The line between cause and effect in Vanderbilt's two losses is a pretty direct one. In suffering defeats to Ole Miss and South Carolina, the Commodores by a combined 31-0 in the two first quarters. Vanderbilt trailed 10-0 after one frame in its season-opening 39-35 loss to Ole Miss, and found itself in a 21-0 hole at South Carolina en route to a 35-25 set back on Saturday.
There are two pieces of good news within that paragraph of bad news. First, Vanderbilt acquitted itself well in quarters two through four against some tough competition. The Commodores hold a 60-43 edge over the final 90 minutes of the Ole Miss and South Carolina games. Second, James Franklin thinks he knows how to fix his team's sluggish starts.
“I was yelling at them the other day that I don’t even know why we need to stretch,” Franklin told the Tennessean. “When you watch National Geographic, when that cheetah takes off to get the gazelle, I don’t see him going through a warmup beforehand to do it, so we should be able to do that same thing.
“Typically that good-on-good work happens about the midpoint of practice. What we’ve been doing is moving that good-on-good, that speed work, ones versus ones, up to the beginning of practice. And we’ll continue to do that just to emphasize, ‘Look, just right after the stretch, you better be ready to go.’"
Vanderbilt has a noon kickoff at Massachusetts and a night game with UAB in Nashville before jumping back into SEC play with Missouri, Georgia, Texas A&M and Florida. Here's guessing this adjustment will work in the short term because, well, its UMass and UAB.
But from an outsider's perspective, this feels like a move that can't do anything but help.