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Playing Nice: Anchor Of Gold

The Tigers head to Nashville this weekend for (thanks to the SEC’s horribly broken scheduling policies) the first and last time in decades. To get an informed preview of those pesky Commodores, Zach talked to ATVS regular VandyTigerPhD from our SB Nation friends at Anchor Of Gold

DISCLAIMER: AoG policy strictly states that all writing for AoG has a three-drink minimum. As ATVS commentariat already knows, nothing VandyTiger says should be taken seriously. Ever.

1) Much has been made about the LSU defense maybe not quite being up to its usual standards. Could Vanderbilt get their share of big plays on Saturday?

I’d put the O/U of big plays at 1.5 for Vanderbilt’s offense. Vanderbilt’s offense can sputter and fail more often than young me playing Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator. Sure, we may get a first down or two, but as soon as we start making smart plays we make some dumb calls on first and second setting us up for a third and long that would fail against even a 3rd-and-Chavis defense. If there’s anyone you wanna put money on for big play potential on our offense it’s RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Ke’Shawn is a back that will find holes and sustain drives on his own at times. He’ll have the potential to break a big one. If Vanderbilt’s passing game had any kind of strength, I’d find some faint hope in being able to throw against a DB unit that maybe is still finding its feet? Unrelated note - Ke’Shawn blocked AoG on twitter for not picking Vandy to win against a top ten team or something.

2) Much has also been made about LSU’s revamped passing offense. LSU’s second in the country in passing yards per game, while the Commodores are 126th in passing defense. Seems like this could be a problem, no?

LSU has an offense I’ve been quite happy with this year. LSU deserves all the credit they’ve been given in how the offense is running. However, just as I’ll defend the... defense for only having one real data point, I’ll say the same for the offense. Unfortunately, the game this Saturday will do nothing to tell LSU fans how the offense will perform against top-tier opponents. All this is to say that while I’ve heard some fans boldly claim we’re gonna keep it within two scores, I just can’t see it. Noted NFL team Georgia looked like they were playing a different sport than us. I don’t have much faith that LSU will have any less success in moving the ball.

3) What kind of atmosphere are you expecting Saturday? It’s an early game and Vandy’s 0-2. But LSU hasn’t been to Dudley Field in about a decade and they’re bringing with them a shiny new offense. I remember seeing an awful lot of red and black for the Georgia game, will we see something similar Saturday?

Questions like this always make me make a face not dissimilar from Michael Corleone at the end of Godfather II. I think back at things, wonder how things could have been different. It makes me realize just how irrelevant Vanderbilt Football is. Allow me to elucidate things for ATVS readers - rarely is there a Vanderbilt home game. There’s a lot of reasons for this. One is a nearly a century of failure. Another is that we have only like 7,000 undergrads. We also have that our alumni rarely stay in-state. There’s also the fact that the Vanderbilt administration often treats sports as an afterthought. Getting the picture yet? I’ve been a big fan of Vanderbilt sports, but I am in the very small minority. That all being said, the Vanderbilt fans that exist are extremely loyal and deserve a ton of credit. I know guys who have followed this team all over the country, knowing it’s likely not going to work out, but still love the school. Still, Vanderbilt Stadium is going to be at least 70% purple and gold Saturday. We’re very used to it.

Whispered Tones: I’ll be wearing half purple too....

4) Whats the conversation surrounding Derrick Mason been like so far through this unsuccessful 2019? I saw players were chalking up week two’s loss to Purdue to a lack of discipline and camaraderie.

Tom does a good job of capturing this in his article here. The conversation is largely centered around the idea as to whether we’ve seen the best of Mason. On one hand, he’s done enough to keep Vanderbilt in a bowl hunt recently. As someone who watched Jay Cutler win five games over his first three years, that does mean something. However, the ghost of Franklin still falls on Vanderbilt and its fans. Most of the fanbase wants more. Even people who have been positive on Mason have gotten to a point now where they think it may be time for a change. Mason’s future is going to depend entirely on how he manages to keep the team motivated after a 0-3 start, two of those games against NFL teams.

5) LSU’s owned this series, winning 22 of 30 and the last seven dating back to 1991. What’s it going to take for Vanderbilt to reverse the trend?

I’m not much one for historic stats like this, especially in college sports. The teams change entirely too much year to year and the sport has changed tremendously even over the last ten. To the spirit of the question though - I’m reminded of a particular night I nearly froze to death in an empty Death Valley in 2008. Troy was up 31-10 against LSU going into the fourth quarter. A quick scroll of that game log will show they were far from perfect. Troy gave LSU ample time to keep the game in focus, and seemed intent on giving the game away (which they eventually did). It’s difficult for me to remember a game where LSU played worse. Yes, I’m including that time LSU actually did lose to Troy. This is all to say that Vanderbilt winning will be much more on LSU failing to show up than anything else.