As I debut the Monday “First Look” column — which I’m doing as a replacement for the old offense and defense previews we used to do (because, really, do we need separate game week previews for the offense and defense) — I’m not going to spend a whole lot ot time on this, because (a) Elon is an FCS team that Vanderbilt should beat and (b) they haven’t played a game this season, so I’d basically be rehashing what I wrote in my summer opponent preview back in July.
But I do want everybody to be prepared for a couple of things.
- It is entirely plausible that Elon is a better team than Hawaii. Sure, last year they were a 6-5 FCS team that lost 44-10 to App State in their one matchup with an FBS team, and they’re currently ranked 186th in Sagarin, or 52 spots below Hawaii (which somehow only dropped to 134th after getting bombed by Vanderbilt), but yes, Hawaii might be worse than an average-ish FCS team.
- Most teams that travel to Hawaii take a bye week afterwards, and there’s a reason for that. The early-week practices after getting back are often some of the worst of the season, and after you’ve adjusted your internal clock to Hawaii time, those 6 AM workouts are 1 AM workouts, and those 8 AM classes are 3 AM classes.
In other words, while I don’t think that Vanderbilt is going to lose to Elon (I mean, God forbid), I’m mentally prepared for the fact that Vanderbilt may come out looking flat after a Week 0 beatdown of Hawaii, Elon might actually put up more of a fight than Hawaii did, and we win something like 35-14 (after the game is 14-7 at halftime.)
Working in our favor, of course, is that Mike Wright is simply a better athlete than anybody on Elon’s defense, and even Vanderbilt should have an advantage in the trenches against an FCS team. And remember, Saturday’s game at Hawaii is something we just haven’t seen from Vanderbilt before: this team did what you’re supposed to do against a bad team. So maybe that will happen again on Saturday.
But mostly I’m just preparing myself for the coming meltdown in the comments if Vanderbilt doesn’t treat Elon like it did Hawaii.