What would have happened had Coutu missed the game winning field goal, and the game had gone into overtime? What would have happened had Mackenzi Adams and Chris Nickson not split snaps throughout the game?
But that is all purely speculation at this point. The fact of the matter is, Georgia did what they had to do to win, and Vanderbilt did not. Yes, that loss hurt, because as the game progressed, it became obvious that these two teams were evenly matched. Some may argue with that, but the Commodores made too many mistakes, and that's why Georgia picked up the victory. Not because Georgia was that much better than Vanderbilt.
So the question is, has Georgia become worse over the years or has Vanderbilt got better? It's a little of both more than likely, but you can't deny that the Commodores have got better. And yes, a lot of you will probably say "Yes, they are better, but it doesn't show in the amount of wins. That's where it matters." You're right, most people only look at wins and losses, and judge a team's overall ability by that. But quite honestly, you can't completely judge a team by that. Vanderbilt has come along way since Coach Bobby Johnson took over, but some people don't look at it that way. I do.
We all tend to focus on the negatives after a devastating loss such as the one suffered on Saturday. It's tough not to. Most of try to figure out where everything went wrong, and what we should have done to fix it. Even if there were some positives, they got lost in the shuffle, because we keep trying to find someone to give the blame to. I've been guilty of this over the years when Vanderbilt has suffered some hard defeats, especially in games they had a chance of winning. However, in doing so, we don't give credit where credit is due. And ladies and gentlemen, whether you want to admit it or not, there was some credit that was due in Saturday night's game. Several players stepped up and had big games, and that is something that should not be overlooked.
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Look no further than Mackenzi Adams. Granted, he only threw the ball ten times, but he had some big throws in key situations for the Commodores. Is he a better quarterback than Chris Nickson? It's still too early to tell. It seems like Adams will get the start this weekend at South Carolina, so we will get more of an idea in this upcoming game. What was most positive about Adams was that he didn't turn the ball over. Vanderbilt has less room for error than other teams in the conference, so this was definitely a plus for the Commodore offense. He looked a little shaky at times, but overall, he was calm and collected, and made the right throws in several situations. Personally, it was also good to see Nickson worked into the system. A lot of people were against it, but Nickson's athletic ability cannot be underestimated. Yes, it would be good to see them settle on Adams for passing, instead trying to let them both pass equally, but I don't believe it would be bad to bring Nicks on in every now and then to keep the defense on their heels.
Another positive in this game had to be the special teams. The kicking game has improved tremendously since the first week of the season, so you have to give the coaching staff and Brian Hahnfeldt a lot of credit for that. Special teams always plays a factor into the outcome of the game, and the Vandy special teams did nothing to hurt the Commodores chances of winning. The punting game has definitely improved as well. Brett Upson has become more reliable as the weeks have progressed, which is a good thing right now for the Commodores, as the offense has not been particularly excellent in the last few weeks, which has called for more punts. Although it's probably not a great sign when the punter stands out as a positive, you have to give Upson credit for improving his kicking.
Other people also stood out for the Commodores in the loss. Jonathan Goff had a great game, racking up 14 tackles in the process. Also, Sean Walker had a great game....on both sides of the ball. He is an excellent talent, and is the type of playmaker than can win games for the Commodores. Although the defense gave up lots of rushing yards, they still had a solid game overall. Again, although the loss really hurt, let's not look over the positive contributions made by some of these players. Had they not had solid games, things could have been much worse.
All in all, I'm human just like everybody else. When a game is snatched away from you like that one was, it's hard to look back and focus on the positives. It's hard to shake that kind of loss, especially when you look at the simple mistakes that were made that prevented the Commodores from getting the win. But, it's also important to stop dwelling on the loss and get ready for the next one. And this is definitely important for the players, which is something I'm sure the coaches will be stressing in practice this week. The Dores head to South Carolina this weekend, and if they are still thinking about this loss, frankly, things could get ugly.
Hopefully the players and coaches will build off the positives of the Georgia game, and head into Columbia and give the Gamecocks a tough battle.