I hope you all found that as deeply unsatisfying as I did. A lot of things were better than against Tennessee. The tackling, while not perfect, was definitely much improved versus the Tennessee game. The offensive line didn't open up gaping holes, but the backs at least had time to make something happen without getting swallowed up in the backfield. Tripp Chandler once again played a great game and our young defense showed some flashes.
However, Matt Stafford and the receivers are still not in synch, which is mind-boggling at this point in the season. After starting off fairly solidly, Stafford at one point in the second quarter threw 5 straight incompletions, with a little help from his friends. A less physical group of wise receivers does not reside in the SEC, I'm fairly certain.
Defense still has its challenges for the Bullpups. Darius Dewberry continues to wander around looking for that darned corndog guy. Jeremy Lomax got waxed on an end around by Vanderbilt's quarterback. I'm pretty sure that never happened to David Pollack, Charles Grant or Charles Johnson. Darryl Gamble and Rennie Curran are playing hard, but still just aren't in the right place half the time.
While a 3 point win against Vanderbilt is a win in name only, it still looks like a "W" at the end of the year. The 'Dawgs will now limp into an offweek where they'll try to find a little faith in themselves and try to bandage themselves back together for the stretch run. So while you're healing up this week, consider the 5 things I thought would happen and, in large part, did not.
1) Vanderbilt's tailback. Boy was I wrong. Vanderbilt did spread it out and run right at us, and did mix it up with some misdirection. But it was not Casson Jackson-Garrison doing the running. In fact, his pregnant wife got more camera time than young Cassen (possibly because Patrick Nix and Mike Bobo's wives were at home with the kids. My theory is that ESPN is trying to pump up female viewership by turning college football broadcasts into makeshift baby shower videos). Jackson-Garrison had 7 carries for a piddling 20 yards. Not what I was expecting.
2) Rollouts/misdirections. Now this I was expecting. Vanderbilt continued our opponents' efforts to take advantage of our young linebackers' inability to even look like they know what the hell they're doing, much less that they're capable of actually doing it. This is going to happen for the rest of the year. Florida and Auburn have entire sections of their respective playbooks which are labelled "misdirection plays Willie Martinez can't stop". Of course, in the Auburn playbook it's spelled "misdurekshun", but that won't help us when they run it.
3) Pride. This was a pleasant surprise. Even when we were down 10 at halftime, I felt like our players were really giving it their best effort. The defense's play in the second half was outstanding. They found a way to keep Vandy out of the endzone, and I think they may have turned a major corner. We'll certainly find out in a couple of weeks. Needless to say, they probably didn't show as much pride or enthusiasm as former 'Dawg and current Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, but we have to start somewhere (HT: SportsbyBrooks, and my wife, who saw the exchange and asked quizzically, "Did he say . . .?").
4) Rennie Curran. Again, I'm not entirely certain he has the schemes down just yet. But the kid flies around and tackles anything that moves. That's an improvement from the "stand and catch" method employed by some of his teammates.
5) UGA 24, Vandy 17. OK, I was a little optimistic about our scoring. But the fact that I came within 4 points of figuring out what this up and down Georgia squad would do is a borderline miracle.
Back tomorrow with the recruiting pice I promised you on Friday. Until then . . .