Vanderbilt Game Review: Tennessee State

Now that's more like it. Vanderbilt has had momentum-changing, game-breaking plays on its fingertips and foot-tips in past weeks, but this time, the Commodores pulled in those turnovers and consolidated an opponent's mistakes by turning them into touchdowns.

The things a team couldn't do in three valiant almost-but-not-quite performances became the things a team was finally able to achieve on Saturday night in Nashville.

And so, blessedly and appropriately, a team that has worked its butt off all season long finally has a win to show for it. It wasn't a signature win, but no one should care one whit at this point. This pasting of Tennessee State was a just reward for a solid performance. The lessons that emerge from this game aren't found in technical deficiencies or rough edges, but actually, in the successes enjoyed by Bobby Johnson's team.

If Vandy can rip off three touchdowns in less than two and a half minutes against some teams (teams like Tennessee State), there's no reason they can't do the same thing against others (you know: the ones from the SEC with track records better than the Mississippi schools and Kentucky). The Dores were in position to make defining plays--and on both sides of the ball, no less--in each of their three previous contests, especially the Arkansas and Alabama games that both went down to the wire. And since--as old-time coaches will tell you--"football is football," this VU squad has to somehow find a way to psychologically ditch the distinction between a pushover and an elite power. Football is the same, regardless of the opponent--the game still involves blocking, tackling, hitting, throwing, running, kicking and catching. It involves human beings fighting in a very messy and complicated manner, and it involves a lot of hard work with one's hands and one's brain. Every gameday is a canvas of opportunity upon which the beauty of fulfillment can be painted.

Perhaps it will now dawn upon these young, hard-charging, and ever persistent Commodores that in an all-too-human endeavor, they can always make the plays they need to make. It's not about the helmet covering the head; it's about the strength of the head inside the helmet. With newfound mental toughness that can emerge from this game, Vanderbilt can now catapult itself to bigger and better things over the course of the remainder of this 2006 season. Top Stories