Nashville - The Commodores closed their second week of Spring Ball Saturday morning with an enthusiastic workout in Vanderbilt Stadium.
The practice was highlighted by a scripted scrimmage of nearly 70 plays that included eight full-contact series.
Head Coach Derek Mason was pleased with the team's effort and energy, and said coaches on each side of the ball would take positives from the two-hour practice.
"We got better today," Mason said. "These guys were getting after each other. I didn't see a lot of one-sided dominance. Instead, it was more give and take. That's what you want to see.
"The offense came out early and established themselves. I liked the way they moved the ball, made explosive plays, showed good accuracy, and had guys winning the one-on-one matchups and getting yards after the catch. On defense, I saw physicality and guys moving the line of scrimmage. We were able to get pressure when we needed it," Mason added.
The offense tallied two touchdowns - a 22-yard rush by wideout Trent Sherfield and a 14-yard strike from Deuce Wallace to Jackson Winrow - and threatened scores on several other drives. An aggressive defense produced 11 tackles for loss, three quarterback sacks, four deflected passes, and a Josh Smith fumble recovery.
1st drive - After defensive end Dare Odeyingbo knocked down Kyle Shurmur's first pass, the offense reeled off three first downs - coming on an 8-yard rush by Khari Blasingame and back-to-back Shurmur-to-Kalija Lipscomb completions of 12 and 15 yards.
2nd drive - After a quick first down when Shawn Stankavage connected with Jamuari Wakefield for 10 yards, the defense stiffened, with inside tackle Jay Woods, outside linebacker Jay Hockaday and inside linebacker Oren Burks contributing tackles for loss.
3rd drive - The defense forced a 3-and-out, with cornerback Joejuan Williams reacting quickly to break up a sideline route on second down.
4th drive - Another brief drive ended when Wallace's third-down completion to receiver Trey Ellis came up just short of the chains.
5th drive - Outside linebacker Charles Wright made the first of several impressive plays, tracking down Wakefield for a 6-yard loss on first down. After another tackle for loss by Josh Smith, Wakefield came up shy of a first down after making a nifty one-handed catch for 12 yards.
6th drive - Starting on the 35-yard line, Shurmur connected with Sherfield, who eluded one defender and was forced out-of-bounds after a 36-yard gain. After two Blasingame carries earned seven yards, the defense forced a field goal opportunity with an incompletion on third down. Placekicker Tommy Openshaw nailed the 43-yard field goal.
7th drive - Sherfield produced another huge play - this time a 56-yard bomb from Deuce Wallace, but the offense was held without points when Smith recovered a fumbled snap.
8th drive - The defense forced another 3-and-out possession, with safety Arnold Tarpley III making a physical tackle on Blasinghame after a short gain on third down.
9th drive - The offense drove inside the 20-yard line, thanks to a 41-yard pass from Stankavage to tight end Jared Pinkney, but was stalled when Stankavage was forced to scramble on 3rd-and-10. Openshaw converted the field goal from 38 yards.
10th-11th drives - The defense forced back-to-back 3-and-out possessions, with interior tackle Nifae Lealao contributing a 4-yard tackle for loss and Smith deflecting a third down pass.
12th drive - A field goal resulted from the possession starting across midfield. Outside linebacker Kenny Hebert put the offense behind the chains on first down with a sack. Shurmur's 14-yard completion to wide receiver Donaven Tennyson enabled placekicker Ryley Guay to convert from 40 yards.
13th-14th drives - The offense produced touchdowns in back-to-back drives. Three plays after Sherfield got into the end zone on a 22-yard reverse, Wallace and Winrow hookedup from 14 yards for a second touchdown.
15th drive - A red-zone possession only produced a 32-yard field goal from Guay.
16th drive - Wakefield contributed a first down, gaining 11 yards on two carries. After Wallace just missed Pinkney in the end zone, Wright made another big third down stop, tackling Wakefield in the open field for a short gain.
17th drive - Starting at the 12-yard line, Shurmur and Lipscomb just missed on a end zone route. After a defensive penalty, defensive tackle Josiah Sa'o and Hockaday registered back-to-back tackles for loss. On 3rd-and-10, pressure forced Stankavage to scramble for short yardage.
Commodore Pros Watch from the Sidelines
Former Vanderbilt first-round draft pick Chris Williams and a pair of `Dores currently in the NFL, Titans' wide receiver Jonathan Krause and Vikings' defensive end Stephen Weatherly, were among the guests watching from the sidelines.
Williams, the 2007 All-SEC offensive tackle taken No. 14 overall by the Chicago Bears in 2008, is retired from football, living with his family on a farm outside of Nashville.
Back to work Monday
The Commodores will take Sunday off, then return Monday as they gear up for the Vanderbilt Football Spring Showcase, which begins at 10 a.m. next Saturday, March 25, in the stadium.
The Showcase will include a full practice and scripted scrimmage, along with kids' activities before and after. Gate 2 of the stadium will open at 9 a.m.