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SATURDAY TAILGATE: GEORGIA

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Hey, at least I kept it under 3,000 words for once.

Unfortunately, this prette nice bocce set has been lost. :_(
Unfortunately, this prette nice bocce set has been lost. :_(

For the first time ever, I actually broke up writing this into several nights.  That's not something we usually do on AoG.  In fact, I almost just broke this shit up into separate posts through the week, but since y'all apparently like it, here I am.  Saturday Tailgate is back, y'all!

AoG WEEK IN REVIEW

Most of us predicted a loss last week.  We were rightfully upset and pessimistic about what that game had in store.  Last season was disastrous, and gave us not much reason for hope.  Offseason moves, and (marginal) improvement over last season gave small reasons for hope.  Nonetheless, we all went with the oddsmakers and figured that WKU would wet our hets just like Temple.

We were wrong.  Well, not 100% wrong, we lost, but we lost a game that we should have won.  I don't mean that in the sense that we should win all our OOC games, but in the sense that turnovers did us in.  Johnny Mac was picked off TWICE in the endzone and on both plays they were bad throws.  Both times, Johnny let his youth get the better of him and late throws ended in a pick.  However, Johnny ALSO showed tremendous maturity in leading the final drive that got us the last minute touchdown.  The predictable 2pc is a whole other matter that I really hope isn't a sign of things to come.

I wrote this using the template of the Saturday Tailgate from the Mississippi game.  Where were we then?  CDA said, "Two weeks of college football.  Zero evidence that Vanderbilt's offense can work."  We are nowhere near that point right now.  There absolutely is a point to be made that improvement over, well, nothing, isn't exactly something to be thrilled about.  However, we cannot allow ourselves to be too blinded by last year.  The difference between how this team looked against WKU and Temple is night and day.

Our defense was solid, and the front seven looked like a 3-4 unit should.  They kept the WKU offensive line guessing.  They were smart, they mixed up coverages, they mixed up assignments.  They kept the vaunted WKU offense to only 37 rushing yards.  Despite the drops of the WKU receivers, I'm going to give cautious praise to our secondary as well which kept them to 210 passing yards.  This is the same secondary that allowed teams to pass all over them last year.  WKU may not be an SEC team, but they're a strong offense and I'm impressed that they were able to do as well as they did.  I hope they can continue that success against UGA.

My (cautious) optimism is shared by most of you.  We all are aware this could implode at any moment, but there's reason to believe we might be in for a team on the rise this year.  None of us want bad football.  None of us are "happy" with mediocrity.  If we were, we'd certainly not be regulars on AoG.  Most of us simply recognize that maybe we've been turned away from a disaster.  The disaster was indeed partly the making of Mason.  He's taken responsibility for his part, however, and has made appropriate changes to try to turn that around.

Perhaps Lady Fortuna herself will see fit to honor us in her machinations?  Andrew VU '04 does a splendid job of focusing on those on team that were blessed by her and those who she did not favor during the matchup.  Our very own Tom Stephenson with some great analysis to detail how long it truly takes a team to recover from disaster.  It really puts things in perspective as to how this is a work in progress.  Let's hope that we still keep this calm demeanor after UGA.

Finally, in not-really Vandy realted AoG stuff, Tom also wrote a good article detailing his opinions about expanding the college football playoff to eight teams (or maybe more!).  It comes from the same place a lot of our articles come from - rage at terrible comments on other blogs. Feel free to mosey on over there and give your terrible opinion.  I already did!

AROUND THE LEAGUE

Week 1 is always the same story every year.  Most games are total garbage, but there's always a few kings dethroned and fun games as teams are caught napping in a trap game.  I was actually fairly removed from other games this last weekend, but here's some of the cool results

  • Temple 27 - Penn State 10. Oh my God, the schadenfreude here. 10 sacks. 10. The PSU offensive line, which by all measures should be better than ours, let up 10 sacks including some to a two man pass rush. PSU was crushed, only being allowed 180 yards all day, and only going 2-13 on third down. This game solidified one truth: a James Franklin led Vanderbilt team would have lost to the Owls last year. Franklin, with a legendary program and an extra year, lost terribly. This was a TRULY historic collapse. The last time Temple beat PSU? Operation Typhoon was about two weeks old.
  • There's something about watching at ground level which just makes it seem not as awesome.
  • Brigham Young U 33 - Nebraska 28. If you've been anywhere near a TV, you've seen the catch, let's watch it again at a different angle! The BYU fightin' Mormons bring down the hail Mary... at Nebraska. In case you somehow missed it, the hurler of this epic throw was their BACKUP QB. The tragedy in the game comes as BYU learns their QB is out for the year. It's a foot fracture, so it may even mean the end of his career.
  • #23 Boise State 16 - Washington 13. I admit I haven't spent a lot of time watching ESPN this week, but this game seems to be buried under the NWU and BYU victories. Washington had a slow start and even then their offense was crap. Washington's special teams carried them in the second half, and they almost won the "tire fire" X-box achievement. If the Washington offense actually gets going, hoo boy, this team may be worth watching.
  • Northwestern 16 - #21 Stanford 6. I really hate saying "battle of the nerds" or whatever it is that the media people say now for these types of matchups, but here it's at least true. Stanford's dreams were dashed upon the rocks, and any time that happens to the Pac-12 "football" conference that deserves a highlight. How'd they do it? On the ground. You know, the way I keep saying Vandy needs to win. Northwestern racked up over 225 yards on the ground and supplemented it with only 100 yards passing. What really did Stanford in, however, was their anemic passing attack, surprising from a QB that started his 33rd game last weekend
  • Kansas losing to a FCS team maybe wasn't much of an upset. But it was hilarious.
  • South Dakota State 41 - Kansas 38.  Kansas was totally embarrassed last weekend.  Leading 31-14 at the half, SoDkSUjust demolished Kansas.  But being SoDkSU, almost screwed everything up.  Kansas got their crap together in the second half, and with seconds to spare, Kansas connected on a 20 yard pass to put them on the SoDkSU33, for a chance at a FG to force OT.  With 8 seconds left and no time outs, they snap the ball and... fumble the snap.  The QB's knee is down when he recovers the fumble so his desperate attempt to spike the ball is in vain.  Kansas loses on a fumbled spike.
  • The football Gods smiled on our team tonight. -Steve "Spurdog" Spurrier
  • USC 17 - UNC 13. If you aren't used to my prose by now, I refuse to call that other school in that cesspool state out west "USC". The real USC is in Columbia, SC, they had a almost 80 year head start. You also know of my love of Spurdog. The game penises were down at the half and things were not looking good late. For a moment, it looked like the upset most of the AoG staff picked would happen. USC managed to pull it out on a HUGE 48 yard run with 2 minutes left in the game. In the end, mistakes cost UNC the game, they threw a pick in the red zone and dropped a sure pick-six early. To quote the Spurdog, "The football Gods smiled on our team tonight."

Non-game summary News:

  • Penn State is so mad about the Temple game that they're burying the game tape... literally.
  • #14 LSU was shutout by McNeese State last weekend. Well, that's because they played all of twelve minutes before the game was delayed... and delayed... and delayed again... ultimately cancelled because of that lightning rule. Game cannot be made up because of no common open weeks. 8 miles give me a break.... Sigh....
  • Seriously, how is someone confusing this for a penis?
  • The Kansas State marching band apologized last week for their halftime show.  While playing Star Trek music, they lined up a formation that was supposed to be the Enterprise attacking a Jayhawk.  Unfortunately, some people saw it as the Jayhawk performing fellatio.  Which leads me to really question the state of sex education in the state of Kansas. Either that, or I'm very, very sorry to all Kansas women.  Well, so far as I can be sorry for people that choose to be Jayhawks fans anyway.  However, that's not even the best part of the story.  The best worst part is that KSU is self-imposing fines and suspending the band director.  This world is insane.
  • ESPN's OTL (otherwise known as the only real journalists over there) goes into even more detail about what most of us already knew. The Patriots have never legitimately won a football game in the last 16+ years. Not only that, there's substantial evidence that Goodell went out of his way to protect them. Spoiler Alert: Nothing will happen. Despite what we're taught as children, cheaters not only prosper, but they flourish.
  • The New England Patriots took about one quarter to start cheating again this season.  Thursday night at Foxboro, the radios, which while provided by the NFL must be set up and maintained by the HOME TEAM of a game were blasting the Pats home radio broadcast over the Steeler's frequency.  When the Steelers complained, the refs were about to enforce the equity rule (taking away the Pats radios too), and mysteriously the problem disappeared.  As the refs walked away from the Pats sidelines, the problems started again.  Mike Tomlin was not pleased.

THERE'S OTHER FOOTBAW... USUALLY

Here's where I usually give good games to watch and keep you going through the day.  I'm looking at the ESPN schedule, and dear God the schedule is bad.  None of those games excite me, except MAYBE watching THEM lose to Oklahoma.  I'm not listing them though because as soon as I say something about last week's struggle, they'll win.  So I'm going to be super boring this week...

  • #7 Oregon @ #5 Michigan State - I really don't care about this game. I really don't.  I listed this game last year too, and that was mistake because holy God it was a terrible game.  I have literally zero interest in both teams, but it's a """"top 25""" matchup that you can flip over to check the score on while you really watch:
  • #14 LSU @ #25 Mississippi State - LSU got their McNeese St. warm up game cancelled last week thanks to literally 5 hours of lightning that continued past the cancellation. The Tigers therefore have their opener against a team on the road that has given them a good deal of trouble recently.  Also, Harris doesn't exactly fill me with confidence.  Yes, y'all, I'm one of those pessimistic LSU fans, get over it.  Also, ATVS isn't exactly too thrilled either.  This game will likely be a lot closer than last year though.... right?  RIGHT?!!?!??!
  • UCF @ Stanford - Your Pac-12 degenerate game of the week.  For you new people, every week I will give at least one late game (>22:00 start) so you can watch football late into the night.  This is the game for degenerates like me that like football too much to stop watching.  Even if it does involve a Pac-12 team and therefore by definition sucks.  It's a nice way to wind down the night after a day of you know, good football.  UCF actually has a chance here, so...viola.

Or, you can get the full plate of total shit games this week from here.

GET READY... FOR VANDY FOOTBAW

Coach Mason surprised a lot of us this week with the way he addressed the press regarding UGA.  It's gotta be frustrating to deal with it too when people are constantly trying to get you.  His attitude has been the right level of positive but not so much so as to appear naive.  He says we've tried to address our issues from WKU, which I guess every coach says, but we'll see what happens.  Still, Mason looked a lot better in front of the press.

Thanks to the tireless work of AoG grand master CDA, we have our usual pair of Q&A sessions with our friends over at Dawg Sports.  Here's how they responded to our questions, and here's how we responded to theirs.  I also would take the time to read their preview here.  For some reason or another, UGA fans are convincing themselves that we pose a threat.  if this was a few years ago, I'd say "they should", but this strikes me much more like whenever a conference opponent appears on your schedule when you're a big football program.  LSU fans did it a lot when I was in BR.  They'd convince themselves we could lose to even non-conference teams.  I chalk it up to the normal paranoia of the trap game.

As of the time I'm writing this, the DawgSports guys don't have any predictions up.  I don't know if they normally do that, but I'll link it if it goes up.  We, however, have our normal staff-contributed preview article.  Spoiler alert: none of us picked Vandy.  We're looking at this game more as a test of character, resolve, and game planning more than anything else.  You can call that rooting for a moral victory I guess, but in the here and now, I just see no way to win this game.

GAMETIME

So yeah.  Let's just hope we can keep this one respectable, aiight?  Cool.

Just a reminder - the audio feed is now FREE on VUCommodores.com (link below) and starts at 15:30 ET (14:30 CT)

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GAMETIME: 15:30 ET (14:30 CT)

LOCATION: DUDLEY FIELD AT VANDERBILT STADIUM, NASHVILLE, TN

TV: CBS

RADIO: 1510 AM, 95.9 FM, 98.3 FM

GAMETRACKER: Click this link

AUDIO FEED (FREE): Click this link (VUCommodores, FREE!)

VIDEO FEED: CBSsports.com (may require login)

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ANCHOR DOWN Y'ALL!