Sept. 6, 2011
Media Monday Interviews | Game Notes & Depth Charts | Gameday Central
Coaches dig deeper than the stat sheet to assess player performances. After reviewing game film, Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin thought senior quarterback Larry Smith played 'extremely well' in the Commodores' 45-14 win over Elon.
Smith produced three touchdowns -- two passing and one rushing -- and didn't commit a turnover or take a sack. His completion percentage was under 50 percent (13-of-27), but it was a misleading number, according to Franklin, if you count the five dropped passes and three throw-aways.
"If you calculate it, he was really 18-of-24," Franklin said. "I think they were pretty good statistics. He didn't take sacks, he didn't create any turnovers, and really put the offense in position to be successful and didn't hurt the team."
Smith's two passing touchdowns tied a career-high and were his first since the Eastern Michigan game last year. The third-year starter credited his maturity for making better decisions on plays that broke down. "It's being smarter with the ball and just understanding that there's another down after that. Taking those sacks hurt the whole offensive mindset," Smith stated.
With the Commodores leading 38-14 in the fourth quarter, Smith exited the game for precautionary reasons and was replaced by junior Jordan Rodgers. "Larry got banged up," Franklin stated. "He's going to be good to go."
Smith said he landed awkwardly during the game and accumulated the bumps that come with playing football. "It's just one of those things that happens during the game," Smith noted, "but I'm fine now and ready to play on Saturday."
Hayward Sparks Commodores
Senior Casey Hayward had been joking in the preseason about getting some looks on the offensive side of the ball. The All-SEC cornerback finally got his wish.
On the opening play of the second offensive series, the former standout prep quarterback took what looked to be no gain on an end-around and raced 23 yards into Elon territory ( Watch). Hayward's play jumpstarted the drive and led to the Commodores' first touchdown of the season.
"We only got him one rep, but we're going to continue to grow that package," Franklin said.
With tailback Zac Stacy receiving the snap in a Wildcat formation, Hayward went in motion and took the handoff to the right before changing directions. Hayward, aided by a crushing block from Stacy, had the space to go the distance but stepped out of bounds at Elon's 44 yard-line.
"The play wasn't perfect and he made us all look smart by sticking his foot in the ground and making an extremely athletic play," Franklin added. "He made a huge difference in the game and really got us going from a momentum standpoint."
True Freshmen Contribute in Opener
Three true freshmen-- tailback Jerron Seymour, and offensive linemen Spencer Pulley and Joe Townsend-- were among the 65 Commodores that played Saturday.
"I don't think it's a great situation to play multiple true freshmen on the offensive line, but it is what it is," Franklin said. "I thought those guys did very well."
Franklin also cleared up Josh Grady's tweet last Friday in which the freshman quarterback posted that he would be redshirting this season.
"About 30 seconds after that tweet went out, Josh was in my office," Franklin said. "If we have some injuries, he's going to play this year and he understands that. I don't understand why he would do that but that was an opportunity for growth and learning for him and for our entire team. Josh will be ready to go if we need him."
Holding Back Plays?
If you think Coach Franklin was holding back in the Elon game to not give away strategies for future opponents, think again.
"We're not in a position to be saving anything for anybody," Franklin said. "We're not in the business of saving points or plays. We're not at that point. To me, the best thing we can do is go out and win, however we have to do that, and build confidence and allow that confidence to give us success further down the road."
Franklin was pleased with several areas after watching game film. Positives included lack of penalties (4-30), winning the turnover battle (+3) and converting those opportunities into touchdowns, red zone success (4-of-4), and average starting field position off special teams (VU: own 32; Elon: own 21).
Franklin thought they came up a little short in what he calls explosive plays, which are runs of 12 yards or more and completions of 16 yards or more. Vanderbilt tallied five runs and three passes in the category.
Warren Norman Update
Junior tailback and return specialist Warren Norman was held out last Saturday, but could have been inserted into the game if needed. Franklin said Norman told him last week that he was "91 percent" healthy and ready to contribute.
"He's ready to go," Franklin said. "If it was up to him, he would have played and started the game, but we were hoping we could get through that game without playing him and then having him ready for this week full-go, 100 percent."
He Said It
"I don't think we're at a point right now where our guys are walking around and patting themselves on the back. If I see any signs of that, I can guarantee that I will deal with that real quick."
-- Head Coach James Franklin when asked if he felt the 45-14 win could effect his team's mentality going into the UConn game.
He Said It, Part 2
"I remember us scoring three touchdowns real quick, and then coming out flat in the second half, and we didn't score again. We're a little pissed off about it and we want to come out this year and beat them."
-- Senior tight end Brandon Barden on the Commodores' 40-21 loss to UConn in East Hartford last year.