March 19, 2013
Franklin Press Conference | Russell's Photo Gallery
NASHVILLE - The energy level remained high Tuesday as the Commodores hustled through their first full-pad practice of the spring.
Head Coach James Franklin put the squad through a physical, 150-minute workout at the John Rich Practice Facility. After limiting tackling for much of the session, Franklin said his squad still has to practice properly in order to maximize their efforts.
"For the first day of pads, it was good, but our young guys still have to learn how to practice," Franklin said. "We did a lot of thud-type (limited contact) and it's hard for young guys to practice with pads on and not go to the ground.
"You want them to play fast, with good techniques and fundamentals...and be under control. You just have to learn how to do that," the coach added.
The squad concentrated on fundamental instruction, position drills, conditioning and playbook development. The team also completed an array of 1-on-1, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.
The offense gained a quick advantage during the team drills, and held it for much of the day. The offense started impressively when Austyn Carta-Samuels (R-Sr., QB) hooked up with Jerron Seymour (R-So., RB) for a big play. Carta-Samuels later hit Jonathan Krause (R-Sr., WR) for another first down. In later plays, Patton Robinette (R-Fr., QB) connected on first-down passes to Kris Kentera (R-So., TE) and Chris Boyd (R-Jr., WR).
The defense also produced its own big plays, including interceptions by Kenny Ladler (R-Sr., safety) and Torren McGaster (R-Fr., CB), a pass deflection by Larry Franklin (R-So., LB) and quarterback sack by Stephen Weatherly (R-Fr., DE).
Brief Goal Line Work Only Live Period of Practice
Though Franklin limited tackling for most of the practice, he closed with a brief 11-on-11, full-contact drill near the goal line. It would become another activity controlled by the offense.
On four consecutive series starting from the 4-yard line, the offense needed two plays or less to score touchdowns. Wesley Tate (R-Sr.) posted a pair of 2-yard plunges into the end zone while Seymour and Derek King (R-So., TB) tallied short scoring rushes.
Dore Wars Is Back
Early in the session, the Commodores at midfield for Dore Wars, a physical drill that has become a trademark of Franklin's full-gear practices. The drill pits three blockers trying to open holes for a ball carrier against a five-man defense in a narrow running lane of little more than five yards.
Two running backs who played defense a year ago, King and Blake Gowder (R-Jr., FB), enjoyed success running behind a three-person front of Blake Fromang (R-Fr., OT), Dillon van der Wal (R-So., TE) and Kris Kentera (R-So., TE). Gowder drew praise from an entire offensive unit after breaking two tackles and running through a third defender on one impressive carry.
Seymour Looks Explosive
No Commodore has looked more impressive through three practices than Seymour, who redshirted last year after Zac Stacy capped the finest career ever by a Commodore running back.
Seymour, the team's No. 2 rusher in 2011, displayed explosiveness as an inside rusher and receiver out of the backfield, blending superb cutting abilities with renewed quickness.
"Everybody has kind of forgot what kind of ability Jerron had two years ago," Franklin said. "When he touches the ball, everybody on the team stops and watches."
Author David Maraniss and His Vanderbilt Students Watch Practice
David Maraniss, one of America's premiere authors and a writer-in-residence on campus this semester, watched the practice with Vanderbilt undergraduates enrolled in his sports-related course. Afterward, they were greeted by Franklin, who guided the class on a tour of the team's facilities in McGugin Center.
Maraniss, an associate editor of the Washington Post and 1993 Pulitzer Prize winner, is one of the nation's distinguished biographers, having written books on Presidents Obama and Clinton. He has also authored highly acclaimed biographies on two legendary sports figures, coaching great Vince Lombardi and baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente.
Saturday Scrimmage Open to Commodore Fans
The Commodores will return to the practice field Thursday, continuing to prepare for the team's first open scrimmage of the spring, scheduled this Saturday in Vanderbilt Stadium.
Stadium gates will open Saturday about 9:15 a.m., with the Commodores starting practice about 9:45 a.m. The scrimmage is expected to conclude around 12 noon. The event is one of two open scrimmages before the Black & Gold Spring Game scheduled Saturday, April 13.