Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Vanderbilt football is currently 0-2. If they fall to 0-3 this Saturday, it may be time to abandon ship.
That's because the Commodores will be hosting lowly Presbyterian in one of the weekend's biggest mismatches. Even Woody WIdenhofer's teams would be big time favorites over a FCS team that has rung up only seven wins against low-level competition in the past four years. The Blue Hose should give the 'Dores a valuable regrouping week in the early stages of a season where the offense has looked light years behind the Vanderbilt defense.
Saturday's showdown in Nashville should give James Franklin a chance to add new ingredients to his test kitchen of a playbook. The 2012 season has been heavy on bubble screens and low-risk calls that have limited his team to just two touchdowns this year. Presbyterian should give the 'Dores a chance to string together big-impact plays in what could end up amounting to a high-level scrimmage. The question on Saturday shouldn't be whether or not Vanderbilt can win, but if they can look collected, athletic, and exciting in the effort.
This isn't taking the Blue Hose lightly. Presbyterian may be a low level member of the I-AA, but every Vandy fan knows better than to take an opponent - any opponent - for granted. Still, The Commodores have to be relieved that they'll get a chance to regroup against a team that has been outscored 233-49 by BCS opponents over the past four years. The Hose are 7-28 overall during that stretch, and some of their wins have come over Division II programs like North Greenville and Brevard.
Presbyterian may be able to challenge Vanderbilt with a solid running game led by Lance Byrd, but it's tough to imagine the Commodores having too much trouble against a team on which Georgia Tech dropped 59 straight points. The Blue Hose should give tailback Zac Stacy a chance to get back on track a week after the Yellow Jackets broke out for 469 running yards and a tidy 8.1 yard-per-rush average. Fourteen different Tech players earned carries in that game, so it stands to reason that we'll see the return of Warren Norman on Saturday as well.
But what if the "Same Old Vandy" bubbles up to the surface? Should fans be worried then? Probably not.
Vanderbilt has done well recently over the schedule-padders of the MAC and FCS since Middle Tennessee State derailed Jay Cutler's senior season. The 'Dores have defeated Tennessee State, Temple, Richmond, Eastern Michigan (twice), Miami (of Ohio) (twice), Rice (twice), Western Carolina, Army, and Elon by double-digits since 2005. The only team outside of the BCS that has toppled them in that time was Army back in 2009.
Even when Vandy has been horrible, they've been able to take care of business against the teams that were put on the schedule to give them a boost. While the Commodores have made their bones losing heartbreaking SEC games in the past decade, they've mostly been able to hold serve when heavily favored. Currently, Vanderbilt is a big enough pick that most bookmakers won't even put a line on Saturday's matchup.
Presbyterian will give the 'Dores a chance to get their season together on Saturday. Vanderbilt's 0-2 start wasn't entirely surprising, but their docile offense has been. If they can't correct that against a team with a .200 winning percentage in AA ball, then Vandy fans can start to panic. While a big win won't prove much in the short term, it should be a big confidence boost for a team that played beaten-down football in the fourth quarter of last week's loss to Northwestern.
The Blue Hose will give Vandy the chance to put the screws to someone, and that might just be what this team needs to get their 2012 season back on track.