“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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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…
I’ll take a stab (after my last week’s ridiculously bad prediction) and say:
Tennessee 28 Vanderbilt 24
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