First, some sorta bad-ish news: ESPN's College Gameday is heading to Baton Rouge next week. There went our chance to host it, as far as I see it. Instead of going to a place which they've never been and is renowned for its football atmosphere to feature a game which has the potential to be a close, SEC-West deciding matchup, ESPN has opted to watch Tim Tebow
snip the tips of of Phillipino penises kick the dog shit out of LSU. I wanna say "boo ESPN," but it's really our fault for dropping a game to South Carolina.
Ok, now the post-game:
Instead of a game which is likely to be closeWell, it's a relief to beat Vanderbilt without last-second heroics, career-ending injuries, or really, any drama at all. The week before a huge game, that's exactly what you want. There are a lot of positives to take away from this game, and since I half expected us to drop this game, I'll focus on those for the majority of this report. Ground breaking concession after the jump...Eric Norwood this week, and the mind-crushing pressure of the #4 ranking was off of his shoulders. Still, Sowell showed up for this game, not dominating, but certainly keeping his quarterback safe and re-gaining the respect of many of his detractors. I'm not so self-important as to think that Sowell would care that I trashed him last week, or that I praised him this week, but still, I feel obligated to note the unbelievable turnaround he displayed. Let's hope he keeps it up.
Here's an annoying prediction: Jevan Snead will probably be really good again by the end of this season. It may be too late for us to make a run to Atlanta, or even make it to another January bowl game, but by damn, if things keep going this way, Snead will be helping us run up the score on Kansas in the Independence Bowl. Seriously, this was Snead's best game, against a team that had his number in the worst way last year. There were 4-5 flashes of greatness, some smart, average SEC quarterbacking, and 3-4 inexcusable mistakes. Still, you have to admire Snead's grit, handling his frustration at himself by tucking the ball and running for big gains to help ice the game in the 4th. I'm sure as a teammate, you like to see that out of your quarterback.
Grit and determination aside, with the way Snead is currently playing, the Bama game looks more and more like the Florida game last year. We thought that we might match up well against Bama, but it looks like we'll have to have a great scheme, keep mistakes to a bare minimum, play inspired defense, and hope for a mistake to bounce our way. That sounds bleak, but these are the games where you want Houston Nutt at the helm.
Bolden and the running backs continue to produce, albeit a little inconsistently. It's interesting to see Nutt try to get Rodney Scott a few carries at the end that would otherwise belong to Enrique Davis.
Shay Hodge, welcome to the 2009 season. We've all missed you. Tell your boy Jevan to come see us soon. Great game against cornerbacks that appeared to be the strength of Vanderbilt's defense.
You have to be happy with the way Dexter was used in this game. Not too often, and nothing fancy. Just hand him the ball in easy situations, keep him on the field to draw the attention of the defense.
Pat Patterson continues to be used as a fullback lined up out wide. Give him the ball, and laugh while the defensive backs try to drag him down. We need to find some ways to get him in those match-ups further downfield, where that ability can be used to create touchdowns.
The middle of the offensive line seemed to struggle more than last week. Like I've said a thousand times before, it's hard to watch a game once and tell which offensive linemen played well and which ones didn't, unless they have a really terrible game. From what I could tell though, pressure up the middle was more troublesome than pressure around the edge.
There isn't much to say about the defense. We have one of the top 3 defenses in the conference, easily. Really, we're one game-breaking linebacker away from having a totally unstoppable defense. Trahan, Shackleford, whomever feels compelled to step into this role, feel free.
This was Jon Cornell's best game. After being out of position on a pretty consistent basis the past few weeks, he stepped up his play and make some very sure-armed tackles.
Trahan was flashy, but we're seeing him as more of a blitz threat than a complete linebacker.
Allen Walker: not so awesome. Don't lose your job to a 5'9 true freshman, Allen. Step it up.
Cornerbacks and safeties were awesome. Sure, it was against Vanderbilt, but you can't ask for much better. Johnny Brown continues to surprise me. Kendrick Lewis is playing solid, but maybe isn't having the type of statistical season that some expected. Teams may be testing Brown and avoiding Lewis, and Brown is certainly responding.
During the game, I was very pleased with the playcalling, but I'd like to see the game again, and maybe (gulp) the S. Carolina game again to see how the playcalling actually changed. Obviously, the offense ran much more smoothly, Snead played better, the line played better, so we're inclined to think playcalling was better. I'd still like to think that coaches made some welcomed changes that helped to move things along.
I'm already excited/nervous about the upcoming week. Oxford should be a madhouse. See you there.