The Vanderbilt Vendidad

Warren Norman

Other People’s hard work - 11.12.09

Metaphor for Vanderbilt Football

Metaphor for Commodore football from here on out.

Today is a lovely day. It’s basketball season, the sun is shining, Vols are getting arrested, I have been selected from a field of literally a couple of people to be a Featured Columnist on Bleacher Report, and Hot Chip released a new jam. Let’s get started.


  • I typically don’t post on baseball because it’s a sport I enjoy, but don’t follow closely enough to comment on. But Mike Minor and I shared a crush on our hot French teacher, so he gets all the nods he can. That said, he pitched poorly in the Rising Stars game, but should do well in the future.
  • I include this piece from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, simply because it has the worst opening sentence I’ve seen in a non-Biddle newspaper piece in a while. Man, Biddle is bad.



  • Vanderbilt won its exhibition. I provided only spirit animals, but here is my more detailed breakdown:
  • John Jenkins is good, and the crowd loves him. Jeff Taylor is great. Festus is better than expected. Walker is better than expected. Tinsley is better than expected. Tchiengang is better than expected. Ogilvy was not as good as expected, but should get better.

That’s all for now. Buenos dias.

12 November 2009 Vanderbilt Football Vanderbilt Basketball Tennessee football Kentucky football John Cole Greg Billinger Mike Minor Warren Norman Mackenzi Adams Randall Cobb Losing season Bobby Johnson Andre Walker Joe Biddle sux


Reflections on the 56-31 moral victory over Georgia Tech

This article was originally published at the Bleacher Report.

Vanderbilt spent the first half of its season losing games and disappointing fans.  Today, after two games in a row of losing games and impressing fans, things are looking up.

Vanderbilt played three quarters of impressive offensive football, and one and a half quarters of flippy-flappy fumbly-bumbly whoopsieball.

But you know what?  Vanderbilt fans—at least the good ones—walked away from Dudley Field with heads held high, because Vanderbilt scored their second moral victory in a row.

Last year, moral victories were a despised unwelcome house guest. But as Joni Mitchell (or the Counting Crows featuring Vanessa Carlton, depending on your generation) sang, you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.

Here’s how the ‘Dores exceeded expectations Saturday:

  • Plenty of people expected Vandy to lose by 25 or so points, but they probably expected a score of 35-10. The offense, quite simply, got it together.  They drove, they completed passes, they converted on third down, they scored touchdowns, they made field goals, they broke off the occasional big pass or huge run.
  • Warren Norman matched the SEC single-season record with his third kickoff returned for a touchdown. As a freshman. He also leads the league comfortably in all-purpose yards with a whole freaking lot. Excuse me for not spending twenty of my precious minutes checking box scores with a calculator! I’m not getting paid for this, you know.
  • Larry Smith started strong, then pulled a hamstring, but really, truly, genuinely seems to be getting better. And senior Mackenzi Adams played well off the bench, which should sate the crotchety message-board posters for a while.
  • Vanderbilt played like the Music City Bowl team, which is to say, like relentless opportunists. Greg Billinger forced a fumble at the Georgia Tech 3-yard-line, which was picked up by John Stokes, who played with noticeable juice in the tubes. Udom Umoh had a highlight-reel-worthy catch-and-run, coming off an errant Adams pass tipped by a Tech linebacker.
  • Vanderbilt wanted to win the game, and played like they wanted to win the game. You know, for three quarters.

I said before the game that, in order for Vanderbilt to have a chance, they would need zero mistakes. And, at least on the offensive end, the first three quarters were—if not mistake-free—mistake-lite.

Frankly, I’ll take it. And so will most Vandy fans.

Because three quarters of good offensive football is three quarters more than Vandy fans have gotten to watch in some time.

So what about the defense? Georgia Tech put up 56 points. Aren’t we a defensive team?

You know what? Shut up. The defense played three quarters of the best football they could have been expected to play against an offense like Georgia Tech’s. Yes, they fell apart, but do you know what stat makes it forgivable? (WARNING: RESEARCH ALERT) Time of possession.

The defense was on the field fifteen seconds shy of forty minutes. So their collapse was technically the offense’s fault, just like it has been all year. The difference? The offense was scoring enough points to take some of the pressure off. And seriously, Tech punted four times, which is four more times than I expected.

And who would have guessed the Commodore defense would force the Yellow Jackets topass (some)? I figured the Jackets wouldn’t have to resort to trick plays!

Ultimately, the Vanderbilt defense couldn’t handle the added pressure of all the offense’s turnovers in the fourth quarter, but I forgive both of them. Three quarters of great football ain’t bad.

So what about the fourth quarter?

Seriously, shut up.

1 November 2009 Vanderbilt Commodores Vanderbilt Football You're safe for now Cain. Warren Norman Zac Stacy Larry Smith Mackenzi Adams Udom Umoh


Gut Feelings: Georgia Tech at Vanderbilt

This is my first article for Bleacher Report.

Note: Because this is my first article, I hesitate to make it downer. But when you cover Vanderbilt football, downers happen. The beauty lies in one’s ability to enjoy oneself nonetheless.

I am a Vanderbilt fan, which means I am, by definition, foolishly hopeful.

I think the Commodores have a decent shot against Florida this year. See what I mean?

But I have never, in all my days, been as confident of a Vanderbilt loss as I am right now, at this very moment, about our chances against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

The Commodores are not expected to win any of their remaining games. I, on the other hand, think they will find a win somewhere.

But it won’t be against Georgia Tech.

It’s been a rough season. It really has. In addition to the expected challenges faced by a small, academically-focused school in the SEC, the Commodores have been decimated by injuries, weak play-calling, and, most recently, bad officiating. If the ‘Dores return to a bowl this year, mark my words, there will be a Disney movie about it next summer.

So my expectations are low. Historically, however, the ‘Dores have performed at their best when expectations are low. Who expected Vanderbilt to win a bowl game over a ranked team only after Jay Cutler and Earl Bennett had moved on to the NFL? No one.

Which is why the upset seemed especially likely against South Carolina last week. No one expected the ‘Dores to sneak up on the very same team they snuck up on twice in a row, least of all Steve Spurrier. But they did. Despite an inability to pull out the W, they were very sneaky indeed.

So one would think that this weekend, Vanderbilt might be a reasonable long-shot pick. Georgia Tech is flying high, surely looking past the Commodores and into the postseason. Maybe Bobby Johnson can get his team amped up and ready for an upset.

Nope. Not going to happen.

Upsets happen when the underdogs bring their A-game and the expected winners (overdogs? undercats?) show up weak, maybe with their C-game or D-game. But the Yellow Jackets’ terrifying offense lines up impeccably against the Commodores. For an upset, it would have to be an A+ Vandy against an F- Tech.

Georgia Tech is a running team. Georgia Tech is the running team.

Vanderbilt has had a bit of trouble defending against the run. Schools that aren’t Western Carolina have been putting up an average of 180 yards/game. But Army—ARMY—ARMY, a team that’s been struggling against the likes of Temple and Tulane, put up 222 yards on the ‘Dores.

Georgia Tech’s offense is similar to Army’s, except Georgia Tech is bigger, faster, stronger, and unquestionably better. They have been doing naughty things to nicer defensive lines than Vanderbilt’s all year.

Vanderbilt’s defense has been quite good, but Vanderbilt’s greatest strength this year has been its ability to guard against the pass. Taking the pass away from Georgia Tech is like taking away Batman’s bat-shaped shurikens. It’s just going to get you punched in the face.

My prediction? Georgia Tech scores 45 points on Saturday.

And Vanderbilt? The Vanderbilt offense has yet to score two touchdowns against anyone but Rice and Western Carolina. I don’t see this being their breakthrough game.

But Georgia Tech has been relatively weak on defense. Unfortunately, I have a bad feeling that we won’t get to see very much Tech defense, because Georgia Tech’s offense aims to control the clock, and between Vandy’s punt-based offense and its no-huddle pace, the Commodores may not control the ball for more than twenty minutes.

I boldly predict that Vanderbilt’s offense produces 10 points. But that doesn’t make my prediction 45-10.

Is a win possible? Yes. Vanderbilt wins if all of the following occur:

  • Warren Norman runs not one, but two kickoffs in for touchdowns.
  • Vanderbilt turns the ball over zero times.
  • Vanderbilt has zero penalties.
  • Chris “The Sticky Bandit” Marve forces three (3) fumbles, and Vanderbilt recovers all of them. Two of the three must be taken in for touchdowns.
  • Myron Lewis records two touchdowns, and Casey Hayward one.

So Vanderbilt wins if our defense and special teams combine for at least thirty-five points. Minimum turnover differential of +5. It could happen.

But not this week. Tech wins, 45-17

29 October 2009 Vanderbilt Football Bobby Johnson Georgia Tech Warren Norman Myron Lewis Chris Marve


Other Peoples’ Hard Work - 10.28.09

Here’s what I’ve found around the web, spladow! Tell your friends to read this blog.

  • This looks awesome. I’m all for early indoctrination of future generations of Vandy fans. It’s why I do this.
  • The Voice deals with frustrated fans with tact and aplomb. I completely agree with his assessment.
  • Barca rounds up information on Commodores in the NFL (read: on the Bears).
  • Great article about Brandt Snedeker, found on the home page. Between Snedeker and Derrick Byars, you have to love Vanderbilt’s loyalty to the careers of its alumni. No snark there. The only problem I had was that “earning about $110,000” was part of his “horrible” start. I think it was Craig Dolch deliberately taunting my unemployment.
  • In other news, college-aged men play video games and get really competitive about it. Though probably the lamest idea for a paid sports article I’ve seen in a while, Boclair’s piece actually does a great job of painting faces onto the jerseys we follow.
  • Warren Norman better take four or five kickoffs to the house this weekend, and Chris “The Sticky Bandit” Marve better be ready to strip some balls. No-huddle + punt-happy offensive scheme = major troubles for the ‘Dores this weekend.
  • Andy Kats gives some love to the ‘Dores basketball prospects. Provided by VSL. I commented!
  • Some guy in Idaho makes a prediction about a game between a team from Nashville and a team from Atlanta. He seems to know what he’s talking about, though.

28 October 2009 Vanderbilt Commodores Vanderbilt football Vanderbilt Basketball Derrick Byars Brendt Snedeker Joe Fisher Halloween Georgia Tech Warren Norman Andy Katz Time of Possesssion


Other People’s Hard Work - 10.27.09

It’s been a few days since I’ve done a roundup of news around the ‘Dores. Since then, Vanderbilt football has lost a game, Vanderbilt basketball has picked up a recruit, Bobby Johnson has been very BoJo about the officiating this weekend and the tone in the SEC, and I have sprouted a rather comely mustache.

  • It’s hard for me to get upset about the blatantly terrible replay call in the VU/SC game, because Warren Norman singlehandedly did what a call reversal would have done: evened the score, killed their momentum. But Jeff Lockridge and Chris Low both take note of Johnson’s passive-aggressive approach to a racket against SEC officiating that he could, but probably shouldn’t, “get in line” for.
  • Chris Low knows that Warren Norman exists, and is hot.
  • It’s official: We got Rod Odom.
  • Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech have similar Johnsons.
  • Georgia Tech sources are previewing this weekend’s game, and things aren’t looking good for the ol’ ‘Dores. Despite a big effort last weekend, the Yellow Jackets will have to put all their helmets on backwards to lose this one.
  • Derrick Byars made the Bulls. Byars will always have a special place in my heart for his game, his class, and his open appreciation of my electro-pop band, Hyzer Bee.
  • Kentucky football players know about as much about their school’s colors as their school’s fans know about football.
  • And my best friends from home have entered the surrealist sports blog market. They’re surprisingly good at it, despite barely reading above a fourth grade reading level. Check it out.

27 October 2009 Bobby Johnson Derrick Byars Georgia Tech Football Hyzer Bee Kentucky Football Officiating Vanderbilt Basketball Vanderbilt Football Warren Norman aroundtheweb


Other Peoples’ Hard Work - 10.22.09

This makes me smile.

22 October 2009 Jay Cutler Pessimism South Carolina Special Teams Spurrier Vanderbilt Sports Line Vanderbilt VEndidad Warren Norman Zac Stacy football referees aroundtheweb