Commodores move into full pads

March 20, 2012

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NASHVILLE - Vanderbilt completed its third practice of the spring and first in full pads Tuesday evening at the John Rich Practice Facility.

After the two-hour, 30-minute session, Head Coach James Franklin noted that his squad needed to bring more intensity to full-contact drills.

"The first two practices were out of pads and I thought we got a lot out of it. We practiced fast and I was pleased," Franklin commented. "First day of pads, I would have liked to see us more violent."

Full Pads PracticeFranklin tried to spice things up by adding two drills to test his players in full-contact situations. In the Circle of Truth, which pits two players against each other while surrounded by teammates, Franklin praised the ferocity of safety Kenny Ladler, who drove through and finished his opponent to win a point for the defense. Later, the offense responded by scoring on 3rd-and-9 in Dore Wars, a drill involving three offensive and defensive linemen, a quarterback, ball carrier and linebacker.

Franklin still wanted to see his squad competing at a higher level, especially in hitting exercises.

"Part of it is learning how to practice violent but also under control and staying off the ground," Franklin explained. "It's a learning process. When I say `live,' we need to fly around and be more violent."

The Commodores finished the session with a goal line scrimmage on the south end of the field. In the series, tailback Wesley Tate picked up a short gain on first down but was stuffed for a loss on second and third downs by defensive ends Johnell Thomas and Kyle Woestmann.

The offense stayed with their goal line personnel on 4th-and-goal when Tate sliced left for a five-yard touchdown. Franklin encouraged the defense to tighten up and "stop the big plays."

At the end of practice, Franklin reminded the team to continue to spend time in the film room and study the playbook to help eliminate mental mistakes on the field.

The Commodores will return to the practice field this Saturday at 10 a.m. Franklin announced last week that all spring practices would be open to fans.

Rule Change: Southeastern Conference officials were in attendance and monitored the live segments of practice Tuesday. The SEC crew alerted the Commodores of one new rule that will go into effect next season which states players who lose their helmet on the field will be forced to leave the game for at least one play.

"You see these guys helmets flying off on TV, and they just slide them right back on without having to adjust their chin strap," Franklin said. "In the old days, you'd have to cram it on your head and redo your chin strap. People don't really feel that the players are buttoning their chin straps up tight enough and filling it up with enough air. We're trying to make an emphasis on that. I think it's a good rule change."

Quarterbacks: Every job is open for competition for the 2012 season including the quarterback position, according to Franklin. Returning starter Jordan Rodgers has an early edge at the moment based on his experience.

"It's obvious that Jordan has played a year in the system in the SEC," Franklin noted. "Although Austyn (Carta-Samuels') played before, he hasn't played in this offense and there's still an adjustment going on. I think Patton (Robinette) for a freshman is doing pretty good. He has a lot on his plate and he's handling it well."

Carta-Samuels, who sat out last season after transferring from Wyoming, agreed that he is still adapting to the changes at Vanderbilt.

"It's fast, fast, fast," Carta-Samuels said. "Playing in the SEC now, you've got quite a defense you're looking across at. I haven't been quite up to the speed as much as I would have wanted to be, but I'm getting more comfortable every day. I'll start to get it here quickly."

When asked if Rodgers has been pushing him in competition, Carta-Samuels corrected the reporter. "It's more of me pushing him right now. (Rodgers) is top dog."

Familiar Faces: Several former Commodores stopped by the facility to watch the current squad in action. Visitors included Casey Hayward, Sean Richardson, Tim Fugger, T.J. Greenstone, Kyle Fischer, Larry Smith and Chris Marve. Six of those players (minus Marve) are scheduled to participate in Vanderbilt's annual Pro Day on campus Friday in front of National Football League scouts. Brandon Barden and Udom Umoh will also work out for NFL teams in attendance.



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