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SATURDAY TAILGATE: SOUTH CAROLINA

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Get yer bourbon and moonshine ready, this is gonna be a harsh one. Or just watch the Clemson-FSU game...or the LSU-State game... Whatever.

We're gonna need a LOT of this today!
We're gonna need a LOT of this today!
VandyTigerPhD

It's Saturday!  That means footbaw!  It also means it's time to catch up not only on what's been going on at AoG, but read up what's been going on around the league!

AoG WEEK IN REVIEW

Adam Butler, teddy bear.

We won! We won! We... well, we had a game handed to us by a team that out Vanderbilt'd us.  It's a strange feeling, really - for once a team that had a solid lead handed it to us, instead of the other way around.  One thing that's worth taking away from this whole thing is that Vanderbilt started to play like they believed in themselves again.  After Patton got in and took over, the team looked vastly improved.  We're making strides, and while I would not classify us as "good" yet, we're certainly making improvements.  Still, congrats to Derek Mason on his first victory.  By the way, did you know UMass fired its Special Teams coach this week? Coach Whipple claims that it has nothing to do with the Vanderbilt loss, but we know... we know.

In CDA's weekly Commodore Review, he correctly pointed out the biggest bright points of our game - Webb, Robinette,  Weatherly, and Azubike.  Weatherly in particular was impressive, and really should have been credited with TWO defensive touchdowns.  The first, a fumble-6, was taken back for (reasons), and the punt block that he himself picked up and ran it in himself.  Weatherly is a beast, pure and simple, and with Azubike back on the line where he's more effective, the defense keeps improving -even if our pass defense is still very very soft.  As VandyImport put it, "Thirty freshmen have played at one point or another. The defense has a ton of new starters. We may just have to ride this one out.

Blocked without even lifting his arms. Beautiful.

The biggest mindbender of the game was burning Freebeck's redshirt to play a quarter.  We've been given multiple stories about this QB situation, and it's hurting my brain.  It seems to me that the coaching staff cannot decide whether they want to be secretive or open about it.  The story after the game was that the team knew it was going to be a 2-QB game all the way, but Patton just had the touch and the spark, so that's why he stayed in.  Later in the week, however, we were then told that Freebeck asked to have his redshirt burned to give him a chance to prove himself.  I'm not entirely filled with confidence that this staff knows what to do with the QB situation.

On Tuesday's depth chart, Patton was listed as the ONLY starter, with Freebeck as the primary backup.  That said, we've still been told all week that's it's a 2-QB system.  Other concerns are that Oren Burks and Kyle Woestmann aren't listed, presumably still hurt. Burks is backed up from a solid veteran, Jahmel McIntosh, and Jonathan Wynn will take Woestmann's duties.  While these are losses to be aware of, they're not as damaging as y'all might think.

"The defense has a ton of new starters. We may just have to ride this one out." - VandyImport, Seer

Other than that, it's been a fairly slow week at AoG.  As VenerableSlinky seems to be encouraged by the shoutouts I throw ‘em, I'll again point you their way to their latest installment, Baby Steps.  By the time the article was written, we had known the reason for the first two point conversion - the special teams unit was told to run a swining gate formation (which is intended to go for 2 if the defense shows a good front).  Apparently, they went for two even though the coaches had expressly said not to before the game.  Chalk another one up for questionable coaching.  Secondly,  and more to the point of VS's article, it raises the solid point that maybe we're being too hard on the coaching staff.  They are showing signs of being willing to adapt, particularly Dorrell who's actually using Webb.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

But of course, there were other games last week.  While we had another week of total crap on paper, a few games turned out to be wonderful.

    The closest first down you will ever see.

  • #24 South Carolina 38 - #6 Georgia 35: I feel for you if you didn't at least catch part of this game. This was the only game I seriously listed as watchable last week, but calling it as a great game would be like calling a loss tomorrow for us. USC's defense was simply amazing against Georgia, which is not good news for us. The game was within one score for all but about 5 minutes, when Dylan Thompson put it to 31-20 with 5 minutes to go in the 3rd. The super-reliable Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan uncharacteristically missed two field goals in the game, causing much mewling, but not nearly the level of gnashing of teeth over Dylan Thompson's rush on 4th down that literally got literally microns over the first down maker.
  • LEast Carolina 28 - #17 Virginia Tech 21: LEast Carolina gets official "LEast Carolina no more" status from me. They are quickly establishing themselves as the cinderella team of the season. As y'all know, they fought the Gamecocks hard, and let some mistakes do them in. They flipped that around this week, and jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Pirates' QB Shane Carden threw for 427 yards on VaTech. As crazy as that sounds, the Pirates defense looked like a power-conference team as the Hokies had to slowly get their lead back only tieing the game up with 1:20 to go in the game. Michael Brewer was held to 30/56 on his passes over the game, a real testament to the Pirates' secondary. Keep in mind this is the same VaTech team that rolled into Columbus to smash up the Buckeyes the week prior. The Pirates, not to be denied, got it done in regulation.
  • Boston College 37 - #9 Southern Cal 31: Since I will take any and all opportunities to make fun of "the other USC", here we go. Boston College literally ran all over Southern Cal, showing once again they have no idea how to defend a read option (something Vanderbilt fans should be able to relate to!). Boston College had 455 rushing yards (Southern Cal had 20, lol). QB Tyler Murphy running for 191 yards, RB Myles Willis giving 89 of his own, also there's WRs Jon Hillman who also had 89 rushing yards. I want to leave you with this hilarious BC Interruption article, detailing the delicious Southern Cal tears regarding the game. USC fans are mewling now that class and respect are "gone" in college football. This is an irony that might break the space-time continuum.

That's really about it, unless you want to note that as I WANTED to predict last week, Arky soundly defeated the Red Raiders 49-28.  They ran for all 7 touchdowns.  Texas Tech has no excuse for this.

In news of the hilarious this week, Jameis Winston is suspended for the first half of FSU's game against Clemson (more on the game down below).  Why? Well, apparently he yelled some stupid shit at the student union.  Man, if I got suspended for stupid shit I yelled at VU games, I'd have never graduated.  In either case, I sincerely don't understand the point in suspending someone for half a game.  It doesn't send a message at all, it's almost a vacation.  If you're trying to send a message to your players that you don't like a particular behavior, how about giving them a punishment that means something?  I honestly don't give a shit if he's suspended or not, but if you're going to try to send a message, do it correctly.  Of course, I'm sure the fact that they are playing CLEMSON didn't play a role in that decision!

THERE'S OTHER (BETTER) FOOTBALL TO WATCH!

Believe it or not, there ARE other games this week!  I know! I was shocked too!  I mean, who wouldn't want to watch the obvious 15 round bout between VU and USC?  While we don't have our nice little table this week, here's ESPN's version.  If you want to be an ultra-cool football wizard like me, here's some of the games I'm interested in.  PS - you should have already watched the Auburn-KSU game.

  • #22 Clemson @ #1 FSU. As Auburn-KSU already played, the only top-25 game today is this one. This one promises to be as epic as the UGA-USC game from last week. Clemson-FSU games are typically great ones, although last year's game certainly didn't exactly fit that bill. A lot of this game will depend on how much Jameis being gone for the first half affects the game. I don't think it will too much, but the chances of the domination we saw last year are near nil. Clemson does not have history on their side, as they've never beaten a #1 team. Rivalry games, however, are always something else. Feel free to switch back to this game after USC takes a commanding lead over us.
  • Mississippi State @ #8 LSU. I admit it, I'm largely putting this down as part of my master plan to get more Vandy fans to watch more LSU games. That all said, if you read the predictions, you'll see both VU04 and I have called MSU to cover the spread (VU04 going so far as to call it a win for MSU). This is a battle of 3-0 SEC West teams, and despite the 70% win percentage LSU has in these games, it has the potential to be a barn burner. Fun fact: this is the first time since 1919 that State has walked into Death Valley undefeated. The fact is that LSU's only game against a talented team took the ol' Les Miles magic to engineer a comeback and win. The question is entirely on how much State takes advantage of the still weakened LSU defensive line. I'm calling LSU to win this, but it's not going to be the blowout expected.
  • LATE GAME OF THE WEEK - I'm going to start giving you a late game to watch for no reason other than I hate it when the primetime games are over too. The criteria is simply the game has to kick off after 10 ET. For this week, I'm going to say you should go for Cal @ Arizona.

PREPARE THYSELF, FOR VANDERBILT FOOTBALL

We've had some great prep this week here at AoG, with TWO "Better Know a..." articles!  The first is our usual CDA masterpiece.  I heartily endorse his use of the quote most Vanderbilt fans know from Spurdog, "There are no Vanderbilts in the NFL." If you read any of my bullshit, you know that I love Spurdog.  While I hated him at the time for the comment, I grew up and loved him for his no-nonsense realtalk.  The world needs more Spurdogs.

However, we do have several Vanderbilt fans who are also Clemson fans.  Many of them are Clemson fans first and Vanderbilt fans second, but we can hardly blame them for that.  One such fan, Your Uncle Mike, posted a great article about USC and the Chicken Curse.  As AoG readers are well aware, we make fun of every team we play.  A few times, fans get upset not realizing it's all in fun and we're just screwing around.  A few USC fans took it a little personally, so all the more reason to read the article.

We've also got your usual Q&As with Garnett and Black Attack.  You can find their questions to us here, and our questions to them here.  We also have full predictions from myself, CDA and VU04 here.  SPOILER ALERT - USC is 21.5 point favorites.  Who do you think everyone picked?  If you're feeling particularly saucy, you may want to try to stomach the prediction over at our sister site.

GAMETIME

So here we are.  A game we had already marked as a loss before we knew the depth of our problems this year.   As always, please drop by the gamethread and bitch and moan about the cover 2 zone we'll sit in all game.  If any of y'all actually read this far, I'd love to know as these take a damned long time to write.

Just a reminder - the audio feed is now FREE on VUCommodores.com (link below) and starts at 16:45 ET (15:45 CT)

1-2 (0-1)

GAMETIME: 19:30 ET (18:30 CT)

LOCATION: DUDLEY FIELD, NASHVILLE, TN

TV: SEC NETWORK

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)


2-1 (1-1)

ANCHOR DOWN Y'ALL!