedora and do whatever it takes to bring him home to Texas. After the way Fedora has handled post-NCAA sanction North Carolina and rebuilt that program he’s a perfect fit in the character department and his offense isn’t much of a departure from the one Art Briles ran.
These jobs are going to open up:
1. Penn State: The glitter has worn off. James Franklin is 16-14 since arriving in Happy Valley. He’s 2-2 this year and needs a 7-1 finish with a schedule that still has Ohio State and Michigan State.
2. Oregon: Mark Helfrich is coaching his own recruits now and the performance dropoff is staggering. Anything less than 9-3 (Oregon is 2-2 right now) and he’s toast.
3. Texas Tech: Kliffy has been a trainwreck since he arrived. Anything less than 8 wins and he’s a goner.
4. Vanderbilt: At Vandy they really do think they are doomed to lose, but they would prefer losing 50-47 than 13-10. With Derek Mason there will be a lot of 13-10 losses. He needs seven wins and he’s not going to get them.
5. Kansas State: Bill Snyder is 77 years old. At some point he hangs up his whistle for good. This is probably the year.
Alabama backup QB Blake Barnett is transferring, making him the sixth player of the 2015 recruiting class to depart.
Nick Chubb hasn’t practiced this week and probably doesn’t play when Tennessee visits Georgia Saturday.
Leonard Fournette’s ankle probably keeps him out of Saturday’s game with Missouri.
With Scott Stricklin leaving to take the Florida AD job, figure this is the year Dan Mullen elects to depart Starkville for someplace where he can actually win a title.
Tennessee’s next three games are at Georgia, at Texas A&M and Alabama. I see two losses.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
This week I’m going with Alabama, Ohio State, Louisville and Stanford as my final four picks. Which four teams do you think will make it?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Because he filled in so admirably following my shoulder surgery, I was tempted to make today’s music Bob’s favorite (he must have 6 of his CD’s in his car) Barry Manilow. But I couldn’t pull the trigger. Instead, it’s the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, a very cool blues band fronted by Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes.