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SATURDAY TAILGATE: UMASS

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I watch games, because I'm a giant loser so you don't have to.

Like the veil of the temple, this Vanderbilt flag was torn asunder in a storm during the Ole Miss game.
Like the veil of the temple, this Vanderbilt flag was torn asunder in a storm during the Ole Miss game.
DoreMD, AoG Commenter

While a sizable majority (>87%!) of y'all voted that they liked AoG's first ever "Saturday Tailgate", I admit I was going to do one anyway.  All that has changed is that you've strengthened my resolve to write on as complete as I did last week.  If you're actually at the game today, you know its an 11 CT start.  So you had better be drinking from as soon as you wake up.  In the spirit of this, the headings are all themed for this early start.  The order of topics is the same though: (1) Review the week on AoG, (2) Overview of good other NCAA games, (3) non-Vanderbilt games to watch, (4) Get yourself ready for the Vanderbilt game, (5) gametime links and info!

BREAKFAST: BOURBON COFFEE
WE GOT A LOT OF DRINKING TO DO TO BE DRUNK BY KICKOFF

We all saw a loss coming, but only Andrew VU'04 saw predicted it almost perfectly; he called it as 44-3, only a FG off the actual result.  CDA said it perfectly in the post-game post - Two weeks of college football. Zero evidence that Vanderbilt's offense can work. Vanderbilt's offense gained only 167 yards in the game, 95 of which came on Ralph Webb's legs.  In addition, Stephen Rivers only completed 6-for-25 passes proving that yes, our QB situation is dire.

In this week's issue of VandyImport's the Hangover, he points out what we would hope is obvious to the coaching staff.  That is, why are we calling 50-50 run/pass plays at this point?  It is clear that one is quite successful, while the other is a bigger failure than Gigli.  We need to recognize the strengths of this offense and run first.  Sure, we need to improve on the passing game in real situations, but it is downright crazy to pass even as much as we are.

Bad news continued later in the week, as the USA Today Sagarin rankings placed Vanderbilt in 132nd place.  Worse still, this puts us behind several (26) 1-AA teams, including UTC.  We all sort of accept this, as there's no real defending it.  After all, we've only scored 3 points on offense in two games.  Seriously, look at this week's Talkin' Tape if you don't believe me.  We shined on running plays, and were... not... on passing plays.  Rivers also did not earn any goodwill towards fans by his body language, particularly with that horrendous chest pass in the third.  At least our defense plays well when given the opportunity to rest.

Mason has continued to show a lack of fire or energy in the press conferences.  This has led many fans to become frustrated.  Maybe it's because we're used to the energy of Franklin, maybe it's because we want to see evidence of an investment from the coaching staff; the fact remains, we're looking for something inspiring from the leadership. Andrew VU'04 spent time reviewing the conferences of Mason. Fire isn't everything though, and even a soft-spoken leader can convey his message in a way that inspires confidence.  In fact, the manner in which something is said doesn't even matter so much so long as the message gets across.  So many times, we've not been told much of anything in the press conferences.  That's causing a good degree of alarm in the fan base, whether we want to admit it or not.

While the doubt has spread everywhere, the large majority of us believe in giving Coach Mason time.  AoG commenter VenerableSlinky, clearly motivated by the shout out from last week, posted a follow-up to his article from last week. In it, they remind us that we've lost a ton of talent since last year. We need to realize that it's far more pronounced than any of us thought, particularly with the QB situation.  That said, the calls for firing the staff after just two games are unfounded and we need to continue to realize that this is a... process.

In addition, there's been a lot of talk about Chad Morris, the Clemson OC.  In case you are not aware Chad Morris was one of the finalists for the HC job at Vanderbilt.  It's unclear as to where he was on the final list, and just how interested he was in coming to Vandy over leaving Clemson, but it's a name that's come up again now that people are losing faith in Mason.  Here at AoG, we have Your Uncle Mike, a Clemson fan who was able to provide a good perspective on the man.  Mike is not convinced that Vanderbilt would be in any better position with Morris over Mason.  In addition, he implies that Morris has been very off/on about his playcalling which suggests to me that we may be in the same boat entirely.

Above all else, Commodores fans, I want to say that one thing is very different this year as compared to other hard years - we care.  Vanderbilt fans are notoriously apathetic, but the way the fanbase has reacted to these games has been very telling of the fact that the culture has changed.  When I was at Vanderbilt, no one would be screaming for changes, no one would be doing much of anything really.  So let's not return to that.  We can endure a bad season, it happens to everyone.  Let's just keep the fire going.

BEERS: ANY CHEAP AMERICAN
WHY CAN'T WE PLAY LIKE LAST YEAR?

While last week had a slew of terrible football games, there were definitely some games to note.  Here they are, in case you missed them.  Unlike last week, I'm providing you recaps from both teams, click the team name links to see them.

  • We may suck, but at least we can laugh at Ohio State.
    Virginia Tech 35 - #8 Ohio State 21. This was the game of the week, plain and simple. I gotta be honest, I didn't expect it, and maybe I should have. Even by Ohio State fans' own admissions, their team just simply kept shooting themselves in the foot and the offensive line just wasn't doing the job. While the Hokies offense stalled a bit in the second half, keeping JT Barrett to only 9-for-29 with 219 yards. The game was close all night though, until this happened with ~50 seconds left. That's what happens when your WR forgets to run his curl.
  • #14 Southern Cal 13 - #13 Stanford 10. This game lived up to the hype; it was a barn burner all the way through and Southern Cal managed to edge out the win. If you watched the game, however, you'd know that Stanford really dominated the game. Penalties and turnovers once again proved to be a deciding factor in a game. I'd be remiss, however, if I didn't mention the most hilarious moment in the game, when Southern Cal Pat Haden ran down from the box to yell at referees.
  • #21 USC 33 at LEast Carolina 23. Cocky gave the ol' Ball Coach, who was visibly happier in the pressers. East Carolina gave the Gamecocks a scare though, at one point having two FGs over Carolina leading them 6-0. Even after a Carolina touchdown, the pirates hit back immediately with one of their own. Even after Carolina took the lead, it was far from over, with the pirates coming within 7 with 12 minutes to go in the game. While Carolina held the Pirates to mostly field goals, the Gamecock defense is highly suspect, only forcing ONE punt all game.
  • #20 Kansas State 32 - Iowa State 28. I just want to start by saying - I love that the Cyclones have their own SBN site. Awesome. I also want to say I was kicking myself for not adding this game to my "games to watch" list last week, really the only reason I didn't was laziness. While Kansas State started out strong, the Cyclones turned out their patented upset magic and scored 28 unanswered points. Jarvis West is an absolute monster, he threw, caught and ran back a punt... all for TDs. One look at the Cyclone's page and you see understandable depression from snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The fact of the matter though is this Cyclones team is going to topple someone huge this year. Keep an eye on them, particularly when they play #8 Baylor in two weeks.

"I played in the game and also contributed to the injury list and that was just the mindset going into the game.  Me and my offensive line brothers preached to each other all week that we would be going for the knees from the first play to the last with the A-backs included.  We saw it as if the [sic] want respect us blocking them then we'll make them respect us cutting them!  Thanks for all the support as well!" - Victor Hill, OL, The Citadel (Facebook)

Two big non-game recap yet college football related news this week.  The first is that in the FSU - Citadel game, Victor Hill (OL) of The Citadel wrote on facebook bragging about going for the knees with the intention to injure the FSU linemen. The lineman wrote, "I played in the game and also contributed to the injury list and that was just the mindset going into the game.  Me and my offensive line brothers preached to each other all week that we would be going for the knees from the first play to the last with the A-backs included.  We saw it as if the [sic] want respect us blocking them then we'll make them respect us cutting them!  Thanks for all the support as well!".  The player later apologized for his remarks, but has been suspended by The Citadel nonetheless.  The Citadel lost to FSU 37-12.

The last piece of college football related news is that the NCAA declared that the bowl ban and scholarship restrictions against PSU are to be lifted, effective immediately. Brandon Larrabee of Team Speed Kills said it best in his article, that the NCAA abandoned moral courage once again.  This makes a lot of people angry, but I ask that if you want to talk about this issue, please take it to an article on one of the many articles on SBN that talks about it.

TAILGATE GAME: CIRCLE OF DEATH
#$%^!!! I'M WRONG ON THE MIDDLE CARD!

We have another week of terrible football ahead, friends.  So if you're not already drinking, go right ahead and do that because it doesn't matter if you pass out after the Vandy game, you're not really missing anything.  We provide to you a quick an easy viewing guide in case you like to obsess over football like me.  Here's a few games that I've chosen as ones to keep an eye on.

  • #6 Georgia @ #24 South Carolina. I know it's the easy pick, being the only (yes, the only) top-25 match up this week. In case you've been living in a cave, this is an awesome early-season rivalry game that's really blossomed over the recent years. I say that not just because it's one of the few early season SEC games worth watching, but because it's always chaos. This game is going to be Spurrier vs Richt, Davis vs Gurley, Thompson vs Mason. You have to watch this game.

You know, combing through the list of matchups, none of these games excite me at all.  ESPN seems to think that Texas will upset UCLA, so maybe watch that?  I dunno, this Saturday just seems tailor-made for us to pass out after a Vanderbilt game in the afternoon.  As y'all know I'm also a LSU fan, so here's this:

  • UL Monroe @ #10 LSU. If you think I'm crazy saying ULM has a non-zero (yet slim) chance, you don't know ULM. Sure, LSU should (and I sure as hope will) take an early lead and put the game away. LSU certainly doesn't lose at home, most certainly not to a school like ULM. That said, many other schools have thought the same recently, let's not forget this game. ULM also has a slew of 2-QB plays, and runs it effectively. ULM will very likely lose, but it's not a shoe in by any means.

WHAT? IT'S 10 O'CLOCK ALREADY??
PUT THE FLASK IN YOUR PURSE. DON'T ARGUE WITH ME!

Despite two terrible losses, Vanderbilt is a 17 point favorite over UMASS.   Why?  Well, the Tennessean got to the bottom of it.  It turns out, oddsmakers forgive us for losing to the #15 team in the country, no matter how bad we looked in it.  They even forgive losing to Temple because of all the circumstances surrounding that loss (the rain, first game with a new coach etc.).  So apparently, some people still believe that 17 points is appropriate for an SEC-MACtion game.  I'm also assuming the fact that in our last two (very recent) games, we've outscored UMASS 73-14.

Are Vanderbilt and UMass really the same team? Both have been porous on defense, spouting a new look 3-4 defense. Don't know anything about UMASS? Lucky you, we have our normal Better Know A... exploration of the Minutemen!  The best news for Vanderbilt fans is that UMASS has a swiss-cheese running defense.  Webb could run wild all over these guys should Dorrell decide to actually, you know, stick to the run game.  In addition, UMASS has been equally worthless on defense, allowing ~35 points a game.

"I've been watching a lot of film and it's hard. I don't know exactly what they're trying to do or who will even be there Saturday" - Mark Whipple, UMASS Head Coach on watching Vandy film

One thing that really speaks to the situation is that no one knows what to expect out of our offense.  Not even UMASS coach Mark Whipple knows what to expect with our now 4-QB controversy.  Specifically, in regards to watching film, he commented, "I've been watching a lot of film and it's hard. I don't know exactly what they're trying to do or who will even be there Saturday, I think my job is to key in on the receivers. So that's what I've been doing this week - just watching the receivers and formations."  Oh, that's right, Mason has declared that redshirt Wade Freebeck is now also in the mix to start.  That is, it's quite possible another redshirt will be burned in this game.  Normally, you'd LOVE to hear that the coaches don't know how to prepare your team... but that's assuming your team has shown success.  This is more evidence that we've not yet solidified an identity.

CDA really went above and beyond this week, having the Q&A with THREE UMASS blogs.  All of our friends at those blogs feel that UMASS will lose a close one.  However, they're understandably optimistic that they can get an SEC WIN (however awful).  Can we really blame them for such optimism?  Moreover, CDA responded to each of their individual questsions.  You can find them over at UMASS Football Blog, Sons of Massachusetts, and the SBN MACtion blog, Hustle Belt.

So here we are Commodores.  I leave you with a thorough (more thorough than usual!) set of predictions from your favorite bloggers... the Galactica 1980 fansite!!  Just kidding, here it is.  Quick summary of the picks is below, spoilers -

VandyTigerPhD: Vanderbilt 9 - UMASS 7
KingJamesIV: Vanderbilt 31 - UMASS 13
Andrew VU'04: Vanderbilt 9 - UMASS 10
Christian D'Andrea: Vanderbilt 17 - UMASS 13
VandyImport: Vanderbilt 21 - UMASS 10

GAMETIME: WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY TOOK THE FLASK?
I AM WAY TOO SOBER FOR THIS.

So here we are y'all, hopefully about to get our first win.  If not, please send paramedics to my apartment as I'll likely be dead either from throwing a brick through the television or from alcohol poisoning.  I hope to see y'all in the gamethread.  Don't act like you have errands, the game is entirely too early for that.

Just a reminder - the audio feed is now FREE on VUCommodores.com (link below) and starts at 10:15 ET (9:15 CT)

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GAMETIME: 12:00 ET (11:00 CT)

LOCATION: DUDLEY FIELD, NASHVILLE, TN

TV: FSN

RADIO: 1510 AM, 95.9 FM, 98.3 FM

GAMETRACKER: Click this link

AUDIO FEED (FREE): Click this link (VUCommodores, All-Access)

VIDEO FEED: ESPN3.com (cable agreement required)


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ANCHOR DOWN Y'ALL!