March 29, 2013
Franklin Press Conference | Coaching Clinic April 5-6
NASHVILLE – Head Coach James Franklin continued to praise his Commodores Thursday night after the squad reached the midway point of spring drills with another energetic workout on campus.
After two hours of intense work on position fundamentals, conditioning and team drills, the Commodores capped practice with a brief yet enthusiastic Dore Wars segment that seemed to ignite both the coaches and players. As that drill ended, the squad was seen chasing Franklin around the John Rich Practice Facility as he chose where to deliver his closing words to the team.
Franklin told assembled media members that his squad “did a lot of nice things" during the two-hour, 30-minute workout. “The energy was good, the weather was awesome, and we got a lot of good work in,” Franklin said. “We have to keep working at it, but I’m pleased with where we’re at right now.”
The next time the Commodores put on their pads, Franklin will see how much progress his team has made. This Saturday, the head coach will put the squad through their second scrimmage in Vanderbilt Stadium. The full-contact practice starts at 10 a.m., and serves as the final opportunity to see the Commodores until the Black & Gold Spring Game on April 13.
Young Defensive Linemen Continue to Make Case for Playing Time
Early in the practice, during an 11-on-11 session, defensive end Stephen Weatherly dazzled observers by disrupting consecutive offensive calls. In both plays, Weatherly’s quickness off the snap enabled him to get past an offensive blocker into the backfield virtually untouched.
Weatherly, a physically impressive redshirt freshman, hasn’t been the only young standout. Sophomore ends Caleb Azubike, Darien Bryant and Jimmy Stewart, all contributors in 2012, only add to the talented corps led by senior Walker May and redshirt junior Kyle Woestmann.
“The defensive ends, in terms of size and athleticism, are a huge improvement over three years ago. Our weights (at defensive end) are also much higher. We have a chance to be 25 pounds heavier per man at defensive end. That’s going to help against the run too,” the coach said.
The talented youth movement isn't limited to defensive end. Two redshirt freshmen playing defensive tackle for the first time this spring, Adam Butler and Torey Agee, also are catching the attention of coaches.
Praising Wesley Johnson
Franklin also praised three-year starter Wesley Johnson, who has provided superb leadership for an impressive corps of redshirt freshmen offensive linemen.
“Wesley’s so good at working with the young guys, helping make sure the correct calls are made up front. It’s like having another coach on the field,” Franklin said.
Punters Showing Improvement
For much of the spring, Franklin has been tough on the team’s top prospects to replace three-year starting punter Richard Kent. On Thursday, he singled out the punting contenders, including redshirt freshman Colby Cooke, for their improved performance in recent practices.