April 3, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – While Vanderbilt’s theme of a controlling defense continued Saturday in a stadium scrimmage, the Commodore offense finished the physical session with some of their finest possessions this spring.
The 11-series also served as a dress rehearsal for the Commodores’ featured spring session, the Black & Gold Scrimmage, which is scheduled next Saturday, April 10, also in the stadium.
Head Coach Bobby Johnson was upbeat after watching the offense produce a pair of late touchdown drives following a string of unsuccessful possessions.
“Our guys are playing hard. We’re emphasizing the red-zone and third-down situations, trying to make sure we’re a little more efficient there,” Johnson said. “Some injuries and sickness limited us a little bit, but I thought we did pretty well today.”
“(Injuries) are a part of the (regular) season and you have to be prepared to go with other guys you have confidence in. That’s what spring practice is all about, creating more depth and finding player that want to contribute to this team. We’re making progress there,” the head coach added.
Among the Commodores that did not participate Saturday were linebacker Chris Marve, defensive tackles T.J. Greenstone and Colt Nichter, offensive tackle Caleb Welchans and cornerback Eric Samuels.
The 63-play scrimmage likely is the Commodores’ last workout in Vanderbilt Stadium until the Black & Gold Scrimmage, which is open to the public.
For much of the practice, the defense held an upper hand, forcing two turnovers while a variety of players made key third-down stops. Late in the session, the offense came to life behind timely pass completions and the rushing of tailbacks Warren Norman, Zac Stacy and Kennard Reeves.
A brief summary of the scrimmage follows:
Drive I - Quarterback Quarterback Larry Smith opens the scrimmage with a quick first down, hitting Turner Wimberly over the middle for 19 yards. After a second-down pass deflection by linebacker DeAndre Jones, end Tim Fugger forces a punting situation sacking Smith for a 6-yard loss.
Drives II-III - On consecutive 3-and-out possessions, defensive back Reggie Ford, Fugger and tackle Rob Lohr make key third down plays: Ford getting an open-field tackle for tailback Stacy, and Fugger and Lohr combining for a sack of Jared Funk.
Drive IV - Another another first-down pass completion (Jordan Rodgers-to-Charlie Bryge for 11 yards), the defense stiffens. On third-and-2, tackle Taylor Loftley and linebacker Dexter Daniels combine to stuff Reeves for no gain.
Drive V - The offense’s initial deep drive ends in a turnover. Starting from midfield, the unit gets a first down on a Smith-to-Akeem Dunham completion, then opens holes for Norman on carries of 12 and 11 yards. Facing first-and-goal, two carries by Norman gain little, then cornerback Casey Hayward makes a big defensive play by acrobatically intercepting Smith’s pass at the goal line.
Drive VI - Redshirt freshman quarterback Charlie Goro guides a possession deep into scoring territory that ends with a field goal. The series include five straight carries by tailback Reese Lovell for 20 yards and a 12-yard pass from Goro to senior wideout Tray Herndon. Two defenders, tackle Josh Jelesky and end Walker May, had tackles for loss to force the field goal.
Drive VII - The final offensive turnover came when Loftley hauled in a babbled pass from Funk to Norman for an interception.
Drive VIII - After a 13-yard first-down rush by Reeves, the defense stiffened, using superb plays by Jelesky and end Theron Kadri to force a punt.
Drive IX - Funk guided the first touchdown drive, directing the Commodores 50 yards on five plays. After a completion to receiver John Cole for 12 yards, Norman and Stacy produced consecutive rushes of 28 and 11 yards, respectively. On 1st-and-goal from the 4-yard line, Stacy scored behind blocks by center Joey Bailey and guard Kyle Fischer.
Drive X - The offense produced a second consecutive scoring drive. Starting from the 50-yard line, Goro hit Reeves for 10 yards, then watched as Reeves carried for 24 yards behind a block by guard Jabo Burrow. After a short completion, the drive ended successfully with a 16-yard score by Reeves.
Drive XI - Superb plays by three defenders – Jones, Fugger and safety Jay Fullam – forced a punt. Jones’ pressure forced a Smith incompletion on second down. Later, Fullam produced the day’s best hit with a jarring tackle of. Fugger produced a long third down effort when he ran down a scrambling Smith in pursuit.