Joe Fisher, the longtime voice of the Commodores, is one of the great guys and best announcers in college athletics. Joe is kind enough once again to deliver his insights on Saturday’s game. It’s always great to see Joe in Athens and Nashville, and he is a terrific listen for sports fans.
Talk about Kyle Shurmur and what makes him such an excellent quarterback.
Kyle has developed into a true field general and unquestioned leader of this team. He’s the son of an NFL head coach (Pat Shurmur, NY Giants), and you can tell he’s grown up with the game being a big part of his life. He has matured in the offense and has been given great discretion by offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig to make changes at the line of scrimmage. He can make all the throws, and while not a true running quarterback, he’s mobile enough to keep plays alive.
How about Derek Mason, and the job he has done?
Now in his fifth year, it’s clear the Commodores are beginning to resemble physically the type of team Coach Mason wants. Players are clearly longer, faster and bigger on the line of scrimmage. Quality depth is certainly improved, as you will see a lot of guys play.
Five bowls in 10 years with three coaches, talk about that standard that has been set in Nashville.
After that long drought between bowls (1982-2008), it’s clear the expectation at Vanderbilt is higher. I think the best way to gauge the standard is to remember it wasn’t so long ago that there were teams in the SEC that probably didn’t take the Commodores very seriously. I doubt any team feels that way now.
How was the experience at Notre Dame?
Aside from the 22-17 loss, it was a wonderful experience. Certainly playing a game at Notre Dame stadium has to be on the bucket list for college football. Seeing “Touchdown Jesus” and being surrounded by all the tradition and history is special. The Irish fans and staff were exceptional hosts. It was a college gameday experience as it should be.
Where are your favorite places to call a game?
As I hope Dawgs fans know by now, I have always enjoyed coming to Sanford Stadium. Aside from the practical aspect of the open-air press box and the broadcast sight lines, it’s a terrific college football atmosphere. The pomp and circumstance and tradition at Texas A&M is special, as it is at a number of SEC venues. I’ve also enjoyed the opportunity in years past to do games at places like West Point and Annapolis.
What does Vanderbilt need to do to win?
Some of these areas are likely obvious. The offensive line has to protect Shurmur and find a way to open holes for the Commodores to run the football effectively. Three downs are key on both sides, both in Vanderbilt converting them and in the Commodores getting stops on third down defensively. Snagging a turnover or two to create a short field will be critical. Another key will be matching the Dawgs physicality when Georgia tries to run the football.
What is your take on Georgia?
Clearly a top 5 team in the nation with no apparent weaknesses. Much like Vanderbilt, the Dawgs replaced all time program great runners with a plethora of talented backs. It’s that phrase, don’t rebuild, just reload.