Vandy not content with just making it
Posted: Wednesday, December 31, 2008 5:53 pm
By: By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — Vanderbilt wants to clear up any misconceptions.
The Commodores are not simply satisfied with being the first Vanderbilt team since 1982 to play in a bowl game.
“We all know that in the back of our minds … that we’re playing for a lot more than just for the guys in that span that couldn’t make it or didn’t have a chance to play in a bowl game,” Vanderbilt senior safety Reshard Langford said.
“We’re just trying to start something new and keep building on it.”
Vandy’s first postseason trip in 26 years is a short one — 3.7 miles away from campus to LP Field, the home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. The Commodores (6-6) face Boston College (9-4), making its 10th straight bowl appearance and riding an eight-game bowl winning streak that’s currently the best in the nation.
Vanderbilt will be making its fourth bowl appearance overall and first since the 1982 Hall of Fame Bowl. The Commodores’ lone win came in the 1955 Gator Bowl. A victory against the Eagles would give the Commodores their first winning season since 1982 and just their fourth seven-win season the past 50 years.
“We thought getting to a bowl was the next step our program needed to make,” Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said. “Obviously, a winning season to go along with that really would make it nice.”
Boston College had a chance to be playing in the Orange Bowl before a 30-12 loss to Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference dropped the Eagles out of the Top 25 and into this bowl.
But the Eagles insist they’re over any disappointment from that title game loss. They can reach double-digit wins for a third straight year for the first time in school history.
Eagles coach Jeff Jagodzinski called it a magical number since Boston College has only four seasons with 10 or more wins in its history.
Even with their loss in the ACC title game on Dec. 6, the Eagles are the hotter of these teams.
Boston College wrapped up the regular season with four straight wins. Vanderbilt lost six of its final seven after a 5-0 start put the Commodores as high as No. 13 in the rankings.
Vandy ranked second in the Southeastern Conference with 18 interceptions led by All-SEC cornerback D.J. Moore. This could be the final game for a junior so versatile he returns punts and kicks and caught two touchdown passes.
“He does it all,” Jagodzinski said. “But you put your best players in a position to have the ball in their hands, and that’s what Vandy’s going to do. And that’s what I would do too if I had a player like him.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback Dominique Davis will make only his third career start for the Eagles with Chris Crane unable to return from a fractured collarbone.
Davis was intercepted twice in the ACC title game.
Johnson wouldn’t say if he is starting either Chris Nickson or Mackenzi Adams after going back and forth between the two this season. Larry Smith also could play.
“All their quarterbacks are good on the ground running,” Herzlich said. “Our goal every game all year is stop the run and get the ball in the air so we can make some plays.”
Vandy should get leading rusher Jared Hawkins back from a foot injury. But Jamie Graham, who also has played receiver, may get the start. Graham, a redshirt freshman who also plays on the basketball team, has his own goal.
“I’d rather my ring say champion rather than just Vanderbilt,” he said.