IN WHICH a 40-year old Commodore with a handle of Bulleit and a water glass tries to unpack the result of Vanderbilt's football game.
* Worst loss of the Franklin era, and definitely a Same-Old-Vandy-type performance. And looking at the post game presser, he knows it. Given the opportunity for a winnable statement game on the road, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. But at least Coach stands up and says "it's on me. It's all of it on me."
* The defense could have been worse. We aren't forcing turnovers, but the lack of defensive effectiveness in the second half, in my opinion, is largely down to having them out there over and over and over again. Which leads back to…
* There is no offense. Jordan-to-Jordan is good for once a game or so, but we have yet to establish the run at all this season, and that with what is arguably the deepest we have ever been at any position. Where the hell is Warren Norman? Put him in the slot, run a toss sweep of some sort, just put him back there for kick returns for crying out loud, do SOMETHING to use all your weapons. Along THOSE lines, why the HELL is Zac Stacy ever back for a kick? What the hell is going on with this "WEfense" that we need our starting RB returning kicks? And nothing against him, but Krause? Why is that job anyone's but Norman or Kimbrow? It's time for Franklin to take back play calling - Donovan isn't getting it done and that offense looks lost whenever they have the ball.
* We have seemingly-reliable field goal kicking. I'm not dumping on it, believe me - how many wins would that have been worth last year? Nevertheless, red zone trips need to be 7 points, not 3. Ten points out of three drives in the first half? Inexcusable. We could have and should have been up 21-3 at the half and then had a TD off the back of the Zac Stacy dash in the 4th. We have to finish drives, period.
* Last year when things went south against UConn, the team got fired up and made it happen. This year, it felt like we were behind from the moment we had that fumble in the red zone to end the first half. Somebody in a uniform has to take the emotional leadership of this team and be the guy that lights the fire. The seniors - the guys who know what it was like before - need to take the reins of this squad. I suspect that'll be Trey Wilson on defense, but I haven't figured out who's going to step up for the O.
* Listen, don't panic about next week. Presbyterian is a milk run. I know, I know, but look - this team didn't exist five years ago. This is a team that just lost 59-3 to Georgia Tech. They got plowed under by a substandard Cal team last year. They are Not Good. We are going to win that game and win it easily. We should use it as an opportunity to build some momentum, get some more guys on the field, and see what we can do ahead of a tough two-game road stretch to come, because Georgia and Mizzou are going to try to kill us.
* We need a minimum of 3 SEC wins now if we're going bowling. Believe it or not, that looks doable; the SEC East right now is Cocky, Uga, and a bunch of nothing. Hell, the whole SEC right now is LSU, Bama, Cocky, Uga, and a whole bunch of nothing. I still don't see any reason we can't beat Auburn or Florida at home if we straighten up and fly right. Bowl game, winning season - all still on the cards for this team IF they figure it out and play to their potential. But it's worth remembering that the last two bowl seasons started 5-0 and 3-0, never 0-2. If this team can come back from a rough start, that will be the biggest transformation yet.
* Really, I don't want to bitch about the officiating. If we played the way we ought to, we could take it out of the hands of the officials. But I will not cast one shred of blame on our guys for going completely flat after that absurd review in the 4th quarter, because that took the wind out of everyone and rightly so. If that call is reviewed and judged by the same standard as Jordan Matthews's incompletion earlier, Northwestern is 4th down and punting to us in a tie game 13-13. For the second week in a row, a demonstrably bad call (as judged by the announcers in the booth, not partisan homers on Twitter) in the 4th quarter cost us an opportunity to try to win the game. This has stopped being funny. Lockridge tells me it was an SEC crew but a Big Ten review official in the booth, so I'm not sure what to think at this point, but if we end one more game with a late-night call from Birmingham, I think I'll have a temporary insanity defense that no jury in the world would discredit.
* Franklin is right on one point: this was never going to happen overnight. This program is going in the right direction; tonight was the first game that could really make you question that, but the potential has not changed. I still think 6-6 is possible, but the growing pains aren't going away. But neither are we. Anchor Down or drown, people.
* Next week we'll do it live. Can't wait to see the old patch. I hear things have changed since 1996...