On campus in Nashville – Derek Mason promised to make the most of all 15 practices available to his Vanderbilt squad when he opened Spring Ball in late February. He succeeded again Wednesday pushing the Commodores through a fast and physical session.
From the opening whistle, the Commodores hustled through a full-gear practice that included four separate 11-on-11 team periods, including a brief full-contact scrimmage of third-down plays inside the 20-yard line.
Mason praised his squad after the 90-minute workout, which was held in the team’s indoor practice facility.
“We’re just trying to make the most of every practice, and we got a lot of good work in today,” Mason said. “Our guys are getting a lot of snaps right now, and you can see the improvement and confidence grow from one practice to the next.”
“We put a lot of plays in front of these guys today and they pushed through the way we want to see them finish. I saw a bunch of positives from both sides of the ball, guys going fast and straining to do the job. On offense, the quarterbacks and receivers were making plays, and we looked good up front. Defensively, we’re getting effort and intensity, and I thought we made some big plays at the end," the head coach added.
The “live” red-zone scrimmage featured an offensive touchdown, defensive turnover and numerous physical hits. The touchdown came on Kyle Shurmur’s 18-yard strike to Kalija Lipscomb in the right corner of the end zone. Outside linebacker Josh Smith came up with the turnover, dropping in coverage to pick off a pass attempt.
The scrimmage also included tackles for loss by defensive end Jonathan Wynn and inside linebacker Jordan Griffith, an impressive 12-yard rush off right tackle by redshirt freshman Jamauri Wakefield, and a 10-yard toss from Deuce Wallace to C.J. Duncan.
Highlights from closing 11-on-11 workout
A 14-play scrimmage of limited contact that ended the practice featured more offensive touchdowns and more defensive physicality.
The offense scored on back-to-back plays: an 18-yard pass from Shawn Stankavage to tight end Sam Dodds and a carry by running back Khari Blasingame that featured excellent blocks from tackle Jared Southers and guard David Floyd. Lipscomb also added a nice catch in traffic.
Josh Smith closed the practice with back-to-back big plays, pressuring the quarterback into a poor throw, then producing a quarterback sack. Outside linebacker Charles Wright also contributed a sack early in the period.
Vanderbilt Drill energizes Commodores early
Mason sought to bring intensity early to the practice, doing so by putting the squad through the quick and physical Vanderbilt Drill.
The drill calls for a ball carrier to sprint a 20-yard alley eluding defenders at three different levels. The defenders can only attempt the tackle if they defeat a 1-on-1 block.
Seven players are utilized with each repetition of the Vanderbilt Drill. In just minutes, nearly every position player has experienced multiple repetitions, and is energized for the rest of practice.