In which a 41-year-old Commodore support tries to type through n+2 Mai Tais, where n = a reasonable quantity.
Do the numbers first, because they are stunning. First three-year bowl streak, ever. First time beating Georgia and Florida in the same season, ever. After a gut-wrenching season opener, we are bowl-eligible in a season where some thought we'd be lucky to eke out five wins. So start with that: this team, this organization, is unrecognizable to anyone whose experience with Commodore football began in 2010 or earlier.
I tweeted Coach Hand "there's no u, g, l or y in W-I-N." And I meant it. Style points are for people running up scores to impress Harris poll voters. The two field goals and touchdown in the 4th quarter were superfluous to the result; once the touchdown capped the first quarter, the necessary offense had been brought to a conclusion. Once again, the defense had to shine, and shine they did - three critical takeaways and a fourth for the stats to cap the first half, and like that, we own the sky for another week. The offense...
Let's settle one thing now: Austyn Carta-Samuels will start in Neyland on Saturday. He went 19-24 on Saturday, and while most of them were to Jordan Matthews, that's kind of what you want them to go when you're on your third WR2 of 2013. No picks, if I recall, and not effective running - but four weeks ago we thought his career might be done; anything he can get with his legs at this juncture is gravy. No, it's ACS - Patton Robinette is the opening day starter next year for sure, but unless you plan to beat the Vols only throwing five or six passes, you need a guy with more than two and a half games under his belt.
No, the running game at this point means Jerron Seymour, and that means a passing threat to force the defense to play honest and let the pinball go pinging. If Krause can't go, JMatt will be doubled or tripled all day, and that means the O-line will need to settle down and grind. Four turnover days don't show up every week, and not on the road that often, so we are going to have to make some drives that start a little deeper than the red zone.
But...we are two games ahead of Tennessee in the standings right now. If they win out, they would only pass us on the tiebreaker. And they have to win out for bowl eligibility, which we stitched up today. They've done a lot of talking. They've made guarantees. They know that it's been literally decades since any Tennessee player lost to Vanderbilt twice. They have reached the point where, for the third consecutive year, they have to stake their season on beating Vanderbilt.
Read that sentence again. And know that the character of this program has been changed, hopefully for good.