Vanderbilt, Auburn Headed in Different Directions

October 6, 2008

I’m not sure if I’m ready to live in a world where Florida is on the cusp on being in the top 10 and Vandy is still just two spots back of them.

Yes, Vanderbilt is off to its best start since 1943, and a win in Starkville this weekend means their best start since 1928. Of course, that was back when Vandy did things like beat Alabama in Birmingham (1927), defeat Texas in Dallas (1928) and blowout Auburn 41-2 (1929). Though they struggled some in the 1940s and 1950s, they didn’t become a perpetual doormat until the 1960s.

It sure looks like I was right to put Vandy on bowl watch after all. They should be able to pick up at least one win among games against Mississippi State, Duke, Kentucky, and yes, Tennessee. None of those teams looks better than any of the five Vandy has defeated so far. Of course they’ve played Florida and Georgia close in recent years, and if Wake Forest is capable of losing to Navy, the Deacs can lose to Vandy.

I would expect 7-9 wins on the season from them. Eventually, they will run into a game where the ball doesn’t bounce their way all of the second half, and two or three of the remaining opponents are just plain better teams. The floor on that range is if Vanderbilt remembers it’s Vanderbilt, and the ceiling is if the dream continues.

Meanwhile, Auburn fans are seriously melting down over Tony Franklin. Even though they aren’t actually running the Tony Franklin system.

On the drives that ended in scores, Auburn basically Tuberballed down the field until the red zone, and then spread things out to get open receivers near the goal line. That worked remarkably well. Vandy caught on to this, however, and started taking away the power running game. Neither Chris Todd nor Kodi Burns could make the Commodores pay.

The actual problems Auburn is having are not any different than the ones they had with Brandon Cox, it’s just that Cox was a better quarterback than Todd and Burns are. Drop in a better passer, and many problems go away. In that sense, the offensive mess is as much Tuberville’s fault for not recruiting a better quarterback as it is Franklin’s fault for trying to shake things up a bit with new formations.

The Tigers seriously need to pick an identity and stick with it, because this is two weeks in a row they’re promising big changes. You can’t just keep making big changes every week because that will only ensure they never find the rhythm they’re looking for. The defense can’t bail the offense out every week.


Gators Working Through Injuries

October 6, 2008

It’s pretty remarkable how banged up the Gators were last Saturday.

They already had the five guys who tore ACLs in the offseason, most notably likely starters Cornelius Ingram and Dorian Munroe. Jim Tartt, Marcus Gilbert, and Maurice Hurt are all offensive guards that did not play (Tartt did for a couple plays before coming out permanently). Then you had running backs Emmanuel Moody and Kestahn Moore out with ankle and hamstring injuries, respectively. Even Tim Tebow admitted to being hurt or sore “a little bit;” I did notice him with a band aid on his left index finger after Brantley came in, but I don’t know if that’s what he was referring to.

Over on defense, the top two weakside linebackers were out with Dustin Doe and Ryan Stamper. Backup strong safety Will Hill apparently missed the game as well.

According to Urban Meyer, we can expect to see Stamper, Moore, Gilbert, and Hill play against LSU. Moody and Tartt are questionable right now, and Doe is definitely out until after the bye week, having just had surgery for a double hernia.

The guys that were missed most against Arkansas were Moody and Stamper. Tartt is a big loss for sure, but at this point he’s never going to be better than questionable for any game. For all the running up the middle the coaches wanted to do, Moody would have been perfect. Stamper is also great in run defense, something the Gators could have shored up last Saturday.

Kestahn Moore was able to run up the middle pretty reliably against LSU last season. That is until he fumbled of course, at which point Captain Hook benched him for the rest of the game. It would sure be nice to see Moody back for this one Saturday, and failing that to see Moore get another chance. LSU has some of their interior linemen a bit banged up, just like a season ago, and there could be opportunities for gains there.