Joe Fisher, the longtime voice of the Vanderbilt Commodores, is one of the top broadcasters in college athletics and an all-time great guy. He has been an annual contributor to our Vanderbilt Issue, and we always and appreciate and enjoy his analysis.
What is the key to the success Vanderbilt has had on defense this season?
This year’s Vanderbilt defense has given up more yards than they would like, but they’ve had the ability to stiffen in the red zone and hold opponents out of the endzone on a regular basis. They’ve also been more successful in creating turnovers than last year’s defense.
Where would you rate Zach Cunningham with the outstanding defenders Vanderbilt has turned out in the 2000s?
He’s certainly high on the list. So many quality linebackers have come out of Vanderbilt in recent years; names like Chris Marve, Hunter Hillenmeyer, Matt Stewart just to name a few. He may be among the fastest players in that group, a sure tackler with the ability to cover sideline to sideline. He’s also among VU’s all-time leaders in career tackles for loss.
How about Ralph Webb, what makes him such an outstanding back?
Ralph is now number two all-time in Vanderbilt career rushing yards and could be number one before the end of this season. He has excellent vision, makes decisive cuts when he sees the hole open up and runs with great patience to allow his blockers to do their job. He’s very tough in a short yardage situation and has greatly improved his pass catching ability.
What does Vanderbilt need to do to win?
First, the offense has to find some consistency, especially in the passing game. The Commodores have struggled much of the season to put points on the board and have not produced an offensive touchdown in the last two games. The Commodores must continue to win the turnover battle and need to find success on special teams, which have had their issues the past couple of weeks as well.
What is your take on Georgia?
The only surprise to me so far was the Ole Miss loss being that one-sided. It was a game that just got away early. Despite the injuries, the offense has still managed to put points on the board. Jacob Eason is maturing every week and certainly has a very bright future. And regardless of who is in the backfield, Georgia can always run effectively. I guess you have to be a bit surprised that the defense has given up the amount of points it has, and certainly doesn’t have the sack numbers you would expect.
Where does Athens rank on your barnstorming broadcasting tour around the SEC?
Athens has always been one of my favorite SEC stops. The stadium and game day atmosphere is always special. The sightline from the broadcast press box is ideal. And, as you well know, there are plenty of terrific food options all around the city.
What are some of the things going on in college football that surprise you, or you would like to change?
I guess the use of replay is an ongoing, evolving process. I wish I understood how some of the calls are being evaluated. On numerous occasions this year, in our games and others, I’ve seen what appeared to me to be conclusive video evidence that a call should be overturned and it has been allowed to stand. I wish there was a way for the conference to explain better why a ruling is or isn’t changed. I know we don’t want to make the games longer, but I would also like to see consideration for review of other calls, such as pass interference for example.