Bowl eligibility math not fuzzy to those in Vandy fold
Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 6:50 pm
By: By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — For the record, Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson says his Commodores can count.
The Commodores dropped out of the Top 25 thanks to a second straight loss after spending a month in the rankings.
The latest setback coming by a score of 24-14 that bumped Georgia up a spot to No. 9.
That’s now two straight games in which the Commodores (5-2) missed a chance at history and a sixth win that would end 25 consecutive losing seasons.
Vanderbilt still would have to find a seventh win with now only five games remaining to post the first winning record since 1982 and improve its desirability for a bowl bid.
The next step comes Saturday when the Commodores host Duke (3-3).
“We don’t look at the rest of the schedule,” Johnson said Monday. “We’re looking at the Duke game. That’s all we’re trying to do is win this one. Our guys can count. They know how many we’ve got, know how many we need to be bowl eligible and know how many we have left. We’ve all taken math here at Vanderbilt.”
The rest of the schedule isn’t easy with No. 5 Florida visiting Nov. 8 followed by a trip to Kentucky (5-2), a visit from rival Tennessee and then the season finale at Wake Forest.
Johnson said his Commodores aren’t trying to hide from the need to win No. 6.
“We’re not trying to say, ‘Ignore it, and do this and that.’ That’s part of it. It’s part of our story this year, part of our season. You can’t ignore that big thing that’s sitting right over there staring at us.”
History is something no one can ignore at Vanderbilt.
The Commodores haven’t won six games in a season since 1982 when they went 8-3. Only eight teams in Vandy history have started 6-0 to start a season — none since 1928.
But Vandy does have a winning record all-time against teams currently in the Atlantic Coast Conference at 65-57-5, and that includes a 7-30 mark against Duke including a 45-28 win in 2006 in Durham.
Vandy has won the last six games against Duke, and has won seven of its last eight against teams from outside the Southeastern Conference.
Receiver Jamie Graham said they look at this week’s game as just another game even as he admitted the Commodores know well what they stand to gain.
“We can change history. We can make history around here. … (St. Louis safety) Corey Chavous came back during camp, and he spoke to us and he told us how important it was for him to see us succeed. And it’s kind of good that you hear stuff like that from people who went here and how much they cherish this program and want us to succeed,” Graham said.
Johnson will be starting Mackenzi Adams for a second straight week after the quarterback threw for 131 yards and two touchdown passes at Georgia.
He defended Adams’ two interceptions with one a tipped ball and another a simple mistake.
The Commodores also are sticking with a revamped offensive line that featured two new starters against Georgia with redshirt freshman Kyle Fischer at left tackle and junior Eric Hensley at right guard.
They helped the Dores run for 114 yards against Georgia, the second-highest total allowed by the Bulldogs this season, and didn’t give up a sack.
Right tackle Thomas Welch said the extra weight provided by Fischer (6-foot-6, 300 pounds) and Hensley (6-6, 312) helped them be more physical.
“We still have all our goals out in front of us. As long as we take care of what we need to take care of, we can still accomplish everything,” Welch said.
Once they get to No. 6.
Otherwise, Johnson says new starting quarterback Adams played well despite losing to Georgia in an SEC matchup.
Adams made his first start this season for the Commodores in a 24-14 loss to Georgia on Saturday.
The junior completed 16 of his 32 passes for 131 yards with a pair of touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Adams also rushed for 26 yards on four carries and was not sacked.
Johnson said Adams managed the game well and executed the game plan.
The loss dropped Vanderbilt out of The Associated Press Top 25.
They had been ranked 22nd going into the game.
For the year, Adams completed 37 of 69 passes for 362 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions