On Campus in Nashville - In the remaining 13 practice sessions this spring for the Vanderbilt Commodores, Head Coach Bobby Johnson will be pleased if they show the effort and improvement they displayed Wednesday in a two-hour, 30-minute session held under clear skies at the John Rich Practice Facility.
"We got better today. We'll look at film and see some things, but we got a little better today," Johnson said. "What I really liked was the tempo of our guys. You want to see practices where guys are getting after it and working to get better. I saw that today, and I hope to see it the rest of the way."
Johnson's positive assessment of the Commodores' second spring drill came hours after the coaching staff learned that junior receiver and return specialist Alex Washington is out indefinitely after suffering a knee injury during practice Tuesday. Johnson announced Washington, expected to compete for a starting job at wide receiver, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) when he got entangled with a defensive back during 1-on-1 passing drills.
"I know Alex feels bad and I can tell you his coaches feel the same way," Johnson said. "Alex is exactly the kind of young man you want to coach, a guy that takes tremendous pride in working to make himself the very best player he can be. He had a great offseason in the weightroom and was ready to compete for a starting job.
"We'll get Alex healed up and I know he'll work extra hard to become even better. As bad as we feel for Alex, somebody else needs to step up. That's what these practices are all about," the head coach said.
The Commodores practiced in shells and helmets for the second straight day, using the session to focus on position fundamentals, individual instruction, special teams, and expansion of offensive and defensive schemes. The squad also devoted time to 1-on-1, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.
Johnson's tradition of presenting gold jerseys to the outstanding offensive and defensive player from the previous practice continued Wednesday. Junior safety Joel Caldwell wore the defensive jersey while junior center Bradley Vierling accepted the offensive jersey.
Chancellor Zeppos Takes in Practice
Newly appointed Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos watched nearly an hour of the practice, interacting with Coach Johnson, football staffers and players.
After greeting conditioning coach John Sisk and former Commodore standouts Jay Cutler and Marcus Buggs, Zeppos spent 15 minutes with the head coach as the Commodores went through 1-on-1 drills and team teaching segments. When Johnson returned to watch special teams instruction, Zeppos stayed on the sideline talking to a number of Commodore players.
The chancellor also stopped by to watch part of the Vanderbilt women's lacrosse match with Boston University, and the Commodores' 11-4 victory in baseball over Western Carolina.