NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 30: Quarterback Jordan Rodgers #11 of the Vanderbilt Commodores runs between Jadeveon Clowney #07 and Aldrick Fordham #57 of the South Carolina Gamecocks at Vanderbilt Stadium on August 30, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
After further reflection, I think the main concern after last night is, without question, the passing game. There were other problems, but this was the main one, and it was something that was supposed to be at least a mild strength. The problem was three-fold: Connor Shaw struggled throwing the ball, the receivers weren't getting open, and the offensive line couldn't protect the quarterback. The line problems are the most worrisome thing here. Shaw has played better in the past. He may have just had jitters early on, and really, he played about as well as could be expected after coming back into the game. He'll be fine this year, I think, as long as he stays healthy. (Not a given, unfortunately.) The receiver situation is a bit more worrisome, but not without remedy. The main thing is that we need to get Shaq Roland ready for prime time as quickly as possible, and we need to get the ends more involved. And the truth is, we did have some guys getting open down field, including Jerrell Adams on a couple of routes that could have gone for long gains. The problem was that Shaw never had time to get the throw off. That was really disappointing to me. This is supposed to be an improved offensive line with tons of relatively mature talent at the tackle positions. If they had whiffed on a couple of blitzes (which they did), that would be one thing. But they were getting beaten when Vandy only brought four men, and that shouldn't happen regularly against Vanderbilt. This group is going to have to get a lot better by the time Georgia comes to town, or its going to get eaten alive.
I'm a little less concerned about some of the other perceived problems. The secondary play was shaky, but frankly, it could have been worse. Jimmy Legree was the big question mark back there, and he actually held his own. I was hoping for more from Brison Williams, but let's just hope that D.J. Swearinger is on him and that he's learned his lesson. I've also heard some complaints about the conditioning of the defensive line, but I'm not seeing why. Yeah, I get that Jadeveon Clowney and others looked gassed in the second half, but considering that Vandy dominated time of possession until late in the third quarter, as well as the fact that it was a hot, muggy August night, you're more or less calling the sky blue by saying that a lineman was gassed.
One last thing to note is that the offensive play calling was vanilla. I was a bit surprised at this. I had really thought that Spurrier would open up the playbook a bit in this game, considering that we've got a couple of layups in the following two weeks. Why hold anything back? However, the offensive gameplan was thoroughly simple, kind of like what you'd expect if we were playing UGA next week. It'll be interesting to see what develops there over the next few weeks.
Enjoy your holiday break, everyone.