Tough Season Doesn't Take Away From Vanderbilt Seniors' Accomplishments

David RutzCorrespondent INovember 14, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 10:  Quarterback Andre Woodson #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats rushes upfield away from linebacker Patrick Benoist #30 of the Vanderbilt Commodores during the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium on November 10, 2007 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

24 Commodore seniors were honored before Vanderbilt's SEC clash with Kentucky, and many of them were mainstays of this line-up throughout the last four years, including quarterback Mackenzi Adams, cornerback Myron Lewis and linebacker Patrick Benoist.

But the Commodores couldn't send them off with a victory.

After taking a 13-10 lead, Vanderbilt was dominated by Kentucky in the second half, as Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke lit up the Commodore defense with an unstoppable rushing attack.

It was a very disappointing performance by the defensive line especially, as they were pushed back on play after play and run ragged in an eventual 24-13 loss.

Watching it from the stands, you had to feel for all the seniors who had helped build this program into a bowl team last season and saw it go to ashes in 2009. Seven straight losses have the Commodores at 2-9, and a tough Tennessee team awaits.

Does it take away from what they've done for this program, however? No.

There's a reason everyone in Nashville is disgusted with this team this season, and that's because a 3 or 4-win season no longer cuts it, not after the Commodores won 21 games the previous four years.

And that's largely because of this departing group. Stars like Lewis and co-captains Benoist, Brad Vierling and Ryan Hamilton all elevated their play in 2008 and helped the Commodores bring in a very strong recruiting class last season.

Adams has struggled this year but he was huge in two of Vanderbilt's biggest wins in recent years over sixth-ranked South Carolina in 2007 and 13th-ranked Auburn in 2008.

Jared Hawkins, out with a foot injury for his final home contest, has been a selfless leader and was a bullying runner last year when he was healthy.

Defensive ends Steven Stone and Broderick Stewart became two of the most feared linemen in the conference, and Brett Upson, the punter, was the hero of the Music City Bowl victory.

You could sit here for awhile and name great things that this group has accomplished. Unfortunately, their last hurrah is a dismal season.

Beating Tennessee, a tall order no matter how you slice it, would be quite the send-off. For now, we'll remember the things they were able to accomplish, and we'll hope that 2009 doesn't erase all the good things that came out of 2006-2008.