Vanderbilt, Auburn Headed In Different Directions

David WunderlichSenior Writer IOctober 5, 2008

I'm not sure if I'm ready to live in a world where Florida is on the cusp on being in the top 10 and Vandy is still just two spots back of them.

Yes, Vanderbilt is off to its best start since 1943, and a win in Starkville this weekend means their best start since 1928. Of course, that was back when Vandy did things like beat Alabama in Birmingham (1927), defeat Texas in Dallas (1928) and blow out Auburn 41-2 (1929). Though they struggled some in the 1940s and 1950s, they didn't become a perpetual doormat until the 1960s.

It sure looks like I was right to put Vandy on bowl watch after Week Two, after all. They should be able to pick up at least one win among their games against Mississippi State, Duke, Kentucky, and, yes, Tennessee. None of those teams looks better than any of the five Vandy has defeated so far. Of course, they've played Florida and Georgia close in recent years, and if Wake Forest is capable of losing to Navy, the Deacs can lose to Vandy.

I would expect 7-9 wins on the season from the Commodores. Eventually, they will run into a game where the ball doesn't bounce their way all of the second half, and two or three of the remaining opponents are just plain better teams. The floor on that range is if Vanderbilt remembers it's Vanderbilt, and the ceiling is if the dream continues.

Meanwhile, Auburn fans are seriously melting down over Tony Franklin. Even though they aren't actually running the Tony Franklin system.

On the drives that ended in scores, Auburn basically Tuberballed down the field until the red zone, and then they spread things out to get open receivers near the goal line. That worked remarkably well. Vandy caught on to this, however, and started taking away the power running game. Neither Chris Todd nor Kodi Burns could make the Commodores pay.

The actual problems Auburn is having are not any different than the ones they had with Brandon Cox, it's just that Cox was a better quarterback than both Todd and Burns are. Drop in a better passer, and many problems go away. In that sense, the offensive mess is as much Tuberville's fault for not recruiting a better quarterback as it is Franklin's fault for trying to shake things up a bit with new formations.

The Tigers seriously need to pick an identity and stick with it, because this is two weeks in a row they're promising changes. You can't just keep making big changes every week because that will only ensure they never find the rhythm they're looking for. The defense can't bail the offense out every week.

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