Football moves into second week of practice

March 22, 2010

On Campus in Nashville - The Commodores are preparing for their second week of spring practice after getting their first taste of competitive football Saturday with a two-hour workout that started on the John Rich Practice Facility and ended in Vanderbilt Stadium.  

The Saturday session was Vanderbilt's first full-gear practice of the spring, coming after mandatory helmet-only activities on Wednesday and Friday.

The Commodores staged nearly an hour of non-tackle "thud" scrimmage in the stadium. The scripted session included 11-on-11 contact work, starting with possessions inside the defensive 20-yard line, and a series of third-down situational plays. The practice closed with the offense starting several possessions from their own 30-yard line.

Afterward, Head Coach Bobby Johnson liked much of what he witnessed in the stadium.

"For our first day playing real football, I thought we were competing at a high level," Johnson said. "The energy and effort of our football team was very good today.

"We got a lot accomplished and can definitely build on this practice. We'll find things to correct once we review the film, but I'm looking forward to more improvement during our next practice opportunity," the coach added.

Vanderbilt's first week of practice was marred by spring-ending injuries to two key interior performers. Adam Smotherman, a two-year starter at defensive tackle, left the stadium session with a knee injury later diagnosed as an anterior cruciate ligament tear. On Thursday, sophomore offensive tackle prospect Ryan Seymour left early with a shoulder injury that is expected to require surgery.

"I feel bad for both Adam and Ryan," Johnson said. "I can't tell you how hard Adam worked to repair an earlier knee injury and become a starter for this team. I know he will do all he can to get back on the field. Ryan is the same kind of young man as Adam. He'll get back with us as soon as he can.

"Unfortunately, injuries are a part of the game. Other guys need to step up for this team, and realize they have an opportunity in front of them," Johnson added. 

The Commodores will return for their fourth practice Wednesday afternoon.

Stadium Session Highlights

• The offense produced two touchdowns during the red-zone possessions, the result of a pass from junior Larry Smith to junior tight end Brandon Barden, and a 15-yard rush by sophomore tailback Warren Norman.

• The defense stiffened during eight drives that started at the 30-yard line, with quarterback sacks by three ends (junior Tim Fugger, redshirt freshman Walker May and senior Theron Kadri) forced punting situations on three consecutive drives. Two other possessions were stopped by impressive plays made by junior tackle T.J. Greenstone and sophomore tackle Rob Lohr.

• Four Commodore quarterbacks (Smith, senior Jared Funk, redshirt freshman Charlie Goro and junior Jordan Rodgers) rotated possessions. While none directed a score, each connected with different targets for first downs: Smith hitting senior receiver Tray Herndon, Goro finding junior Udom Umoh and sophomore running back Reece Lovell, Funk and Norman hooking up for a first down, and Rodgers passing to redshirt freshman tight end Mason Johnston.



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