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Vanderbilt Football Mail Bag #2

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You ask, we answer.

Georgia v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Question from Dinard’oh:

Given this week’s results, would you say the Georgia State Panthers are “champions of life” now?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: No. Tennessee has not held the Life Championship belt at least since the original Champion of Life was fired in November 2017, and possibly not even before that. In any case, Tennessee had a starting DB arrested on a domestic violence charge about a week ago, and that kind of shit certainly precludes proclaiming yourself a champion of life.

DotP: Absolutely. They certainly ripped the life out of 90% of the Vawwwl fans.

Shawn: They certainly are king of the (Smoky) Mountain, and probably the closest the Vawls will get to any combination of football and Atlanta for long time.

Andrew VU ‘04: Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30.


Question from Joseph M.:

With what most of the SEC East looked like, what do you think the odds of us going 8-4 or 9-3 are?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: I predicted before the season that we would go 7-5 and that included losses to Georgia, LSU, South Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee. Hang on, I am trying to figure out if I may have severely (snickers) overestimated one of those teams in the preseason.

DotP: Ask me after Purdue? I would guess about 30% to go 8-4 and 20% to go 9-3. Tennessee and Ole Miss seem like almost sure-fire wins to go with NIU, UNLV, and ETSU. Jake Bentley will be out for at least 6 weeks, but he could be back when we play SC (9 weeks from now). Missouri looks hopeless at defending the run, so Ke’Shawn should give us at least a 50/50 chance in that game. Florida would have to really improve to scare me. Kentucky is still hard to judge. Oh, and LSU looks WAY scarier now. Really, I want to see our offense against a defense that is not way better than anyone else we face except LSU before saying they are a dud.

Shawn: The 8-4 path seems like a 50-50 shot to me. The OOC sets up nicely, and the Commodores have to find four wins elsewhere. So Ole Miss and a crap shoot in the East. The talent levels at places like UT, UF, and USCe are still high despite coaching and execution. I think it’ll be based on match ups (for example, UF’s DL is really good, even though they don’t look great on the offensive side). But to distill it down to one place, it depends on Neal. If he can distribute the ball efficiently and limit turnovers, I like Vandy’s chances. But based on his play it feels like a coin flip.

Andrew VU ‘04: Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30.


Question from WestEndMayhem:

What does Mason NEED to fix, rather than chalking up to disappointment when an NFL team rolls into town? My eyes go to the center. Any idea why the QBs were not under the snap more frequently?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Because damnit, we’re a team that runs exclusively out of the shotgun now because that’s the way the game is evolving, or some such nonsense. I have no idea why we wouldn’t have the quarterback taking snaps from under center just in general. That’s one part of the Andy Ludwig offense I did not want scrapped. I also think throwing the ball more than five yards downfield should be fixed as well.

DotP: The snaps are 100% on the fix list. The reason Neal stayed in the shotgun, even with the ugly snaps, is likely due to the pass rush. Though it is a legitimate question whether snaps under center would have been a net gain. I really did not see any glaring issues after the 1st quarter. The tackling was actually very good after the first 3 drives. We only really blew one big coverage. We did not have a ton of procedural penalties.

Andrew VU ‘04: Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30.


Question from BarnDore1950:

Can this offense get untracked in a week and be able to score the 28 points or so it may need to win in West Lafayette? I am not a fan of constant QB changes, but did we stick with a QB a quarter too long against Georgia? It probably would not have changed the outcome, but I think we should have given Deuce a shot at the beginning of the 4th quarter, not at the end. Your thoughts please.

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: The one thing I wanted in the QB competition was for Derek Mason to be decisive. The coaching staff watched Riley Neal and Deuce Wallace in fall camp, decided that Neal was their guy, and really, one game against one of the country’s best defenses shouldn’t change their minds. And I haven’t seen anything from Wallace to suggest he’d have done better. Now, if Neal is having the same issues against Purdue? Yeah, pull him. Unless you subscribe to the galaxy brain take that the coaching staff actually thinks Wallace is better, but decided to let Neal fail against Georgia to make Wallace more palatable to the fans. If that’s you, I salute you.

DotP: I don’t know if they will NEED to score that much. I think they will though, considering Nevada easily topped that mark. The OL is supposed to be healthier or will at least not be facing that SCARY Georgia front. Sticking with Neal through that game was fine. There’s no need to start a QB controversy in a game that the change almost certainly does not matter. Now, if we get to half in West Lafayette and are still struggling, Wallace deserves to get his chance to lead the team.

Shawn: They’ll get the chance to score. Purdue ran 82 plays against Nevada. They like tempo and scoring quick- which also means quick three and outs. I like the Vandy secondary match up in this game. Who knows if Neal is ready for prime time. I am of the mindset that if QB1 isn’t getting it done, give QB2 a chance. However, it’s not that same type of game it was twenty years ago, and considering Mason’s history with pulling a QB early, he probably doesn’t want to stir any controversy pot.

Andrew VU ‘04: Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30 Georgia State 38 - Chuggers 30.


Question from DoreOnThePlains:

Was THEM losing to Georgia State a more embarrassing result than the Het Wetting?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: I was embarrassed by the Het Wetting, while I am not at all embarrassed by THEM losing to Georgia State, in fact THEM losing to Georgia State makes me quite happy. Ergo, the Het Wetting was more embarrassing.

DotP: Yes, I’m going to answer my own question. It damn sure was! Maybe not in the moment because no one knew 2014 was not trash at that point. The Owls were coming off a 2-10 season, just like the Panthers are. The most embarrassing part, to me, is that Tennessee is not on a new coach. These players should have been much more prepared than players who were making massive schematic changes like Vandy was in 2014.

Andrew VU ‘04: YOU DAMNED STRAIGHT.