While we cannot go back to the days of being happy with moral victories, they still do count for something. Vanderbilt has now played two of the three best teams of the conference, and played both of them very tough. Coach Mason's presence and leadership, especially on defense, is undeniable. This defensive unit and our special teams are keeping us in games and we're going to start seeing Ws as a result of that very soon. We're playing smart and we're playing disciplined, that's something Mason's defenses at Stanford were renowned for. To quote AoG commenter, TheTrialist, "No one wanted to play them because they were disciplined, smart, and they laid the lumber on the other team".
BUT (statistic) I hear naysayers screaming at their computer screens. If you have read anything I write, you will know my feelings on reading too much into statistics. They are indeed an important tool, but they never tell you everything about a game. Some people just aren't seeing what many of us are seeing, and that's a team that's executing better and better every game. Is there a football statistic for a player doing his job, hitting his assignments, running his routes, NOT over-pursuing (something Franklin era defenses did a LOT) etc.? NO? Oh, that's right, that's because while some statistics can tell you PART of that story, you cannot get the true tale if you're not looking for it. It's easy to say that the metric is "wins", but if that's ALL you're looking for, you're not going to be happy just yet.
This team is moving forward. Sometimes that doesn't show in the numbers, but that's because there's no measure for a team that believes in itself more and is executing a game-plan better and better. Unlike last year, it's clear that the coaching isn't our problem it's just that we could use a little more talent on offense. That may come with experience, that may come with recruits, but it's going to come. We cannot give up on Coach Mason right now with the team moving in the right direction. This will only get better as we bring in more and more recruits that fit into the system that he and OC Ludwig are trying to run.
After the way we have played Mississippi and UGA, and looking at USC, Mizzou and UK, how can anyone say we're not going to take a conference win? If you still think that we're the worst team in the conference, you have not been paying ANY attention. Vandy is a better team than Arkansas and USC, and arguably better than a handful of other teams in the conference. I don't think any of us expected that at the start of the season. This team is making tremendous strides, we just need a bit of patience here. If the UGA game didn't convince you, if this MIssissippi game didn't convince you, you have the wrong expectations for this team.
That doesn't make me someone happy with mediocrity, it makes me a person that has reasonable expectations based on the tools given to the man. I'm not a fan of constant sunshine and rainbows either, as I DO believe in being critical of a team when they are not playing to their potential. These guys are getting there, and so while unbridled optimism is too far the other way, I do believe that optimism is the appropriate attitude to have in this team. Coach Mason's personality is such that he's going to ensure that we CONTINUE to recruit better than Franklin did. I didn't think I would have this kind of confidence going into this season, but I do.
Most importantly, we've seen a huge change in Mason's demeanor this year. He's not accepting mediocrity either, and he's getting our kids there. We cannot give up on him.
Third Year, ANCHOR DOWN.