Well, the rain held out Saturday night, until Tyson Lee burnt the Vandy D for a 22 yd TD scamper-right up the middle. Literally, as he faked the handoff to RB Anthony Dixon, the downpour began in more than one way for Commodore fans, and the Dawgs sealed up a 15-3 win. The defense was ‘outstanding’, and once again looked like the Dawg D of old. In my opinion, this game was very similar to the JSU matchup. The Dawgs actually held Vandy to less yards than JSU, allowing only 157, and in all reality about 3 big yardage plays. The Dawgs allowed only 10 first downs, 33 rushing yds, and 124 through the air. And, had the Dawgs had the benefit of some better play calls and better hands on 3rd downs, the offensive stats would have been even better. The Dawgs accumulated 341 total yds-260 on the ground, but only 81 through the air. The defense stole the show with an amazing goal line stand, after the Dawgs had fumbled on their own 6. The Dores did get a FG, but the stand energized State for the remainder of night.
Anthony Dixon, who in my opinion, has quieted his critics, rolled up 123 yds on the ground, and now has 215 yds rushing in his first 2 games…both vs SEC opponents. He’s running the ball harder than I’ver ever seen him before, and he is clearly faster-thanks to dropping some 15-20 lbs. If you watch the sidelines, you couldn’t ask for a better teammate and leader. And if he keeps it up, I’ll gladly crown him as the all-time MSU rusher (within the next 3 games).
If there was one player that rebounded better than anyone else, it was the one player who needed one more than anyone, and that was Zach Smith. 7 tackles, 2 for a loss, and he did a good job confusing Vandy QB Larry Smith, by giving him multiple looks, blitzes, and coverages. Our LB’s finally played like we have expected them to all year. KJ Wright led the way with 14 tackles, and White and Chaney were tied with 7. The Dawgs got back in the ‘take away’ business as well, forcing 2 turnovers, 1 by fumble and 1 INT (Anderson).
As for Vandy, by far the worst in the SEC. Worst stadium, worst traditions, worst cheers, worst crowd, and by far the worst atmosphere. Period. But, painting Nashville Maroon & White was quite fun. Great crowd of Dawg fans. Hope we made some noise.
My Questions: (1) Do you think the Defense has it together now? By that, I mean-do you think that our scheming, game planning, and on-field performance can be consistent for the remainder to the year? My opinion: To me, we had a great game plan, the right schemes, and I feel that we have competent enough coaches and players to implement those things. The fact is, the-LSU’s, the Bama’s, the Florida’s aren’t going to miss-throw and drop that many balls. We’ll need some of that luck on our side, but for the most part, I think the D is back. Not ‘extremely’ dominant, but they’ll put us in positions to win games. The D-Line and LB’s have found themselves-which is key to us having any kind of success.
(2) If the Vandy/LSU matchup was any indication, what do you feel our chances are vs LSU this weeked? They were #9, but with more top 10 losses this past weekend, they’ll move to higher ground…only bad thing is that the target gets bigger. My opinion: We have an excellent chance to beat LSU. There’s no doubt that LSU has more talent, but with a D that has been suspect over the past 2 years, the fact that we only loss by 10 last year in Death Valley, and the fact that Davis Wade will be rockin’…has me feelin’ good about this week. But, win or lose, we’ll be in this game til the wire. Keep in mind, if Vandy put up 170 yds on the ground vs LSU, I think we can.
(3) What are your thoughts on the QB situation 3 games in? Lee seems to be unable to find some consistency, and Relf is the team’s 2nd leading rusher. Who do you feel gives us a better chance vs the Bayou Bengals, or do you feel that we still need them both? My opinion: As bad as I feel when I grit my teeth to say it…I still think we need both. The playbook seems limited when Relf’s in, and Lee has his weaknesses, but I can’t decide on one. But, I’d take the strengths and weaknesses of both, rather than from just one of them. At least next year, we won’t have this problem.