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Optimessipessimism

For discussion regarding the Vanderbilt Commodores' football program.

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alathIN
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Optimessipessimism

Post by alathIN » Tue Oct 13, 2020 11:55 am

Another thread started from the premise of "I've never seen Vanderbilt football this bad."
I've been a VU fan since my freshman year in 1983, and this is nowhere near the worst I have seen VU football.
What stands out to me is the extreme mix of positives and negatives.
I have never felt so schizophrenic about Vanderbilt football.

Ken Seals is the real deal. If this year doesn't count, and he stays, we could be looking at our 5 year starter. He looks much better than Shurmur did as a freshman - showing more arm, more mobility, and more bravado. This guy could rewrite the VU record books.

I don't know how VU can possibly win any game this year with these red zone woes and inability to convert chip shot field goals. The red zone woes could get better as Seals gains experience and Fitch fine-tunes the schemes. I don't know what to do about the FG kicking. To win a game where FGs and extra points don't matter, you have to be blowing out the opponent and I don't see that on our horizon.

Despite the much-ado'd departure of Vaughn, Lipscomb, and Pinckney, we are good in the ball carriers/catchers department. Abdur Rahman has decent speed, good size, and is a play maker. He was shut down by LSU's Greatest DB in the Universe but otherwise has been a solid looking #1. Bresnahan is clutch and they're making good use of him. Marlow was already looking like a pretty good #1 RB and Henry-Brooks looks possibly better - much of Marlow's ability set plus a pretty good burst. Cam Johnson is also a good all around WR and there are some promising younger players.

The South Carolina game looked awful on the scoreboard, but it was not a blow out until late and a couple of big plays - largely due to having to play DBs who would normally be on the scout team. One safety in particular had some nice plays but also got burned badly for big plays - typical freshman mistakes for an otherwise promising looking player. The red zone and kicking woes plus the inexplicable fake punt made this game look a lot worse than it was.

The OL has been surprisingly good in the run game. Seals does not have a lot of pressure-free time in the pocket which limits the play calling - but overall the OL is playing vastly better than anyone could reasonably have expected given the circumstances.

The DL is the best I have ever seen at Vanderbilt - both in terms of starting talent and depth.

Other than the red zone woes, the new OC and DC look like significant upgrades. Last year I had the impression that OC and DC were crippling weaknesses and despite the losses what I've seen this year confirms that.

If not for all the covid crazy, I would be pretty optimistic about the state of the program this season. This looks like a team that can win winnable OOC games, and with some progressive improvement through the season, maybe grab a win over a struggling SEC team or two.

With the covid crazy, I am leery for the future of the program. Despite all the optimistic things I cited above, I still think this is likely to be a winless season and for a head coach who has already lost most of the fan base, that could be fatal. It certainly will not help recruiting.
If we do make a head coaching change, and we get a good one (never a guarantee) I think the roster is one that would be better than average for a new VU coach to inherit (assuming key players would stay, also not guaranteed).
If CDM were replaced with a home run hire, it could turn out looking like a genius move.
But the overall staff of CDM plus the OC and DC does not look terrible to me - and rolling the dice could easily result in much worse.

Whether it's CDM and Co or a new staff, I do think the table will be set for better times next season and beyond.
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dore74
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by dore74 » Tue Oct 13, 2020 1:55 pm

Thanks, i needed that. I agree with most of your post. And i'd be happy with year in year out .500 plus or minus results--so I'm not looking for a miracle. I am afraid, however, that after seven (I think its seven) years change on the top would be good--CDM's had his fair shot at getting us there, arguably inheriting the best team a new Vandy coach ever has and not really building upon it.
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by Nashmann » Tue Oct 13, 2020 2:52 pm

I think Vandy is a victim of the fact the SEC has gotten better across the board. Vandy not so much! VU stuck in mediocrity and personnel loss(Covid)
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by Johnmn555 » Tue Oct 13, 2020 5:01 pm

I don't see much reason for optimism on defense. Even without the Covid factor, it doesn't seem like we have the athletes to compete.

On offense, at least we have a good QB in the making, and that's the most important player on the field by a wide margin.
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by cc11316 » Tue Oct 13, 2020 5:19 pm

I absolutely love it - a Vandy fan that can make a great argument that the sky is not falling. Thank you alathIN for that breath of fresh air when the current most popular thread on this board is entitled "Never this bad". Now for the dozen or so of us remaining - let's strive to be optimessipessimistic as well.
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by BrentVU » Tue Oct 13, 2020 5:55 pm

That is a pretty great assessment and I concur with pretty much all of it. We did play without our two starting safeties, including losing the one who has been "calling the plays" the night before, and that was a huge loss to absorb. But on the negative side, the secondary even when healthy has been mediocre.

It's far from the worst Vandy team I've ever seen. These are the kind of hysterics that come out after back to back 41-7 losses, and one of the things I hate about message boards. Close observers know better... things are bad, but there are signs of life.
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by commadore » Tue Oct 13, 2020 6:18 pm

Yeah, the defense is doing great giving up only 33 a game. Offense is even better at 8.67 points per game. I am just as pleased as punch. :roll:
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by mnvandy » Tue Oct 13, 2020 6:50 pm

This is a very fair assessment. There’s moments you forget Ken Seals is a true freshman the way he plays and for as young as the offense is they really seem to be coming together as a unit even if the play calling is suspect. They’ll get better the more experience they get.

Defense is getting hammered with losses. I’m not convinced at full strength they’ve improved, but with the craziness of CoVID I’ll give them a pass.

However, the kicking game is what’s really annoying me. Someone said during the game Saturday that HS kickers could make those missed kicks and I’d agree.
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by Dorewithaflare » Tue Oct 13, 2020 8:04 pm

As a whole,we as Vandy fans are forgiving fans One fan says he would be O.K. each year a.500 season. I have been a part of football since 1961.I love Vanderbilt even though i never went there. I have made my son suffer through this since he was just small child. I hate UT to a point that i have lost friends over it. I know from being on this board that some of these folks say if you don't like it just leave. I only wish it were that easy. These super studs will never come to Vandy because they don't come to study.Several years ago a player came in here from i think Ill. A very solid player,after one year he left and said "I came here to play football not study.
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by alathIN » Tue Oct 13, 2020 8:59 pm

commadore wrote:
Tue Oct 13, 2020 6:18 pm
Yeah, the defense is doing great giving up only 33 a game. Offense is even better at 8.67 points per game. I am just as pleased as punch. :roll:
I think my OP must have been too long because you cannot have read what I wrote and come away with this bizarre interpretation.
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by Go Vandy! » Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:47 pm

If Vandy had accomplished half-maybe 1/4 of- the if's fans have if'd over the last half-century, we would be talking about them in the company of Clemson & Bama. We could keep CDM literally until his grand kids die of old age. And the topic of conversation would still be: "Never this bad..." and there would be plenty of evidence the answer is "Yes". We might not be any better under another coach, altho it's possible. But we could hardly- considering the state of the program- be worse.
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by commadore » Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:32 pm

alathIN wrote:
Tue Oct 13, 2020 8:59 pm
commadore wrote:
Tue Oct 13, 2020 6:18 pm
Yeah, the defense is doing great giving up only 33 a game. Offense is even better at 8.67 points per game. I am just as pleased as punch. :roll:
I think my OP must have been too long because you cannot have read what I wrote and come away with this bizarre interpretation.
Just making an observation. Nothing more.
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alathIN
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by alathIN » Wed Oct 14, 2020 9:21 am

commadore wrote:
Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:32 pm
alathIN wrote:
Tue Oct 13, 2020 8:59 pm
commadore wrote:
Tue Oct 13, 2020 6:18 pm
Yeah, the defense is doing great giving up only 33 a game. Offense is even better at 8.67 points per game. I am just as pleased as punch. :roll:
I think my OP must have been too long because you cannot have read what I wrote and come away with this bizarre interpretation.
Just making an observation. Nothing more.
I probably under-emphasized the negatives in my OP.
Certainly the red zone and PK problems will have to be fixed before there is any chance of a win this year.
Although I do believe there is talent on this roster and a good foundation to build on for the future, an 0-10 season, chaos of a coaching change, mass defections, etc., could eat away at the foundation and make it more difficult to build. Equally, retaining a HC after two dismal seasons in a row could be very damaging.
So there is plenty of fuel for pessimism as well.
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alathIN
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by alathIN » Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:00 am

Go Vandy! wrote:
Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:47 pm
If Vandy had accomplished half-maybe 1/4 of- the if's fans have if'd over the last half-century, we would be talking about them in the company of Clemson & Bama. We could keep CDM literally until his grand kids die of old age. And the topic of conversation would still be: "Never this bad..." and there would be plenty of evidence the answer is "Yes". We might not be any better under another coach, altho it's possible. But we could hardly- considering the state of the program- be worse.
I will go way out on a limb and guess you were not witness to the Watson Brown, Dowhower, or Caldwell years - could also throw the Widenhofer regime in there too although his good defenses often kept games close.

In my time as a VU fan we have had one unquestionably successful head coaching regime - and even the xCJF era would have gotten him fired at a P5 school with medium to high expectations. His record at VU 39-24 (.615) is not a lot different than Butch Jones at UT 61-34 (.557)

In my time as a VU fan the following coaching regimes have had marginal or inconsistent success: McIntyre, DiNardo, Mason, Johnson. Admittedly none of these were successful by usual P5 standards - but all were better than the historical VU average, and/or went to bowl(s), and/or had some quality signature wins. Excluding Mason, this group's collective record is 72-144 for exactly .500
Mason's record to date is 27-50 (.54)

The Brown, Dowhower, Caldwell, and Widenhofer regimes had a collective record of 31 - 113 (.274)

Never say it can't be any worse.
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Johnmn555
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by Johnmn555 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:57 am

Yes, it has been this bad before, but when it has been this bad, coaches have typically have been dispatched before their seventh season. Johnson was in the midst of a 7-6 year in his seventh season. McIntyre was just starting to head down after a long upward trajectory. You can argue about how much personnel was lost the year after Franklin left, but CDM still assumed better personnel than previous coaches and a program that had positive buzz to work off of. Temple had nothing to do with some key players from the year before leaving. He's working with weak personnel now. Yes, and that's his fault.
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alathIN
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by alathIN » Wed Oct 14, 2020 2:23 pm

Johnmn555 wrote:
Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:57 am
Yes, it has been this bad before, but when it has been this bad, coaches have typically have been dispatched before their seventh season. Johnson was in the midst of a 7-6 year in his seventh season. McIntyre was just starting to head down after a long upward trajectory. You can argue about how much personnel was lost the year after Franklin left, but CDM still assumed better personnel than previous coaches and a program that had positive buzz to work off of. Temple had nothing to do with some key players from the year before leaving. He's working with weak personnel now. Yes, and that's his fault.
Can't argue overall.
Temple - and that whole season - looked like someone just wasn't ready to be a head coach. I don't think that was fatal, though - what hurt more was having lapses after the bowl seasons rather than building on success. After last season, nobody could really argue that CDM had the program on an upswing and this year isn't going to fix that.

Couple quibbles:
McIntyre's collapse after '82 was more than just a slight rough patch. A bad year in '83, then a year that started sky-high but turned in to a dumpster fire, and then a final season that was a dumpster fire throughout.
And you may remember Johnson did not get fired. He kind of wandered off in a fugue state.
Those are just quibbles, though, and don't detract from your main point(s).

It does look like the 2019 debacle triggered someone's willingness to spend money on upgrade hires at OC and DC. If CDM's regime were to be saved, this should have been done in 2018 after Ludwig left.

Even if Fitch gets sustained improvement from the offense, everyone gets healthy, and the defense gets better, it's hard to see more than 2 wins this year at most - and that will not be enough to restore CDM's cred or a put positive light on his tenure.
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by JCVandyman » Wed Oct 14, 2020 2:32 pm

alathIN wrote:
Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:00 am
Excluding Mason, this group's collective record is 72-144 for exactly .500
Mason's record to date is 27-50 (.54)

The Brown, Dowhower, Caldwell, and Widenhofer regimes had a collective record of 31 - 113 (.274)
While your point might still be valid as far as differences in records, those winning percentages are a bit off. The first group, for example, would be .333.
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by Johnmn555 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:23 pm

1984 was a 5-6 season (equivalent of 6-6 with a bowl today with the added 1-AA game). It included wins over Bama and a 9-3 Maryland team. It was very good by our standards. The following year, Season 7, McIntyre started to falter at 3-7-1, but with a conference win against KY and a tie against mighty GA, it wasn't totally bad. Johnson fell apart in season 8 for him 2009 and would have been a good candidate for firing if that continued into 2010 (which it did under his hastily tabbed replacement).

Anyway, the core point is that the program is no where near where it should be in a coach's seventh year, and it's not like he inherited the rotten situation that most new Vanderbilt coaches have started with.
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alathIN
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by alathIN » Wed Oct 14, 2020 8:06 pm

Johnmn555 wrote:
Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:23 pm
1984 was a 5-6 season (equivalent of 6-6 with a bowl today with the added 1-AA game). It included wins over Bama and a 9-3 Maryland team. It was very good by our standards. The following year, Season 7, McIntyre started to falter at 3-7-1, but with a conference win against KY and a tie against mighty GA, it wasn't totally bad. Johnson fell apart in season 8 for him 2009 and would have been a good candidate for firing if that continued into 2010 (which it did under his hastily tabbed replacement).

Anyway, the core point is that the program is no where near where it should be in a coach's seventh year, and it's not like he inherited the rotten situation that most new Vanderbilt coaches have started with.

Like I said, can't disagree with your main points.
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alathIN
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Re: Optimessipessimism

Post by alathIN » Wed Oct 14, 2020 8:08 pm

JCVandyman wrote:
Wed Oct 14, 2020 2:32 pm
alathIN wrote:
Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:00 am
Excluding Mason, this group's collective record is 72-144 for exactly .500
Mason's record to date is 27-50 (.54)

The Brown, Dowhower, Caldwell, and Widenhofer regimes had a collective record of 31 - 113 (.274)
While your point might still be valid as far as differences in records, those winning percentages are a bit off. The first group, for example, would be .333.
Yes, math error.
I thought those numbers were too good.
The Brown, Caldwell, Widenhofer regimes come in at an even worse .215
And Mason is .350 - right in line with the "marginally successful" group whose collective record as you point out is .333
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