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Thoughts from South Carolina game

  • Barton S

    I sat in the stands and watched this one. Wanted to get a feel for the environment and atmosphere. Here are some initial thoughts on the game at first viewing. I was watching it live. Didn’t have TV replays and haven’t gone back to rewatch it yet but here are a few things that stood out to me.

    - Connor Shaw is really good and really tough. No doubt about it that if he doesn’t find his way back in the football game and play Vanderbilt wins that game. The kid’s just a football player. In the keys to the game, we wrote about containing Shaw’s legs and that truly proved to be the difference. The guy found a way to make some plays even though he took some big hits along the way.

    - Jordan Matthews is a stud. Been saying it all preseason but that’s the kind of game we can expect out of him. He’s got to find some help though. Chris Boyd has to make some tough catches of his own. Jordan Rodgers is not a good enough passer to not get help from his receiving corps.

    - Jordan Rodgers needs to improve. His feet are his saving grace. He’s got to sit in the pocket and make some throws. He won’t be facing a pass rush like that every week but he’s got to show more poise than he did.

    - I thought the secondary played as well as I expected them to. This is going to be a great unit again this year. I’ve loved Kenny Ladler since high school and he’s on his way to being special. Andre Hal is the lockdown guy we expected as well. The whole group is solid across the board.

    - I thought Wesley Johnson did a good job on Clowney in pass protection. Where Clowney really was the biggest factor was in the run game. He was just blowing up those kick out blocks on everything coming his way and forcing plays to bounce. That whole defensive front is beastly. Other guys for SC on defense that I thought made a big difference were Devonte Holloman and DJ Swearinger. Not a lot of points are going to be scored on that group.

    - In the keys to the game we talked about avoiding the Big play turnover. That goalline interception was exactly the type of play that Vanderbilt absolutely has to avoid. I actually liked the play call, that defender just made a ridiculous play.

    - Running back depth is going to be a real issue and for that reason there is no scenario in the 2013 class that doesn’t include a running back in my opinion. Warren Norman is clearly having health issues and is not going to be the 2009 Norman. Jerron Seymour is having some health issues as well. Vandy is one injury away from being in dire straights at the position.

    - I thought the linebackers played adequately but the second level really had a hard time chasing down Connor Shaw and never could tackle Marcus Lattimore effectively in space (easier said than done I know). That’s going to be a position that is going to see more and more of Derrion Herring and Jakkari Thomas as the season progresses in my opinion. They’re going to need some playmakers and those two are the guys from what I’ve seen.

    - Overall I thought the gameday experience was vastly improved. The stadium was more full with Vanderbilt fans than I think I’ve ever seen it. That being said, for a game in which Vanderbilt was about to knock off the No. 9 team in the country, the atmosphere wasn’t exactly “electric” relative to other SEC venues. It’s going to take some time but it’s still a pretty buttoned up crowd. Hopefully there is a version of Spencer’s Anchor Down cheer on the jumbotron that doesn’t involve the instructions at the beginning. After about the third time, those instructions got a little superfluous.

    - Lots of positives to take from the game though. Defensively, Vanderbilt’s defensive line really impressed me. I didn’t really think they were THAT good. But when healthy there are some really disruptive guys. Walker May is tough to deal with off the edge. If Azubike gets some more experience, those two could bring some good heat. Interior those guys are just strong and sturdy. Gonna be tough for most teams to run on those guys.

    Agree? Disagree? Let me know.

    This post was edited by Barton S 20 months ago

    Barton Simmons | 247Sports | National Recruiting Analyst | Twitter: @bartonsimmons

  • I was there also. Straight up agree with exception of INT play call. That is NOT a play to run with that short of a field. It is a slower developing play by design against a fast and compact (due to extremely short field) SEC defense. Run that play, maybe when u have more space ... Regarding game, we had so many chances to win: 1st qtr INT in redzone, kicking 50yd FG on 4th and 3 when up by 3: (we needed to extend drive then), missed FG, rogers threw wide in endzone to wide open receiver on 3rd down, scored 13 unanswered pts with lead in 4th qtr with about 8 mins to go, ball in hand with 2 mins to go for the win. SO, for all the things we didn't do, we should have won, imo. Last year based on how SCs D controlled us, I didn't think we were in the gm as much as others seemed to think , last nite different story. We are getting there. We will get there ... I was disappointed in the crowd. Lazy at times, critical points in game and seemed like would rather watch than participate, too many not being active. We have a ways to go as a fanbase. Maybe I am too passionate about this team but I think we need some fans with some balls and intestinal fortitude that don't lay out in parts of the game. I know that is crass but I expect more ... I'm listening to Let the Bodies Hit the floor before the game and I think some of them are listening to Barry Manilow. Imo, about 60% of the crowd was pretty active most of the time. Too many waiting for something to cheer about, watching ... Ok, I'm done. Next game leave no doubt by end of 2nd qtr as to who is going to win. #anchordown

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  • Barton S

    Another play that was huge was Andre Hal's hit to the head penalty. I didn't have the benefit of replay but it's so frustrating for me to watch that in any game. As a former DB, I don't know how you hold up on that play. I understand the spirit of the rule but that is such a crucial penalty in the game on a play that was not malicious in nature at all. There was a time when that was a "good, clean hit"

    Barton Simmons | 247Sports | National Recruiting Analyst | Twitter: @bartonsimmons

  • Barton S

    Let me clarify on the goalline play. I liked the play call. Try to get a fast aggressive defense to overcommit and find the throw back play. Jordan Rodgers has to see that the play isn't there and throw it away rather than just let it go.

    Vandy wasn't going to run it on that defense for 5 yards. The quick game is really tough with those long defensive linemen. I thought conceptually it was a good call. It was just a really disciplined good play but the defender. Rodgers has to see that, throw it away and take the field goal.

    Barton Simmons | 247Sports | National Recruiting Analyst | Twitter: @bartonsimmons

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  • My takeaways were: kickers seemed much more confident and I think that bodes well for us going forward.

    I think we were all misdirected on the health of Norman and Seymour - especially given CJFs explanation of the depth chart last week. You have to know Spurrier wasted some film time on Warren Norman and Seymour game planning... Hope those two can get in it soon and unleash the whole 4 back arsenal that we've all gotten so pumped up about.

    On Jordan Rodgers, I'm not about to get down on him this early, but you could tell the pass rush was really affecting his nerves. I can't say I blame him, but he seemed a little timid. I also thought he did a lot of lateral movement to evade defenders, but I was hoping he too could do a little forward scrambling like Shaw did. I mean, he is a dual threat QB after all ...

    Lastly, And this has nothing to do with our game or team, but Vols fans absolutely hate Coach Franklin and are suffering from some real insecurity right now. I'm not a fan of losing, but we played hard against a very big, athletic team and I think the lesser SEC programs are getting pretty high strung realizing that they no longer can depend on us for an easy conference victory. That makes me feel good about where we are going.

    This post was edited by VandyMarine 20 months ago

  • Barton S

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    Barton Simmons | 247Sports | National Recruiting Analyst | Twitter: @bartonsimmons

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  • Barton S

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    Barton Simmons | 247Sports | National Recruiting Analyst | Twitter: @bartonsimmons

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  • Two more things: props to SC for toughing it out when they were up against it. Gonna be a sad day when Spurrier hangs it up, he's a trip ... The students freaking brought it last night and hard! Props!!

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    Follow me on twitter @vugarry

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    Follow me on twitter @vugarry

  • Mark, some of us Vandy fan's are fanatics and we expect everyone to be like us, but we have to be patient with the fans that aren't as passionate. The football teams improvement is a process and fan improvement is a process as well. I'm sure a good many of these fans are new and are not sure what to expect or how to react, at the same time there is an old fan base that is no doubt apathetic. Changes will happen for sure if we just stay the CJF course. Changes will be gradual, but definitely will come about. The crowd at VU vs SC was an improvement over the past so that's progress. The last time I personally attended a game at Vandy that was similar was in 1988 it was the 1st game of the year against Mississippi St. The hype all summer for Vandy was incredible and QB Eric Jones was being promoted by Vandy for the Heisman Trophy.

    Follow me on twitter @vugarry

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    follow me on twitter @country_cookin

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    Follow me on twitter @vugarry

  • I do agree with your assessment of the fanbase and I get that part of it. Just want to challenge some fans to participate. As a fanbase we are so engrossed in seeing the team improve and bring it. My point is the fanbase needs to be that way if we are going to improve our support for the team. Not meant as a bash but prob comes across like that ... Apprec post. Anchordown!