Are you ready to buy in to Vanderbilt football yet?
Andrew VU ‘04: Maybe. I got sucked in after last year’s 3-0, only to be pounded into oblivion when Bama came to town. My het is semi-dry about this team, and will be bone dry if we come away with a victory in South Bend, but no, I don’t think any of us can fully buy into Vanderbilt football—at least not until Zeppos will.
DoreonthePlains: I’m ready to buy in on this being a decent team that can win a couple or more SEC games. Some of that has to do with the serious problems facing Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, and Kentucky. We have been even more dominant in the first 2 games than last year, which is not too big of a deal, but it makes me think we are at least as good or better than 2017. We appear to only have one buzzsaw in the form of UGA, and neither West opponent measures up to Alabama at all. I think Mason has also learned from the handling of the Alabama loss and will not allow any one or two results to totally derail the season. For any higher level of “buy in,” I need to see what happens in South Bend.
VandyTigerPhD: Ask me after this weekend. It certainly feels like this team is better than last year, but it’s impossible to gauge this team’s character. To me ND is essentially an out of conference UGA game. Well, Sanford Stadium is wayyyyy bigger than Notre Dame so it’s more like if we played UGA at Williams-Brice or something. Anyway, the true measure of Vanderbilt is how we look AFTER this game. It is unacceptable to brood around after a loss, which seems inevitable. I want to see the Dores play ND as good as we’ve played UGA in close games, but ultimately I want to see the Dores not let a loss get them down. I don’t think this game is going to be nearly as demoralizing as Alabama was anyway.
ShawnerAllen: Yes, their growth from game one to game two showed better execution and versatility on offense. I don’t know how that will hold up through the course of the season as defenses field better talent. But, there is competence in a variety of attacks. On defense our front seven has been active and effective. Looking at the division, it’s not as good as I had thought in the preseason. Vandy looks better coached (and has good talent at important positions) compared to Kentucky, Florida, and Tennessee.
Tom Stephenson: I think so. If we’re defining “buy in” as “this team will make a bowl game,” then yes. Here’s the difference between the 2017 and 2018 editions of Vanderbilt football: by this point in 2017, we’d already seen signs that the team was going to have issues running the ball. We had Ralph Webb in the backfield and couldn’t manage to run the ball against MTSU or Alabama A&M.
I think that ultimately led to a lot of issues later in the season. The offense had no reliable way to move the chains and have sustained drives. It wasn’t a dumpster fire, but this year’s team has a better offensive line and should be able to keep the defense fresh down the line. There also isn’t an Alabama on the schedule to destroy the team’s confidence.
Are you worried about going to South Bend?
Andrew VU ‘04: No, but mostly because I won’t be making that trip. Indiana is a soulless hell-mouth full of feral raccoons and people who drink from the water fountain by putting their mouths directly on the spout. Indiana is a place where the sbnation blog of their flagship institution ran false flag articles implying the Vanderbilt fanbase (us) was threatening a basketball recruit if he did not commit to us. Indiana is a place where Andrew Luck seems edgy. When the scops who told the story of Beowulf claimed, “At night there, something uncanny happens: the water burns. And the mere bottom has never been sounded by the sons of men. On its bank, the heather-stepper halts: the hart in flight from pursuing hounds will turn to face them with firm-set horns and die in the wood rather than dive beneath its surface: That is no good place,” they were talking about the Indiana-Kentucky border. No, Tom. I will not be going there.
Wait a second, were you talking about the Vanderbilt football team? Oh, then also no. They should have a healthy respect for the Fightin’ Irish, but only as much respect as is due a team that barely beat Ball State.
DoreonthePlains: I am really excited about the trip. My father, a good friend of his from work, and myself are heading up in the RV to stake a claim for Commodore Nation. We will be ready to spread our brand of gold to the Catholics like a glorious crusade. Oh, and the football team looks ready to me. Not to get too deeply into a prediction, I do think this will be a lot like Auburn in 2016 where Ludwig “finds” a few new pages to the playbook.
VandyTigerPhD: I’m going because of course I’m taking up a chance to see Vandy play in one of the great cathedrals of college football. But as far as intimidation factor goes... meh. I’ve tried to explain this to the denizens of our sister site, but I’m not sure I got my point across. For the reader’s benefit, let’s look at the capacity of Notre Dame compared to SECe (and Ole Miss)
Tennessee: 102, Georgia: 92.7, Florida: 90.9, South Carolina: 80.2, Notre Dame: 77.6, Missouri: 71.1, Ole Miss: 64, Kentucky: 60
So in other words, they’d be middle of the pack in the SECe in terms of raw fans. Of course the SECw has the real huge stadiums...
Aggie: 102.7, LSU: 102.3, Alabama: 101.8, Auburn: 87.4, Arkansas: 72, MS State: 61.3
So in other words, 8/13 SEC stadiums (4 east, 4 west) are bigger than Notre Dame. Please note, I’m not saying that it won’t be intimidating and it won’t be loud passionate fans. I’m simply saying it’s a normal away game atmosphere for me. We can argue til the end of time about whether ND fans are more “passionate” than your average SEC fan, but I’m just going to say I imagine they’re like any other SEC fanbase. That’s not an insult or a slight to ND fans. That’s a compliment. SEC fans don’t call you on par with us lightly.
ShawnerAllen: Notre Dame Stadium is beautiful and hallowed and has great support from fans, but it isn’t nearly as rabid or intimidating as any of the SEC stadiums Vanderbilt has to play in regularly. I am not sure the team will be too concerned as they go to play Saturday.
There is something to be enjoyed about being the away underdog, a certain reckless abandon. The team knows who they are and what they can do. They displayed some cocksureness this past Saturday, and I suspect they will open up more this weekend. Plus, the ND offense hasn’t been so high powered as the stats might suggest. They have 17 TFL and only 3 TD’s after their first four drives of the year (thanks to ESPN’s David Hale for those stats).
Tom Stephenson: No. We’re an SEC school, we’re not worried about going to South Bend.