THIRD IN A SERIES :: The Vanderbilt 2008 Review
Our 2009 team preview series continues on with a visit to Nashvegas to catch up with the Commodores. They will continue on most every week until the beginning of the season, with a post or two each day on the featured team.
The 2008 Vanderbilt season will forever be defined by one word: bowl.
When it has been since 1982 that you've tasted the postseason, it doesn't matter how you get there. If it was through domination, great. If it was MacGyver'd with duct tape, chewing gum, and a few paper clips, it's still good too. Bobby Johnson led his boys to a bowl and that's all that mattered.
Now comes the question: what do you do for an encore? The Commodores didn't just make a bowl, but they won it over a participant in the ACC Championship Game. They even had ESPN's College GameDay come to town, and it was just in time to see a dramatic win over Auburn, no less. Then in February, Johnson signed an 18-man recruiting class where 72 percent of players were three star guys, by far the highest percentage of any year Rivals has in its archives.
I am not a Vanderbilt fan, so I profess no insight into its fan base. What I can do is point you towards what a couple of the more prominent bloggers had to say. phillipvu94 at Save the Shield felt vindication and elation after the Music City Bowl. Seamus O'Toole at Vanderbilt Sports Line is excited about 2009 and especially the promise of QB Larry Smith.
Expecting a second straight bowl appearance may be a bit much for a team with the history that Vandy has. The program is absolutely headed in the right direction, what with the nice recruiting class, bowl win, and wins over Auburn, Tennessee, and Georgia in recent years. The thing to do then is compare against yourself, and look to improve the things you have control over.
As our 2008 Vanderbilt review linked to above shows, the Commodores have plenty of room for improvement on offense. Things weren't great on that side of the ball last year, and I shudder to think what it could have been without Mr. Do-Everything D.J. Moore pitching in to help. Smith appears to be a long term answer, but he can't do everything alone.
Whether another bowl is in the stars for Vandy next year, I don't know. My gut says their next run at one will come in 2010, but my gut didn't predict the bowl-less streak to end last year.
Western Carolina (I-AA), Rice, and Army look like winnable games in the non-conference, and the Commodores miss Alabama within the conference. Asking for a second straight bowl may be a bit greedy for Vanderbilt, but sometimes greed, for lack of a better term, is good.
TODAY: Past as Present
TUESDAY: The Apprentice: SEC Coaches Finale; The 2009 Schedule
WEDNESDAY: The Depth Chart
FRIDAY: Feedback and Conclusions