Vanderbilt opens its 2020 season, a bit delayed, with a trip to College Station, Texas, as the start of an 11-week gauntlet with 10 games against SEC teams, none of whom are Arkansas.
This is fine. This is going to be extremely fun, and we all should watch this.
Anyway, let’s see what our writers think!
After watching basically every minute of every Vanderbilt football game last season, save for roughly two quarters of the Florida game when my wife convinced me to go get lunch and not watch the game (according to the commenters, I missed nothing), the surprising thing as Vanderbilt kicks off the 2020 football season is that Derek Mason is still the football coach. That, after all, is the kind of season that usually gets coaches fired. Now, with COVID-19 ravaging the United States, we’re also getting a lot of not-so-subtle hints that regardless of the results on the field, he’s probably still going to be the coach when the 2021 season kicks off.
Anyway, Saturday will be our first direct evidence of whether Vanderbilt is merely bad or a smoldering dumpster fire; I consider myself an optimist for betting on the former. Ken Seals will be the starting quarterback, just a few short months removed from his high school graduation, and Vanderbilt will sink or swim with his development over the next few years. That said, with a new starting quarterback and an inexperienced offensive line, we’re probably going to have to wait a bit to see real results.
Now, the defense could actually be pretty strong, and if that’s the case this could well play out similar to 2015, when a popgun offense with a true freshman under center (at least, from mid-October onward) gets helped along by a defense that keeps the team in games; the problem is that I don’t think the defense is going to be on that level (there is no Zach Cunningham or even Adam Butler around, after all) and anyway, for now, it’s frequently going to be put in awful spots by the offense. In other words: this might get better, but this game probably won’t be close.
The Pick: Texas A&M 38, Vanderbilt 7
SEC Upset Pick of the Week: SOUTH CAROLINA (+3.5) over Tennessee, because fuck ‘em.
Andrew VU ‘04
If you read the mail bag yesterday, you know my thoughts on the upcoming season. In short, though the defense has a chance to be good, they’re likely to be on the field so much, that 2nd halves are going to suuuuuuuuuck. With our offensive line of four kids pulled randomly from Econ 101 and the autopilot from the movie Airplane!, combined with throwing a freshman QB directly into the SEC fire (again, I totally understand the move to eliminate OOC games this year, but this is not going to do wonders for Seals Team 6’s confidence). He better be able to scramble, as even if he’s got wheels like Shurms McKenzie, we’re going to be yelling “Loose Seal!!!” all year.
Also, can we all just agree Mason ain’t the guy, should have been fired after last year (if not sooner), and is a lame duck coach still employed because Kirkland didn’t want to pay the buyout?
Against aTm in their 3rd year of Jimbo ball? Noooooooope.
So let’s go full gallows humor in the comments on game threads this year. Really have fun with it. It might actually be the best part of 2020.
The Pick: ass To mouth 41, Vanderbilt 9
SEC Upset Pick of the Week: THE SOUTH CACKALACKY GAME PENISES (+3.5) over the Knoxville Chuggers. Feels like ‘98.
Opening the season with what would have been the 2nd string OL pre-COVID opt outs trying to protect a likely true freshman QB in Ken Seals is not a pleasant thought. Doing so on the road (less of an issue with a limited crowd) at a team ranked #13 in the preseason is a recipe for disaster. I like a lot of parts of this team. The RB group is very deep. The DL looks stout (finally). The defensive backfield is full of talent.
Oh, and we have new coordinators on both sides of the ball and have had a very unorthodox offseason. Look, even I cannot find any reason to predict a win or even close game. Success for the rest of the season will rely on being able to learn from the hits taken in College Station and to move on as healthy as possible. I do think the offensive finds a couple of explosive plays to score. Maybe the successful use of that dirty word “situational QB” will come into play via speedster Mike Wright.
The Pick: Texas A&M 34, Vanderbilt 17
SEC Upset Pick of the Week: The Game Penises are really hard to beat in Columbia. Jeremy Pruitt will christen his new extension through 2025 with a loss. We will all laugh and have great joy revelling in schadenfreude while trying to forget the score of the other game at that time.
Well.....we have the advantage of surprise, which is something, sort of. As much as we feel our team is up in the air in terms of what we area going to get, the rest of the SEC really doesn’t have any game film on our present personnel. So that’s not bad. Of course, we don’t really know what we have either, except for Derek Mason’s history as a head coach.....which isn’t good. Look I’m trying ok?!?!
The Pick: The heart says no, but the mind says yes. Mind wins today. A&M wins (but Dores cover). 41-14.
SEC Upset Pick of the Week: Gamecocks. Will Muschamp needs this one bad, everyone (except us) seems to want Tennessee to be good again, and the old upside down cockroach is actually a pretty difficult place to play.