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Anchor Drop, August 7, 2019: 24 Days to Kickoff

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Vanderbilt soccer is ranked 17th to open the season.

NCAA Football: Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning.

We are down to 24 days until Vanderbilt football’s season opener against Georgia. #24 for Vanderbilt is Alston Orji, the older brother of Anfernee Orji... you know, the last player to come up in here. The 6’2”, 240-pound sophomore from Rockwall, Texas, played in 11 games as a true freshman and notched four tackles; he was also the highest-rated player in the 2018 recruiting class.

Vanderbilt soccer has its highest preseason ranking ever. The Commodores, coming off an SEC championship season, are ranked 17th in the first United Soccer Coaches poll of the season. They’ll open the regular season against Georgia State on August 22, though they have an exhibition match against Belmont coming up on Sunday.

Morgan Baxendale and Auston Kim have both advanced to match play at the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Baxendale finished in a tie for fifth place in the stroke play portion of the event.

Men’s basketball will host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on November 11, per the Islanders’ schedule (released Tuesday.)

The CBS Sports 130 is out. Vanderbilt ranks 80th, behind every FBS opponent on the schedule except UNLV.

One of the weird things about a lot of the preseason rankings this year — which almost universally have Vanderbilt finishing 7th in the SEC East, because when have they ever not — is that while in many years they function as kind of a reality check for us fans, in this case my reaction is more like what the hell? when I see something like this. For a reference point, Vanderbilt finished the 2018 season ranked 39th in S&P+, 42nd In SRS, and 57th In Sagarin. Yes, Vanderbilt loses Kyle Shurmur; Vanderbilt also returns Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Jared Pinkney, and Kalija Lipscomb. The defense loses Joejuan Williams and also returns much of the front seven. Projecting some drop off is fine; projecting the complete collapse — which, you are doing if you say 80th — seems pretty off base.

(And of course if an explanation is ever given, it touches on maybe one of the things I’ve described above. Meanwhile of course this is the year Tennessee is back, as though they did not see their season end with a 38-13 thrashing at Dudley Field.)

We’ve got a practice report from last night’s full-pads practice, the first of fall camp. The most important tidbit is this one:

Senior kicker Ryley Guay went 3-for-3 on 35-yard field goals and nailed two attempts from 40 yards.

INJECT IT INTO MY VEINS.

VandySports.com has interviews with special teams coach Devin Fitzsimmons and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver on YouTube:

Scoreboard

MLB: White Sox 5, Tigers 3 (Game 1) ... Yankees 9, Orioles 4 ... Brewers 4, Pirates 3 ... Rays 7, Blue Jays 6 ... Royals 6, Red Sox 2 ... Tigers 10, White Sox 6 (Game 2) ... Reds 8, Angels 4 ... Mets 5, Marlins 0 ... A’s 11, Cubs 4 ... Braves 12, Twins 7 ... Astros 11, Rockies 6 ... Diamondbacks 8, Phillies 4 ... Nationals 5, Giants 3 ... Dodgers 3, Cardinals 1 ... Padres 9, Mariners 4.