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A Clockwork Vandy: South Carolina

Hey! That game where we convinced ourselves the season might not be lost after all!

Take me with you.
Take me with you.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a scraped out win against UMass, Vandy hosted the real USC.  Spurrier had been hard on his team coming into this game and it was received with the normal "LOL OH THAT STEVE SPURRIER" that it normally gets.  This was the game they realized he was right.  They were nowhere near as good as the USC press made them out to be.  All hail Spurdog.

1st Quarter

Hey remember how Missouri losing in OT delayed our broadcast by a tiny bit?  Do you remember how we also missed Darrius Sims taking the opening kickoff to the house?  Thank God for replay.

Sims uses his speed and hits the seam perfectly.  The special teams just asserted their will.  There's something to be said about a special teams unit that is disciplined and keeps in its lanes.  Vandy 7 - USC 0.

Carolina Ball, 4th and 20, USC 44, ~12:10, VU 7 - USC 0

The Vandy defense does its job.  Good coverages, sacks, disrupting the USC offense.  It's the exact start we want.

I wish this was the Mason that was at pressers.

Vanderbilt Ball, 4th and 5, Vandy 35, ~7:40, VU 7 - USC 0

The drive may not have gotten the yardage you'd want out of a failed drive, but the punt takes us to the 13 so a solid result.  We burned 4 minutes off the clock.  Yes, I'm talking about burning clock in the first quarter because we should be that kind of team - long drives that wear out the opponents defense.

Carolina Ball, 1st and 10, USC 26, ~6:40, VU 7 - USC 0

USC gives us another gift on a throw that should have been six.  This time, the pass is to Shaq Roland and hits him right in the hands.  The pass is dropped but there was no one there.  The FS came in to cover Cooper over the middle, and Tre Bell was burnt... badly.

Vanderbilt Ball, 2nd and 4, Vandy 44, ~4:30, VU 7 - USC 0

This is exactly what I'm talking about about the offense we should be running.  Webb gave us a solid four yards on first, USC knows they have to watch for him.  We come back out in that 3-TE I-form with just one WR.  A fake RB lead, didn't even require much of a fake on the handoff, SC bit hard and Dudchock is wide open for a 29 yard throw.

Vanderbilt Ball, 3rd and GOAL, USC 8, ~1:00, VU 7 - USC 0

CJ Duncan

END 1st VU 14 - USC 0

It's such a shame watching Robinette shake his head between every snap of that last VU drive.  Because we know how the story ends.  That's a concussion and being the player he is, he stayed in for the drive and got us the TD.  Of course, he'll now be out for the game.

Overall though, this is how the team should be running.  We're relying on our strengths.  I also like how confident the DL is.  Vince is doing exactly what he should be as a NT.  He's disrupting everything and being the leader of the group.  He's straight up telling the DEs that they should be beating the USC C every play.  That's the attitude you want out of a NT, especially in a 3-4.

2nd Quarter

Carolina Ball, 1st and 10, Vandy 49, ~13:50, VU 14 - USC 0

Our secondary gives another big hole but at least this time there are safeties between the ball carrier and the endzone.  Cooper wasn't covered in the least on a 22 yard slant, but it looks like a zone for the Vandy defense... a zone where we didn't cover the middle at all.

Vanderbilt Ball, 2nd and 5, Vandy 31, ~11:50, VU 14 - USC 3

ESPN can't stop playing Patton landing on his head, and it's giving ME a headache.  He makes a statement on his first throw - a PA pass to Scheu for 8 yards.  It's an easy throw and catch as he bootlegs out to the right and Scheu is running the shallow cross route.

Carolina Ball, 1st and 10, Vandy 29, ~6:00, VU 14 - USC 3

Thompson hits Byrd having outrun Tre Bell, but not nearly as badly as our secondary has been beaten during the game. Although I'm already pretty pissed off about letting up back to back 20 yard gains earlier this drive.


Jordan Rodgers came up to Freebeck to try to talk him up and give him some advice during the last drive.  Dallas Rivers (aka good Rivers) returns a short kickoff for 25 yards, negating USC's attempt to stifle the Vandy special teams.

Vanderbilt Ball, 3rd and 6, Vandy 38, ~4:40, VU 14 - USC 10

Watching this play again, I really wish I chose it for review.  It's a really neat play, USC sends 7, but 3 of them fake the pass-rush and drop into coverage.  It's kind of a Cover-0 zone blitz, but since we're only sending four, it's not technically a blitz.  It's a great third and long defensive call because while it looks like USC is sending 7, the obvious thing here would be for Freebeck to panic, and call an audible for a quick slant or drag over the middle.  The zone guys would then be dropping back just as the ball is released - too late to stop an INT.  This play is made possible by the perfect coverage by the USC DBs.

Carolina Ball, 4th and 6, USC 47, ~?, VU 14 - USC 10

Despite a good first set of downs, Carolina goes... 5 and out? I guess?  McIntosh almost picked on off on 3rd in a 3-3-5 or something.  I like what we're doing up front.  We're mixing up the personnel.  A lot.  It's what we should be doing with a 3-4, and especially how VU should be winning up front.  Outsmarting the team should be what we aim to do.  Too bad we never stuck with any sort of gameplan ever

Vanderbilt Ball, 1st and 10, Vandy 33, ~1:10, VU 14 - USC 10

Have I said we should be running Ralph Webb more enough times yet?  Because I don't think I have.  Webb just previously ran for 20 after trucking a guy at the sticks the last down.  He goes right back out and runs through a truck sized hole for another 14.  34 yards in two plays for Webb, much of which can be credited to the OL, which is phenomenal on the run block.

Vanderbilt Ball, 2nd and 6, USC 49, ~35 seconds, VU 14 - USC 10

I forgot we decided to do this at the half.  Freebeck throws a pick to Brison Williams, who takes it 56 yards to the house.  Freebeck had the time to make a smart throw, he didn't.  He throws the ball to Graves entirely too late on his route.  As such, Williams snuffs it out and just jumps it.  It's the kind of mistake you expect from a FR, it just ended in the most horrific way possible.


Mason just basically said what I did.  Freebeck took too long, stared the guy down, it was a telegraphed throw, and that's why it was picked.  He's in good spirits though, which I can't blame him for considering how much better this team is playing.


It's partly (ok, greatly) that USC is not a good footbaw team and they looked past us, but we're playing very well right now.  We're playing like a team that deserves to win, and more than that, a team that deserves to be called a SEC team.  Still a couple of mistakes, and I wish I could have the optimism we all had after this game but this team is undeniably different.

Also, if I have to watch one more #x commercial, I'm going to scream.  We get it, don't text and drive OoooOoooOooOoh.


Carolina Ball, 3rd and 15, Vandy 45, ~10:10, USC 17 - VU 14

This drive... We forced a fumble three plays earlier and didn't recover... then we have a third and long that USC fumbles on the conversion... that the refs take from us.  You know, whether that should be a fumble recovery or not is academic.  This is the second third down we let convert (earlier for 5 yards), and it's just ridiculous to let a 3rd and 15 get converted.

He definitely fumbled though.


The ruling is a fumble, but a (stupid, but correct) ruling that the ball was ruled dead when Cooper touches it first from OOB.  What a retarded rule.

Carolina Ball, 1st and 10, Vandy 29, ~10 minutes, USC 24 - VU 14

Spurdog takes full advantage of the emotions on the field and calls a perfect deep strike.  I just don't have the energy... which I guess is the point of this.

KICKOFF to VANDY, ~10 minutes, USC 24 - VU 14

You know what? This flag is worth it.  First player to return 2 kickoffs to the house in the same game? NO FUN LEAGUE.  Vandy 21 - USC 24


Carolina Ball, 3rd and 10, USC 44, ~8:20, USC 24 - VU 21

After letting USC get a new set of downs right away, the defense shuts down USC and they get zero yards on three straight plays.  Paris Head gets called on DPI on the underthrow, which I just hate.  Head was going full steam and Roland comes back and gets the DPI.  That has to be more of a judgment call for the defense.

Carolina Ball, 2nd and 10, Vandy 27, ~7 minutes, USC 24 - VU 21

Another missed opportunity on a fumble.  The defense tried too hard to scoop it up on the run non one fell on it and the ball gets out of bounds.  Maybe it's a mild blessing because on review it's called an incomplete pass.   The blessing being that we'd be more pissed if we fell on it and it was taken away.

Vanderbilt Ball, 2nd and 8, Vandy 7, ~6:00, USC 27 - VU 21

31 yards.

Vanderbilt Ball, 1st and 10, Vandy 38, ~5:30, USC 27 - VU 21

56 yards in two plays y'all.

Vanderbilt Ball, 4th and Goal, USC 2, ~20 seconds, USC 27 - VU 21

How the hell do you get delay of game right now?  We're at the 2, fourth down, and now's when we miscommunicate?  Vanderbilt.  I could understand doing it on purpose to get some space on the kick, but don't line up if you're doing that... which means it wasn't intentional.


Like seriously, I get being caught up in the moment, and feeling the need to respond, but you can't especially in front of the ref.

End 3rd

I just have one thing to say - the Dr. Pepper concession guy commercial was alright last year, but holy crap it's annoying now.


Carolina Ball, 3rd and 6, USC 43, ~14:40, USC 27 - VU 24

We get caught with man coverage with a spy.  Davis sees it and just runs out in a flat where there's no one.  It's a Madden play, and it works for 17.  Another 3rd and long opportunity squandered.

Carolina Ball, 2nd and GOAL, Vandy 7, ~10:30, USC 27 - VU 24

The defense breaks after 3 straight Davis runs sets up a 7 yard Pass to Dylan Thompson.  I'm fading here, I gotta be honest... 6+ hours of this in one day is just too much.

Vanderbilt Ball, 3rd and 9, Vandy 16, ~9:30, USC 34 - VU 24

I had this play clipped out ready to post as a gif and I guess I never converted it.  Stephen Scheu really shows his worth here on this bomb.  Pass was a tad off target, and he's smashed early by TWO USC players and gets 44 yards for his efforts.

Vanderbilt Ball, 4th and 10, USC 29, ~ 7:50, USC 34 - VU 24

I realize it's late in the game, I realize that we're down two.  We still can't be abandoning the run game.  Only one play of this drive was a run, and it cost us.  This is what happens when Karl Dorell feels confident in his offense.  Hilariously, the offense worked best when he wasn't doing this.  Three straight incompletes put us in the position to try a 46 yd field goal.... Which is blocked.  Damnit.

Carolina Ball, 1st and 10, USC 20, ~ 7:30, USC 34 - VU 24

Vince Taylor, who has the power to feel my pain across space and time, reminds me that he still cares.

I love you, Vince Taylor.

Vanderbilt Ball, 4th and 5, USC 12, ~6:00, USC 34 - VU 24

This is the stuff that would cause me to lose my mind if I were Mason.  The drive starts (correctly) with a Webb 12 yard run, and then we go back to only passing.  WHY? WHY ARE WE DOING THIS? Part of a student-mentor relationship is being able to make each other better, so I just don't get why Mason isn't screaming at Dorrell for these play calls.

Carolina Ball, 2nd and 6, USC 29, ~5:20, USC 34 - VU 27

Second straight wildcat play, and Cooper just takes it on a sweep for 70 yards for the TD (and ultimately what will be the game).  Completely untouched.  It's correctly reviewed and overturned to a 69.5 yard run, which is brought in on the next play on a QB sneak.  How in the hell can you not have men on Cooper on a damned wildcat set?

KICKOFF TO VANDY, ~4:30, USC 41 - VU 27

You know how I said that TD was the dagger?  I should learn to keep my mouth shut.   The squib kick is bumbled by the Vandy ST unit, hits Marcus off the foot and we just cough it right back to USC.

Carolina Ball, 1st and Goal, Vandy 2, ~1:40, USC 41 - VU 27

Did you know David Williams was a double agent?  He just ran the ball in for USC for another TD.

Vanderbilt Ball, 1st and 10, ~1:00, USC 48 - VU 27

FINAL, USC 48 - VU 34

While I have the benefit of knowing how this story ends, I'll reiterate that we had every reason to be excited after this game.  The team played with passion, the team played like we had grown accustomed.  Yes, we made mistakes, yes we screwed ourselves with some bad play calls.  We still played like an SEC team.  It's into the great abyss for me now as tomorrow I get UK followed by maybe UGA.  Joy.