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Stream of Consciousness Final Thoughts on 2023


NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
  • Since I started writing regularly for Anchor of Gold — and I forget the date, but it’s been a few years — it’s hard to remember a time that I’ve been as checked out on the football team as I was this season. Call it “as checked out as you can possibly be while still running a Vanderbilt sports blog,” I guess. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere, but there’s a reason why a lot of posts have been up later than usual or not at all, and it’s just because... holy crap, I had to watch 12 games of that? And it’s not just that; I’ve probably turned off more games than I ever have simply because when the 3-year-olds want to watch their shows and I’m watching Vanderbilt get beat down in the second half of a noncompetitive game... well, I can’t really say no to that, can I?
  • Unlike some of the other bad Vanderbilt teams I’ve watched, though, there really wasn’t much of anything positive to point to. Langston Patterson is going to be a rock on defense, London Humphreys and Junior Sherrill are going to be good receivers. I think Sedrick Alexander can be a good running back. There are some young guys on defense whose upside I still like even if we didn’t really see it this year, but when “upside” is the nicest thing you can say — well, it’s going to be a long, slow build.
  • The quarterback question seemed easier than it was made out to be. AJ Swann started six games and Vanderbilt scored 194 points in them; Ken Seals started six games and Vanderbilt scored ... 83 points. That might seem overly simplistic (Swann, after all, got the Hawaii, Alabama A&M, and UNLV games), but what exactly was the debate? I sincerely hope that we didn’t just lose Swann because the coaching staff decided he was the worse option for no particular reason.
  • That said, in this day and age, you have to appreciate Ken Seals sticking with the program.
  • Jaylen Mahoney really deserved better than this. There were some Mason-recruited upperclassmen who definitely felt like part of the problem (and I’m not going to name names, but you can probably guess) but Mahoney was just a solid player who should have gotten to play in a bowl game at some point.
  • Speaking of, there are going to be some guys who enter the transfer portal over the next few weeks who we probably shouldn’t worry too much about. (You’ll know from the tone of the posts even if I don’t come out and say it.)
  • Then again, I was very wrong about the loss of Ray Davis. (Mike Wright, not so much — but hey, he won another SEC game as a starter! 7-3 over Arkansas, but who’s counting.)
  • It is honestly maddening that Vanderbilt is bringing up the rear of this SEC. The SEC only has nine bowl-eligible teams this year and that’s the first time in a while that I can remember the number being that low. Two of the other four were on the schedule this year. Vanderbilt lost to them by scores of 38-14 and 47-6.
  • It’s weird how Vanderbilt had its best offensive performance since September as soon as Swann returned, isn’t it?
  • It’s also weird how when the quarterback switch happened, Vanderbilt went from “offense is moving the ball and is kind of unlucky” to just straight up bad. And the competition doesn’t explain it either since Florida, Auburn, and South Carolina were in that stretch and Vanderbilt somehow did worse against them than against Georgia.
  • I will be very surprised if either coordinator is back next season.
  • The difficulty of next year’s schedule is getting overblown. Virginia Tech, SMU, and Georgia State aren’t easy; none of them strike me as automatic losses unless the team is exactly as bad as this season. The SEC schedule is going to be tough, but when is it ever not? Alabama and Texas are coming to FirstBank, which is different from Georgia and Florida in the good years how exactly?
  • It’s weird that as I’m writing this, Texas A&M is supposedly hiring Mark Stoops and Mississippi State is supposedly hiring Jeff Lebby. Neither of these are hires I would have made. If Kentucky hires Jon Sumrall to replace Stoops (and they’d be idiots not to), they might have made a better hire than A&M did.
  • I can see why people are mad that Lea is (probably) getting another year. I also think there are a lot of reasons, not financial ones, that Vanderbilt would really prefer that this work out. Would you rather give Lea an additional year to figure things out or hit the reset button again?
  • I’m really going to hate doing this at the end of basketball season.