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2017 AoG Reader Q&A: Bama A&M Aftermath

This week’s footbaw mailbag... with two footbaw questions

NCAA Football: Alabama A&M at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Not too many questions from y’all this week. We can only assume this means our answers to last week’s questions have left you in a stunned sense of awe.

As an aside, I (VTPhD) noticed that some of y’all posted questions on twitter and facebook. I realize it’s a little more work, but please email me when you have questions.

If we have running backs and more running backs and even more running backs, whats the major cause of the lack of the ground game? Young O-Line? Offensive Play Calling? Waiting for the arrival of the Autumnal Equinox?

VandyTigerPhD: Week 1 was sincerely just because MTSU stacked the box. It is somewhat more concerning that we didn’t run all over Alabama A&M. Nonetheless, loading the box and daring us to throw makes perfect sense if you’re game planning against us. We didn’t have too many good games through the air last season and we’re not going to convince anyone we can throw until we throw against real oppositions. If we punish KSU through the air we’re going to see a lot less of it. That all said, I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of it against KSU which tends to live in a nickel. Not a 3-3-5 nickel either a traditional 4-2-5 and they don’t have very good LBs. So I expect to have a lot of running against KSU, actually.

VandyImport: One part young O-line and one part offensive coordinator Milton Berle. I think there’s a non-zero chance that we end up having to use the pass to set up the run a la the Barry Sanders-era Detroit Lions, rather than trying to line up and blast guys off the LOS up the middle.

Tom Stephenson: The fun part is that Khari Blasingame has been fine, which points to a lot of the issue being missing a fullback. That said, I think if Shurmur keeps this up you’ll see teams stacking the box a lot less often and that will lead to better performance in the ground game.

What do you think of K State's coach saying, “I can look back at their schedule and see how closely they came … to being an 11-win team last year. I think that gets overlooked in the shuffle a great deal. They are an awfully good football team.”

VandyTigerPhD: If you look at Vanderbilt from the view of a person who doesn’t know our history, it makes sense. USC, UF, UK and Auburn were all games we shoulda-coulda won, some of which were literally one play away (that Kentucky game...). Missouri was out of nowhere in a stretch we were playing good football. It’s not THAT much of a stretch to say we could have had 11 wins last year. HOWEVER, once you remember Vanderbilt will always Vanderbilt their way into a loss or two, the comment makes less sense. As Tom highlights below, a lot of games went the other way too, so us being 6-6 was actually about right for us. I also happen to think that part of the comment was coach speak as KSU and their fans seem to think we’re pushovers.

VandyImport: Maybe Bill’s thinking of when he went up against McGugin in 1916. We were coming off 9 wins the year before and...crap, I got nothing. We were documented 5 plays away from winning 10 in 2011, though, so maybe the wires got crossed? I mean, we could have easily beaten Cocky, could have beaten Auburn, could just have easily lost to WKU or Georgia, so it’s kind of a wash all round. Maybe Snyder is on the Lou Holtz plan for bigging up your opponents and poormouthing your chances, but hell, it’s just nice to be noticed.

Tom Stephenson: Well, four of our seven losses (South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, and Auburn) were decided by a touchdown or less and the Missouri debacle was a 9-point margin, so if you go off that... yeah, we weren’t that far away from being an 11-win team last year.

Of course, we beat Georgia by a point because Kirby Smart is a moron and we beat Western Kentucky because of a failed two-point conversion in overtime. We got outgained by Middle last year, IIRC, and trailed THEM at halftime. So if you want to play this game, we weren’t that far away from being a two-win team, either. (Suck it, Ole Miss, you never had a chance.)

Do you think Mike Baxter will bring back the Smallball era to Commodore baseball?

I'll hang up and listen.

VandyTigerPhD: I got AoG baseball guru Andrew VU’04 to answer this, so I’ll leave it to him.

Andrew VU’04: Oh I hope so. At the very least, we should see an increased focus on bunting instruction. As you have all likely noticed, not only have we lost the bunt as a weapon, there has been a pretty clear problem even getting sacrifice bunts down over the past two years.

Liz Lemon's fake boyfriend, Astronaut Mike Baxter, should make that priority #1, in my opinion.

In short, we've got a lot of speed on this team, but we haven't been using it correctly in a few years. I, for one, would welcome back the Vanderbunt, as it put undue pressure on the opposing defense. Would I have Julian "Chinfante" Infante doing it? No, but the mere fact that Alonzo Jones and Ethan Paul struggled to get a bunt down limited their usefulness as players--and kept Jones and his prodigious speed on the bench, where it was useless.

Should we expect to return to the days of Kemp and Yaz dropping down perfect bunt hits, or Gomez triple stealing home plate? Not right away, but we should demand some movement in that direction.

VandyImport: I would LOVE that, if we did. The three run dinger doesn’t come to the ballpark every day. Speed does. With our field and our recruiting, we should be able to track-team it like the ‘82 Cardinals. In the post-BBCOR era, I don’t know why more teams haven’t tried that.

Tom Stephenson: What the hell is this question doing here?

So I'm at this wedding, and this 8 year-old girl is placed at our dinner table. To try to make her feel included, I said, "You lucked out being placed at the cool table." She sassed back, "Is it? I'm pretty sure it's the opposite." I then turned to the lady friend and whispered, "Watch out for this b****. She wore white to a wedding and everything." I think I won that round. Thoughts?

VandyTigerPhD: As I told you when you originally asked me this, I don’t think that there’s rules for how an eight year old dresses at a wedding. There I gave a serious answer to a clear joke question.

VandyImport: I once attended a wedding in Providence, RI with my girlfriend of two and a half years. (Her only cousin was getting hitched.) Things were not great between us, I was 28, there was a lot of “is this happening or not,” and I was already drinking before the reception. At our table was a lovely girl with whom I struck up a conversation about possible political science programs (she mentioned UC-San Diego and Emory which is how I knew she was serious about PSCI grad school, Jacobsen and Abramowitz and all). I asked if she wanted to dance. We did. It was delightful. I drank them out of champagne and had to be driven home. Turns out, she wasn’t talking about grad schools, she was talking about undergrad college choices. She was 17. I broke up with my girlfriend not long after, and her family is still talking about the scandal.

What I’m saying is, well played.

Tom Stephenson: Your first mistake was trying to make an 8-year-old feel included. The only reason anyone invites 8-year-olds to weddings is so that they can film videos of them dancing with each other and replay them at family functions long after they’re grown up.

Your second mistake was referring to your table as the “cool table.” Nobody who sends wedding etiquette questions to a mailbag at a blog about Vanderbilt sports could possibly be seated at anything that could be construed as a “cool table.” Plus we all know you’re really a teenage girl and you don’t have a “lady friend.”

So, short answer, no, you decidedly did not win that round. You got pwned by an 8-year-old, and you should feel bad. Now go sit in the corner.