NASHVILLE - The energy level was high and action fast paced Saturday as the Commodores staged their first scrimmage of the spring in Vanderbilt Stadium.
Head Coach James Franklin said he was pleased with the overall effort, and said the squad was continuing to show better depth this spring.
"We talk about coming into the stadium and elevating our level of how we play, taking great pride in our home and our turf," Franklin said. "I thought we did that for the most part and I also think it's good for our guys to practice in front of a crowd.
"There's obviously a lot of things to still clean up, but we've got a lot of young guys that are getting a lot of reps now that they didn't get in the fall. That's really good for us. Our depth is so much better than it was. I feel good about the progress we're making," the coach added.
The 61-play scrimmage followed an hour of work on special teams, fundamentals, position drills and scheme development. Afterward, the offensive and defensive staffs watched video clips to show what worked in the scrimmage. The coaches also had clips of areas to be addressed when the squad returns to practice Tuesday afternoon.
Leading the way offensively was running back Wesley Tate, who rushed for 94 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, and caught a short pass for a third score. Quarterbacks Austyn Carta-Samuels and Patton Robinette performed well: Carta-Samuels going 5-of-7 for 68 yards and a TD, Robinette hitting 4-of-5 passes for 46 yards and a TD and rushing for 24 yards on three carries. Tight end Kris Kentera was the top receiver with two catches for 40 yards.
Series I The defense produced a quick turnover on the first possession, with cornerback Steven Clarke forcing a fumble after Carta-Samuels hit Matthews with a short pattern on the middle. Ladler returned the fumble 18 yards inside the 20-yard line.
Series II Carta-Samuels leads the offense on a 14-play, 69-yard drive. Unfortunately, the possession at the 30-yard line and ended with the defense stopping a 4th & 1. Carta-Samuels converted first downs on completions to WR Chris Boyd and Kentera. The offense had a 1st & goal at the 2-yard line after Jerron Seymour's impressive 9-yard rush off left tackle. From there, two carries from both Seymour and Tate produced virtually nothing, with Sealand and Garnham making stout tackles. On 4th down, Ladler produced the change of possession, stopping Tate at the 1-yard line.
Series III With Patton Robinette directing his first possession, the offense again marched inside the 10-yard line, only to come away with a 25-yard field goal by Carey Spear. Robinette completed passes for 12 yards to WR Trey Wilkins and 19 yards to Kentera, and added first downs on the ground with rushes of 13 and 10 yards. Once the offense threatened, Weatherly and safety Andrew Williamson made athletic tackles for no gain. On third down, CB Paris Head dislodged a pass attempt at the goal line from Robinette to WR Tip McKenzie.
Series IV Sparked by a 6-yard tackle for loss by LB Casey Hughes and quarterback sack by DT Will Trepp, the defense produced a quick three-and-out possession.
Highlights from Third-Down Situational Scrimmage
Tate burst through a big hole between off right tackle, split a pair of tacklers, and sprinted 69 yards for the first offensive touchdown.
Woestmann stopped two third-down attempts with a tackle for no gain of Tate and sack of Carta-Samuels.
Facing 3rd-and-8, Carta-Samuels found Matthews on a deep seam route for 24 yards.
Bryant capped the third-down situational scrimmage with athletic plays to stop three straight attempts, including sacking QB Josh Grady and deflecting one of Grady's passes.
Four Goal Line Possessions
Drive I After DT Vince Taylor tackled Tate for a 4-yard loss, Carta-Samuels hit Tate for a short gain, then connected again with Tate for a 4-yard TD toss.
Drive II On first down, Robinette rolled right and found TE Steven Scheu open for a touchdown in the back corner of the end zone.
Drive III On second down, Weatherly made another impressive play, tackling Grady for a 3-yard loss. The possession stalled with a fumbled snap on 3rd-and-8.
Drive IV After getting stopped short of the goal line by Garnham on first down, Tate tallied his third score of the scrimmage with a 1-yard plunge off left guard.