Plenty of Energy As Commodores Hold Stadium Scrimmage Saturday
Black & Gold Scrimmage scheduled for April 17.
March 26, 2011
On Campus in Nashville - If James Franklin has his way, the Commodores will be an energized, highly competitive team that thrives on attitude, effort and big-play ability.
On Saturday, the squad gave its first-year head coach a glance into that future during its first spring scrimmage in Vanderbilt Stadium.
Dodging threatening skies, the Commodores worked more than two hours in front of several hundred fans. After an hour of individual drills and team teaching, Franklin put the squad through a 50-play scrimmage that included impressive plays from all three phrases of the game.
"I thought everybody really competed. The attitude was excellent," Franklin told media members after the public practice that ended with a brief yet intense goal-line scrimmage. "On both sides of the ball, it looked pretty good.
Big plays, such as cornerback Trey Wilson's touchdown on a 105-yard interception, caught Franklin's attention.
"That's what we've been preaching to these guys," the coach said. "We've got to make some plays on offense. We have to create big plays on defense with sacks and interception returns. And we have to return kicks and block kicks. That's going to be our mentality."
For much of the scrimmage, it was a defensive affair. Two of the team's top returnees - Casey Hayward (Sr., CB) and Sean Richardson (Sr., safety) - contributed key tackles to force fourth downs. Two linebackers, DeAndre Jones (R-Jr.) and Chase Garnham (R-So.) also added important tackles for loss play.
Until the final minutes of practice, it appeared the biggest offensive fireworks would come on completions from Larry Smith (R-Sr.) to Udom Umoh (R-Sr., WR) for 47 yards, and Charlie Goro (R-So.) to Zac Stacy (Jr., TB) for 25 yards. Stacy and Wesley Tate (R-So., TB) also produced impressive first-down rushes.
The energy and intensity spiked when Franklin called for a brief goal-line scrimmage to close the session. Starting its possession inside the 5-yard line, the offense produced a quick score when Smith hit Brandon Barden (R-Sr., TE) over the middle. After Tristan Strong (R-Jr., LB) forced a third down on a jarring hit during the final drive, Goro gave offensive players reason to celebrate with a keeper off right tackle into the end zone.
Goro's score drew the entire offensive unit into the end zone to celebrate. That same enthusiasm was apparent immediately afterward, when the full Commodore roster ran to the stands to thank fans for attending the scrimmage.
The celebration marked the type of emotion that Franklin thinks is critical to his team's success.
"I think positive energy is very, very important," the coach said. "I want positive energy. I've talked to them about this, that football is different. You only get 12-14 opportunities, so when it comes, you better make the most of it. Run around, enjoy the experience and have fun with one another. That's our coaches' mentality and I think our players are starting take on that identity."
Back to Work on Tuesday
The Commodores will be off the practice field Sunday and Monday, returning Tuesday afternoon at the John Rich Practice Facility.