clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Week Twelve Football Mail Bag: Answers to your Questions

You ask, we answer.

Vanderbilt v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Question from Jessecuster44:

How am I supposed to feel about the football program now? Is this one SEC win indicative that progress is being made? Giddy about the last second win, but “we won’t get fooled again” is on repeat in my brain.

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Unless you were already out on Clark Lea, you shouldn’t really feel any differently than you did before the weekend; basically, progress is being made, but you could have said that after the Hawaii game or the Northern Illinois game or even the Ole Miss and Missouri games. Saturday shows that this isn’t going to be a complete disaster, but most of us probably already knew that.

Doreontheplains: The win is important psychologically and for recruiting. The way Vanderbilt controlled the game was the sign of improvement, but we have seen those all year, even if mistakes clouded some it. I am glad to see the breakthrough in the win column instead of just harping on process things.

Cole Sullivan: This one SEC win is in fact indicative of progress, especially when you think about how close we’ve been in a few other games this year. It takes a long time to build something sustainably successful anywhere, but especially at a school like Vanderbilt. Each win is an accomplishment for the program, especially when we get to say it’s a ranked conference win. I’m having fun and feeling good, and I bet the team is, too. That means something, and it can only help us moving forward.

Andrew VU ‘04: Quite literally every girlfriend I have ever had has told me “Don’t tell me how to feel” at some point. I know this game now. This is a trap. Wait... when did we start dating, Jessecuster44?

Question from Mauberly:

If deemed healthy does Swann get another start or has the KY game established Wright for the rest of the season?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: This is tricky, and I sort of suspect that this is going to be a moot point anyway because concussion protocols and the like. Personally, I wouldn’t have given Wright such a quick hook in the first place, so I’m already leaning toward starting him the remainder of the season and reevaluating where everybody’s at in the spring — but your mileage may vary, and I also understand the arguments for starting Swann.

Doreontheplains: Reading between the lines from today's presser, Swann is probably not starting for Florida though Lea left if it open if he is cleared in time to properly prepare. It's Tuesday. Unless Swann is full go tomorrow, that's only one intense practice on Thursday to prepare.

If Wright plays well again, it will be a tough decision. Swann has been shaky lately. I do not like holding out your healthy, stated starter for a rivalry game though. How well Wright plays Saturday along with what the coaches see from Swann in practice should decide it.

Cole Sullivan: If Swann is better in time for Florida, I think we start him in both games. Florida is pretty bad all-around, but to my knowledge Tennessee defense is worse against the pass than the rush. The catch is that if Swann misses the game against Florida, I don’t think you can take the last game away from Wright. Swann will have spent a lot of time off the field and it would feel to me like Wright deserves the start especially if he does well against Florida.

Andrew VU ‘04: I’m still full on the Swann train (Swann lake?), though Mike Wright has that Patton Robinette “It Factor” thing going right now. With Swann returning from a concussion, I would play it safe and play Wright against the Jorts this weekend, and might even split time with the two of them (largely as a reward for Wright leading the team over Kentucky) against the Chuggers.

Of course, as soon as the season ends, I want Lea and Co. (sans-anti-semitic DB coach) to convince Wright to move to WR. Like, the very moment.

Question(s) from 92Drummer & Arlyn15:

What did we do differently in this game that kept us from beating Missoura [sic] (spits) and SC? Or was it less about us and more about KY’s execution? What did we learn that we can carry forward? Is it OK that Lea made me tear up a bit?Do we have a QB controversy ahead of us?It is really to be 0-0 right now. 1-0 feels so good. At what point do I gave to give in to that?


Is Kentuckys [sic] O-Line that bad or did our pash [sic] rush get better?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: We executed, we didn’t get screwed by the refs (I mean, they could have thrown a bogus offensive pass interference flag on Skinner but they didn’t, and they actually spotted the Kentucky player ripping Gunnar Hansen’s helmet off.) What we learned is that we’re capable of competing with at least the middle of the SEC, if not the good teams yet, but we already kind of knew that after Missouri and South Carolina. Now we know that we can actually beat those teams.

Doreontheplains: Vanderbilt only made 3 or 4 obvious errors instead of 5 or 6. The early fumble in our half was mitigated by the defense holding Kentucky to a FG.

The defense was aided by the poor weather, which appeared to hamper Levis. The very porous OL was exploited. I am not sure how much more the defense blitzed, but they got home every time they did.

The thing to carry forward is some confidence. These guys have won a game that came down to the wire. No reason for them not to expect to do it again next time. Even when they have a huge breakdown to turn a lead into a deficit late.

Cole Sullivan: I think the coaches learned a thing or two from their mistakes. Players also made some heads-up plays (like that PI by De’Rickey Wright). Things just came together on a cold day in November in a prove-it game following a couple of really tough weeks for the team. Oh and Mike Wright being the best rusher in college football history didn’t hurt either.

Andrew VU ‘04: We basically committed to a 2 man option running game, and pounded them into oblivion. Oh, and their QB Levis sucks. Can we stop the collective “...but he’s a 1st round talent!” madness now? I mean, there are many 1st round QB busts, so I wouldn’t put anything past certain NFL teams. Still... he’s not, you know, good?

Question from Parlagi:

I guess this is less a football question, and more a generic athletics question, but anyway: Others have pointed out Vanderbilt’s admin seems to be against using the transfer portal very much.

Do you feel this hampers anything, or that it doesn’t really matter too much? I don’t have any kind of a read on this, and am curious.

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: It hampers something, I’m just not sure what.

For all the talk of the Portal, some of the Portal madness is decidedly temporarily: at any other point in the history of college football, Hendon Hooker would either be in the NFL or selling insurance right now, and we’ve probably only got a couple more years of teams being able to bring in guys on the Josh Henderson plan.

But I think what people are missing is that the Portal isn’t great for finding star players (unless you’re willing and able to get into a NIL bidding war, but even then, the actual star players in the Portal are few and far between.) For the most part, the guys in the Portal are the same guys who have always transferred: either guys buried at the end of the bench who want more playing time (and aren’t getting it, because they’re not that good), or they’re guys who got into it with their coach and while they might be talented, there’s kind of a “buyer beware” there. This is more basketball than football, but if you think of the roster in terms of 1 (best player) through 12 (last guy on the bench), the transfer portal is great for finding guys to fill the spots from about 4 through 12, but less great at finding 1 through 3. Even Eric Musselman has mostly gotten those guys from the high school ranks, even if 4 through 12 are almost entirely filled with transfers. It’s basically “replace 6’8” freshman who we have to develop with 6’5” guy from a mid-major who will be here for a year but who we know can actually fill a rotation spot.” Which is... fine, I guess, but we’re destroying the fun of following a player for four years for this?

Doreontheplains: The school just does not want to compromise. I applaud them for having standards, but I think there is a reasonable middle ground. I think WBB has a few transfers. Football has had a handful. Right now, football especially needs to be developing for 2, 3, and more years down the road. They do not need, nor are they appealing, to grad transfers who would be the final piece(s) to a [insert lofty goal] team.

Cole Sullivan: My take is that the transfer portal is great at filling holes on a roster but not good at laying the foundation for and the development of a successful program. I do think we could probably dip into the portal more often, but generally it makes sense to me to spend more time focusing on recruiting and program-building than churning through transfers to try and cobble a team together. I think it sends a message about who we are as a program that we are focusing on development. Plus, if we do the hard work upfront, we can become a more attractive transfer destination in the future when we really need a veteran to fill in a weak spot on the roster to help put us over the top in a game like the one against Ole Miss.

Andrew VU ‘04: Have any similarly ranked academic schools with major D1 athletics (see Northwestern, Duke, Stansbury, etc.) jumped into the transfer portal? I’m really asking, as I do not know, and have a long-standing promise with the loyal readers of Anchor of Gold to do no research whatsoever. Still, I don’t get the impression that they have. It’s not easy to transfer to our school, academically. There’s a reason most of ours in the past have been Grad Transfers from the Ivys and such.

I know we want to win, but do you really want a bunch of 26 year old “Daddy Hat” and mink coat wearing ringers like the school to the East steals to play for Tony “The Calf” Vitello? I don’t. I’m not a win at all costs guy. Your mileage may vary.

Question from Rubber Hell:

Would Derek Mason have won an SEC game before now if retained after 2020?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: What you’re basically asking here is whether we think Derek Mason is a better in-game coach than Clark Lea and lol no, he wouldn’t have won an SEC game in 2021 or 2022.

Doreontheplains: We saw 2019 and 2020, right? We saw the exodus of players. They may not have won a single game in 2021. The same would probably be true of 2022 if Mason was somehow STILL here. The stands and this site would also be completely empty of Vandy fans. The program would be potentially irreparably torn down.

Cole Sullivan: Probably not. If he had, we would have called it a crazy fluke. With Lea’s big win this past weekend, while still a little flukey, there’s more promise of things to come. Way more promise than if Mason led the team.

Andrew VU ‘04: After 2019 and 2020, Derek Mason may well have gone completely mad here had he not been fired. Like Brewster’s Millions meets George Costanza streaking Yankee’s stadium in a body suit mad with a splash of Andy Samburg’s character Nyles in the 2020 time loop film Palm Springs. He’d effectively be waking up to the same day, over and over, no matter how much money he burned, what egregious crime against Vandy fans he had committed, or who he fucked or if he killed himself the night before. Seriously, go see Palm Springs if you haven’t already. It streams on Hulu. It’s really the best time loop film since the remake of Groundhog Day.

(Please tell me you get that joke.)

That said, yeah, he probably beats Missourah (spits) last year if his starting stud DB and LT hadn’t gone through the NCAA’s Stargate in the regime change.

Question from Shoogymgshoogs:

Who will win the D3 playoffs?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Always, always bet on Mount Union.

Doreontheplains: The viewers of whatever entertaining nonsense that typically unfolds in lower tier football.

Cole Sullivan: Hear me out, what if we did an Anchor of Gold bracket challenge for the D3 playoffs? Parlagi, get on it! And if they don’t set it up, I will.

Andrew VU ‘04: First, I support all things Parlagi on Anchor of Gold, so I second Cole’s ask.

Here’s the DIII Bracket as of now. Going off past precedent, the mere fact that Wisconsin-Whitewater and Mount Union are on the same side of the bracket is likely the only reason they won’t be the two teams duking it out in the championship game. I’ll go with the 10-0 Mount Union Purple Raiders, despite it being the chalkiest pick that ever did chalk.

I won’t, however be rooting for them. No, the school that wins my rose is the 8-2 Springfield College Pride. They demolished their two main rivals—Springfield A&M Nittany Tide and Springfield Heights Institute of Technology—and though they are likely the underdog to the Endicott College Gulls this Saturday at 11am, I’ve heard tell that one of their mature students going back for his Nuclear Power Plant Safety certification plans to steal Endicott’s mascot and/or run the dean over with his car.

My second rose goes to Utica.

Oh not from Utica; it’s an Albany expression.

Question from VU1970:

Was it just my biased eyes deceiving me, or did the secondary actually play demonstrably better after the defensive backs coach stepped “back”? And when will we win our next SEC game? And would you swap our coach for A&M’s?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Yeah, though a bigger factor there was that the front of the defense was able to get consistent pressure on Will Levis. I suspect our next SEC win will come in September of next year, since both Kentucky and Missourah (spits) come to the Bank in September for our first two SEC games. And I might consider swapping our coach for A&M’s if we could pay Jimbo what we’re paying Clark, but no, I would not swap him assuming we’d have to pay $95 million.

Doreontheplains: The secondary will look better when the opposing QB is running for his life.

Probably next season. September 23rd hosting Kentucky or September 30th hosting Missourah. Those are the first 2 SEC games.

No chance. None. Jimbo has totally lost whatever grip on the game he had.

Cole Sullivan: We are never losing an SEC game ever again. Book your tickets to the Birmingham Bowl NOW! As for the second question, no. Jimbo is washed. I could talk about this more, but I’ll keep it simple: Jimbo Fisher refuses to grow and develop alongside changes in the game while Lea seems much more flexible. Just look at how different our gameplans have had to be week-to-week this year depending on the quarterback and opponent. Yeah, I’ll take The Fullback any day.

Andrew VU ‘04: Your eyes did not deceive! I can only attribute this level of DB cromulence to two things. 1) Will Levis sucks. 2) The DBs are better able to run with the opposing WRs without wearing tinfoil hats under their helmets as per former DB coach Dan Jackson’s instructions.

Question from ask_thedoctor:

1. Did this win excise the Logo Curse?

2. Why will we beat Florida next week?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: No, this win did not excise the Logo Curse, because nothing will excise the Logo Curse until we change the logo to Pinman holding up a sign with a Star-V on it. We will beat Florida because it’s going to be 35 degrees on Saturday, and we all know that teams from Florida lose all ability to function when the temperature drops below 50 degrees.

Doreontheplains: You know the first answer. You feel it deep inside you.

Mike Wright and Ray Davis are fun. That's why.

Cole Sullivan: What new logo?

Andrew VU ‘04: The Mal-Logo-cchio! Che pazzi! Oh, and we’ll beat the Jorts because of the NY Post’s epic troll job with their Page 26 bury “Florida Man Makes Announcement.” Buh Gawd... that’s Rupert Murdoch’s music! Nothing in Florida will escape that burn.

Question from NovaDore:

While one win doesn’t indicate progress, the last three games have been....winnable. A term unthinkable after the stretch with ‘Bama, Ole Miss, and the Dawgs. Looking forward to Florida and UT, do you see them more life [sic] the first three or dare we ask more like the last three?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: We might have a chance against Florida. I disagree with Patrick, though, the Tennessee game will be more like the Ole Miss game than Georgia or Bama, because Tennessee is closer in quality to Ole Miss than it is to Georgia or Bama in spite of the win over Bama or the morons on Twitter who think they should get in the Playoff ahead of an undefeated Big 12 team. Or, hell, Ohio State or Michigan once one of them inevitably loses.

Doreontheplains: Florida is intriguing. THEM will be like Georgia and Bama but with more hatred. And probably scoring by the Dores.

Cole Sullivan: See above. We are winning both games. We are definitely winning both games if Coach Lea wears that pullover with the old logo again. Long live the Star-Vee!

Andrew VU ‘04: Yeah, let’s just try to get APR eligible this week, because next week is going to suck so much ass, it’ll taste like Knoxville Franzia.

Question from WestEndMayhem:

Fill in the blank: The weirdest part of Dan Jackson’s coaching regiment was how he made all of the DB’s _______ before a game.

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Read the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Doreontheplains: Study Blitzkrieg warfare (yet never blitz)

Andrew VU ‘04: “do their own research on the Comet Ping Pong Pizzeria, Lizard People, and the Transdimensional Sasquatch’s connections to George Soros whilst wearing tinfoil hats and trying to take Video Music Awards away from Taylor Swift so as to stay two steps ahead of everyone else”