Peeps, THAT is how you make a statement. Our Dawgs dominated from start to finish in every phase of the game, notching our first SEC shutout since 1999. It was glorious. Here's what I noticed:
1. State came out and set the tone on the first possession. After a quick first down via the pass, The Dawgs clamped down and forced Vandy to punt. You could tell early that Vandy's OL was incapable of handling our DL.
2. Vandy absolutely could not run the ball. They had -2 rush yards at the half and finished with just 49 yards on 27 carries. The 'Dores averaged less than 2 YPC. Complete dominance.
3. The D finally got some turnovers last night. Turtle Holmes strip TD was executed about as perfectly as possible. The first guy hits the Vandy WR and holds him up, Turtle runs in and strips it. Football 101 done at a high level right there.
4. Speaking of turnovers, major props to our DBs. They stepped it up big time last night. Most of all, it was nice to see them get an INT and prevent the deep ball.
5. Anyone who's ripped Tolando Cleveland the last 2-3 weeks needs to send him an engraved apology. He was big time last night. He's young, and he's definitely made some mistakes, but the kid can PLAY. He's big, physical, and fast. The INT he got was played about as well as possible. He read McCrary's eyes, then broke on the ball, jumped the route, and made a great catch to come down with the INT. And he showed some nice return skills after catching it, too.
6. I love watching Nick James. He just gobbles up linemen like they're turkey and dressing at Thanksgiving. He was constantly pushing 2-3 of Vandy's OL back about 3 yards deep last night.
7. Turtle was a beast last night. Not only did he have the strip TD, he finished second in tackles with 7 total, 1 TFL, and 1 QBH. Big game from the senior.
8. Richie Brown was everywhere. He racked up 10 total tackles to lead the team.
9. We had 4 players finish with 4 total tackles and 4 players finish with t3 total tackles. That's a nice indication of how many guys played and significantly contributed.
10. Kivon Coman played well last night. Seemed like I was always seeing him around the ball.
11. JT Gray caught my eye. That kid is FAST and had 2 QBH just in the last couple of series.
12. I thought we rotated much better on D and we never went prevent. Hats off to Geoff Collins for that.
13. I thought our safety play was better on the whole with Jay Hughes and Kendrick Market as our primary two. We aren't going to be missing Justin Cox.
1. This pretty much continues to be my pet peeve. We excel everywhere else, but continue to be mediocre at best on STs. I don't care how it has to go down, but Mullen absolutely must be forced to hire a real ST coach in the offseason and give all responsibilities to him on that front. The farce of naming Greg Knox as ST Coach was just that.
2. Devon Bell wound up having a decent night, but had a couple of shanks. To paraphrase Bull Durham: Million dollar leg, ten cent head.
3. I'll have to go back and look, but something went wrong on Evan Sobiesk's missed XP. Snapped looked good, so it could've been the hold. Being there live, I thought it was tipped at the line. Either way, he shook it off and was great the rest of the night. And with his FG, he's now 9/10 on the season with no misses inside 40. That's good enough for me to finally stop worrying about our K.
4. I still HATE our KO strategy. We've been sloppy in our assignments and tackling and allowed too many guys to make it out to the 25+. Logan Cooke has the leg to absolutely boom it, so kick it out the back already. It isn't worth gambling over approximately 5 yards of field position. Yet more proof we need a ST coach.
1. Offense came out on fire with 2 quick TD drives. I loved the opening sequence of the game: Malcolm Johnson (Senior) catch, Nick Griffin (Senior) rush, Jameon Lewis (Senior) catch. Nice to see the emphasis getting these guys the ball early.
2. It's funny how stats work. We finished winning TOP 31:26 to 28:34, but at one point in the first half Vandy had the ball somewhere around 7 more minutes than us. We really controlled the ball in the second half.
3. We finally got back to running the "darn" football. We wound up with 76 total offensive plays and 51 rush attempts. That's a 67/33 run/pass ratio. And it didn't feel like it because we used so many backs, which we should have been doing in all our other "vanilla" games.
4. You could just tell Dak was sharp from the first snap. No real miscues at all. Lots of people around me kept getting upset about him not running more when he had the chance, but there was no point. Don't risk injury against Vandy and pad the passing stats. Save it for next week, because that's when we're going to need it.
5. With the NCAA rush record being broken each of the last two weeks, it got me wondering if J-Beast would have a shot to do it if we gave him 25-30 carries. He had just 7 last night, but gained 63 yards and averaged 9 YPC. Crazy. Plus he had the nice grab on a swing pass for a TD.
6. I'm disappointed we couldn't get Robert Johnson into the endzone. We tried early, but Vandy had him completely covered. Should've come back to him later.
7. Anyone want to volunteer to be the first guy to try to tackle Ashton Shumpert? Didn't think so. That kid is PHYSICAL. I still wonder about his top end speed, although he has certainly looked faster in his limited carries this season. That said, speed is never going to be his best asset as a RB. It's going to be his physicality and power. And that isn't a bad thing at all. I'd love to see him get more short yardage carries.
8. Much like RoJo, I'm upset we didn't make a more concerted effort to get Nick Griffin into the endzone last night. We had plenty of opportunities and just didn't do it. He wound up with a nice night, though. 9 carries for 34 yards.
9. Joe Morrow has finally flipped the switch. He was big time last night. 2 TD catches. The first was a great Bear Wilson impression, breaking two tackles to get there. The second was a good job of him working to an open spot and sitting down in it.
10. We FINALLY let Damian Williams run the offense when he got into the game instead of going ultra-conservative. And it showed up, even with the second string OL in the game. His TD throw was an absolute dart. He finished 3/4 passing for 26 yards and added 5 rushes for 34. I thought he looked like the D-Will we saw at the end of last season.
11. I really wish we'd use the triple option with MoJo as the inside pitch man more often. That play is a killer.
12. The OL absolutely dominated Vandy's DL. Dak & D-Will both had all night to throw and the holes for our RBs were huge.
13. I'm a little concerned about our TE situation next year. We're losing MoJo and Brandon Hill. That leaves Gus Walley as the default starter. Not only has he been injury prone so far, but I saw him get blown up "blocking" in a short yardage situation that got J-Beast tackled for a lost. And Walley did the tackling because he got rammed into him. Ugh.
And we've essentially wasted a year of eligibility for Darrion Hutchinson to play a few snaps on STs and in garbage time. I don't understand why we don't RS most JUCO guys, we know most of them need about a year to adjust to SEC ball, and they've got 3 to play 2. Hopefully he'll be the starter coming out of spring. I don't know of another TE on the roster besides he & Walley.
14. There are a bunch of other guys I could single out, but won't for lack of space. Just a great offensive night. My lone complaint were the illegal procedure and false start penalties. If we never use another long count this season it will be too many. And it's only game 11, no need to be able to line up correctly.
1. You could see in the play calling early that Dan was going for the throat and was intent on running it up last night. Other than not going for the TD at the end of the first half with 20 seconds and 2 TO left, I've got no complaints. Let Sobieski get FG practice in the second half.
2. The officiating sucked. The "pass interference" on Beni Brown happened right in front of me. No way was that PI. And then the PI late where both guys were grabbing each other should've been a no call. I'd love to know what Mullen said to draw the 15 yard flag there. Regardless, it was awesome to see him go ballistic to protect his player.
3. Vandy was way overmatched last night. They've got some good players, but they are just too young as a whole. We won by 51 and it really wasn't even that close.
4. This might have been a relatively small senior class, but man, there are some big shoes left to fill from that group. Matt Wells, Jay Hughes, Tubby Lewis, Beckwith, Dillon Day, Clausell, Eulls, PJ Jones, Turtle Holmes, and the list keeps going. We're losing a whole lot of leadership and production with those guys.
5. I thought the crowd was really good last night. Into the game and loud most of the night. Not a lot of people leaving, even after the 3rd quarter. Good job.
6. Now it's time for the Battle of the Golden Egg. Time to take care of "family business."
That's what I saw. Fire in the hole!
In Mullen We Trust,