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Friday, May 6, 2016

Johnson: Disappointing 'Dores outgunned

Monday, September 10, 2007

NASHVILLE -- Vanderbilt entered Saturday's game with Alabama looking for their first home win against the Crimson Tide in more than two decades.

Vanderbilt wide receiver George Smith was unable to pull down this pass in the first quarter over Crimson Tide defensive back Rashad Johnson.
(T-G Photo by Jimmy Jones)
Both claimed impressive opening home wins, the Commodores rolling past Richmond 41-17 while Alabama outscored Western Carolina 52-6.

After last year's close game where the Crimson Tide edged the Commodores 13-10, many of the Vanderbilt hopeful were looking to delay new Alabama coach Nick Saban's first SEC win with the Tide.

The Commodores didn't live up to that expectation, dropping a 24-10 decision.

"That was a tough one to go through," Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said. "Alabama played physical and we had too many errors in the first half. We had a long punt return that we couldn't afford to (give up). To have a chance to win, we can't help the other team. We worked right into their plan."

Poor tackling and costly penalties didn't help matters.

The Commodores' special teams struggled along with their run defense.

Vandy's passing game left a lot to be desired but the reported hamstring injury to starting quarterback Chris Nickson probably played a major role.

The difference and quality of players between Vanderbilt and Alabama has grown closer in the past few years but one can only wonder with the emergence of Saban if that will remain the case.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect was all the Crimson in Vanderbilt's stands.

Figures such as 80-20, 75-25 or 70-30 in favor of the visitors were debated in the press box.

I was amazed how many Alabama fans were able to get tickets considering talks of this possibly being one of the most successful seasons for the Commodores in recent memory. I even heard that as many as 1,000 Alabama fans bought Vanderbilt season tickets just so they could attend this game.

The season is far from over for the 'Dores, and they still have a favorable schedule. Talks of a bowl game will continue and six of their final 10 games are at home.

Maybe those Crimson Tide fans will be as generous as the Vanderbilt players were on the field Saturday and give the rest of those season tickets to Commodore fans.

Gary Johnson is a Times-Gazette sports writer.

Gary Johnson
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