If you're a Vanderbilt fan, you know the drill all too well by now: team fights hard; team puts itself in position to win; team gets game-making, spell-breaking chances; team can't capitalize on said chances.
It was a shame that some incredible plays by Chris Nickson--especially an off-balance throw to George Smith on 4th and 3 in the final minutes--were wasted.
It was a shame that VU safety Reshard Langford--who did everything else right to step in front of an Arkansas defender and read Razorback quarterback Mitch Mustain--couldn't hold on to what would have been a game-changing pick-six in the fourth quarter.
It was a shame that a bad call enabled Arkansas to grab an eight-point lead in the third quarter.
It was a shame that extra point woes had to figure in the outcome, making the last-play field goal an attempt to avoid defeat (as opposed to an attempt to break a 21-all tie).
All these kinds of failures and bad breaks--against the larger backdrop of an inspired performance that continued to build on the previous week's noble efforts against Michigan (the same team that crushed Notre Dame in South Bend) and Alabama--have become routine in Nashville. The mind and the heart have to be beyond numb at this point if you're a VU football fan. It's remarkable how agony seems to line up on Vandy's side of the aisle.
In the face of another loss that conjures up the term "broken record," Vandy's broken spirits need to be lifted by the realization that this team is playing with maximum effort and heart. In all three games this season, the Dores have left everything on the field, but they haven't left the field with more points. There's no creative or clever way to frame this situation, no convenient way in which the Commodores can escape the agonizing reality of yet another stomach-punch loss: VU simply has to find the will, and the emotional toughness, with which to get off the deck and fight with passion on yet another Saturday.
One of these days, the breaks will fall on Vandy's side, and a new--and different--pattern could emerge in Nashville.