By: David Boclair
Posted: Friday, November 13, 2015 - 12:52

The numbers are different. The approach is not.

Derek Mason and Mark Stoops were accomplished defensive coordinators before they became head coaches, Mason at Vanderbilt and Stoops at Kentucky. Mason built his reputation at Stanford while Stoops earned his stripes at Florida State.

However, when their teams face one another at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday (3 p.m., SEC Network) their like-minded approaches will be evident.

By: David Boclair
Posted: Friday, November 13, 2015 - 12:05

It is a battle for mediocrity.

The winner of Saturday’s game between Vanderbilt and Kentucky (3 p.m., SEC Network) will be firmly entrenched in fourth place in the SEC East with three teams ahead of it and three teams behind.

That probably says more about the quality of the division than it does the quality of teams, both of which continue to fight history and try to raise themselves up in the country’s toughest conference. Each has had some notable moments in recent years and any jump in the standings is a move in the right direction.

So while it’s not a game that will capture the country’s imagination, it is one that has real meaning to the participants.

By: J.R. Lind
Posted: Friday, November 13, 2015 - 11:56

One of the underlooked parts of the 2013 collective bargaining agreement that ended the season-shortening NHL lockout was the development of an Industry Growth Fund, managed by a committee of NHL owners and players and paid into by the 30 member clubs of the NHL. 

This week, the Predators were awarded a $4 million grant from the IGF, to be paid over the next three years, to help grow the game in Middle Tennessee.

From a release:

The Predators, who began their IGF grant application process early in 2015, centered their proposal on the growth of youth hockey. In 1998, there were two sheets of ice and approximately 400 USA Hockey registered youth participants. Today, there are six sheets of ice with approximately 1,400 USA Hockey registered youth participants and nearly 9,000 additional grassroots hockey participants. Many programs that support the growth of hockey in Middle Tennessee, which continues to expand at an exponential rate, will be funded in part by the IGF Fund grant.

“The Nashville Predators are grateful to the NHL and NHLPA for the significant level of investment they’ve made through the Industry Growth Fund to help bolster hockey involvement in our city,” Nashville Predators President and COO Sean Henry said. “The opening of Ford Ice Center one year ago laid a strong foundation in broadening hockey’s reach in Nashville to a more expansive population. This new grant gives us the opportunity to build on that foundation by creating new programs and expanding existing ones to reduce or diminish barriers for our sport.”

By: J.R. Lind
Posted: Friday, November 13, 2015 - 09:40

Five stories to read today...

From ESPN: "Titans' Justin Hunter working to stop jumping when he doesn't need to"

The Titans wideout maybe goes aerial a little too often:

"It’s a bad habit," interim coach Mike Mularkey said. "He knows he does it; he knows we know he does it. It’s just got to be a conditioned response not to do that. ...

"Any receiver wants the ball rising to your eyes. As soon as you jump, you’re making that thing drop on you. You’re making it harder on yourself than it has to be. That’s been talked about and hopefully it improves."

Mularkey said it was nice that on this occasion, Hunter did the wrong thing but got the right result. A score has a way of making things perfect.

Hunter said he fights the urge to jump, but it often wins.

"Man, I know I do it a lot, sometimes it feels like second nature, just doing it to do it," he said. "The reason why I do it, is I like to picture the ball right there. When I jump, it stops everything, it’s just me focused on the ball. But yeah, it’s a bad habit I keep doing. I’ve got to be able to stop that."

By: David Boclair
Posted: Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 23:45

It certainly was not an encore performance.

It actually was more like something from an alternate universe.

Two days after the Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators combined for 12 goals (Nashville won 7-5) the Predators locked horns with the Toronto Maple Leafs. This time each side managed just a single goal and a shootout was required to determine a winner (the Maple Leafs won it in the fifth round).

By: David Boclair
Posted: Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 23:38

Michael Oher did not exactly go kicking and screaming.

Not that he could have if he wanted to — at least when it came to kicking. A toe injury marred the veteran tackle’s one season with the Tennessee Titans and eventually required offseason surgery.

By: David Boclair
Posted: Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 14:33

There are three NFL teams that managed to go undefeated through the first half of the NFL season.

The Tennessee Titans will face two of them in the second half, beginning Sunday when they host the Carolina Panthers (noon, Fox).

The Panthers’ win streak actually began last December. It carried them to a playoff berth after a woeful start in 2014 and lifted them to the NFC’s best record eight games and nine weeks into this season.

By: David Boclair
Posted: Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 13:12

The number that looms larger than all others is zero.

That is how many losses Vanderbilt can afford in its final three games and still make it to a bowl game.

The Commodores are 3-6 overall (1-4 in the SEC) as they approach Saturday’s game against Kentucky at Vanderbilt Stadium (3 p.m., SEC Network). They have yet to win consecutive contests, let alone three, but that is the challenge as it exists at the moment.

By: Geert De Lombaerde
Posted: Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 12:59

In the print edition of the Scene this week, J.R. Lind writes about Vanderbilt basketball's 2015 journey from SEC sleeper to the team almost universally tipped to give the mighty Wildcats fits in the 2015-16 season. Coach Kevin Stallings, he writes, has the type of group — "short on talent and long on desire" — that has fit him well in the past.

By: David Boclair
Posted: Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 11:58

Scottie Upshall seemingly could not pass up an opportunity to stick it to the Nashville Predators.

So he did not pass.

Early in the third period Saturday at Bridgestone Arena, he raced down the right wing supported by two of his St. Louis Blues teammates in a three-on-one. Rather than give it up he gave it his best shot, which beat goalie Pekka Rinne for the third goal in the Predators’ 4-0 loss at Bridgestone Arena.