I realize that after last night’s Rocky Top debacle, Butch Jones deserves substantial mention in this coaching staff crucifixion, but I have already shared my thoughts on Butch’s in-game bouts with Temporary Idiot Syndrome. So yes, Vols fans, you should be extremely worried, but more on that another time.
As an old man crashing welcome week, I found myself at the bar with women far too young for me and wagers far too high-stakes, streaming USC/Vanderbilt and Minnesota/Oregon State through an endless stream of 4G data abuse that will have my parents less than enthused at the mailbox this month. But it was the first night of football, and though pussy is the pinnacle, football isn’t too far behind. It’s best to multi-task.
I’m convinced it’s the assorted poisons flowing through my body that has me thinking the fighting Will Muschamps have tied the game, but when the bar switches over to the “marquee” SEC matchup, my wishful thinking had become reality. Now prior to this point, Vanderbilt Coach Derek Mason, who is admittedly a defensive-minded strategist, had decided his one possession lead was plenty to hold for the rest of the game, shutting down his already remedial offense with play calls that would make middle school teams cringe.
It was an endless barrage of between-the-tackle runs, half-assed play action passes with one blanketed option, and the same fucking end-around that I swear even the 19-year-old Alpha Phi I was “courting” saw coming.
But through all of this unimaginative malarkey, the Commodores still had an opportunity to win, or at least give themselves some realistic shot at prevailing, with just a little bit of clock management. Just a little. In a 10-10 game with perhaps the best kicker in the nation in a Cocks uniform, USC drove to the Vanderbilt 35 or so as the clock drained under two minutes.
Will Muschamp, in a classic Will Muschamp move, decided to shut down his humming offense that had outgained its first half performance by more than 3-1, opting for what would likely become a 50+ yard field goal for the lead. To put some perspective on this, in 2015, college football kickers made about a third of the total 50+ yard kicks attempted. Fortunately for the man formerly known as Auburn’s defensive coordinator, Muschamp inherited an outstanding kicker with the Cocks, though even his career percentage outside 50 hovered around a coin flip.
So what does Will the Thrill do? He shuts that motherfucking offense down that’s gone for nearly 200 yards in its last four possessions because we love long kicks. Ok, that’s fine and somewhat bizarre in its own right, but nothing compared to Mason’s counter move. In some sort of moment of blinding retardation, Mason, with two timeouts in his pocket, allowed USC to run two hapless dives up the middle (one with their QB Perry Orth) and run the ENTIRE 40 SECOND PLAY CLOCK DOWN.
Did the capitalization emphasize the stupidity enough? So, to counter Muschamp’s preferred coin flip kick, Mason has decided to… play for overtime without a chance for regulation victory? Mason let USC run the clock under 40 total seconds, still with two timeouts available, and with a kick coming from the 37 possibly giving his team outstanding field position. So he must have saved them to ice the kicker, right?
The kick is up and fucking perfect. I’m waiting to see the zebra come out and shit all over my celebration with what I assumed was Vandy’s inaudible pre-snap timeout, muffled in the bustling welcome week watering hole.
But no. Not a whistle, just a celebration. After the field goal and kickoff, Vandy received the ball with under 30 seconds left and still those two completely worthless timeouts.
I’ve defended Mason and his staff repeatedly, as I do feel the Commodores have improved, play tough defense, and are held hostage as an academic beacon in a conference of insatiable greed and dishonesty. But last night was a fucking joke. Last night was shameful..