clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Week One Football Mail Bag: Answers to your Questions

You ask, we answer.

Alabama A&M v Vanderbilt
...but headbutt in the groin has a headbutt in the groin.
Photo by Johnnie Izquierdo/Getty Images

Question from WestEndMayhem:

I’m paraphrasing a comment from week zero’s game thread, but how is Dan Jackson still employed? On the field he is coaching one of the worst position groups based on play so far, and last year DB’s squad ranked near dead last in FBS play- the perfect excuse to fire someone. Off the field we had every Jewish org on campus petitioning for his removal, most DEI orgs releasing a statement, and his love of Kanye West made national news which is the standard barometer for firing idiots, especially at an institution as revered (and, to be blunt, politically mindful) as Vandy. Is it Kompromat??

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: My best guess is that Clark Lea wanted staff continuity after last season — in fact, it’s fairly noteworthy that all but one coaching staff member from last season returned (the one exception was running backs coach Norval McKenzie, who bounced to Georgia Tech.)

What’s interesting here is that Vanderbilt has actually recruited fairly well at defensive back, so maybe that’s it?

Cole Sullivan: He has a compromising photograph of Clark Lea saved on a hidden hard drive and until Clark Lea is able to hunt the hard drive down and destroy it, Dan Jackson remains employed. Or organizational inertia, I dunno.

PatrickSawyer: Good recruiter? No idea if that is true or not. It is the only logical reason I can think he still has a job here.

Andrew VU ‘04: There’s really no possible way to speculate here. Whatever the reasons are, they reflect poorly on the judgment of NoHo Clark. The man’s a fool, and he’s terrible at his job. Worse, that’s the most generous interpretation, as I didn’t even get into what he though Kanye was, in fact, right about, whilst Kanye was going on unhinged vitriolic public anti-semitic rants.

Question(s) from VU1970 & KnockinOnHeavensDore:

How long before we see Sedrick breaking tackles in the first quarter?


Sedrick Alexander seemed to show some signs of promise. Could he be a potential solution to our run game (a partial solution that is; a new running back can’t fix our O-Line) or am I overreacting because of course an SEC runningback can have a few good runs against a low-level FCS defense?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: This is probably an overreaction; while I think he has the most upside of any running back on the roster, we also saw in the first half against Alabama A&M that he’s not really there yet. I would expect him to continue splitting carries with Patrick Smith and Chase Gillespie for the foreseeable future. A highlight-reel run against Alabama A&M just shouldn’t have you rethinking playing time.

Cole Sullivan: Sometimes, it just takes some time.

PatrickSawyer: I think there is some overreaction, but he has looked better against those same defenses than Smith or Gillespie. Granted, Alexander did get a few runs against A&M’s backups, which is another step down from their starters. He should probably be RB1 or RB2 at this point. I am starting to wonder if Smith is injured because he was not playing many snaps in a row against A&M. Like 1 or 2 at most for most of the game, which would make finding any rhythm hard.

Andrew VU ‘04: The Entertainer was the best part of that Ramajama A&M game. The kid looks to have the juice. I’d give him more opportunities, for sure. Of all the RBs, he’s the one who has piqued my interest so far.

Question from PhilipVU94:

In my Gene Rayburn voice:

Later this season, ol’ SEC Coach Whatzisface is talking to his wife about the upcoming game against Vandy. “Honey, last night I couldn’t sleep, so I went to the film room and watched their game against Alabama A&M. And I gotta tell you, I’m _____________.”

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Thinking maybe I spend way too much time in the film room? Why is an SEC coach later this season watching film from the Alabama A&M game and not, like, the Wake Forest game, or a game against another SEC team? Hell, I’d probably watch tape from the Hawaii game before I’d watch tape on Alabama A&M.

Cole Sullivan: FIRST OFF, the Vandy coach is and always will be the “Ol’ SEC Coach Whatzisface” of Record. SECOND OFF, change the logo back. THIRD OFF, a couple of them will be saying “Aw man, there’s a chance we could lose to Vandy, huh? I mean just look at those neato receivers.” FOURTH OFF, the others will all be saying “Aw man, there’s a chance we could poach players from Vandy, huh? I mean just look at those neato receivers.”

PatrickSawyer: ready for Broadway.

Andrew VU ‘04: ...seeing my secretary. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I was stupid. I mean, all you need to do is look at this damned neck brace and road rash all over my face, and be certain you’re not exactly dealing with a smart man. No, I don’t love her. I love you. We can get through this!

Question from DoreFanInDallas:

Vandy really needs to beat Wake Forest to have a good shot at a bowl game this year. If memory serves me correctly, there was a Vandy football coach who beat Wake 3 times in a row. Perhaps Anchor of Gold could contact James Franklin and ask him for his advice?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Deleted his number from my phone after he left for Penn State. Probably blocked him on social media, too.

Cole Sullivan: Honestly, is this Wake game the most important game of Clark Lea’s career? Clark Lea’s first year, I think it’s fair to say we didn’t have any strong expectations, he won a couple of “embarrassing-if-you-don’t-win” games, and kicked off the Athletics Department-wide Clark Leanaissance. Second year, we knew we weren’t going to be world-beaters, and we got a pair of SEC wins out of it. There weren’t really any make-it-or-break-it games, though, right? This game coming up, though, even if we don’t win, feels like a benchmark for Clark Lea. We got our two easiest games out of the way, now what can Clark Lea do to build on the less-than-pretty wins to give us a chance against one of the other Black-and-Gold-with-some-dude-as-a-mascot (there’s like 4 of us) teams. I was really optimistic coming into this season, and I am certainly tempering my expectations now, but this game still feels like it could end up being a signpost if we are and are going to continue to be the “Same Ol’ Vandy” or if the Clark Leanaissance actually could lead us somewhere new.

PatrickSawyer: He tried to take us with him to Penn State, but we actually kept our commitment to Vanderbilt. The relationship soured after that.

Andrew VU ‘04: I don’t call my exes, even when drunk.

Statement from Paleozoa:

This team hasn’t shown much first half enthusiasm or energy. Hope that’s not going to be a regular feature against better competition.

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Is there a question here?

Cole Sullivan: Hey, you’re right. Maybe Clark Lea needs to hand out Monsters before the game or let all the players rub his shiny bald dome like he’s the Clemson Rock or whatever. I feel like that would get the people going.

PatrickSawyer: Agreed.

Andrew VU ‘04: That’s a statement, not a question. A statement I happen to agree with. If we come out with the lack of intensity we’ve seen in the first halves against Hawaii and Ramajama A&M this week, expect to lose. We just can’t come out flat and beat Wake Forest.

Question from Jared Rifkin:

I’m still highly optimistic we win 6+ games. In the second half, we stopped being vanilla and it was working with success. Do you think we’ll open faster against wake forest?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: There’s definitely always an element of “we’re just going to get out of here without showing too much” to these early-season walkover games, because really, if you’re having to reach into your bag to beat Alabama A&M you have bigger problems. Then again, slow starts were a problem last season, too. So I don’t know about opening fast, but we can hope that the “feeling each other out” phase ends with the game still tied at zero and not with Wake up 14-0.

Cole Sullivan: I think so. I sure hope so. We just haven’t seemed very aware at the beginning of games. Maybe Clark Lea has been focused on this week all along, so we were under-prepared for those first two games but will come out swinging this week? That’s my best guess and honestly my wishful thought.

PatrickSawyer: My sarcasm response is “we can’t start much slower.” I do really think they will, even with the early start. This is a P5 OOC game on the road. If they can’t get excited for this, we have issues.

Andrew VU ‘04: 6+, eh? I’m not with you, based on what we’ve seen thus far. Of course, Wake is our first real challenge. I’ll say this: I do not see a path to 6+ wins with a loss to Wake. It’s that important.

Question from Jeturn:

So is a six win regular season still a reasonable expectation?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: I mean, yeah? We just have to go 4-6 the rest of the way. One of those games is against UNLV. You might have checked in on Florida on Thursday night, and their offense looks dreadful. You probably didn’t check in on South Carolina because they were playing at the same time as us, but Twitter seems convinced they do not have an offensive line. You might have seen Missouri look worse than we did against FCS competition. And I also think we’re probably better than how we’ve looked over the first two weeks.

Cole Sullivan: Some SEC teams look pretty bad. I am not saying it is likely, but I think it’s perfectly reasonable that we could win six games. And if we go to a bowl, I feel like we’ll end up winning it. Dunno, just feel like we’ll get a good draw.

PatrickSawyer: Sure. Did you see how Bama and Georgia played Saturday? Yes, it was their first game while Vanderbilt had already played once. I still think treating Alabama A&M roughly the same way that Georgia treated UT-Martin is not a reason to change expectations materially.

Andrew VU ‘04: No.

Question from Bo Oldham:

Why do you think Swann was so off? Seemed to have time vs an undersized A&M D-Line. I felt like we had to run the ball to set up the pass and that did not happen with Hawaii. Any thoughts on two QB? Utah did it well vs Gators

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: No clue on the first question. Sometimes, a quarterback is just out of rhythm, though I am concerned about the offensive line through two weeks and wonder if we’re going to see some changes.

I don’t think there’s any real point to a two-QB system. That makes sense when you can bring someone like Mike Wright off the bench who brings a different element, but Ken Seals is going to be more of the same.

Cole Sullivan: I think our run-game will get better as the season goes on and we work our way into our system. As for Swann, there could be a difference in preparation by other teams since he is so clearly the starter this year. I am probably not a great evaluator of talent, but maybe he is just having a sophomore slump. He is growing awkwardly, but hopefully sooner-or-later he will regain his footing and put on a show week-in and week-out.

PatrickSawyer: Utah did it because they were without their starter, and the backups have wildly different skill sets like we saw with the Wright and Swann/Seals combinations of the past 3 seasons. There’s no reason to think about doing any sort of 2 QB situation for the Commodores. At all.

Swann looks like he is locking in option 1 and, too often, refusing to work through his progressions. He has shown the ability to get to his second, third, or even fourth reads. He has even done it with ease a few times this year. The optimistic hope is that the coaches encouraged him to trust his arm a little more after the 10 TD and 2 INT season where he might have been TOO risk averse. Or maybe there was a “let’s see what these guys can do” by giving them contested catch opportunities. Those two things seem about as likely as him forgetting how to go through progressions during the offseason after his freshman season.

Andrew VU ‘04: Well, the most concerning thing is that against both teams, our offensive line couldn’t block for shit, and despite our size advantage, they were in our backfield damn near every play. No QB short of Mike Vick in his prime can live in such an environment. Our o-line size advantage evaporates this week. If they don’t get it together, and right now, this season is doomed. Swann has looked a bit off, yes, but I’m attributing most of that to being hit like Jay Cutler, and when he’s not being hit, seeing the ghosts of unblocked d-linemen past.

Question from Parlagi:

What is Vanderbilt doing with a 10 AM CDT kickoff on Saturday?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Having a mimosa and some waffles, presumably.

Cole Sullivan: Playing an ACC team, right? Not exactly like Vandy is a huge TV market, either.

PatrickSawyer: Getting ACCed. It is not much different than the SEC having noon Eastern Time kickoffs when half of the conference is in Central Time. The entire ACC (until 2024) is in Eastern Time. It is an 11 AM kickoff for everyone in the conference, and it gives the ACC a chance to be the first game on TV in hopes that it is a close game that keeps casual fans from flipping to whatever game starts at noon ET.

Andrew VU ‘04: Getting it over with early.