Vanderbilt Football: Changing the Narrative

Somehow we are down to the final two games of the 2014 college season for the Vanderbilt Commodores.

It is not exactly breaking new ground to report that this fall did not go as planned for the ‘Dores. The team sits with a season record of 3-7, is winless in the SEC and ranks over 100th in the country in most key offensive and defensive categories. The result is that the first year of the Derek Mason era will result in no bowl game and no football after the last weekend in December. That does not however mean that the season is over or that the Vanderbilt players, coaches, and fans, should be content with the team mailing in the rest of the season.

The Commodores are coming off of their second bye of the season this Saturday and will travel to Starkville to play the 4th ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs. Following that clash with one of the best five teams in the nation, the ‘Dores will return home for the season finale against heated rival Tennessee. More will be written about that game over the next couple of weeks, but if the Vols. Contest with Missouri this weekend goes to form (Missouri would win) then Vanderbilt would be in a position to prevent Tennessee from going bowling with an upset.

How about that for some motivation?

The key for the ‘Dores over the next two games is to get the fans in Nashville feeling and thinking positively about the team going into the offseason. A strong finish will not right the wrongs of the early season quarterback mess and a lack of team identity, but it would have people focusing on how the team turned that around and got better as the season wore on. No one should be expecting the ‘Dores to come out and stomp Mississippi State, but it would be nice to see a well thought out game plan executed by the talented players who are wearing black and gold.

The fans want to see an answer at quarterback. Johnny McCrary has played fine, but can Patton Robinette be the player the coaching staff envisioned when naming him the starter at the end of the summer? Is there room for both of them to play and excel while not hurting each others productivity?

Fans also need to see improvement in other areas. The play calling, which at times has been head scratchingly ineffective, needs to continue the improvement we have seen of late. The defense needs to keep improving and flashing signs of big play ability in the 3-4. Many of these Vandy players on the two deep are young, but the staff will be bringing in a recruiting class specifically geared toward that defensive system so positions will be up in the air.

Mainly though we want to see passion. We want to see the players wearing that black and gold jersey with pride these last two games. We want to see the coaching staff looking competent and focused while on the sideline and sounding like the game matters to them when behind the microphone. After three years of Vandy being relevant, this season has been hard to swallow. How the players react these next two weeks will go a long way toward showing if 2015 will be better.

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