“Same Ol’ Vandy” Has a Double Meaning

The lovable Commodores bring their 2-9 record and 7-game losing streak to Neyland Stadium for the 2009 season home finale Saturday night. The Vols have won 25 out of the last 26 over Vanderbilt.

Same ol’ Vandy.

That’s how the nation sees it. Typical Vol supremacy.

Tennessee fans, especially those of us who have been around a while, know that the last quarter-century W-L record doesn’t reflect what goes on most of the time when these schools meet on the field.

As lopsided as the series has been over those last 25 years, here are some example scores (and final season records) from that time span to show what this series is really all about.

  • 1983: Tenn 34 Vandy 24 [Tenn 9-3 / Vandy 2-9]
  • 1987: Tenn 38 Vandy 36 [Tenn 10-2-1 / Vandy 4-7]
  • 1989: Tenn 17 Vandy 10 [Tenn 11-1 / Vandy 1-10]
  • 1992: Tenn 29 Vandy 25 [Tenn 9-3 / Vandy 4-7]
  • 1995: Tenn 12 Vandy 7 [Tenn 11-1 / Vandy 2-9]
  • 1996: Tenn 14 Vandy 7 [Tenn 10-2; / Vandy 2-9]
  • 1997: Tenn 17 Vandy 10 [Tenn 11-2 / Vandy 3-8]
  • 2000: Tenn 28 Vandy 26 [Tenn 8-4 / Vandy 3-8]
  • 2001 Tenn 38 Vandy 27 [Tenn 11-2 / Vandy 2-9]
  • 2004: Tenn 38 Vandy 33 [Tenn 10-3 / Vandy 2-9]
  • 2005: Vandy 28 Tenn 24 [Tenn 5-6 / Vandy 5-6]
  • 2007: Tenn 25 Vandy 24 [Tenn 10-4 / Vandy 5-7]

Folks, this is a serious, competitive rivalry. And those of you who have written the Vols’ automatic ticket to a winning season and a bowl date, look at that list of scores and comparative records. It should make you sit up and take notice.

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Vanderbilt is dead last in the SEC East for a good reason – almost all of their team statistics are abysmally average or just plain abysmal. Here’s the just plain abysmal (national ranking [120 schools] / SEC ranking):

  • Passing Offense: 113th / last
  • Passing Efficiency: 119th /last
  • Scoring Offense: 114th / last
  • Total Offense: 108th / last
  • Rushing defense: 107th / last
  • Punt returns: 115th / last

So, it’s not that they’re bad within the big, bad SEC. They’re just plain ol’ bad.

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But there are bright spots.

Vandy is ranked 7th nationally and 2nd in the SEC in pass defense. Senior DB #5 Myron Lewis is ranked 39th nationally and 4th in the SEC in interceptions with 4 INTs.

Sophomore LB #13 Chris Marve leads the SEC (and is ranked 13th in the nation) in tackles (53 solo tackles and 57 assisted tackles).

Warren Norman runs through South Carolina earlier this season.

But the brightest spot by far is Freshman RB #27 Warren Norman. Warren is 5’10″ 188 lbs, hails from Stone Mountain, Georgia, and played his high school ball in Chamblee, east of Atlanta. Vandy won the recruiting race over Georgia Tech, Georgia, Kentucky, and Iowa State. He also ran track in high school. But nobody expected him to have accomplished the following in his freshman season with Vandy:

  • He is rated 13th in the nation and 1st in the SEC in All-Purpose Running.
  • His 710 net rushing yards, plus 90 receiving yards, plus 989 kickoff return yards (1,789 yards) are 16 yards shy of Hershel Walker’s SEC record for all-purpose yards as a freshman set in 1980.
  • He has returned 3 kickoffs for TD’s, equalling Willie Gault’s SEC record.
  • He already owns the SEC record for most kickoff return yards in a season, formerly held by Arkansas’ Dennis Johnson (last season).

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So, Vandy’s pathetic passing attack is just what the doctor ordered for the Vol’s thinned linebacker corps. Vandy’s banged up defense and rushing defense stats is just what the nurse wanted for the Vol attack. But Warren Norman will test one of the Vol’s weak spots – kickoff coverage.

I expect this game to be close well into the third quarter if not into the fourth. I think Tennessee will be able to maintain possession of the ball long enough to eventually wear down Vandy’s already-depleted defensive unit.

But if the Commies force a turnover or two early, and Mr. Norman gives them good field position with more of his signature KO return yardage, then we could see more than just that inner meaning of “Same Ol’ Vandy” Saturday night down by the Tennessee River on Senior Night in Big Orange Country.

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Oh, and this is likely it for Eric Berry at Neyland Stadium. There is no doubt in my mind that he will go for the NFL draft. He’d be crazy not to. He’s ready. He can always come back to get his degree. And something tells me that he just might do that some day. But more on him later…

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I’ll take a stab (after my last week’s ridiculously bad prediction) and say:

Tennessee 28 Vanderbilt 24

Smokey the Tennessee Blue Tick Coonhound

Go Big Orange!

All times Eastern. 2009 opponents in bold.

  • Chattanooga at Alabama, 12:21 p.m.
  • Florida International at Florida, 12:30 p.m.
  • Memphis at Houston, 1:00 p.m.
  • Northern Illinois at Ohio, 2:00 p.m.
  • LSU at Ole Miss, 3:30 p.m.
  • Arizona State at UCLA 4:00 p.m.
  • Kentucky at Georgia, 7:45 p.m.
  • BYE WEEK: Western Kentucky, South Carolina, and Auburn

All times Eastern.

  • Chattanooga at Alabama, 12:21 p.m. SEC Network/ESPN Regional
  • Mississippi State at Arkansas, 12:21 p.m. SEC Network/ESPN Regional
  • Florida International at Florida, 12:30 p.m. Pay per view
  • LSU at Ole Miss, 3:30 p.m. CBS
  • Vanderbilt at Tennessee, 7:00 p.m. ESPNU
  • Kentucky at Georgia, 7:45 p.m. ESPN or ESPN2
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8 responses to ““Same Ol’ Vandy” Has a Double Meaning”

  1. T K says :

    TK SAYS VANDERBILT 20-TENNESSEE 31. NO COMMENTS NEEDED

  2. bert says :

    another crime [battery!] committed by UT football:

    vols 54
    vandy 10

  3. DW says :

    Fred — that’s a really nice try at getting all of us stoked up for the game, but I still not feeling the fire! Please allow me to poke at your stats a bit:
    — of the 12 game years you selected, al but one were considered good or very good teams. It is easy to imagine a Vol team coming into the Vandy game at 9-2 or 10-1, thinking about the bowl season and not listening to the coaches who are trying to get their attention for the Vandy game. This year should be different in that we still need prove something to the Bowl committee’s.
    – a prime reason for Vandy’s pass defense to be ranked #7 nationally would be that nobody needs to pass against them…everybody just runs over the top of them. This strategy from the opposing team provides 2 major benefits — it allows the QB to rest his arm for a week, and it keeps the clock running to get a boring game over with faster!
    – I can’t yet claim the pleasure of seeing Mr. Warren Norman, but those 989 return kick off yards are totally amazing. Of course, when a fella has an opportunity to catch 7 ,8, maybe 10 kickoffs per game, I guess he ought to be good at it by the end of the year, and I think he deserves a trophy for his persistence and stamina.

    I think ol Bert has this one figured right, but I’ll raise his bid a bit —- TENNESSEE 59 – VANDERBILT 23. (I threw in a return TD for Norman).

  4. norcalvol says :

    Shame on you, DW, for throwing in a KO return TD for Norman to break our own Willie Gault’s record!

    Your three points are all excellent ones. I hope you’re right. We’ll see.

    Of course I did not put up those favorite scores of mine: 30-0, 45-0, 62-14, 65-0 (my all-time favorite — I was upstairs screaming for 70 and my wife thought I was being just a touch sadistic), 41-0, and then the three-consecutive shutouts this decade of 38-0, 24-0, and 48-0. Those are ones to savor.

    On another note, I hope this is when Eric gets the record. This is one terrible QB for Vandy. Maybe he’s so bad he can’t even hit a safety!

  5. Sandy says :

    I don’t have a good feeling for this one… I had to watch the Ole Miss game on internet TV, which wasn’t all that bad, just not as comfy as the living room couch. But from what I did see, the Vols still have some holes to fill.

    Then there’s the lingering subject of “incidents”. The distraction from that may be under control, but the team has lost an important cog of the defense.

    I can see the blow outs that you guys predict happening. Let Hardesty rumble and bumble for those 10-15 yard gains, throw in some big runs by Bryce Brown, get some big pass plays down-field and it could get out of hand quick.

    Then again, maybe the team is a little flat because of last weeks whipping and lack of respect for Vandy. Let them get a little momentum early, and get a few breaks, and this one could stay close for a while.

    I think I’ll stay middle of the road and go with UT 31, Vandy 14.

  6. OrangeBobber says :

    I was out of town without my computer this week but I would have picked the same score as Sandy. I know TK will have some smarting comment about this statement since Sandy and I have picked most of the scores closer than him. This Kentucky game scares me a lot. They are on a roll and our defense is decimated with injuries. It should be a good one and we need one on the road. I don’t wnat to post my score yet because TK always wants to wait and follow my score. 7-5 looks good right now if we can pull it off.

  7. OrangeBobber says :

    Norcal,
    Please don’t show that Herschel Walker/Bates video again. I can’t stand to watch him run over Bates like that. Sure was good to see Wes Brown drag no. 27 for Vandy 10 yards to the endzone.

    • norcalvol says :

      Hey, OB, that wasn’t me. That was Mr. Sandy.

      The Wes Brown TD might have been the highlight of the season.

      The lowlight might be if/when the goalposts come down in Lexington.

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