Vanderbilt vs. UGA: A day to be reckoned with


As promised, we were in Athens last Saturday for Vanderbilt-Georgia, a game in which the homecoming Dawgs were favored by more than two touchdowns. Instead, the Commodores eked out a one-point victory on the road. Although it probably wasn’t too exciting on television, this was an entertainingly tense game to attend in person.

Two game notes, and then I’ll turn it over to the Vandy football video crew:

  1. The Vanderbilt defense is excellent against the run, which happens to be Georgia’s offensive strength, but they were helpless against the pass. UGA should’ve called nothing but pass plays until VU forced them to do something else.
  2. This was Vandy head coach Derek Mason’s first conference win, which is nice, but it probably should have come sooner. Like, maybe the week before in Lexington? Neither Georgia nor Vanderbilt are making much football sense in 2016.

Mike Leach: Prospective time traveler


We usually try to kick off the college football season with a sprinkling of wisdom from Mike Leach, but we’ve been a bit slow off the ball this year. Thankfully for our sake, Leach delivered a good comment earlier this week.

He’s back, and with the Washington State Cougars winning four straight after dropping their first two games, so is his team and, with it, college football.


Mike Leach officially ushers in the 2015 college football season
Cougar dating tips from Mike Leach
Mike Leach Favors Cougars

ALDLAND goes live to the Battle of Athens


We will be in Sanford Stadium tomorrow when Vanderbilt, based in Nashville (i.e., the Athens of the South), faces Georgia, based in Athens, in a game that will decide which city will retain its Southern Athenian identity and, maybe, third place in the SEC East.

Thus far, this season has been a disappointment for both schools, but tomorrow’s game should at least allow fans a nice look at each team’s stars. For Georgia, that means the return of the combined running attack of Nick Chubb and Sony Michele. For Vanderbilt, it means the return of the SEC rushing leader, Ralph Webb, who, I am told, will play tomorrow after suffering an injury during last week’s loss at Kentucky.

The star power of Webb distracts from the Black & Gold’s numerous deficiencies and, in some sense, Webb reminds me of Earl Bennett, a Vandy wide receiver who, ten years ago, became the SEC all-time reception leader. Following the exciting and brief James Franklin era, the Commodores have regressed under Derek Mason to a team reminiscent of those overseen by Bobby Johnson: above-average defense that worked hard to keep the team in games while the offense, with its lone leader (then Bennett, now Webb) tried to keep pace on the scoreboard until the overworked defense eventually gave out and the opposing team ran away with the game. Mason and his assistants have better resumes than Johnson and his assistants did, but the results have been the same.

During the last ten years, though, Vanderbilt has played Georgia close and even stolen a few wins. Those have tended to come in home games for the Commodores, though; the Dawgs typically have routed them in Athens. Vanderbilt nevertheless goes on the road tomorrow in search of its first conference win of 2016. Kickoff is at noon on SEC Network, and we’ll be there. Follow along here for live updates.

Live podcast announcement: Enter the Pizza Cave


Tomorrow morning, I will be joining the Pizza Cave Podcast, hosted by legendary Southeast Michigan restaurateur-podcaster Fredi the Pizzaman, live at 8:30 am Eastern to pick NFL, college football, and baseball games. Although you can listen to it later on, keep in mind that this is a live podcast, meaning that you can stream it as it’s being recorded, which I recommend.

Tune in Saturday morning at 8:30 by clicking here to listen live or check out the archives later on.

A False Narrative Anywhere is a Threat to Truth Everywhere

As a first-time blogger here on ALDLAND, with hopes of semi-regular future contributions and an eye towards establishing a reputation for taking on the most popular burning questions of the day, my topic essentially selected itself.  Obviously, I’m compelled to address the issue that is certainly on the minds even of casual fans – the media portrayal of Georgia Tech’s struggles with third and long.  I know, I know, you are probably thinking that is a rather ambitious topic, but hear me out.

If you have watched any Georgia Tech games recently, or in the past 8 years, you have almost certainly heard the television commentators’ familiar refrain whenever Paul Johnson’s option offense gets off schedule.  “This offense isn’t really built for this.”  “This is not where Georgia Tech likes to be.” “Paul Johnson has a good offense, but here is the weakness.” Or my favorite, “they really need to be in third and manageable.”

Odds are, most of you have not watched many, or any, Georgia Tech games.  And those of you who have probably haven’t noticed these comments or paid them much attention.  The few of you who have noticed presumably nodded in relatively indifferent agreement, quickly moving on and largely forgetting the idea.  Meaning, it is just us die hard Georgia Tech fans who care enough to object, and believe me, the twelve of us can get pretty irked.  Downright inflamed at times. 

If you’ve already stopped reading, I urge you to continue.  I know, thus far, I have given you no reason to do so, but there is a chance I will successfully make a worthwhile point eventually.  Anyway, without further ado, here are the numbers from ACC teams since Paul Johnson arrived at Georgia Tech in 2008.  These are compiled from, and, for a fair and accurate if barely scientific comparison, only examine the 11 teams that have been in the ACC during this entire period.

3rd and 7 or More, All Plays

3rd and 7 or More, Passing Only

3rd and 10 or More, All Plays

3rd and 10 or More, Passing Only

Boston College

11th – 22.73%

11th – 25.49%

10th – 19.00%

11th – 22.34%


4th – 30.49%

4th – 36.46%

5th – 22.92%

4th – 28.41%


7th – 28.61%

8th – 31.72%

6th – 22.40%

8th – 25.33%

Florida State

1st – 34.8%

1st – 42.48%

1st – 30.65%

1st – 41.22%

Georgia Tech

2nd – 32.7%

3rd – 36.92%

2nd – 27.59%

3rd – 31.84%


8th – 27.81%

7th – 32.14%

7th – 22.13%

6th – 26.48%

North Carolina

6th – 29.00%

5th – 34.34%

11th – 18.72%

9th – 23.37%

NC State

5th – 30.00%

6th – 33.09%

4th – 24.24%

5th – 26.86%


9th – 26.42%

9th – 30.63%

9th – 19.21%

10th – 23.03%

Virginia Tech

3rd – 30.88%

2nd – 37.73%

3rd – 27.09%

2nd – 34.62%

Wake Forest

10th – 25.81%

10th – 30.44%

8th – 21.49%

7th – 26.40%

As you can see, Georgia Tech is among the best in the ACC at third and long.  Actually, Georgia Tech is even better than the chart shows, because in addition to being good at converting third and long, Paul Johnson’s offense is excellent at avoiding it.  This is important because, as the numbers illustrate, nobody converts third and long very often.  Georgia Tech faces third and seven or longer just under 8% of all plays, while the conference average is just over 10%.  Georgia Tech faces third and ten yards or longer just 4.4% of all plays, while the conference average is 5.69%.  Georgia Tech is first in the ACC in both categories.  Continue reading

Mercer favored over Georgia Tech in Honey Bowl XVI


Bears like honey. Bees like honey. Tomorrow afternoon, Mercer and Georgia Tech will face off for the sixteenth time in the history of their in-state rivalry, and it already looks like the Baptists have beat the nerds at their own game. According to a just-released computer model, Mercer will prevail over Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium tomorrow by a 22-17 margin. A surprising result, most probably would agree, but a Mercer victory would not be unprecedented. In 1892, Georgia Tech opened its inaugural football season with a road loss to the Bears in Macon. The Yellowjackets won thirteen of the teams’ next fourteen matchups (the 1896 game in Atlanta ended in a tie), but they haven’t played each other since 1938 (Mercer’s football program was dormant between 1942 and 2012), so that 1892 game likely will loom large in the minds of both schools’ players.

Two other game notes: Bears coach Bobby Lamb has his own history of success against the Jackets, extending back to his days as a quarterback at Furman, and Tech will be without two of its running backs, who are suspended for team-rules violations.

ALDLAND will be live at this game, which kicks off at 3:00 tomorrow on the ACC Network.

USC vs. Alabama: Preview and Historical Analysis

In what likely is the marquee matchup of the 2016 college football season’s opening week, no. 20 USC and #1 Alabama will face off in Jerryworld. The game is tomorrow at 8:00 on ABC. Southern Cal is searching for a post-Hollywood identity, while Alabama has yet to identify its starting quarterback.

For further analysis, this historical footage of the two schools’ 1980 tilt should prove illuminating:

2016 College Football Kickoff: Vanderbilt in search of hope and change in opener


Once again, the Vanderbilt Commodores will help open up the college football season, this year by hosting the South Carolina Gamecocks tonight at 8:00 pm on ESPN, and they’ll be looking to exorcise some debut demons.

Vandy played in the first Thursday night season opener back in 2012, which also saw them playing the Gamecocks in Nashville. Vanderbilt lost that game, 17-13, as the result of a very bad officiating call, although they missed opportunities to secure a victory for themselves. The Commodores were part of the opening Thursday night in 2013 as well, again losing by four at home, this time to Ole Miss. They nevertheless were called upon again in 2014 to play on the first Thursday, losing so badly at home to Temple, 37-7, that I and a significant majority of our readers wondered whether VU should fire then-first-year coach Derek Mason. Vandy didn’t fire Mason, and the NCAA didn’t fire Vandy from the season-opening Thursday slot, where they again appeared in 2015, hosting Western Kentucky. That was a stupid game the Commodores lost by two points.

Which brings us back to tonight. Vanderbilt is seeking its first opening Thursday win in Nashville, and they’ll have to beat South Carolina, their original opponent in this series of sorts, to do so. The SEC Network’s analysts, including former Vandy QB and Bachelorette star Jordan Rodgers, predict a win this evening. They also predict a 5-1 start and a 7-5 overall record, though, which some may take as a sign of excessive optimism.

At this point, VU fans have every reason to expect a disaster in this game, but I think it’s fair to expect that Mason, in his third year in Nashville, will have his team better prepared to start this season than the Gamecocks under new coach Will Muschamp. One of these teams is going to secure an SEC win in the first week of the season, and, in my estimation, it’ll be the Commodores. Paul Finebaum agrees. If you want to place a bet, maybe take the under– it’s tough to envision these two teams combining for more than forty-two points.

The many (many) ways to watch and hear the college football national championship game tonight

My latest post at TechGraphs details all of your numerous options for seeing and hearing (at the same time!) tonight’s college football national championship game, which kicks off at 8:30 pm Eastern. Long live the Megacast!

The full post is available here.

College Football Playoff Semifinal viewing and listening options

My latest post for TechGraphs outlines your options for watching and listening to the “New Year’s Six” bowls– the Peach, Orange, Cotton, Fiesta, Rose, and Sugar Bowls– taking place today and tomorrow. The Peach Bowl kicks off momentarily, with the two playoff semifinal games following this evening.

Go Green!

The full post is available here.